Category Archives: book to film

Normal People by Sally Rooney

book coverBased on the hype around this novel, I had fairly high expectations. However, I don’t feel that those expectations were met. I was unprepared for the heaviness of the novel, with topics of toxic relationships, abuse, and mental health; and felt that the novel took an unhealthy side of these topics, rather than creating beneficial conversation around them. Personally, this book was not my cup of tea and I would recommend reading a few reviews before diving into it.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Sarah Gleason
Rating:  Recommended with reservations
Challenge: Book made into TV show

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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A fantasy novel, Six of Crows follows a crew of seven characters who decide to take on a dangerous heist. Set in the city of Ketterdam, the novel switches between the perspectives of the characters as it goes through the heist as well as their own backstories and interactions. It has a really good found family aspect with well written and diverse characters and relationships, and all of the heist and action scenes are incredibly interesting as well.

Availability: COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Esther Markov
Rating:  Must Read
Challenge: Book to TV

Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín

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Young Irish Eilis can’t find suitable work in her small town, so her vivacious sister and a priest friend arrange her travel to Brooklyn, work there in a department store, and lodging in a boarding house. As she slowly finds her way, Eilis must make many difficult and life changing decisions. I watched the movie, then ironically found the book two days later in a mini free library while biking on Kent Island. The movie is nice, but the book was a delightful beach read.

Availability: COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Maggie D. Brace ’82
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: Book to film

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

book coverMeeting your partner’s parents for the first time can be a bit tense, especially if you’re contemplating ending the relationship. That’s the premise for this amazing story, which on the outside seems relatively simple but is actually a very interesting and compelling dive into the mind of someone suffering from depression and grappling with the meaning of one’s life, among other things.

After seeing the movie adapted from this book on Netflix, I was really curious to see what differences it would have in book form. Without spoiling things I will say the movie is perhaps a little more surreal at times, but otherwise it was a very close representation of the novel. The audiobook narrator even sounded very much like Jessie Buckley, the actress playing the (nameless à la Rebecca) main character.

This is a novel that surprises, keeps you thinking and gives me goosebumps thinking about it as I write this, highly recommend!

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Emily Nelson Ringholm ’07
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: Book to film and audiobook

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

book coverA truly eye opening book about how the United States has failed a generation, and how older Americans have been forced to survive without stability. The resilience shown by the people in this book is inspiring, as is their reclamation of what it means to be “houseless.” Yet, amid people’s expressions of joy at the communities they have developed and their shirking of capitalism, this book made me deeply sad about how much the U.S. has failed its citizens and continues to do so, and how quickly we are turning into a manipulative corporatocracy. My only reservations in regards to this book would be its lack of discussion (about 3 pages in all), of the lack of Black nomads, and why that is.

Availability: USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Izzy Lott
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: book to film, book with a one word title

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

book coverSomething Wicked This Way Comes feels like a 20th century folk tale. A coming of age story that influenced numerous successful writers in the horror and fantasy genres, it has long been praised as a masterpiece of its genre.

This coming of age dark fantasy is not very violent, not very gory – it’s fear is derived from the genre itself- the fear of the coming of age, of natural order, and all of the limitations and outcomes it must inevitably place upon us. The story is allegorical based on the names, symbols, and folkish quality, but seeing it only as allegorical would not give it enough credit. I think there is more character development and meaning going on than a surface level metaphor.

Perhaps part of that deep meaning comes from how much philosophy and homily Bradbury manages to fit into a short book. He gives us lots of his ponderings of his subject material. Bradbury’s writing is comfortable, consumable, and captures a poetry in his prose that is infectious. Therefore, I can’t find any fault in the amount of extra verbiage, because I found it all very readable. This review is becoming verbose as well, so who am I to talk?

For me, the strongest parts of the novel are the ones that focus on how each of us affect one another – “mold” each other and the give and take we all participate in to get along and belong. The relationship of Jim to Will, Will and his father, and the visitors to the town brings the story home in a way that is relatable beyond a simple allegorical folk tale that hits us on a generic human level. It relates to us as people who were children, are or will be adults, parents or offspring, naive of aging or burdened by it. Parts of it could almost be your own memory, or a look into your future; that perhaps is what gives it the magical and horrific quality people have praised it for, and as Halloween arrives, you could let it arrive early to you like it did Jim and Will by reading this novel in the coming months.

This book is good for:

1. People who enjoy coming of age stories with a mature or darker look at the subject matter
2. A good Halloween read that is creepy but not gory.
3. Stories that use many character foils.
4. You fear the passing of time and need someone to tell you it is going to be ok.

Overall Rating: Highly Recommend
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM
Reviewer: Nick Huber 2013
Challenges: Books adapted to Film or TV

The Bad Seed by William March

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I was worried that this book, written in 1954, would not transfer well to 2021. There were some parts that did not – like how some of the male characters spoke about the female characters – but for the most part it held up well. The book was driven entirely by the cast of female characters (another surprise for me) who were, by turns, annoying, admirable, sympathetic, capable, disturbing, and intelligent. It was this female case that kept me reading, continually trying to guess what the next crisis would be and how it would be resolved. The surprise at the end regarding Christine (the mother) I found fresh and unexpected. As the book barreled to its conclusion I found myself “knowing” how it would end and hoping I was wrong (I wasn’t).

It’s not secret who the “bad seed” is; rather than save that as a mystery for the reader to discover, March makes the bad seed’s intentions and character perfectly clear from the beginning; the only real mystery is what atrocity she will commit next, what has she done in the past, and how will she be stopped. This kept me in anxious suspense for the entire novel.

Availability: USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Stephanie Marsich
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Book to Film

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

book coverI remember my best friend in 6th grade reading A Wrinkle in Time and absolutely LOVING it. She would carry it around and try to convince me to read it. When I saw the audiobook available on Libby I decided to finally give it a try. With grand depictions of other dimensions and creatures throughout, this would have been a good first introduction to science fiction. I am happy that I was able to listen to this book in audio format because it had a afterward read by Madelleine L’Engle’s granddaughter. It was nice to hear her speak about the author’s thoughts on the book and how she would brag in her classes that her grandmother wrote the book they were reading. Honestly, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more if I read it as a kid, but it was still fun to listen to as an adult. It’s a fairly quick read (or listen) and I recommend it to anyone like me who felt that they missed out on something big as a kid.

Availability: COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Erin Crawford
Rating:  Recommended
Challenge: Book to Film and Audiobook

The Bad Seed by William March

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What happens if your child starts to clearly display sociopathic and violent tendencies? That’s what Christine has to figure out in this 1954 classic. How do you do what’s best for you child, while protecting others from a child who doesn’t understand empathy?

I thought this novel held up well in modern times, though of course research has progressed since. March clearly was interested in mental illness and portrayed it not as evil nor the fault of the sufferer. He problematizes the class structure to a degree and even mansplaining (I know, wow!). I enjoyed the implications that we all have neuroses and that none of the characters were without flaw. Definitely an enjoyable vacation thriller!

Availability: USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Emily Nelson Ringholm ’07
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Book to Film

The Dry by Jane Harper

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This book features a mystery within a mystery: federal investigator Aaron Falk returns to his small hometown of Kiewarra, Australia for the death of a childhood friend, who supposedly murdered his family before turning the gun on himself. Aaron is asked by the family to look into the matter to determine if it’s as cut and dry as it seems. However, Aaron has a few secrets of his own, namely, why he left the town 20 years ago. That story also began with the mysterious death of a friend.

This is such a readable book. It really grabs you from the start and keeps you guessing, both about the current mystery and the one from Aaron’s childhood 20 years ago. It also explores how we remember the past and thoughts of what might have been. The community is suffering through the worst drought in a century, which colors so many of their decisions, good and bad. The Dry was the author’s debut novel and I already plan to pick up her second.

Availability: USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Kaylie Jasinski ’14
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: Books adapted to Film or TV

The Dry by Jane Harper

book coverThe Dry is a compelling read. Jane Harper’s debut mystery has everything you could look for in not only a debut, but a mystery from someone at the height of their career. The book has plenty of stories to tell – heartbreaking stories – and while the premise seems simple and familiar, the telling and twists are satisfying. The location is a fresh one for me, and small farm town Australia in the middle of a year long drought gives Harper plenty to play with to crank the casts’ tension high.

The best commendation of Harper would likely be her pacing – her us of clues, clipped flashbacks, and a compelling cast of well used characters leaves the book moving at page flipping speed. The high pace for the reader here comes from wanting to understand the characters, their relationships, and see who will get resolution, justice, and punishment. The fact that she can make us care if all of the characters will get these, and if the right people will get each, is what makes it a joy to read.

Her writing certainly reminds me most of Chandler, but I find it to be natural and her own style, rather than trying to emulate a specific mystery writer, and kudos to her for doing so well on her first book.

Aaron Falk I am sure can easily find himself with some of the successful modern mystery series characters, and I certainly will be looking to see what he does next.

You’ll like this book if:
1. You enjoy a small town mystery with a medium sized cast
2. Mystery rooted in relationships
3. Leading mystery protagonists that are on the sensitive thoughtful side
4. Two or more mysteries that the characters are coming to terms with in the past and present.

P.S. The Film is good too – one of the better adaptations I’ve seen in a bit at both staying faithful and capturing the feeling of the book successfully.

Availability: USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Nick Huber 2013
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: Books adapted to Film or TV

The Birds by Daphne du Maurier

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The Birds is a horror story by the British writer Daphne du Maurier, first published in 1952. It is the story of a farmhand, his family, and his community that are attacked by flocks of birds. Unlike the movie interpretation by Hitchcock, the main character is aware of the danger he and his family are in and prepares his house accordingly. I enjoyed this book very much.

Availability:  USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Maggie D. Brace ’82.
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Book to film