Books to Movie…When Worlds Collide

by Kelly

One of my earliest jobs as a youth was at the local cinema. On my days off, when I wasn’t busy dishing out popcorn and candy for the customers, I would cash in on my perk of being a theater employee and watch movies. I watched nearly everything the theater brought in without prejudice; love stories, thrillers, documentaries, comedies, and children’s films were all fair game.

A few years later, as I immersed myself in the role of being a librarian, I discovered that many of the movies I had seen in my younger years actually began as books. What a novel idea! I took home a copy of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park to see if the book was as good as my then-favorite movie, directed by film legend Stephen Spielberg. Crichton’s fast-paced novel of enormous adventure did not disappoint, and I was immediately hooked on the book-to-movie experience.

Over the eyars, I have had the thrill and disappointment of seeing some of my favorite titles transformed from page to silver screen. Jumanji and Zathura, both children’s books written by Michigan-native Chris Van Allsburg, were cinematic hits I still enjoy in both book and movie form. Young adult titles The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green, and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli are great stories on and off camera that depict life and tug at the heart strings. And, while neither Odd Thomas, written by Dean Koontz, nor Horns, written by Joe Hill (son of the legendary Stephen King), made it to the big screen, small screen adaptations of both these novels were produced with excellent visual effects and story lines that ran true to the authors’ words.

Which brings up an interesting question: if a movie adaptation does not run true to the story line of the book, does that make it a bad film? This year alone brought two of my favorite recent novels to the box office- science-fiction thriller Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer, and Ready Player One, a futuristic virtual reality treasure hunt, penned by Ernest Cline. Director Alex Garland’s on-screen version of VanderMeer’s eerie novel stays true to the setting and tone of the novel while taking a not-so-exact route with the story line. At first I found this disappointing, but the movie, much like the book, still resulted in an experience that left me feeling haunted. And then there’s Stephen Spielberg. He took Cline’s 1980s-referenced, action-packed adventure and switched it up. Though Spielberg completely changed many of the book’s significant events, he did it in a way that was equally as entertaining and effective to the overall feel of the story, much like the masterpiece he created with Crichton’s Jurassic Park.

Modern tales are not the only books being made into movies. Shakespeare’s stories were created long before the invention of the motion picture, but that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from trying their hand at interpreting the Bard’s works. Obvious translations can be seen in various versions of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, while screen adaptations of his plays can also be found in the films 10 Things I Hate About You, and Disney’s The Lion King, which tell the stories of The Taming of the Shrew and Hamlet in not-so-obvious ways. Other classics such as Les Miserables, Pride and Prejudice, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes continue to be periodically reinvented in fantastic ways.

As long as books and movies continue to thrive in our culture, it’s a good chance that their worlds will continue to collide. Sometimes the result is epic; sometimes the result is better left unseen; but either way, books and movies provide us with unstoppable entertainment.

Check out our shelves to find versions of these books, movies, and more!

Library note: Currently in production/now showing are film/TV versions of…

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Fantastic Beasts by J.K. Rowling

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

…and many others. Grab a copy of the book and read it before you see the movie!

 

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Scallywags, Scoundrels, and… Librarians?

by Britney

I think in another life, I must have been a pirate.  It’s the only (acceptable) explanation I can think of for my love of books about scallywags and scoundrels.  Give me a morally ambiguous character with a dark agenda and a shady crew, and you’ve got my attention.

Methinks it has to do with the fact that those types of characters are so much more interesting than other, more honorable and straight-laced lads (and ladies).  There are always motives other than are initially apparent, hidden perils, and higher stakes.  And muskets, and knives, and all manners of explosives!

I’ve read a couple of books lately that absolutely sing to my black heart, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about one, just in case there are readers out there who share my love of questionable characters and their equally dodgy exploits.  It’s a proper pirate-y book, caravel and all.

416OtR9YEzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Girl From Anywhere by Heidi Heilig

“It is not difficult to tell the future of a woman who only has a past.”

This book is extremely unique in that it’s a time travel book, but not really.  I mean, yes, it has time travel, but it’s not wholly about time travel.

The plot is very intricate and complicated (but not overly hard to follow), but here’s the gist of it: there’s a crew of time-traveling pirates who navigate from place to place and time to time using maps of all sorts as a means of transportation.  Maps can only be used once (a navigation is a one-way trip), and any map can be sailed into – even ones of mythical places (hello – Atlantis, anyone?).  Here’s what you really need to know: it’s (mostly) set in 19th century Hawaii, there’s a lost love, a heist, oodles at stake, and a pocket-sized dragon.

One of the things that immediately drew me to this book was its use of maps.  I am obsessed with maps.  One of the first things my dad taught me as a kid was how to read maps.  He believed that as long as I knew how to read a map, I could never get lost.  (I can’t tell you how many times this skill has been useful.  GPS? Who needs it? Not this girl.) When my grandmother died, one of the things I kept of hers was her collection of National Geographic maps, saved from the magazines she had collected since the 50s.  Anyway, I super duper smooch maps of all kinds.  And this book played right into that love.  Cartography, authenticity, accuracy, dates, places – these are all elements which advance the plot of this book.  And the introduction of maps from all different places/times lend a broad scope to the narrative, and makes history, mythology, and the future all immediately relevant.  (So, just, cool and clever, and #writergoals.)

This book also has a fantastic cast of characters.  The diversity  in the crew of the Temptation is authentic to the situation and the setting.  It’s nonsensical to think that a pirate crew would be composed all of one shade of the rainbow.  (Insert eye-roll emoji here.)  Nix, the main character, is of caucasian/Chinese descent; Kashmir (<3) is Persian; Bee is African and a lesbian; and Slate, the captain of the ship, wrestles with drug addiction.  I felt like the characters ring as authentic without being overtly token, and without their status being pushy.  Nothing feels forced; nothing feels patronizing.  There is no political aim here; it’s just a very real example of an author being brave enough to write reality.

It’s books like this one that make me appreciate YA literature.  It represents all the best things fiction has to offer: action, adventure, a moral conundrum, strong female characters, strong male characters, diversity, education… I could go on for a while.  I’d recommend it as an excellent read to anyone interested in time travel, pirates, pre-Union Hawaii, maps, ships, or pocket-dragons.  I’d give it a PG rating (it’s clean, with very few mild expletives), and would have no problem handing it to any of my tween/teen patrons.  Additionally, it’s part of a duology (yay!), so there’s more Nix, Kash, and Slate after you’ve finished this one!  (The sequel is called The Ship Beyond Time.)

And if you like books like this, here are a couple good choices for read-alikes.  (And strangely, all three of these books are parts of duologies):

20983362Passenger by Alexandra Bracken                                                    This book features Etta, a new time traveler who must search through time and space (oh, be still my Doctor Who-loving heart) for answers to her past, and for an object of treasure to help unravel secrets of her family and their strange gifts.  Though I didn’t enjoy this title quite as much, it’s still a really fun read, based on an interesting take on time-navigation.  This book is followed by Wayfarer.

 

blackhearts-9781481432696_hrBlackhearts by Nicole Castroman                                                Ahoy, fans of Blackbeard!  Though there be no time travel in this book, there are pirates aplenty!  As well as scoundrels and scalawags, and all manner of roguish rakes.  Here be the story of Blackbeard in his early years, and of the girl who loves him, then breaks his heart, setting him on a path of plunder and destruction.  And oh, what a story it is.  This book is followed by Blacksouls.

 

 

One of my very favorite parts of my job as a librarian is getting to recommend great books like these to people who come into my library.  And though I love to read, and would do it anyway, I am grateful that I get to work in a place that allows me to combine many of my loves (reading, writing, programming, people) in such exciting ways.

Until next time!

Cheers!

 

Library Remnants, New Life, & Poetry

This week, ANBL Library Life is pleased to highlight a guest post from an avid library supporter.   This post originally appeared on her blog QuestType.com.

Guest Post by H.S. Deurloo

So I’m a bit of a book hoarder and when I see a pile of free books it’s hard to resist rummaging through each worn title. Sometimes I find a subject I’m genuinely curious about and want to read- great. But what about the two dozen that don’t have a happy home?

Book art.

Have you been online to see some of the gorgeous creations you can make out of these old tomes? It’s astounding.

Have you finished ogling other’s creativity? Good, because it’s now time to do your own. A dear friend challenged me to try poetry. “I’m not into it,” I said feeling the ghost of poetry past too close to bear. “This is different,” she said handing me a piece of paper containing a page from Gone With the Wind.

“This is black-out poetry,” tossing me a thick permanent marker. I feel like I’m a vandal sneaking into someone’s home, except it’s a book.

I felt bad at first, crossing off all the words on the single page that didn’t speak to me, but as I continued it felt freeing. These are someone else’s words but crossing them off based on my mood, my environment, or my feelings make the words mine.

hannah blog 1

I’m not forcing it, it’s just fluid and organic.

So pick up a remnant title (come on they’re free!) and make your own black-out journal. One page or a two page spread a day and by the end of the book you will have a spectrum of journaling like you’ve never had before.

When you finish the last page close the book and cross out the author’s name with your marker and write in your own because this is your book now.

Happy Questing!

The Case for YA Literature

by Britney

This blog post was originally posted on my personal blog, Inkblot Ideas.  You can see the original post here. (And follow, if you love books, reading, writing, and all manner of fun quirkiness!)

 

I have a confession to make: I read a lot of YA (young adult, for those of you who are wondering) literature.  Ok, ok, maybe it’s not a confession, since if you all are paying attention, you know that already.  But it’s true, and I’m not ashamed of it.

I actually have an extremely eclectic reading taste – I’m game for almost anything, save terrifying, bloody horror books, and Amish fiction.  This is because I ❤ books, I appreciate authors and want to support their heroic work, and I like to learn things about all the things (except stabby, murdery psychopaths and sweet, sweet Amish love).

I have always been a #reader, but over the years have read for different purposes.  As a child, I read because I enjoyed it; as a student, I read because I had to; as an adult I still read because I have to, but not because it’s required – rather, it’s a compulsion.  It’s not for a grade, but for the soul.  Because I’m old now, and can do what I want (*insert sarcastic laughter here), I read what I want.  My time is limited, and I don’t see the point in torturing myself by wasting precious hours reading something I don’t enjoy.  I enjoy YA literature.

“But, why?” you ask.  “YA lit is for, you know, teenagers.”  I respectfully disagree.  Saying that is like saying teenagers shouldn’t read contemporary fiction, or nonfiction because those genres aren’t written to target a teen audience.  YA literature is a unique creature unto itself, in that it can be about anything.  YA literature is not tied to genre limitations; is is not stifled by literary conventions.  YA authors aren’t afraid to put it all out there and write about cyborg Cinderellas or about children hunting other children to amuse evil adults; they aren’t afraid to take risks.  They aren’t afraid of what their audience may think – they know kids are up for anything.

So why is YA literature thought of as being less than

Currently, YA literature is experiencing an explosion in popularity.  YA books are ending up on best seller lists; they are taking up huge amounts of space in bookstores; they are being turned into blockbuster films.  Are there really that many teens reading books?  NO.  While there are a lot of teens who read, the explanation for what can only be called the YA Phenomenon is this: adults are reading YA books.  Why?  BECAUSE YA BOOKS TALK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS that adult books don’t.  Here’s an example: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, published by HarperCollins this past February, is about an inner-city girl who witnesses her childhood best friend shot and killed by a police officer while unarmed, and the implications and fallout of that situation.  It places the reader squarely within the story, and provides a perspective most readers may never get.  No AF (adult fiction) books are talking about this topic – something that is very timely and relevant.  Yet Thomas is brave enough to do so, and to an audience that is open-minded enough to consider that other perspective.  Another example is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  This book follows Junior as he moves from the reservation to the suburbs where he navigates the minefield that is trying to make friends while battling social stereotypes.  This book highlights specific identity issues facing indigenous peoples, and resonates with many who feel marginalized.  *Looks around – AF?  Anything on this?  No?

The examples I used here are two contemporary novels, set in reality.  Many YA authors choose to tackle these issues, as well, only in a fantasy context.  Veronica Roth’s Divergent series is a good bellwether for this: she highlights society and class, as well as identity, but sets the story in a post-apocolyptic world.  YA books deal with questions of drug culture, suicide, death, violence, identity, sex, acceptance, family, relationships, mental health, etc., ad infinitum.  You name it, there’s a YA book that talks about it.  YA is valuable because people can relate to the books, no matter how old the reader is.

YA books also provide:

Escapism – Most people don’t want to sit down, crack open a book, and read about depressing things.  They want to, at least for a little while, bail on their real life.  Settings in YA books are often fantastical and foreign, and allow readers to step away from their lives and experience something that speaks to their imagination, rather than their reason.

Excitement – Let’s get real here for a minute.  There are some AF books that are boring AF.  YA books, no matter the genre, are always moving.  Because teens are always moving.  There is drama; there is action – and most of the time, the two are happening at the same time.

Strong Characters – In case you haven’t met one for a while, and need to be reminded, let me point out: teens are opinionated.  They are learning, they are developing their own thoughts and world views, and they want to see the same thing in their book hero(ine)s.  Many YA books are written in 1st person point of view, so the reader hears the character’s voice specifically.  The voices are strong and sure, and inspire that same confidence.  Additionally, there are many, many strong female characters in YA lit, who represent some of the most individual voices in literature of any genre.

Hope – For all the “issues” found in YA literature, rarely do things end on a negative note.  This is because the authors realize they are writing for the next generation, who have a lot to look forward to.  Soul-crushing situations are resolved, hurts are mended, and the bad guy is rightfully punished.  Teens are creative and they’re smart, and they have a habit of looking forward, rather than backward; YA authors do a wonderful job of giving them something bright to move toward.

It crushes my soul when I hear critics (and by critics, I mean other readers) bash YA literature as “shallow” or “dumbed down” derivatives of AF.  Because this is not the case.  YA literature is just as sophisticated and important as every other genre of book out there, because it does its job: it speaks to its audience.  And its audience listens, and loves it.

Just one last thought: if it wasn’t for YA authors, we wouldn’t have Harry Potter; we wouldn’t have Katniss Everdeen; we wouldn’t have Anne Shirley; we wouldn’t have Bilbo Baggins.  Some of the most iconic and beloved literary characters ever created are products of YA literature.

So next time someone scoffs at you because you choose to spend your time reading a YA book now and again (or always), don’t be ashamed to stand up for those authors who choose to create iconic characters and memorable settings, and who choose to face the hard issues head-on and try to make sense of them.

(All those gorgeous covers, though…)