Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Favorite... Books?!

Yes, I know the name of this blog is "Movies," but I've talked about television and lately I've been in a very literary mood, so I decided to share with everyone a list of my 30 favorite books from the past 30 years. I figured it'd be easier to look at the recent classics as opposed to trying to encompass all of literary history (and I include The Bible, Shakespeare, and other stuff as a part of that list) and I'm also leaving the list unranked as it's a bitch to put them in an order I'm pleased with. I should also add that this list is very adaptation heavy (as in a lot of these have been adapted into films), but films/TV are my forte so I suppose it's actually suiting that these are my favorites (whether I saw the film or read the book first doesn't really matter as each stands on their own). So here it is (with the plot synopsis taken from sites like Wikipedia)...

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)
Plot- The novel follows the lives of two Jewish cousins before, during, and after World War II. They are a Czech artist named Joe Kavalier and a Brooklyn-born writer named Sam Clay. They become major figures in the comics industry and its "Golden Age."
Recognition- Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

America (the Book) by Jon Stewart (2004)
Plot- A non-fiction book by the writers of The Daily Show that parodies and satirizes American politics and worldview.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (1996)
Plot- A memoir that consists of anecdotes of McCourt's impoverished childhood and early adulthood in Brooklyn, New York and Limerick, Ireland as well as McCourt's struggle with poverty, his father's drinking issues, and his mother's attempts of keeping the family alive.
Recognition- Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, National Book Critics Circle Award (Biography)
Adapted into a 1999 film directed by Alan Parker

Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)
Plot- An upper-middle-class girl in interwar England, who aspires to be a writer, makes a serious mistake that has life-changing effects for many. Consequently, through the remaining years of the century, she seeks atonement for her transgression- which leads to an exploration on the nature of writing itself.
Recognition- National Book Critics Circle Award (Fiction)
Adapted into a 2007 film directed by Joe Wright

Blindness by Jose Saramago (1995)
Plot- The story of an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness afflicting nearly everyone in an unnamed city and the social breakdown that swiftly follows.
Recognition- Nobel Prize for Literature
Adapted into a 2008 film directed by Fernando Meirelles

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (2007)
Plot- The book chronicles both the life of Oscar de Leon, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels and with falling in love, as well as the curse that has plagued his family from generations. The novel also centers on the lives of Oscar's runaway sister, his mother, and his grandfather.
Recognition- Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, National Book Critics Circle Award (Fiction)

Clockers by Richard Price (1992)
Plot- The book takes place in the fictional city of Dempsey, New Jersey and centers on the workings of a local drug gang and the dynamics between drug dealers, the police, and the community.
Adapted into a 1995 film directed by Spike Lee

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)
Plot- The story of W.P. Inman, a wounded deserter from the Confederate army near the end of the American Civil War who walks for months to return to Ada Monroe, the love of his life.
Recognition- National Book Award
Adapted into a 2003 film directed by Anthony Minghella

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003)
Plot- It follows symbologists Robert Langdom and Sophie Neveu as they investigate a murder in Paris's Louvre Museum and discover a battle between the Priory of Scion and Opus Dei over the possibility of Jesus having been married to Mary Magdalene.
Adapted into a 2006 film directed by Ron Howard

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (2001)
Plot- A book by an investigative journalist that examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry.
Adapted into a 2006 film directed by Richard Linklater

Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger (1990)
Plot- A book that follows the story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team from Odessa, Texas as they made a run towards the Texas state championship. The book is also critical about life in Odessa, complete with portraits of racism and misplaced priorities where football conquered most aspects of the town and academics were ignored.
Adapted into a 2004 film directed by Peter Berg and a 2006-2011 television series produced by Peter Berg, Brian Grazer, and David Nevins

The Giver by Lois Lowry (2003)
Plot- Set in a future utopian society that has eliminated pain and strife by converting to a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth form their lives, the novel follows a boy named Jonas who is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory." As Jonas receives the memories from the previous receiver, he faces a dilemma. Should he stay with the community or should he run away to where he can live a full life?
Recognition- Newbery Medal

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (1997-2007)
Plot- Seven fantasy novels that chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Wesley and Hermoine Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story concerns Harry's quandary involving the evil Lord Voldemort who killed Harry's parents in his quest to conquer the wizarding world.
Recognition- Hugo Award
Adapted into a 2001-2011 film series directed by Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, and David Yates

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (1995)
Plot- Rob Fleming is a London record store owner in his thirties whose girlfriend has just left him. Rob recalls his five most memorable breakups and sets about getting in touch with his former girlfriends that leads to revival of his disc jockey career.
Adapted into a 2000 film directed by Stephen Frears

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
Plot- A trilogy of fantasy novels that follow the coming-of-age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes against the backdrop of epic events.
Adapted into a 2006 film directed by Chris Weitz

Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)
Plot- Stanley Yelnats VIII, a timid boy who is very unlucky due to a family curse, has been caught accidentally stealing a baseball player's shoes from a charity auction and is sentenced to 18-months at a juvenile detention facility.
Recognition- Newbery Medal
Adapted into a 2003 film directed by Andrew Davis

The Kite Runenr by Khaled Hosseini (2003)
Plot- The story of Amir, a young boy from Kabul who befriends Hasssan, the son of his father's Hazara servant. The story is set against a backdrop of events from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy through Soviet invasion to the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States and to the rise and fall of the Taliban regime.
Adapted into a 2007 film directed by Marc Forster

LaBrava by Elmore Leonard (1983)
Plot- Joe LaBrava gets involved with former movie star Jean Shaw, whom he admired as a 12 year-old boy starring at the movie screen, when he discovers that she is being harassed by thugs.
Recognition- Edgar Award

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (1985)
Plot- The story focuses on the relationships of several retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana.
Recognition- Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Adapted into a 1989 television miniseries directed by Simon Wincer

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1985)
Plot- Fermina Daza rejects Florentino Ariza in their youth when she realizes the naivete of their first romance and she weds Juvenal Urbino at the age of 21. Fermina comes to recognize a wisdom and maturity in Ariza in her adult life.
Adapted into a 2007 film directed by Mike Newell

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002)
Plot- The story of a teenage girl who, after being raped and murdered, watches from Heaven as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she comes to terms with her own death.
Adapted into a 2009 film directed by Peter Jackson

Maus by Art Spiegelman (1972-1991)
Plot- The biography of the author's father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. It alternates between Vladek's life in Poland before and during World War II and Vladek's later life in Repo Park, New York City.
Recognition- Pulitzer Prize: Special Award and Citation

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (2001)
Plot- The novel revolves around three boys who grow up as friends in Boston- Dave, Sean, and Jimmy. Dave is abducted by child molesters and escapes, emotionally shattered by the experience. 25 years later, Jimmy's daughter disappears and is found brutally murdered.
Adapted into a 2003 film directed by Clint Eastwood

On Writing by Stephen King (2000)
Plot- A book about the prolific author's experiences as a writer.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2000)
Plot- An autobiographical comic depicting the author's childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution.
Adapted into a 2007 film directed by Marjane Satrapi

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
Plot- The narrator Stevens, a butler, recalls his life in the form of a diary concerned with Stevens's professional and above all, personal relationship with a former colleague, the housekeeper Miss Kenton.
Adapted into a 1993 film directed by James Ivory

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
Plot- A post-apocalyptic journey taken by a father and his young son over the period of several months, across a landscape blasted by unnamed cataclysm that destroyed much of civilization and in later years, almost all life on Earth.
Recognition- Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Adapted into a 2009 film directed by John Hillcoat

Sandman by Neil Gaiman (1989-1996)
Plot- The adventures of Dream of The Endless who rules over the world of dreams.
Recognition- Hugo Award

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (1990)
Plot- Related stories about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Watchmen by Alan Moore (1986-1987)
Plot- Focusing on the personal development and struggles of outlawed costumed vigilantes as an investigation into the murder of a government sponsored superhero pulls them out of retirement and eventually leads them to confront a plot that would stave off nuclear war by killing millions of people.
Recognition- Hugo Award
Adapted into a 2009 film directed by Zack Snyder

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