Category Archives: book to film

Persepolis by Marjane Santrapi


Persepolis is the most compelling graphic novel I’ve read since Maus. It follows the life of the young Marjane (the author), a spunky and independent six year old who is living in Tehran during the start of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The revolution unfolds before Marjane and her parents, who are committed Marxists and initially thrilled about the deposition of the western-backed shah, who tortured his dissenters in his secret prisons and got put in power through a western-funded coup. Marjane soon learns that life is much different under the new regime. She is forced to wear a veil at school, which she rips off at recess because it’s hot and oppressive. She is forced to beat her hand against her chest and chant funeral hymns for the “martyrs” of the revolution who are killed in the war against Iraq. She is forced to knit hats for the male “martyrs”- boys as young as 13 who get sent to the front lines of the battlefields in Iraq. She watches communist relatives and family friends disappear in Iran’s secret prisons, only to never emerge again. Throughout the horrors of the regime, Marjane never loses her fighting spirit. She stands up to her religion teachers, idolizes Western fashion, and hangs ACDC posters on her wall in defiance against the regime’s anti-Western rules. You can’t help rooting for her to escape the clutches of the regime and the terrifying police who snatch up dissenters in the night.

This book is written for young adults and is an easy read. I recommend if for anyone who wants to understand the history of the U.S.-Iranian conflict, and for anyone who likes reading about girls with chutzpah.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM
Review Submitted by:  Andrea Gesumaria
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: A book with a one word title

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook

I brought this book with me to the beach to read in about a day. It’s a very short, easy read and I loved the movie, so I decided to give the book a try.

Nicholas Sparks books aren’t typically my go-to, but compared to The Last Song (the only other Sparks book I’ve read), this book was rather simple, and I believe the plot could have been a little bit more complex. However, the character development is very clear.

This book also had slight differences from the movie. This made it more interesting for me, as it wasn’t 100% predictable from what I saw in the film.

All in all, I would only recommend this if you are an avid romance reader and want a quick book to get through. I was not as emotionally invested as I thought I would be, but it was interesting and well-written nonetheless.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Reilly Cook
Rating:  Recommended with Reservations

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

WildCheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild begins with herself at 26. Broke, addicted to heroin, and newly divorced because of her unfortunate habit of cheating on her husband with many men, for reasons unknown to her, she decides to hike the entire length of the Pacific Central Trail (PCT) to learn how to be something other than “the woman with the giant hole in her heart.” Strayed realizes at the start of her hike that her downfall began at 22, the year her mother died of cancer. She looks to the PCT for a means of salvation, but there is only one problem: she’s never in her life backpacked on a long-distance hike.

What follows is a deeply honest, reflective journey through hot and dry California and green, wet, Oregon, where she encounters a charging bull, dwindling water, kind strangers and brown bears. As a Washingtonian whose most terrifying hiking moment was encountering a coiled rattlesnake in Catoctin, I was floored by the relative placidity that Strayed uses when describing her multiple encounters with rattlesnakes, including one that she nearly stepped on in a dust storm. Strayed’s deeply honest writing is moving, and her journey – harrowing and beautiful, is hard to stop reading. I challenge you to not want to put on a pair of hiking boots and get outside after reading this book.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM
Review Submitted by: Andrea Gesumaria
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: A book with a one word title.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian GrayWho decides what book (or any other art, for that matter) is decreed “a classic”? Having heard references to this book all of my adult life, I figured I should finally read it. Yes, I’m sure I’m missing the finer nuances of imagery, blahblahblah, but what a stupid, insipid book! I read it as the plane carried me, non-stop, from one coast to the other and I still resent the time that took out of my life! Find your own “classic” and enjoy it!

Read an earlier review of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Availability: SMCM, COSMOS, and USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Jane Kostenko
Rating:  Not Recommended

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men

This story of George and Lennie, two migrant ranch hands traveling around the Salinas River during the Great Depression is written with great descriptive language and dialogue. It is heartbreakingly sad as it chronicles the relationship of George, an uneducated but street smart man and Lennie, a large, hulking figure with a mental disability. Lennie and George share a companionship that is described as rare among migrant farm workers, and this makes the ultimate conclusion of the book even sadder. It’s a Steinbeck classic that is difficult for those with tender hearts to read, but it is worth it to appreciate his style and form.

Availability:  COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Sandi Hauenstein
Rating:  Recommended

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen


Hoot is about a group of kids who challenge a developer who wants to bulldoze a Burrowing Owl colony in Florida. The film version has music by Jimmy Buffett who co-produced the movie. Hiaasen has been a strong advocate for the environment and it shows in this book. Highly recommended especially for teens but a great read for adults!

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  James Tyler Bell
Rating:  Highly Recommended

Ghost Beach by R. L. Stine

Ghost BeachDon’t judge me too harshly (an adult reading a tween book)! As my nieces and nephews read their way through tween years, they often mentioned the Goosebumps series and I’ve always been interested in how R. L. Stine, who is a prolific writer, keeps things fresh enough for critical teens to keep coming back. Ghost Beach, while just one in a looooong series of Goosebumps books, was a fun, if speedy, read. The brother and sister who serve as the book’s main characters are likeable and multi-dimensional. The story line is surprisingly plausible, too, with enough details to make it believable. If tweens are enjoying these books, they’re not totally rotting their brains (but I won’t be seeking out more to read myself).

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating:   Highly Recommended
Challenge: A book you finished in a day