I agree that most of the time the book is better than the movie. Within your mind there are infinite possibilities of images and voices and you get to be the director of your mind-movie. But sometimes the movies do the books justice. I have a few favorite book & movie combos that I think are worth both reading & watching.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby & High Fidelity (2000): I have read all of Nick Hornby’s books and in my opinion this is definitely his best. This is about a young man who owns a record store in London (in the movie it’s Chicago). It’s about him breaking up with his girlfriend and going back to visit all his old girlfriends to try to figure out what went wrong. It’s terrifically funny and also a sweet romance. Jack Black plays a side character and he’s hilarious. It’s one of my top five comedies of all time (you’ll get the reference if you read/watch it).
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice (2005): I have to make my confession that I never read this book until I had seen the movie. I actually didn’t even want to see the movie because I had been incredibly bored watching other movies based on Jane Austen books. My husband convinced me to go see it on the recommendation of a friend and I was almost sulking in the theater, expecting the worst. Then I enjoyed it so much that I had to read the book and stayed up until 4 in the morning reading it on a work night! I couldn’t wait for Mr. Darcy to propose! It’s so good! I just love the sarcasm and sassiness of Elizabeth. She’s the perfect character. Keira Knightly did a great job of portraying her in the film.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers & The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) & The Return of the King (2003): These are brilliant books with such depth and meaning. Tolkien had such quality in his story-telling and such beauty that you wouldn’t think a movie could do him justice. But, in my opinion, not only did Peter Jackson (director) do Tolkien justice, but made easily the best movies of the last 10 years. This story is timeless and has characters that I believe everyone can relate to.
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham and The Pelican Brief (1993): Both the book and the film are excellent edge-of-your-seat thrillers. Darby, a law student, writes a paper which brings to light a conspiracy that suddenly causes her to be chased by people who want to keep her quiet. Julia Roberts & Denzel Washington star in the film. This is one of my all-time favorite political thrillers.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005): We read and re-read this series several times in my family growing up and I’ve read them at least twice as an adult. These are magical, touching and fun books to read at any age. I thought that Andrew Adamson did a brilliant job directing this and I loved Lucy, she was just how I had always imagined her to be. The kids were superb actors and not cloying at all. My favorite book of the series is The Silver Chair which I will be excited to watch if they continue on with the series as I think they will.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman & The Princess Bride (1987): This is one book that I actually the think the movie is better (gasp!). That may be because when I was a kid I watched this at least 100 times and memorized the entire dialogue. It was my favorite for a long time. The story is funny, romantic, mysterious, adventurous & action-packed. It’s all rolled into one. It’s a classic.
Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at the Oliver Wolcott Library and loves playing guitar & singing her songs, red wine & green tea and walking through New England woods in any season.