Books to Films at TIFF15

September kicks off Film Festival Season, a prequel to all the movie nominations coming up at the end of the year. First there’s Venice, Telluride, and Sept. 10 begins the 10-day celebration of films from over 70 countries at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The following are several of the premieres at TIFF15 that are adaptations from literary sources. Just to throw some more reading ideas out in case you’re not already overwhelmed with book suggestions.


The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

The Dressmaker Movie-tie-in CoverAustralian author Rosalie Ham’s debut novel (2000) is divided into four sections named after four different kinds of fabric: gingham, shantung, felt and brocade. The historical, gothic novel has received several nominations and shortlisted for the Book of the Year Award (2001) by the Australian Booksellers Association. The film adaptation stars Kate Winslet as the dressmaker Tilly Dunnage who returns to her hometown seeking revenge on her being expelled years before, with a sewing machine as her accomplice. Sounds interesting? What more, she is a Titanic survivor (of course she is) and the plot thickens with a hearing on the doomed maiden voyage. Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse wrote the screenplay and shot the film in Victoria. Liam Hemsworth and Judy Davis also star.

High-Rise by J. G. Ballard

HighRise(1stEd)J. G. Ballard’s most well-known novel probably is Empire of the Sun (1984) thanks to Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation. That is a semi-autobiographical account of Ballard’s childhood years in a Shanghai internment camp during the Japanese invasion of China. The production is one of the better WWII, Pacific War movies, splashed with some surreal styling. Now High-Rise (1975) looks like a totally imaginative work. An ultra-modern high-rise apartment (hopefully with some updated renos from its inception in 1975) with all its conveniences and amenities only lead to the isolation of its tenants, dividing them into different classes and eventually, to rivalry and extreme violence. The high-rise is a self-contained microcosm of our civilized society, perhaps Lord of the Flies of the concrete jungle. An acerbic satire of our human condition, the film is directed by Ben Wheatley and stars Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons.

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

Into the ForestThis is Hegland’s debut novel (1996), and had been translated into eleven languages. Set in Northern California in the near future when a massive continental power outage causes the total shutdown of technology, subsequently, the total collapse of human society. The apocalyptic scenario unfolds as two teenaged sisters – at first living in an idyllic, remote forest – now have to fend for themselves, find food at the brink of starvation, secure safety in the wild, and in the process, grow in their relationship with each other and learn more about their world. A coming-of-age story as well as an allegory of our technologically dependent society. The film is shot in British Columbia where, yes, there are beautiful forests. Canadian director Patricia Rozema writes the screenplay and helms the production. Rozema is the one who brought us Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park the movie in 1999. Popular Canadian actress Ellen Page joins hands with Evan Rachel Wood to play the roles of the sisters.

The Lady In the Van by Alan Bennett

The Lady in the VanThanks to the film adaptation, or I wouldn’t have known about this amazing story. Acclaimed English playwright Alan Bennett’s play is not fiction but a memoir. Bennett saw a transient woman living in a van on the street. Trying to help her out, he let her park on his own driveway for three weeks so she could sort things out and move on. Well, Miss Shepherd stayed for 15 years. Not surprisingly, she and the playwright form an unlikely bond of friendship. This ‘mostly true’, incredulous story needs to be told for its unique human scenario. From play to film is probably the best route to reach many more viewers. Who else other than Maggie Smith best fit the role as Miss Shepherd? And so she did, with Alex Jennings as Alan Bennett. Supporting cast includes Jim Broadbent, Dominic Cooper, and James Cordon. The is the third film wherein director Nicholas Hytner and playwright Alan Bennett team up. Their previous collaborations are The History Boys (2006) and The Madness of King George (1994).

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian movie tie in editionHere’s a Cinderella story that all bloggers can cheer for. In 2009, Andy Weir started posting on his personal blog as a post-by-post serial his well-researched sic-fi story about an astronaut stranded on Mars. Chapter by chapter he attracted numerous readers who, after the story was finished, suggested he publish it as an eBook so people could read it online as a whole. Weir did that and his eBook soon hit the top of Amazon’s best selling sic-fi list. Not long after, Random House stepped in and took it from there, from e to reality. Four days later, “Hollywood called for the movie rights,” Weir recalled. As I type, on this second week of September, Weir’s book is number one on the New York Times Best Sellers Trade Paperback Fiction list. And the movie? The legendary Ridley Scott takes the helm, with NASA consulting, Matt Damon stars, and an A-list supporting cast includes Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jeff Daniels. World premiere at TIFF before a general release later in October. And it all started with a blog post.

Room by Emma Donoghue

roomThe 2010 Booker-prize shortlisted novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue reads like you’d want to see it visualized. Indeed, hearing constantly the voice of a 5 year-old could have that effect on you. So here we are. A movie adaptation. Locked in a room and made captive by a psychotic abuser, a young mother gives birth and for the next five years raises her child Jack in a shed. At 5, Jack has known no other worlds, but now begins to ask questions. Ma cannot contain the make-believe anymore so she tells Jack there’s a world out there, and starts to prepare him for a possible escape. The multiple-award winning novel is written from the child’s perspective. It depicts the power of love and the indomitable spirit of resilience and hope, but maybe not for the claustrophobic. The movie trailer is impressive; the 1.5 minute clip is powerful, consuming, and very moving. The film premiered at Telluride International Film Festival in early September and stunned the audience, drawing multiple standing ovations. Donoghue wrote the screenplay herself, that could well be a definite asset. Lenny Abrahamsson directs, with Brie Larson as Ma, Jacob Tremblay as Jack, Joan Allen and William H. Macy supporting.

UPDATE Sept. 20, 2015: ROOM has just won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at TIFF15 tonight. FYI, a few of TIFF’s previous winners had gone on to win the Oscar Best Picture including 12 Years A Slave (2013), The King’s Speech (2010), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), American Beauty (1999).


Back to the Source: From Movie to Book

Those who have come to the pond here for a while would know I’m a Book to Movie person. If I know a film adaptation is coming out, I’d want to read the book first, as I’m always intrigued by the adaptation process. Maybe it’s the transposition of one art form into another that so fascinates me. Yes, you can say it’s a kind of theme and variation type of work.

But there are also times when I’m so captivated by a movie that, after watching it, I want to read the book on which it’s based. Thanks to Wes Anderson, I’m now reading Stefan Zweig.

the-grand-budapest-hotel movie poster

Before watching The Grand Budapest Hotel last April, I had never heard of the Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer Stefan Zweig. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Zweig was one of the most famous and translated writers. And yes, here I am living under a Rock(ies), have never heard of the name until Wes Anderson’s confessional interviews, wherein he raved about how his (now) Oscar winning Budapest Hotel was influenced by the writings of Stefan Zweig. Also in the movie, there is the acknowledgement of Zweig as the source of inspiration as the film’s end credits begin to roll.

Here’s what’s interesting: Instead of adapting from one single work, Anderson created his Budapest Hotel sparked by the oeuvre of Zweig’s after he read his writings only a few years before. After watching the film, I’ve since read several of Zweig’s short stories, and a couple of novellas The Post Office Girl and Chess Story, and now continue to delve into more of his captivating, often bittersweet, stories. Watch for my article coming out in the April (Spring) issue of Shiny New Books on how Z inspired A.

So The Budapest is the most recent example of how a movie influences my reading. Over the years, there have been other ones. Here are some more:

12 Years A Slave (2013) – Steve McQueen’s artistic rendering of slavery may seem like a paradox, but acclaimed British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance as Solomon Northup is what spurred me to read the original memoir. Both are excellent works.

3:10 to Yuma (2007) – Have you ever read a Western short story? Western as in uh… cowboy, gunslingers. This is one of the few Western work I’ve ever read. The intriguing moral dilemma the movie depicts and its poignant ending had driven me to look for the short story by Elmore Leonard as soon as I left the theatre.

Bleak House (2005) – The BBC TV mini-series with Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock, Anna Maxwell Martin as Esther Summerson sealed the deal for me. The series also introduced me to the talented Carey Mulligan, her first role I believe. I turned to the 1,000 plus pages Dickens novel soon after the series finished. Because I’ve seen it first, it was a breezy read, almost.

Howards Ends (1992)  A cast with Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter and Vanessa Redgrave is not hard to move and entertain. And thanks to Merchant Ivory, the dynamic dual of producer/director, and their team writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, I devoured the humorous and equally entertaining E. M Forster novel after that.

Revolutionary Road (2008) – I was captivated by the movie at first. Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio had done a marvelous job in depicting the entrapment of suburban life. But only through reading Richard Yates’ book did I sense the even deeper psychological entanglement that I missed in the film.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) – I wrote in my book review, “This is one book that should be read after watching the film. Without visualizing what Jean-Dominique Bauby had gone through after his massive stroke, the reader simply could not empathize or appreciate enough of Bauby’s effort in ‘writing’ his memoir.” How? One blink at a time.

When Did You Last See Your Father (2007) – I watched the film twice at TIFF a few years back, Colin Firth as British writer Blake Morrison and Jim Broadbent as his overbearing and critical father dying of cancer. The life-long yearning of a son seeking his father’s approval is so sensitively portrayed. Reading Morrison’s memoir after only made me appreciate the film more.

How about you? Are there movies that have motivated you to go back to the source and read the book?


(CLICK ON the links in the titles to read my reviews.)

Books to Movie Adaptations Updates

Here are some updates that look promising, books that are in various stages of development into movies. For yourself or your book group, should make a good reading list:

East of Eden Book CoverEast of Eden — This just came out two days ago, Hunger Games director Gary Ross will write the screenplay of this new adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic, with Jennifer Lawrence to star. For J. Law fans, this is good news. But for devotees of the original 1955 movie adaptation directed by the legendary Elia Kazan with the debut breakout role for James Dean, this modern version definitely is uncalled for, a rebel without a cause.

An Object of BeautyAn Object of Beauty — The movie version of Steve Martin’s novel about the NYC art gallery scene is now a project of Amy Adams’, with Ned Benson writing the screenplay. I have high expectation of this one, having seen Benson’s wonderful works The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her last year at TIFF. The cast has not been announced but Amy Adams will be the producer and actor in her new project.

A Walk In the WoodsA Walk In The Woods — from the vast open sea in All Is Lost to the Appalachian Trail, Robert Redford will appear in this adaptation of the 1998 personal memoir by Bill Bryson, a walk on the Appalachian Trail to ‘rediscover America.’ Nick Nolte is also reported to be in the cast. Screenplay by Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3, The Hunger Games), directed by Ken Kwapis (The Office). The movie is scheduled to come out in 2015. Enough time to read or reread, or even walk the Trail yourself. Who knows, you might see the film crew while there.

Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins Author Jess Walter of this popular novel will co-write the screenplay with writer/director Todd Field. I’ve seen Field’s Oscar nominated adaptation of Little Children (2006 with Kate Winslet nom. for Best Actress), a haunting film. I trust his talents with Beautiful Ruins. Considering the Italian coastal setting of the book, the movie would likely offer some beautiful cinematography. Imogen Poots is on board, so far.

The Dinner The Dinner — Dutch author Herman Koch’s novel is like a dynamite. I’m half way through the lighted fuse as I type this post, so it’s not full-blown yet, but I’m totally engrossed in this book based on a real-life crime. The dinner menu in an elegant restaurant ingeniously parallels the plot development. I missed it at TIFF last year. And since, I’m not aware that it has made its presence on the big screens here in North America. But hopefully this year we will have the chance to see it. Even if it doesn’t show in your city, read the book still. (Update: to read my book review on Goodreads CLICK HERE.)

Hundred Foot JourneyThe Hundred-foot JourneyAnother culinary movie. This one is much lighter than the above, based on Richard C. Morais’s novel. Story is about a family from India moves to France, opening an Indian restaurant across from a Michelin-starred fine French restaurant. Cultural clashes, the reverse of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The book is quite entertaining, the movie comes with some big names. Producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, Helen Mirren to star, and directed by the prolific Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, 2000; The Shipping News, 2001; Salmon Fishing In the Yemen, 2011)

The GiverThe Giver – The highly popular young adult book by Lois Lowry finally gets a movie appearance, over twenty years after its publication in 1993. Utopia turned bad, ideals and reality. With so many movies on a dystopia, will this still look fresh? Cast include Jeff Bridges as The Giver, and look here, Meryle Streep, Taylor Swift, Alexander Skarsgard, Philip Noyce directs. One of Noyce’s previous works is the adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American (2002). Many may have read this title in school. Time to reread.

The Little PrinceThe Little PrinceLots of talents are behind this newest animation based on the beloved story by French author and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Those lending a voice include: Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Jeff Bridges, Paul Giamatti. While I love the earlier musical version (1974, with Gene Wilder as The Fox), I welcome a new adaptation, for I know this will bring the book to the limelight for a new generation. Making a movie nowadays looks to be the most effective way to introduce literature to a younger generation (or whatever generations).

Secret ScriptureThe Secret Scripture — By the Booker Prize short-listed Irish author Sebastian Barry. The novel is an internal dialogue of a close to 100 years-old patient in a mental hospital, Roseanne McNulty, reminiscing her younger days. The older character will be played by the brilliant Vanessa Redgrave, her younger self by the talented Jessica Chastain. I last see them together in a film was in Ralph Fiennes’s directorial debut, the modern version of Shakespear’s Coriolanus. Don’t think these two ladies will appear in the same scene in The Secret Scripture since they are of different time periods, but good to know that the roles are being played by two wonderful actors.


Previous Books to Movies Lists:

2014 Book To Movie Adaptations

Upcoming Book to Movie Adaptations

Great Movies Expectations

Related Posts:

My book review of The Dinner posted on Goodreads

Book Review of The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Do We Need Another Rebecca Remake? Another Grapes of Wrath?


Summer Reading for Future Viewing

NOTE: Just added Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Some updates on books into films or TV adaptations. Some I’ve read, some TBR.

Under The Dome copyUnder The Dome by Stephen King — Now a new TV series (CBS) produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, joining the trend of bypassing the big screen to opt for TV production. The future is now as the series has already started airing. First episode with 13.5 million viewers. Could this be a foretaste of the ‘implosion’ phenom Spielberg predicted, TV screen replacing the big screen?


outlanderOutlander by Diana Gabaldon — This wildly popular, NYT bestselling cross-genre series of novels (Sci-Fi/Romance/Historical/Adventure) will be adapted into a TV series. Again, TV is the emerging medium for literary adaptations. Versatile Gabaldon has multiple degrees in science and was a university professor before creating the Outlander book series. She’s also a comic script writer. Here’s her bio.


Winters-Tale-CoverWinter’s Tale by Mark Helprin — Sci-Fi is trending. This one will be on the big screen with some big names such as Will Smith, Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell. But if you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you’d be interested to know this is one of the reasons Lady Sybil met her tragic end. No hard feeling. I wish Jessica Brown Findlay all the best in her pursuit of big screen presence. Take a look at these photos.


The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman — Book published June 18, 2013, film rights of Gaiman’s new novel (this one for adults) about childhood memories had already been snatched up by Tom Hanks’ production company Playtone and director found. That’s Joe Wright who brought us the screen adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement (2007) and the most recent version of Anna Karenina (2012). Have put a hold on the audiobook from the library.


In The Garden of BeastsIn the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson — Again, Tom Hanks had picked up the film rights and he will star in it. Before you say ‘Ha! Self-gratification’, I’d say he’s an apt choice to play William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Natalie Portman is on board as Dodd’s flirtatious zealous daughter Martha. Michel Hazanavicius, the Oscar-winning director of The Artist (2011), will helm. The book focuses on dry facts and livens up with Martha’s escapades. I can expect how the movie would use them as leverage. But I certainly hope not.


The Monuments MenThe Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel — A different perspective into Nazi atrocities. This time the victims are the art works in Europe. A special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture under Hitler’s order and for his private gains. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett star. Downton fans, Hugh Bonneville is also in. I’ve seen a doc based on Edsel’s other book The Rape of Europa, which is excellent. I eagerly await The Monuments Men.

Death Comes to PemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James — BBC will produce this Austen’s Pride and Prejudice spin-off. Will it shift our devotion for Darcy from Colin Firth to Matthew Rhys? Not a chance. So why do it, especially when the book is overwhelmingly lackluster (there’s a new oxymoron for you). Lots of alterations will be needed for it to be put on screen. Here’s my take on the book.


AustenlandAustenland by Shannon Hale — Jane Austen spinoffs have to work extra hard to capture a wider audience, considering there are multitudes in the male population who avoid reading even the brilliant, original author Jane herself. Further, these imaginary sequels to P & P even have to woo female Austen purists. Kerri Russell stars, Stephenie Meyer produces. Maybe Meyer is ok with just reaching her own fans. If you’re not an Austen purist, here’s a beach read for you.


RebeccaRebecca by Daphne Du Maurier — Currently in development by Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks. Do you think the 1940 Hitchcock film needs a makeover? Who should replace Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine? A new adaptation means drawing attention once again to Du Maurier’s novel, attracting first time readers. Good choice for book group, especially when you can read, discuss and watch movie together after.


Far from the Madding CrowdFar From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy — Carey Mulligan’s next literary adaptation after The Great Gatsby. I’m glad she’s got this role, but, can she beat Julie Christie’s 1967 rendition of Bathsheba? The new version will be helmed by rising star director Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt). Belgium actor Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) and Juno Temple (in talks) also on board. I can see that all these remakes of classic films of literary adaptations are geared at a new generation of viewers. And I say, it’s alright. Another movie version just may draw more attention to reading literature.

the-grapes-of-wrathThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck — Just as we speak, Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks is in talks with John Steinbeck’s estate to acquire the film rights, again, to remake another 1940 classic, this one with John Ford directing Henry Fonda. If the talk is successful, which I don’t doubt, who do you think should be in this new version? The book is on my TBR list with East of Eden, which also had plan for a new adaptation a few years back but since no more news had come out.



Upcoming Book to Movie Adaptations

Summer Viewing List

Can a movie adaptation ever be as good as the book?

My Review of:

The Artist

Atonement: Book Into Film

Anna Karenina: Book

Anna Karenina: Movie

Death Comes to Pemberley


Book Haul 2013

Here I go again, the annual Book Sale at Crossroad Market, organized by the Servants Anonymous Society. It’s a worthy cause, therefore, guilt-free looting of good condition used books, over a million of them donated by citizens like me. But I must say, I haul back more than I donate over the years, for many of them I plan to keep.

Compared to the last few years, I’m a bit more restrained this time. Here are some of my loot, all trade paperbacks for just $2 each:

saplings-book-coverSaplings by Noel Streatfeild — I picked it up right away as soon as I saw the grey, minimalist book cover. Delighted to find inside is beautifully designed. Look at the photo I shot on the left. You can see both the dust cover and the inside of the book cover. This is my first Persephone Book, publisher of neglected women writers. I’ve not heard of the title or the author, but trust the London publisher’s choice, and glad to find it in such a mint condition at a used book sale, I quickly grabbed it.

Parade's End BBC Book Cover copyParade’s End by Ford Madox Ford — Truth be told, I’d never heard of FMF until I read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast a couple of years ago. What a name. The only one I can think of along that line is… William Carlos Williams. Anyway, BBC’s adaptation of Parade’s End as a TV mini-series has added another name to my list of favorite actors: Benedict Cumberbatch (Again, ‘what a name.’) In these dry months in between seasons of Downton Abbey, Parade’s End makes one satisfying treat.

Villette by Charlotte BronteVillette by Charlotte Bronte — Here’s another reason for buying a book because of the publisher. I’m a collector of The Modern Library Classics. So finding this in the Classics section in the book sale was a pleasant surprise. A. S. Byatt offers her views in the intro. Other than Jane Eyre, I’ve not read anything else from Charlotte Bronte. Have you read this?

matisse-stories-a-s-byatt-paperback-cover-artThe Matisse Stories by A. S. Byatt — Three stories about three art works by Matisse. A beautiful little book. This from Goodread’s description: “These three stories celebrate the eye even as they reveal its unexpected proximity to the heart… the intimate connection between seeing and feeling…” My kind of stories.

City of GodCity of God by E. L. Doctorow — Some years ago, The New York Times called the film adaptations of Doctorow’s works ‘expensive failures’. Reason: his novels are ‘too cerebral’, ‘too lyrical’, ‘too writerly’ to be transposed into cinematic images. Got it. Whenever I’ve the time and in the mood for some cerebral challenges, I know what book to pick up. After all, I’ve long wanted to read Doctorow. The subject matter of City of God just may arouse interest to help me through the thickets of Biblical proportion.

Becoming George Sand copyBecoming George Sand by Rosalind Brackenbury — George Sand I’ve heard of, Frédéric Chopin’s lover, one of those female writers who had to adopt a male pseudonym in 19th C. society. The interesting part is the modern parallel of the story of a female French professor in Edinburgh. Author Brackenbury (due to my ignorance I’ve not heard of) graduated from Cambridge University (which I’ve heard of) and now Fellow of Creative Writing at the College of William and Mary (that good name I’ve also heard of) in Williamsburg, VA. Enticing enough.

Tell It to the TreesThe Hero’s Walk and Tell It To The Trees by Anita Rau Badami — A look at the book cover of Tell It to the Trees helps me get the idea… The Indian diaspora in cold, wintry Canada, and for that I find a linkage. Not that I’m from India, but close enough. I’m sure Anita Rau Badami has a lot more to tell than adjusting to the climate. Born in India, now living in Montreal, Rau Badami has in recent years emerged as a clear voice in Canada’s literary landscape.

Movie Love Book CoverMovie Love: Complete Reviews 1988-1991 by Pauline Kael — Roger Ebert in his memoir Life Itself acknowledged Pauline Kael (1919-2001) as his mentor and major influence. While Ebert got a Pulitzer for his movie criticism, Kael got a National Book Award. She had been praised for re-inventing the form and aesthetics of the genre of film critiques. Along with a dearth of female literary voices in film criticism like Susan Sontag (1933-2004), seems like such a species had become extinct nowadays. All the more to appreciate ‘a classic’.

Wonderful TownWonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker, edited by David Remnick — A Modern Library edition compiling over forty short stories published in The New Yorker before 2000, since that’s the pub. date. Reading the Table of Content is like reading the Who’s Who of 20th C. literary scene… John Cheever, Irwin Shaw, Philip Roth, Jonathan Franzen, James Thurber, John Updike, Vladimir Nabokov, Jamaica Kincaid, J. D. Salinger, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Susan Sontag, Woody Allen, Jeffrey Eugenides, Bernard Malamud, E. B. White… just to name a few. Woody Allen? You gasped. But, why are you surprised?


I’m a keeper of lists. If you’re interested, here are my loots from previous years:






Upcoming Books Into Films

Looking for book suggestions for yourself or your book group in the coming year? The following is a list of books being planned for a movie adaptation. Books turning into movies always generate a lot of debates and discussions.  Better still, read the book then watch the movie together… I’m sure more debates will ensue.

Hope the following list can furnish you or your group with some ideas. Do note that these titles are in various stages of development, meaning some may come out in the next year or two, some may take longer if they get started at all.  Click on titles (links) for more details.


1984 by George Orwell

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The Adjustment Team (short story) by Philip K. Dick (Film: The Adjustment Bureau)

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn by Hergé

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (Daniel Radcliffe)

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Keira Knightly)

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant (short story)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio)

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Ivan the Fool by Leo Tolstoy

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Middlemarch by George Eliot

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

One Day by David Nicholls

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Paradise Lost by John Milton

The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (A new take: Jane Austen Handheld)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw (My Fair Lady, Carey Mulligan, Emma Thompson script)

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (A Latina spin: From Prada to Nada)

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Matt Damon, Keira Knightly)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

The Tiger by John Vaillant

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré (Colin Firth)

Water for Elephant by Sara Gruen

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë


For a more updated list, click here to “More Upcoming Books Into Movies”.

If you know of any other titles, you are welcome to add to this list by leaving the info in the comment section.

CLICK HERE for WordPress Tag: Book Into Film.

Book Sale 2010

Went to the annual Book Sale at the Crossroads Market and hauled back my loot, officially kicking off Arti’s summer reading.  Although I must admit, I’ve many books on my TBR list.  They’re everywhere in my house, my bedside, on the couches, tables and chairs, and even on the floor.  Yet I would not miss the booksale at Crossroads.  The finds are just too good to pass.  My hours of scrutinizing always bring in great rewards.  Here’s a list of this year’s haul.  20 of them, almost all trade paperbacks, spine unbent, all new to like-new condition, at $1.50 each.  Here they are:

I’ve an eclectic selection here.  Here are the categories:


  • Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke  —  Book into film
  • Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser  — Book into film


  • The Time In Between by David Bergen —  2005 Giller Prize
  • Late Nights On Air by Elizabeth Hay  —   2007 Giller Prize
  • Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje  —  2007 Governor General’s Literary Award
  • A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews  —  2004 Governor General’s Literary Award

Contemporary Literature

  • The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco — International literary awards author
  • Love by Toni Morrison — Nobel Prize author
  • Run by Ann Patchett  —  PEN/Faulkner and Orange Prize author
  • Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton — contemporary classic
  • Goldengrove by Francine Prose — National Book Award finalist
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith —  2000 Whitbread First Novel Award
  • In The Beauty Of The Lilies by John Updike — Pulitzer winning author
  • The Evidence Against Her by Robb Forman Dew — National Book Award author
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga — 2008 Man Booker Prize
  • Amsterdam by Ian McEwan — 1998 Man Booker Prize
  • The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai — 2006 Man Booker Prize
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa — Japanese literary awards author
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro — Man Booker Prize author
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd  —  Book into film

Mystery and Thriller

  • The 39 Steps by John Buchan
  • The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
  • The Private Patient by P. D. James
  • The Messenger by Daniel Silva

Short Stories

  • Telling Tales edited by Nadine Gordimer
  • Simple Recipes by Madeleine Thien
  • The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham

Tools of the Trade

  • The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking by Mark Polish et al.
  • 10 Sure Signs A Movie Character Is Doomed & Other Surprising Movie Lists by Richard Roeper
  • Art History’s History by Vernon Hyde Minor
  • Notting Hill Screenplay by Richard Curtis
  • The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries by Emma Thompson


  • Pride And Prejudice And Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup  — Book into film

Guilty pleasure?  Compulsive hoarding?  Not really.  First off, I’m supporting a well-meaning charity, Servants Anonymous.  Secondly, I’m doing something that’s uber important in this digitally-driven society.  I’m contributing to the preservation of the art of the printed book.  And who knows, someday, these copies might well become valuable antique items when the e-industry totally takes over.

A look at their covers would make you long to touch them, real paper, book art and design, authentic hard copies of the printed word.  A future rarity, and I’m sure, collector’s items.

What Is Stephen Harper Reading?

Now that the Winter Olympics have come to a close, maybe more of the world would have heard of Stephen Harper.  No, no, he isn’t a medal winner.  Just a hockey fan, and, he happens to be Canada’s Prime Minister.

And it’s good time to read this book.  It all started one March day in 2007.  Fifty Canadian artists of all sorts were invited to a Parliamentary session to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Canada Council for the Arts, each of them representing a particular year.

There they were sitting in the Visitors’ Gallery of the House of Commons, waiting for their item to come up on the long agenda of the day.  At 3:00 pm, the business came to the celebration.  All fifty of them were asked to stand up. The Minister for Canadian Heritage, Bev Oda at the time, rose up, acknowledged their presence, and gave a five-minute speech.  Applause.  Then on to the next business item.  Stephen Harper did not even look up at them standing in the Gallery.

The fifty guest artists were incredulous.  Among them was Yann Martel, who received a Canada Council grant in 1991 allowing him to write his first novel.  His literary career reached an admirable high in 2002 when he was awarded The Man Booker Prize for his book Life of Pi.  (CLICK HERE to read one appreciative reader’s response to the book, a personal note from Barack Obama.)

After this incident, driven by frustration, Martel decided to launch a most interesting project.  He started sending Stephen Harper a book every two weeks, with his personal letter introducing  the work, and of course, whenever appropriate, fill him in as to why that’s a good read for a Prime Minister.   With such an intention, one can predict the tone of these letters.  They are mostly sincere, mind you, albeit embedded with the occasional sarcasm, irony, and yes, some condescending subtext.

But overall, these letters to the Prime Minister sent with the books are genuine appeal to the Leader of the country to place more emphasis on the arts. They offer a place of stillness in the busy agenda of a politician.  Martel’s is a gentle voice to remind the prime policy maker the role of the arts, in particular, literature and its appreciation, in the making of a nation, the importance of beauty and the imagination in the building of a vision and in shaping the humanity of her people.

So, it’s not so much as to what Stephen Harper is reading, but what’s on his TBR list.  It remains unknown whether the PM has actually read any of these gifts, although letters of appreciation had been sent to Martel from his office. It’s fun too to read the choices of the titles… and their reasons.  But above all, I’ve enjoyed reading Martel’s insights into how the literary speaks in the context of contemporary political and social landscape.  Here are some examples.  I’ve included a quote or two from Martel’s letter sent with each title:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm is about collective folly.  It is a political book, which won’t be lost on someone in your line of business.  It deals with one of the few matters on which we can all agree:  the evil of tyranny.

Animal Farm is a perfect exemplar of one of the things that literature can be: portable history.  … in a scant 120 pages, … the reader is made wise to the ways of the politically wicked.  That too is what literature can be: an inoculation.”

The Island Means Minago by Milton Acorn (People’s Poet of Canada)

“But any revolution that uses poetry as one of its weapons has at least one correct thing going for it: the knowledge that artistic expression is central to who and how a people are.”

“… the past is one thing, but what we make of it, the conclusions we draw, is another.  History can be many things, depending on how we read it, just as the future can be many things, depending on how we live it… And it is by dreaming first that we get to new realities.  Hence the need for poets.”

The Educated Imagination by Northrop Frye

“Literature speaks the language of the imagination.”

“… the better, the more fertile our imagination, the better we can be at being both reasonable and emotional. As broad and deep as our dreams are, so can our realities become.  And there’s no better way to train that vital part of us than through literature.”

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

“So, more cuts in arts funding… What does $45 million buy that has more worth than a people’s cultural expression, than a people’s sense of who they are?”

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

“Lloyd Jones’s novel is about how literature can create a new world.  It is about how the world can be read like a novel, and a novel like the world.”

The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy

“Why a book on music?  Because serious music, at least as represented by new and classical music, is fast disappearing from our Canadian lives… the latest proof of this: the CBC Radio Orchestra is to be disbanded… How much culture can we do without before we become lifeless, corporate drones?  I believe that both in good and bad times we need beautiful music.”

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

“The irony in the story is as light as whipped cream, the humour as appealing as candy, the characterization as crisp as potato chips, but at the heart of it there’s something highly nutritious to be digested:  the effect that books can have on a life.”

“Whenever an independent bookstore disappears, shareholders somewhere may be richer, but a neighbourhood is for sure poorer.”

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

“Speaking of President Obama, it’s because of him that I’m sending you the novel Gilead, by the American writer Marilynne Robinson.  It’s one of his favourite novels.”

“I would sincerely recommend that you read Gilead before you meet President Obama on February 19.  For two people who are meeting for the first time, there’s nothing like talking about a book that both have read to create common ground and a sense of intimacy, of knowing the other in a small but important way.  After all, to like the same book implies a similar emotional response to it, a shared recognition of the world reflected in it. This is assuming , of course, that you like the book.”

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

“Since Julius Caesar is about power and politics, we might as well talk about power and politics.  Let me discuss concerns I have with two decisions your government recently announced.

My first concern is about the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.  New money allocated to the Council is apparently to be spent exclusively on “business-related degrees”…. we’re losing sight of the purpose of a university if we think it’s the place to churn out MBAs.  A university is the repository and crucible of a society, the place where it studies itself.  It is the brain of a society.  It is not the wallet… A university builds minds and souls.  A business employs.”

Louis Riel by Chester Brown and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima

“But I’ve always liked that about books, how they can be so different from each other and yet rest together without strife on a bookshelf.  The hope of literature, the hope of stillness, is that the peace with which the most varied books can lie side by side will transform their readers, so that they too will be able to live side by side with people very different from themselves.”


Yann Martel is still sending books to Stephen Harper every two-weeks.  Other authors he has sent include Jane Austen, Flannery O’Connor, Ayn Rand, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Douglas Coupland, Philip Roth, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, Michael Ignatieff, Paul McCartney, Dylan Thomas, Laura and Jenna Bush… quite an eclectic selection. Excellent demonstration of how we can be so drastically different in our perspectives and background, and yet can still stand shoulder to shoulder in this vast land of the free.

To read the full list of all the books he has sent, and yes, including this one, CLICK HERE to go to the official site:  What Is Stephen Harper Reading dot ca

What Is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel, published by Vintage Canada, 2009, 233 pages.


Regarding the role of universities and the humanities as dying disciplines, CLICK HERE to read my post: THE HUMANITIES AS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES.

Books and the Gender Issue

My review of Girl With A Pearl Earring has recently been linked to a book list. While I appreciate the link, I must admit it has stirred up in me some unintended ripples.  It’s the title of the list:  ‘101 Books Every Woman Should Read’.

Now I’m always wary about books that are labeled and geared towards one gender.  Like recently I came across a book entitled 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go… makes you wonder what exactly they’re luring you into. Imagine a book called 100 Places Every Man Should Go…

Anyway, back to the list of books every woman should read.  The range is eclectic with the titles neatly categorized.

Just let me list a sample from each of the categories:

The Classics: Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Howards End by E. M. Forster, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Middlemarch by George Eliot, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf…

Children’s Literature:  Pippi Longstockings by Astrid Lindgren, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll…

Books into Movies:  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen…

Books Featuring Familial Relationships:  The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Away by Jane Urquhart…

Books Celebrating the Strength of Women:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn, Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen…

Current Literature:  Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen…

Books about Finding Oneself:  Bee Season by Myla Goldberg, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers…

Stories of Real Women: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou,  Amelia: A Life of the Aviation Legend by Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon, Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle…

Banned or Challenged Books:  Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Of Mice and Men by John Steinback, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Non-Fiction: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey, On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross,  A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

You get my point.  Sounds like any typical high school and college reading list, but why specify women?

Yes, they’re mostly written by women authors, and many with strong female protagonists.  They depict the journey of self-discovery, of overcoming odds, of seeking meaningful relationships and ideals in a hostile world.  In the non-fiction section there are influential books that have achieved significance in the area of writing, psychology, environmentalism, social justice.

But my query is:  If these books depict the inner journey of women, or portray the poignant reality of their struggles, if they have shed any light on the human race in terms of equality, justice, or existential meaning, are these not all the more reasons for men, or anyone, to read them?

Of course, for the sake of argument, one could point out that the statement “books every woman should read” doesn’t preclude that men should not.  But that’s just being contentious.

Books for women, books for men, why can’t books be just books?  Maybe it has to do with the writing of books, or, step back further, society’s view on male and female authors.

Posting on the Guardian blog, writer and editor Harriet Evans vehemently declares that:

“I’m fed up with seeing some of our best novelists written off as ‘chick lit’ — you don’t see the same belittling line taken with male writers…

It winds me up that books about young women are seen as frivolous and silly, while books about young men’s lives that cover the same topics, are reviewed and debated, seen as valid and interesting contributions to the current social and media scene.

And regarding the reading public, it has been noted that women read more than men, both in the U.S. and the U.K.  With that in mind, Evans goes on to state that:

The truth is, women happily read books (and watch films and TV) aimed primarily at men…. They read thrillers, travel books, biographies – and yet the majority of these books are marketed for men… But men rarely try women’s fiction, because they’ve been conditioned to think they can’t pick up a book with a pink cover.”

Indeed, worthy literature written by women authors are sometimes reduced to ‘romance’ or ‘chick lit’.  Jane Austen is a prime example.  Her incisive social satires, eloquent writing and sense of humor have often been swept aside while the romantic union of the protagonists at the end is given the main focus.  In this way, her work is conveniently labeled as ‘chick lit’, dreaded by male readers, until some brave souls dare to take up the challenge and are floored by her relevance and intelligence.

Virginia Woolf sharply observes in her Cambridge lecture series compiled in A Room Of One’s Own that historically, social norm has always been one that coops up women in the domestic while offering men the world.

Taking her view further, I can understand why the dichotomy, however arbitrary, in male and female writing, their difference in subject matters, subsequently, books for men and books for women.

I have a feeling that if the protagonist of The Catcher In The Rye is called Helen Caulfield, the book could well be dismissed as another trivial version of teen angst, schoolgirl blues, fussing over boys and growing up.  And likely we won’t see it on any reading list.

More Great Finds!

Call me greedy.  I’ m happy to take the blame.  Since this is the last weekend of the gigantic used book sale at the Crossroad Market, I just had to go again for more treasure hunting.  If you take a look at my second loot list below, you’d have done the same.  As the lady said when I was squeezing my way in,

“It was a zoo yesterday.”

“You came here yesterday too?”  I asked.

“Yeah, sure!”   (Subtext:  What a dumb question… and, why didn’t you?)

So, again, these are all trade paperbacks in mint condition.  They are all a dollar each (Canadian).

The Selected Stories of Mavis GallantThe Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant:   887 pages.  Having seen the video of Mavis Gallant reading in a Paris book shop and her conversation with Jhumpa Lahiri, thanks to fellow blogger oh introducing the Granta link, I was elated to find this volume.  It looked like it had not been opened, fresh, clean for the picking.


The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe

Short stories, the more the merrier.  I was delighted to find this volume:  The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe, 621 pages.  I’ve long wanted to read Wolfe, now’s a good time.





A Fine BalanceA lady held up a heavy box for me to take this one out underneath:  A Fine Balance by Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry.   “That’s a good pick,” she said.

“I’ve seen it many times, but think it’s too thick,”  I said.

“You wouldn’t want it to end,”  she said.    What higher recommendation can you get for a book?



One Man's BibleOne Man’s Bible by Gao Xingjian, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature, the first Chinese recipient of the Prize.  Born in China, Gao has been living in France since 1987.  The book is translated into English by Mabel Lee, associate professor of Chinese at the University of Sydney.  Interesting… although this one I can read the original,  the chance of me finding it in a farmers market here in Cowtown, Canada is not great.  I’ll settle for the translation.


John AdamsI missed the Golden Globe winning TV miniseries.  So, grabbing the original material is just great.  David McCullough’s 721 pages John Adams won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for biography.  This is a handsome movie-tie-in- cover edition with many color pictures.  What a find!




The Radiant WayTalking about wonderful covers.  How about this one:  Margaret Drabble’s The Radiant Way.  I’ve never seen this edition of Drabble’s book.  A pleasure just to look at.




The Devil Wears PradaAnd what’s summer reading without beach reads.  Here’s my copy of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.  Again, seldom do I see a trade paperback of this title.






Here are the rest of  my 20 titles:

  • Digging to America by Anne Tyler
  • A Patchwork Planet byAnne Tyler
  • The Navigator of New York by Wayne Johnston (Giller and GG Finalist)
  • Larry’s Party by Carol Shields (Winner of 1998 Orange Prize and National Book Critics Circle Awards)
  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (Saw the movie starring Colin Firth, quite liked it.)
  • The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
  • The Reapers by John Connolly
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Just want to read it before the movie comes out.)
  • The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (Winner of the 2006 Man Booker Prize)
  • Durable Goods by Elizabeth Berg
  • The Gathering by Anne Enright (Winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize)
  • Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
  • The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier (Author of Girl With A Pearl Earring)
  • Bird by Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

It’s a tall order to read all the 40 books I hauled back these two weekends.  It’ll take me years.  But as any book lover can attest, it’s good to know they’re on my shelves.


Summer Reading 2009

When does ‘regular reading’ end and ‘summer reading” begin?  Well this year it’s easy.  The gigantic used book sale I went to over the weekend and the loot I brought back make it official:  Let summer reading 2009 begin.

The treasures I found were trade paperbacks in like-new condition.  And because I had twenty, they cost me just one dollar each.  Right, that’s Canadian dollar, even a better bargain.  How I found them was an ordeal.  They were painstakingly selected under smoldering heat at a farmers’ market.  For two hours, I elbowed my way in to grab hold of my targets which I had to eye from a distance over heads and shoulders.  But it’s all worth it.

Here’s a picture and a list of the titles I brought back:

Used Book Sale Loot 1

  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Simple Recipes by Madeleine Thien
  • Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
  • Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam (Giller Prize Winner)
  • The Sea by John Banville (Man Booker Prize Winner)
  • Saturday by Ian McEwan
  • Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
  • Daisy Miller by Henry James
  • The Stories of Edith Wharton selected by Anita Brookner
  • The Mapmaker’s Opera by Béa Gonzalez
  • Always Now The Collected Poetry of Margaret Avison
  • Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (Pulitzer Author)
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (Booker Prize Winner)
  • Marginalia: A Cultural Reader by Mark Kingwell
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
  • Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson
  • Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood
  • Exit Music by Ian Rankin

Some of these titles I’ve long wanted to read, like Goodbye, Columbus and Rebecca.   Some are just well known titles or authors that I think I should read, like Tolstoy, Franzen and Tyler.   Some are winners of book prizes that I usually enjoy, the Booker, Giller, Pulitzer.   Some are fine Canadian authors and one of my favorite poets.   And some I’m just curious about like A Natural History of the Senses.  But one stands out.  This time, I’m literally judging a book by its cover:

Front Cover Mapmaker's Opera

Back Cover Mapmaker's Opera

The above are the front and back cover of the book.  There’s no title, only on the spine.  It’s enjoyable just looking at it.  But the title is appealing too:  The Mapmaker’s Opera.

Together with the books I’m already reading, plus my long TBR list, I think I’m topped up till next summer.

For More Great Finds, Click Here.