16 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: August 2017

books-radar-august-2017

Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books they’ve read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Here are their recommendations for August 2017:

  1. Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais
  2. The Late Show by Michael Connelly
  3. Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
  4. Of Mess And Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
  5. Killerjoy by Jon Negroni
  6. A Clean Kill In Tokyo by Barry Eisler
  7. The Road To Concord by J.L. Bell
  8. All The Bayou Stories End With Drowned by Erica Wright
  9. Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
  10. I Was Told To Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet
  11. The Weight Of Blood by Laura Mchugh
  12. Into The Forest by Jean Hegland
  13. A House Among The Trees by Julia Glass
  14. A Distant View Of Everything by Alexander Mccall Smith
  15. The Elephants In My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra
  16. Everybody’s Son by Thrity Umrigar

Click on the links above for a detailed synopsis of each book, or follow the following link to see what the Writer’s Bone crew had to say: http://www.writersbone.com/book-recommendations/2017/8/3/17-books-that-should-be-on-your-radar-august-2017

 

5 Books You Should Read If You Want To Write

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You have no doubt heard it said over and over again, in order to write, you need to read. Probably the most famous person who says this is Stephen King. And to be fair, if Stephen says it’s true, who am I to argue. The following are 5 top books you should read if you want to write. There are of course many, many others, but these are a good place to start:

1. ON WRITING BY STEPHEN KING

This is a fantastic book on writing. I love Stephen King, and in this book he describes his personal writing process as well as making suggestions for other writers. King is careful to focus mainly on his own journey and not offer blanket statements about writing which may not work for everyone. I really enjoyed the anecdotes and no-nonsense approach to what it takes to be a writer.

2. READING LIKE A WRITER BY FRANCINE PROSE

The premise of this book is firmly founded on the mantra: in order to write, you need to read. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Reading the writing of a wide variety of authors allows you to be exposed to different voices, different perspectives, and different ideas. When I was younger, I read nonstop and I’m grateful for the time I put in to each and every one of those books because they taught me how to tell stories.

Prose breaks down her book, Reading Like A Writer, into chapters devoted to different literary devices such as paragraphs, narration, character, dialogue, etc. and offers different excerpts in order for you to read closely and pay attention to what the author is trying to do in his or her work. It’s more of a guidebook than a narration on personal experience, but equally important in order to learn how to focus on all of the different aspects of writing.

3. THE ART OF SPIRITUAL WRITING BY VINITA HAMPTON WRIGHT

I like this book because it is a) short (161 pages) and b) speaks of the importance of authenticity in writing. It is important to share experience and talk about things that are uncomfortable because it’s a way of connecting with others.

Hampton Wright takes her decades of experience as both an editor and an author and lays out a writing manual that describes the best way to write from the heart and inspire other people. It contains both technical writing information as well as advice about what she terms “spiritual writing”.

4. BIRD BY BIRD BY ANNE LAMOTT

This is another great book that contains both suggestions and experiences similar to that of King in On Writing. What I like about it is that it’s even more no-nonsense than King’s book and also goes out of the way to dispel a lot of myths that people have concerning the writing and publishing process.

Be warned, this book does not sugar coats things, which is important in managing expectations. Many people operate under misconceptions that could ultimately harm them if they are seriously trying to make a living as a writer. Lamott is funny, but real, and it’s a quick and entertaining read.

5. WINNING THE STORY WARS BY JONAH SACHS

This book not only appeals to writers, but also marketers and business owners. Sachs writes under the conception that those who tell the best stories will “rule the future”. What he means by that is that in a sea of advertisements, personal stories, social media, and other brand messages, it’s hard for a person or company to get their story out. Writing in a way that breaks through that wall will help your message and your brand gain traction.

Sachs relies on examples from mythology, psychology, the history of advertising, and even biology to push for a revolution of story telling. He offers advice on how to get your story out above the crowd and make others take notice. Along with academia and personal anecdotes, it’s a great book to inspire you to do more with your writing. It’s also a great read for bloggers who are aiming at strengthening their own personal brand and breaking through the noise of millions of other existing blogs.

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Happy reading! 🙂

18 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: July 2017

books-radar-july-2017

Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books they’ve read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Here are their recommendations for July 2017:

  1. Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash
  2. What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
  3. The Fallen by Ace Atkins
  4. Madame Zero by Sarah Hall
  5. Grunt by Mary Roach
  6. The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
  7. Unsub by Meg Gardiner
  8. The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins
  9. Found Audio by N.J. Campbell
  10. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  11. The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt
  12. Joe Gould’s Teeth by Jill Lepore
  13. St. Marks is Dead by Ada Calhoun
  14. The Songs by Charles Elton
  15. The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick
  16. Blind Spot by Teju Cole
  17. Sweat by Lynn Nottage
  18. Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

Click on the links above for a detailed synopsis of each book, or follow the following link to see what the Writer’s Bone crew had to say: Books-that-should-be-on-your-radar-July-2017

15 Books With Plot Twists You Never Saw Coming

plot twists you never saw coming

If you participated in Mystery & Thriller Week on Goodreads earlier this year, then you probably used the opportunity to crack open at least a few of those mind-bending, spine-tingling reads in your TBR pile. But with the week only running May 1 through May 7 (due to the fact that, you know, weeks are only seven days long) you may not have had quite enough time to get your fill of creepy, shocking, heart-pounding books with plot twists you never saw coming. (I barely made a dent in my own TBR pile, TBH.)

The good news is, you don’t have to stop reading great thrillers just because the Goodreads’ Mystery & Thriller Week is over. If you’re the kind of bookworm who loves her shelves stacked high with one shocking plot twist after another, then maybe every week is Mystery & Thriller Week in your reading life. Or maybe you used the opportunity to spark a new love of mysteries and thrillers — in which case you’re probably going to need some book recommendations, am I right? From classics like Henry James to contemporaries like Paula Hawkins, there are plenty of thrillers on this list that’ll shake up your reading life. And, if you like your plot twists a little less terrifying, there are also a few non-thrillers that will leave you just as floored.

Here are 15 novels with plot twists you never saw coming:

1. ‘Big Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty

Even if you missed the HBO mini-series Big Little Lies, it’s not too late to check out Liane Moriarty’s New York Times bestselling novel from which the show was adapted. (And even if you did, there are some big differences between the novel and the show that are definitely worth checking out.) For those who don’t know, Big Little Lies tells the story of a group of mothers who are all wrestling different demons — some psychological, others pulled directly from the real world, and a few that fall under both categories, and they’re not always honest about it; often lying to each other and themselves. Somehow this novel will manage to both amuse and disturb you, often on the very same page. And it will definitely surprise you.

2. ‘Everything, Everything’ by Nicola Yoon

Another New York Times bestseller, this YA novel will surprise — and maybe even infuriate you — with its ending. (And if you haven’t seen the film yet, definitely read the book first.) Everything, Everything introduces readers to 17-year-old Madeline, a girl who has never left her house. She is, as she describes, allergic to the whole world. But when the tall, dark, and handsome teen Olly moves into next door, Madeline finally discovers something — or rather someone — she is willing to risk stepping outside for. But not everyone is going to be happy about it.

3. ‘Water for Elephants’ by Sara Gruen

Don’t let the performance of the circus distract you — Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants has some surprising twists you’ll want to watch out for. In this Depression-era novel, penniless college drop out Jacob Jankowski hops a freight train in the middle of the night, and joins the circus; the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, to be exact. But the most spectacular show on earth isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be, and behind the scenes things like sex and alcohol, violence and betrayal abound. And, everyone isn’t who they seem to be — or, at least, they’re not who they are for the reasons you might expect.

4. ‘People Who Knew Me’ by Kim Hooper

On September 11, 2001, Emily Morris’s entire life is transformed — pregnant and prepared to leave her husband for the man she’s been having an affair with, Emily instead uses the national disaster to take on a new identity, leaving New York City and the mistakes she made there behind. Fast forward 13 years, and Emily is raising a teenage daughter and battling a terminal illness — one that leaves her wondering if she can re-imagine her life, and more importantly the life of her 13-year-old daughter, once more. Maybe other readers predicted the ending of People Who Knew Me, but I definitely didn’t.

5. ‘Into the Water’ by Paula Hawkins

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Into the Water is filled with more twists and turns than any book I’ve recently read — and once you think you’re starting to figure it out, author Paula Hawkins will surprise you again. This novel, from the bestselling author of The Girl on the Train, takes readers to a small, storied town, where a teenage girl and a single mother are found drowned in the nearby river — a river that has seen a disturbing number of drownings of women before. Suddenly, long-buried local mysteries rise to the surface, and there are a few people in the community who can’t let that happen.

6. ‘The Queen of the Night’ by Alexander Chee

A lengthy read, Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night is not, IMO, a book to be missed. Blending historical fiction with a mystery thriller, The Queen of the Night takes readers back to the historic Paris Opera, where the legendary soprano Lilliet Berne has just been given the role of a lifetime — one that will define her legacy in the opera forever. But as she begins to perform her part, she realizes the opera is based on a dark and secret part of her own past, which, if revealed, could certainly ruin her life. The thing that terrifies Lilliet even more than the opera itself is who could have committed her secrets to performance in the first place — and that’s the question that will keep you guessing as well.

7. ‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Henry James

Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw is a classic Gothic horror, telling the story of a governess who moves into an English estate to care for two children, only to have her sanity compromised by supernatural happenings and evil phantoms — phantoms that her two charges already seem eerily well familiar with. Or, was the well-meaning governess insane to begin with? If you haven’t read this classic yet, definitely check it out.

8. ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

The way I see it, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl did (at least) two important things for the thriller genre: it made thrillers appealing for people who never read thrillers, and it turned the violent male/victimized female formula of the genre entirely on its head. And I’m glad for that. If you haven’t read this one yet, you should. When Nick Dunne’s wife Amy disappears before their fifth wedding anniversary, suspicion immediately falls on Nick — who, let’s face it, isn’t awesome. And his lies make him look even worse. But the plot twist Flynn has in store might actually make you shout out loud from surprise, or throw the book across the room. Really.

9. ‘Waking Lions’ by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Set in the novelist’s native Israel, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s Waking Lions begins with a murder — the hit-and-run of an undocumented Eritrean immigrant by Israeli doctor Eitan Green. Eitan, speeding down a rural road late at night, slams into Asum and after a quick inspection of the immigrant’s body, decides to flee the scene. Except he’s left some evidence behind — evidence that Asum’s wife, Sirkit, will use to blackmail the doctor into operating a free, nighttime health clinic for Israel’s undocumented immigrants and refugees. In Waking Lions, the bad guys are the good guys, the victims are the perpetrators, and the ending is definitely not what you’ll expect.

10. ‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers

Man has always had a complicated relationship with machines — but that relationship is getting a whole lot creepier of late. Written like 1984-meets-The Fountainhead for the social media generation, Dave Eggers’ The Circle will take you behind the scenes of one of the world’s most powerful tech companies — one that monitors your every move, where secrets, privacy, and unplugging are automatically suspect. What’s so shocking about The Circle isn’t the ending (with its strong echoes of Winston and Julia) but rather how familiar some of the disturbing happenings in The Circle will start to sound.

11. ‘Second Life’ by S.J. Watson

Another novel that will make you re-think your relationship with the internet forever, S.J. Watson’s psychological thriller, Second Life, tells the story of a fairly unremarkable wife and mother whose entire life is turned upside-down after her sister is murdered. According to Julia, the police aren’t doing everything to find Kate’s killer, and so she takes matters into her own hands. Suddenly, Julia finds herself immersed in her sister’s secret world of online dating and cybersex, and quickly begins to succumb to a hidden, and potentially deadly, digital “second” life of her own.

12. ‘The Westing Game’ by Ellen Raskin

Featuring a surprising plot for a YA/Middle Grade novel, Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game just might have been your very first mystery thriller. In The Westing Game, sixteen characters are thrown together to play a series of games hosted by a dead millionaire — and lifelong lover of games himself. Samuel Westing’s will is filled with games, tricks, and mysteries, all leading his heirs to their share of his estate… and although all are somewhat eccentric in their own rights, one might actually be a murderer.

13. ‘Before the Fall’ by Noah Hawley

Alternating between the past and the present, Noah Hawley’s novel, Before the Fall, tells the story of a terrible (and unlikely?) boating accident. When an entire boat of people traveling from Martha’s Vineyard to New York one summer evening disappears into the thick fog off the coast, only two survivors surface: an unknown painter and a four-year-old boy who seems to have lost his entire family. But was the disappearance really an accident? As past and present begin to collide, and theories abound, the possibility that this was really a planned conspiracy becomes increasingly likely — and disturbing.

14. ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini

Young Afghan boys Amir and Hassan might feel like they’re best friends, but the ethnic and tribal tensions that permeate every aspect of Afghan society say otherwise. Amir is the son of a wealthy Pashtun merchant and Hassan, of the Hazara caste, is technically his servant. But Baba Amir’s father, loves both boys as sons; often exhibiting a soft spot for Hassan, while critiquing Amir. This fear of disappointing his father causes Amir to betray his lifelong friend, threatening their relationship with more than just the dynamics of Afghan politics. And once Amir betrays Hassan, unforgivably, he discovers — through one surprising twist after another — that the rest of his life risks being defined by this betrayal.

15. ‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart

The winner of several awards for books for young writers, E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars introduces you to Cadence Sinclair, a teen suffering from amnesia who is struggling to remember the accident that led to her injury, trusts no one, and is questioning everything — including her cousins and best friends, the “Liars.” Written in choppy, nontraditional prose, We Were Liars will take you through Cadence’s internal journey, into the darkest depths of her mind, leaving you wondering whether she is the victim of a terrible violence or an unreliable narrator. All is revealed in the end.

Via: https://www.bustle.com/p/15-books-with-plot-twists-you-never-saw-coming-56286

20 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: June 2017

books-radar-june-2017

Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books they’ve read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Here are their recommendations for June 2017:

  1. The Force By Don Winslow
  2. Killers Of The Flower Moon By David Grann
  3. The Light We Lost By Jill Santopolo
  4. Mom & Me & Mom By Maya Angelou
  5. Exit Strategy By Steve Hamilton
  6. The Bright Hour By Nina Riggs
  7. The Immortal Irishman By Timothy Egan
  8. American Bang By Doug Richardson
  9. Apollo 8 By Jeffrey Kluger
  10. Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give By Ada Calhoun
  11. Girl At War By Sara Nović
  12. Evicted By Matthew Desmond
  13. Trajectory By Richard Russo
  14. She Rides Shotgun By Jordan Harper
  15. The Story Of My Teeth By Valeria Luiselli
  16. Goodbye, Vitamin By Rachel Khong
  17. There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé By Morgan Parker
  18. The Animators By Kayla Rae Whitaker
  19. White Fur By Jardine Libaire
  20. IQ By Joe Ide

Click on the links above for a detailed synopsis of each book, or follow the following link to see what the Writer’s Bone crew had to say: Books-that-should-be-on-your-radar-June-2017

Gone Girls, Found | Talking with Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed

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CHICAGO — The pairing of Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed seems at once too obvious and not obvious enough.

Too obvious because both are female writers who happen to have had best-selling books optioned by Reese Witherspoon and made into high-octane, swinging-for-the-fences films.

And not obvious enough because Ms. Flynn specializes in probing dark, unsavory recesses of the human psyche, like her antiheroine Amy in the 2012 novel “Gone Girl.” Ms. Strayed rocketed to fame the same year with her memoir “Wild,” about her redemptive 1,100-mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail as a brokenhearted divorced 26-year-old grieving the early death of her mother.

Yet the authors share similarities that run deep. Feminists both, they create bluntly authentic, deeply engaging stories through characters that defy stereotypes.

They have also forged roads to Hollywood gold. Directed by David Fincher and adapted by Ms. Flynn herself, the film “Gone Girl” has earned more than $300 million globally. “Wild,” directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, adapted by Nick Hornby and starring Ms. Witherspoon, is one of the season’s most anticipated films.

The first and last time Ms. Flynn and Ms. Strayed met was two years ago at a literary event in St. Paul, and they reconvened on a wintry Halloween here, greeting each other happily with hugs. Ms. Flynn, 43, has a newborn, her second child, and lives with her family in Chicago, and Ms. Strayed, 46, happened to be in town with her husband and two children.

Here are excerpts from their conversation.

Q. Tell me about when you first met, in St. Paul.

A. Cheryl Strayed It was freezing. We went on a hike, and I didn’t have a jacket. It was like “Wild” all over again, with the elements for which I was unprepared. And I remember I was talking about how our books are so different, readers have a different relationship to them. People who read “Wild,” they’re like, “You don’t realize it, but you’re my best friend.”

Gillian Flynn [Deadpan] They don’t feel that way about Amy?

Strayed Maybe it’s a little more like they’re fascinated to know who you are. Who’s the person behind that crazy story?

This question is from a Times reader: “Witherspoon wanted to create better roles for women, but has ‘Gone Girl’ shown women in a better role? Is it empowering or continuing stereotypes?”

Flynn I’ve been asked that a lot, and to me the answer is always: “Of course, it’s not misogynistic.” Women shouldn’t be expected to only play nurturing, kind caretakers.

That’s always been part of my goal — to show the dark side of women. Men write about bad men all the time, and they’re called antiheroes.

Were you surprised that that was the reaction you got?

Flynn I had about 24 hours where I hovered under my covers and was like: “I killed feminism. Why did I do that? Rats. I did not mean to do that.” And then I very quickly kind of felt comfortable with what I had written.

Cheryl, it’s your story, but did you get blowback from people, or was it just more relief at having told an honest story?

Strayed It never occurred to me, not once, that the book would be read as an inspirational tale. I really have no interest in likability when it comes to characters. It’s always about credibility, and to be credible you have to seem human. One of the most difficult things reading about the movie “Wild” was when people started writing about it and me in this shorthand way. I knew they hadn’t read the book, because the things they would say about me were just patently untrue.

What kind of stuff were you getting?

Strayed Often, they’ll say my problems were self-inflicted. And really the two biggest problems I began the trail with were the opposite of self-inflicted: the dead mother and the abusive father who wasn’t in my life. Those were my two most significant wounds, neither of which I inflicted upon myself, both of which I had to heal in myself.

It’s interesting what Gillian is saying. I think the lazy interpretation of Amy is she’s this evil psychopath and she’s all darkness. I think so much of the reason “Gone Girl” is so successful is that all of those very winning passages where Amy writes about her romantic life, falling in love with her husband, the way she constructs herself as a woman in the world. Those are very recognizable to us.

Flynn I think we wouldn’t have heard as much anger about it if she was more dismissible. She’s understandable, and that makes her a little harder to just write off. She’s not Norman Bates’s mom just sitting there in a rocking chair being evil.

Is there a double standard, where male characters don’t get that level of scrutiny?

Flynn The likability thing, especially in Hollywood, is a constant conversation, and they’re really underrating their audience when they have that conversation. What I read and what I go to the movies for is not to find a best friend, not to find inspirations, not necessarily for a hero’s journey. It’s to be involved with characters that are maybe incredibly different from me, that may be incredibly bad but that feel authentic.

When you were writing the books, did you think, “I’m breaking the mold and pushing the edges of these women characters?”

Flynn A theme that has always interested me is how women express anger, how women express violence. That is very much part of who women are, and it’s so unaddressed. A vast amount of literature deals with cycles of violence about men, antiheroes. Women lack that vocabulary.

Strayed The story I wrote has an ancient tradition in literature, man against nature, the hero’s journey. I was conscious of the narratives that I was both taking part in and also countering because the variation on the theme is: It was a woman, and it wasn’t “versus.” I say the wild felt like home to me. It wasn’t me trying to conquer it; it was me living in it. So much about “Wild” is about acceptance and surrender and vulnerability. To me that’s the greatest strength, not this conquering kind of narrative that we have embedded in our bones.

[To Ms. Flynn:] Is “Gone Girl” the movie being talked about as a feminist film or an anti-feminist film, or is the jury out on that?

Flynn The jury is still out. That’s what’s been interesting: Is it anti-woman? Is it anti-man?

Strayed What do you think it is?

Flynn To me, it’s neither. It’s about two specific people who are battling and who happen to be a man and a woman. I certainly enjoyed playing with those gender roles. Amy is certainly a character who understands every single female stereotype — and uses it. So when people say she’s embodying awful stereotypes about women, I say, “Yes, exactly, and that’s kind of the point.” She knows every trope there is. She’s a storyteller, she’s a studier, and she has absolutely no compunction about using the female victim role, using the femme fatale role, using the girl-next-door role.

Strayed I was so mindful that I had not written a book for women. I think the death of us would be if our films or our books were interpreted in this kind of “You go, girl” thing. And I think the last frontier for women is to say we are fully human, which means that our stories are as relevant to men as they are to women.

Flynn I would love it if I could do an event without a very well-meaning man telling me, “I don’t normally read books by women.” Do you get that?

Strayed All the time. One of the first experiences I had when “Wild” came out was this male radio host interviewed me, and right before we went live, he said, “I picked your book up and I couldn’t stop.” And then we’d go live and he’d go, “Cheryl Strayed has written a great book for women.”

Where does the twisted girl come from?

Strayed I remember, at our event we did together, you told some funny story about being a kid, it was about some early indicator.

Flynn I had a bunch of cousins, all girls, we’d play dress-up, and they’d always go for the princess costumes, and I was like, “I’ll be the witch” And we had this game called Mean Aunt Rosie, where I was basically their evil caretaker aunt.

Strayed I do think those things are like early indicators of what our obsessions are going to be as writers. When I was 6 and 7, when my mom’s friends were going to come over, she’d say “O.K., you’re only allowed to ask three questions.” Because otherwise I would get them in a corner and just grill them about things that were kind of shocking to them.

I wanted to hear from other people what they thought about their wounds, and I was trying to find out in ways that made adults very uncomfortable. I’ve always been the one to ask a question beyond the one that’s appropriate.

I want to talk about that move from book to screen. Cheryl, were you O.K. with Nick Hornby and was that difficult for you, turning it over?

Strayed He read “Wild” the first week it was out. I didn’t know him, and he wasn’t being considered as the screenwriter at that point. He just wrote me the world’s nicest fan email. So when Nick came on the project, I felt he understood the book on a deep level. It was always clear that I would read the screenplay, I would weigh in on it, I would be listened to, and I was.

Flynn Which is huge. You and I both talked about the stories you know about the author going to Hollywood are full of heartbreak. We both ended up with Reese, who is a woman of her word and does really care about writing, loves telling a story right.

You were working with David Fincher, who is known to be thorough.

Flynn I was on the set, but the script was locked by then. We just had a great back and forth, a lot of it by phone, since I’m in Chicago. When you hear David Fincher is going to direct your movie it’s, “Oh my God, I’ve got to step up my game.” But I wanted a David Fincher version of “Gone Girl,” so I was very much inclined to step back.

Strayed With Jean-Marc, I told him: “I give you my book. The only thing I ask is that you make a perfect film.” And he laughed. I gave him my opinions only when he asked for them.

And I told Reese the first time we talked, “You need to make this your story, not mine.”

Now, because I was so much a part of this, I would totally adapt my own book. I would do what Gillian did.

Via: https://nytimes.com/talking-with-the-authors-of-gone-girl-and-wild

Some of the Best Book to Movie Adaptations

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Truth time: the book is not always better than the movie. What’s more, trying to figure out which version of a story is “better” isn’t always helpful. Film and print are two entirely different mediums, and we ask different things of each form. That said, here are the Book Riot team’s favourite book-to-movie adaptations, that capture the spirit of the original stories, while at the same time enriching them in the way that only film (or TV) can.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

I fell in love with the film, then read the book, then watched the film again to make sure I still liked it. While there are some major differences, Milos Forman’s adaptation captures the juxtaposing moments of insouciance and sorrow that take place in Ken Kesey’s novel. The cinematography is fantastic and the original score is haunting. Furthermore, it was filmed at Oregon State Hospital in Salem, the same setting as Kesey’s work. In the year it was released, the film won all five major Academy Awards, a feat only accomplished three times in total. Also, Louise Fletcher’s performance as Nurse Ratched is incredible.

Anne of Green Gables

I loved this adaptation because it was simply a pitch-perfect re-imagining of the classic books. There were no weird new characters added (and, let’s be honest – this was filmed in the ‘80s, there very well could’ve been an alien), no modern interpretations of plotlines or relationships, just the book’s own narrative, which is why we all fell in love in the first place. And they could not have cast better actors to play the lovely Anne, Marilla, Matthew, Gilbert, and Diana. Filming on location in picturesque Canada, and especially Prince Edward Island, did not hurt: I usually like to keep the images from the book in my own head, but seeing the White Way of Delight, Lake of Shining Waters, and Green Gables itself, so true to the book’s descriptions, was blissful. And it’s made PEI a bucket-list bookish destination for me, and many, many other readers.

Witches of Eastwick

For me, this is actually a case of the movie being better than the book. Way better. I’m not saying John Updike isn’t a great writer, but his portrayal of woman wasn’t exactly the greatest in The Witches of Eastwick. But the movie is amazing and it’s mostly due to the cast. Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, Jack Nicholson, and…Cher. Let me repeat that. Cher. Admittedly, the movie is a little campy, but it’s the ’80s. I’m also a sucker for movies when women band together (a la 9 to 5) and for me, the movie is what the book should have been.

Jaws

This is my go-to example when people say “name a movie that is better than the book.” (This, and Die Hard. Yes, Die Hard was a book first! It’s also the best Christmas movie, but that’s an argument for another day.) It is easy to pick Jaws, because I’m sorry but Jaws is a horrible novel. I’m sure it was a great trashy beach read when it came out, but it’s quite ridiculous. But from its ridiculousness, Steven Spielberg managed to make one of the most perfect movies ever. Every shot in Jaws is magnificent. Quint is one of the best characters. The whole thing is eminently quotable. And Spielberg cut out all the nonsense from the book, like – spoiler alert – Ellen Brody and Hooper’s affair, and the death of Hooper. How awesome is it when Richard Dreyfuss pops up at the end?

The 25th Hour

The perfect book to turn into a movie is one with a simple and lean plot that still hits heavy themes, and this debut novel by David Benioff is a great pick. The film is a faithful adaptation (by Benioff) with great casting (one of my favourite PSH roles and that’s saying something) and a talented director in Spike Lee. The 25th Hour is about a small-time drug dealer enjoying his last day of freedom before a long prison term, which sounds like a perfect Spike Lee joint, but this is a story where much is unsaid. No one can talk about the reality the next day will bring, the awkwardness and the emotion underneath are all captured here, and Lee lets the movie breathe without pushing too hard. The movie somehow feels both vibrantly alive and slowly paced. Oh, and it does a few more crucial things: it adds a strong sense of place, beautiful cinematography, and a great soundtrack. Books can do a lot of things, but these elements of sound and beauty are where movies really shine and it’s where the best adaptations make their mark. Warning: while this sounds like a total guy movie (dude bonds with his dad and other dudes) it is a huge weep-fest at the end.

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring premiered on December 19, 2001. Since then we’ve seen the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy brought to screen and three movies based on The Hobbit. But I’ll never forget the excitement and the wonder I experienced in that movie theater when Middle Earth for the first time came to life in a movie that was both beautiful and respectful of the source material. When the movie was over, I remember exclaiming, “Yes!” with great emphasis. I was overwhelmed, in awe, exhilarated. And I couldn’t stop smiling.

The Princess Bride

Like many children of the ’80s, I became intimately acquainted with this movie well before I knew it was based on a book. When I did finally pick up William Goldman’s classic, I was delighted to discover how faithful the film is, not just to the details of the story but the spirit of it. This is a silly, and often ridiculous, story, and the movie, with its crazy-looking ROUSes and intentionally unbelievable sound-stages-dressed-up-as-mountain-cliffs, is just perfect. I’m afraid that if it were made today, we’d see WETA Workshop-style creatures and too much CGI, so The Princess Bride gets my vote for being practically perfect, and perfectly timed.

High Fidelity

When people ask me what my favourite movie is, I tell them it’s Rear Window or The Empire Strikes Back, but it’s probably High Fidelity. For one, it’s a perfect adaptation. Even though it messes with the book’s setting and even its main character’s name, it captures the spirit of Nick Hornby’s book in a way that so few page-to-screen adaptations have managed. High Fidelity is quotable, its soundtrack (and the way it’s used in the film) is exceptional, it features a career-best performance from John Cusack, Jack Black and Todd Louiso as the most endearing set of goofball employees I can imagine, and a Tim Robbins cameo even better than the one he has in Anchorman. The whole thing orbits around Hornby’s music nerd obsessiveness, and we watch Cusack’s Rob Gordon rank and list every meaningful experience (musical and otherwise) he’s ever had, including his most painful breakups. I love this movie, and I might as well face it: it’s number one, with a bullet.

Coraline

Coraline is one of my favourite all-ages books out there, and I was so thrilled when it was adapted to film. This is a case where the story went through changes (of course it did), but not to the point where one wonders what the production team was thinking. The book is one creepy experience, and the film another, with fantastic atmosphere and stop animation. If ever there were a book and film adaptation pair that could coexist, it’s this one.

Romeo + Juliet

Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet made me think that Shakespeare was “cool.”  The delivery of the lines, most notably John Leguizamo’s Tybalt, is forever ingrained in my mind so that when I read the play now I hear them. I see the over-the-top versions that Luhrmann chose for the movie and the play will always be better for it. I say “better” not because it improves on Shakespeare (blasphemy!) but because it makes the play clearer to me as a reader, and helps me understand what is going on in the scenes. And that should always be the point of movie adaptations.

True Grit

True Grit is one of my favourite all-time books, and a classic work that you put down and go “I see why this is a classic.” A small, seemingly straightforward novel that has all of its cleverness buried just below the surface, waiting for you to notice it. It was adapted once back in Olden Days, as a John Wayne movie, about which I have no particular opinion. More interestingly, it was recently adapted by the Coen Brothers (who are godly filmmakers) starring Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin, among others. It’s a film that perfectly manages the sparse simplistic style of the novel (and understands why everyone in the story talks in the weird way they do). What I realised by the end of it, though, was it had got nearly all the book’s dialog in, word for word. I’ve suggested to some people that if you’ve seen the film, you don’t need to read the book. You’ve gotten the entire book, combined with excellent performances and a haunting soundtrack. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen a book translated 100% onto screen without the results being boring and forgettable. Masterful film.

Gone Girl

I go into movie theaters prepared to make excuses, register the differences, and generally side-eye any movie made from a film. That doesn’t mean I don’t often enjoy them, just that I take ‘em with a grain of salt. But Gone Girl was a pleasure to watch from start to finish. I’d read the book twice by the time I saw it, so the plot was firmly fixed in my brain – and the movie fulfilled its promise and then some. Every shot, every actor, every segue felt true to the spirit of the book and letter be damned! No one could have made better use of Ben Affleck’s chin; Rosamund Pike brought a smoky darkness to Amy; I’m now a huge fan of Carrie Coon; and I will never be able to forget Neil Patrick Harris’s, ahem, scene. Add to that the breadcrumbs that they strewed throughout the film, leading toward the inevitably shocking conclusion – and you have one of the most faithful film adaptations I’ve had the joy to watch.

10 Things I Hate About You

Heath Ledger serenading Julia Stiles with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and precious nerd-pants-baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt trying to woo Alex Mack? How can this NOT be the best book-to-movie adaptation? I guess technically it’s a Shakespeare-play-to-movie adaptation, but would you rather see The Taming of the Shrew or 10 Things I Hate About You? Thought so. This is the movie that made us look at the smelly, borderline greasy dude in the leather jacket and think, “If I dance on this table to Biggie Smalls ‘Hypnotize’ and hit my head on a chandelier, maybe he will catch me before I fall, sing to me, royally piss me off by taking money from the guy who was on Party of Five and I think started his own religion in real life, then break into my car and leave me a Fender!” Maybe that was just me, I was 16 and apparently undateable when it came out. I highly recommend rewatching it as an adult. You’ll probably cry when Kat reads the poem to Patrick because… it’s really sad now.

The Shawshank Redemption

I spent a good portion of the ’90s rewatching The Shawshank Redemption over and over, and when I discovered that it was an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” (from Different Seasons, if you’re interested), it recast the Guy Who Writes The Scaries into The Guy Who Has An Unbelievable Fictional Range in my mind. Tim Robbins is perfect as Andy Dufresne, the urbane and seemingly soft-but-actually-hard-as-fucking-nails banker sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife. Morgan Freeman is, well, Morgan Freeman (his speech to the parole board is one of the best moments in movie history). This is a hope-filled heart-breaker and classic film.

If you haven’t yet read these books or seen the movies, I highly recommend them all.

Via: http://bookriot.com/2014/12/22/riot-round-favorite-book-movie-adaptations