Books adapted for the Big Screen
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Book Thief is Marcus Zusak's extremely popular second novel and has managed to stay on the New York Times’ bestseller lists for 4 years now.
Hence, it’s no shock to hear that Fox 2000 is pressing ahead full-throttle with a film adaptation (which could be available in 2014). Twilight franchise producer Karen Rosenfelt is working behind the scenes on the Book Thief movie, which Deadline says has found a director in Brian Percival: a veteran of such period TV mini-series as North & South and ShakespeaRe-Told, who recently stepped into the limelight (and snagged recognition from the Emmys and BAFTAs for his efforts) by directing several episodes during the first season of the popular Downton Abbey series.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The "Divergent" movie by Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate Pictures has just been confirmed to film for over two months this April 2013 in Chicago. Reports also confirm that actors Alex Pettyfer, Lucas Till, and Jeremy Irvine have all just auditioned for the part of male casting lead, Tobias (Four). Divergent is set in the future when society (at least, in the city of Chicago) is divided by five factions, which are set by nature/behavior (eg. the Abnegation are selfless people, the Candors are known to be honest, Dauntless are brave, etc). The story follows Beatrice Prior, a teen who comes of age and must choose her faction, which will not only determine the kind of life she'll lead, but will also include a training process if she wants to make the cut and get a good job. With the "Divergent" book series a great success, many fellow fans were excited — if not overly surprised — to hear that Veronica Roth’s bestselling novel would be made into a film adaptation due for release 2014.
City of Bones (Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Every studio in Hollywood -- and every fan of films and books -- has been searching for the next "Harry Potter" since the moment that series came to an end. And Constantin films thinks they have found it in City of Bones.
The first installment of Cassandra Clare's popular young adult fantasy series "The Mortal Instruments," which tells the story of a seemingly average girl who discovers she has incredible powers -- powers that she must use, naturally, to save humanity or somesuch. Director Scott Stewart has cast his "Priest" star Lily Collins in the main role and is currently scouting locations in New York City for a big 3D conversion, with more casting news to follow. Release Date/Year: 2013 and starring Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower and Robert Sheehan.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus follows two young illusionists battling out their father's longtime rivalry. The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Ręves, and it is only open at night. Behind-the-scenes, a fierce competition is underway-a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. David Heyman and Jefferson Clifford are set to produce with the movie due for release 2014.
Devil Wears Prada sequel
The sequel to the bestselling The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns will be released in April 2013. The sequel is set eight years after heroine Andy Sachs has escaped Runway magazine and its editor, Miranda Priestly. Andy is editing the Plunge bridal magazine and works alongside her old Runway colleague Emily and is about to marry Max, the scion of a media company. However, Andy is still haunted by her days at Runway, and she soon finds herself back in Miranda's path.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows is being directed by Kenneth Branagh and looks to star Kate Winslet. This is the first time the pair will be reunited since filming Hamlet in 1996. The book is a love story set in London and the Channel Islands after WWII. Winslet will play a magazine columnist who enters into a correspondence with a man from Guernsey, and learns how the islanders used a book group during the war as cover to outwit their German occupiers. Captivated by their stories and how the books came to influence their lives, she decides to visit Guernsey, a journey that changes her forever. Shooting is scheduled for a 2013 release date but it seems to be delayed again (BBC).
Now is Good
Now is Good is the renamed movie version of Jenny Downham's best selling Before I Die is being released May 2012. Staring Dakota Fanning (why can't they actually cast a British actress?) as Tessa and Jeremy Irvine as Adam. Ol Parker will direct with Paddy considine, Olivia Williams, Kaya Scodelario (from Skins and Wuthering Heights), Joe Cole, Franz Drameh and Tom Kane will also co-star. The movie is being produced by BBC Films. This is the story of 17 year Tess' desperate need to live as a normal teenager in the short months she has left to live. Although Tess is passionate about life the terminal illness makes her determined to use every moment left and she makes a catalogue of what normal teenagers would experience including sex, drugs and adventure. If the book is anything to go by, this is sure to have you in tears by the end. This was an extraordinary success for Downham as it was her first novel and sold over 250,000 copies.
On the Road
On the Road is finally being made into a film 50 years after it was first published. Jack Kerouac's beat classic is being directed by Walter Salles with Francis Ford Coppola as executive producers and is due for release in November 2012.
Almost French which is being transferred to the big screen and also being filmed in Sydney. Almost French is a film about a chance meeting between a Frenchman and an Australian journalist in Paris and based on the bestselling book by Australian author Sarah Turnbull.
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby gets the Baz Luhrmann 3D treatment for the big screen (yes in 3D for those addicts), although Tracy isn't a fan of 3D Baz argues that 3D makes you feel like you are in the room with actors and lets you see the intimacy of the scene. As he was travelling, Baz found this book loaded on his ereader and after finishing it he wondered why the book seemed to elude filmmakers and even the eponymous 1974 version starring Robert Redford did not tell him who Gatsby was. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and the narrator), Carrey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan. This is a much touted and possibly timely new take on Fitzgerald's depression-era classic which was filmed in NSW. Miranda Hart (English comedienne) rates The Great Gatsby as the book that made her appreciate the beauty of language for the first time. I know Natalie has read this book and would probably disagree.
Argo by Matt Baglio and Antonio Mendez
Tehran, November 1979. Militant students stormed the American embassy and held sixty Americans captive for a gruelling 444 days. There was, however, a twist: six American hostages got away and this is the story of one of the most amazing escape plots in the history of the CIA.
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Pat is trying to live according to his new philosophy: always look for the silver lining. When he befriends the mysterious Tiffany, the secrets his parents have been keeping from him threaten to come out.
Life of Pi
Life of Pi is released on 21 December 2012. This is the adaptation of Yann Martel's story of a Pi. Pi and his family leave India with their zoo animals to find a new life in Canada, however things go tragically wrong and Pi finds himself trapped on a small lifeboat after the freighter his family were on sinks. To keep Pi company he has a zebra, hyena, orangutan and a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. This is a magical adventure story which will will surely captivate audiences. Life of Pi stars Tobey Maguire, Gerard Depardieu, Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Ayush Tandon and is directed by Ang Lee (The Ice Storm, Hulk and Brokeback Mountain). It will be interesting to see how Lee transfers the novel onto the big screen as it is not a linear book, instead relying on Pi's memory and delusions as he fights starvation and dehydration.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
Director Bill Condon completes the blockbuster movie adaptation of the Twilight saga. Most readers will fall strongly into one of two camps: You wouldn’t be paid to see this movie, or you will have a heart attack if you don’t see it on opening day!
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journal, is the first part in The Hobbit three movie adaptation of the famous book by J.R.R. Tolkien. So if you were sad when The Lord of the Rings finished, never fear, Peter Jackson is at the helm again.
The great Leo Tolstoy classic novel of Anna Karenina is to be released with Keira Knightley hoping to match Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh as Anna. Jude Law is Vronsky and Oxfordshire is the Russian countryside. This could be a great movie to watch as previous movies and the book are a fantastic look at love and death.
Cloud Atlas was a fantastic book and it is now being adapted for the big screen. Starring Tom Hanks and Hugh Grant will be joined by Jim Broadbent, susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess and Halle Berry. The producers have confirmed they plan to stick faithfully to the style and structure of David Mitchell's book - but time will tell. The book is an epic story of humankind where the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another through the past, present and future. The movie which is being co-produced by Stefan Arndt (Good Bye Lenin and The White Ribbon) and directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run and Perfume) in conjunction with the Wachowski brothers, who made the Matrix series. Due for release on 26 October 2012. Click here for a sneak peak.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of being a Wallflower is being taken to the big screen by author Stephen Chbosky (director and screenplay). 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an endearing and naive outsider, coping with first love Sam (Emma Watson), the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs. The introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam and Patrick (Ezra Miller), who welcome him to the real world.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has seen the release of the first movie of the trilogy into cinemas. The film stars amongst others Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Liam Hemsworth (fresh from his role as Thor). Set in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. The movie was released on 22 March 2012 in Australia. The sequel Catching Fire will be released in 2013.
One for the Money
It took nearly 20 years for the movie to start filming after the rights were bought, but finally we will be getting the first in the Stephanie Plum series. Janet Evanovich has written 18 books so far in the Stephanie Plum series, not including the between the numbers ones. This would probably have worked better as a TV series following the bounty hunting escapades of Stephanie. Starring Katherine Heigl in the lead role with Jason O'Mara as Joe and Daniel Sunjata as Ranger, this movie does have a lot of eye candy and potential. The movie trundles along at a fairly ordinary pace without much substance and I must admit I didn't really take to Kathryn Heigl as Stephanie Plum, she was missing the sassyness that the book provided. I felt the movie also lacked the sexual tension between Stephanie, Joe and Ranger which is paramount for the rest of the books, least of all any further movies. However, it is a great chick flick, plenty of action and good looking people.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
I had recently read the book (read the review of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) which was interesting in its father/son relationship perspective, but I could not even imagine how this could translate to the big screen. So with the hope the film would add an extra dimension into the relationships of those in the book, I sat down with a glass of wine in anticipation. There are lots of differences between the book and the film. In the film Oskar is 11, doesn’t wear all white, doesn’t join with Mr Black to find the key and his mother isn't in a relationship. However, there are some touching scenes between Oskar and his father Thomas, which is not evident in the book. Thomas wants to encourage Oskar to explore the world around him and sets him challenges to help him overcome his fears and out of his comfort zone. This is done via flashbacks to before Thomas died in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. As per the book, Oskar finds a blue vase which contains a key in an envelope marked with one word – Black. This triggers a search which like the book is interesting, but I felt that the film lacked the interesting characters that Oskar is forced to meet on his journey. Unlike the book, Oskar’s Grandfather plays a much larger part (Max von Sydow) and because he has lost his speech (during the Dresden bombings in WWII) he communicates through writing notes and this can be very frustrating in a film, although this seems to be the year for silent movie parts. This could have been a fantastic movie – it isn’t just about 9/11 but how families deal with unexpected grief and the Schell family certainly has their share with psychological damage to each generation since WWII and if it is possible to make meaning out of something so mindless. To fully understand the movie, I do think you have to read the book which covered the history of Oskar’s grandparents in much more detail. I should have known better to try and like this movie, it was after all directed by Stephen Daldry who also directed The Hours which I rate as one of my worst movies of all time. I have to say this must have been the easiest movie that Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks have ever starred in.
The Descendents by Kaui Hart Hemmings is set against the lush, panoramic backdrop of Hawaii and is about an unconventional family forced to come together and re-create its own legacy. A descendent of one of Hawaii's largest landowners, Matthew King finds his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control; his thrill-seeking, high-maintenance wife will soon be taken off life support. Suddenly the King family must come to terms with this tragedy and as Matt gathers Joanie's friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation is made worse by the discovery that one person hasn't been told - the man with whom Joanie has been having an affair. Forced to examine what he owes not only to the living but also to the dead, Matt takes to the road with his daughters to find his wife's lover on a memorable journey of painful revelations and unforeseen humour. The movie has been a huge hit and winning lots of awards, with the especially lovely George Clooney just picking up the Golden Globe 2012 for Best Actor and being nominated for the 2012 Best Actor Oscar. In all the movie has won 32 awards and garnered an amazing 64 nominations including winning 2011 AFI Film Award. So I have reviewed The Descendents and watched the movie. I felt that the movie did not capture the humour underpinning the book. The movie was definately picturesque and the acting was "not bad", it seemed to move a lot slower than the book. The movie focused on the family and not the relationships around them. In the book was the wonderful homekeeper, nanny character who was totally missing in the movie? I know it is incredibly hard to take a book and put it on screen, but in this instance I definately felt that the book was the clear winner. Of course any movie that allows you watch the wonderful and not bad looking Mr George Clooney certainly isn't a waste of time, but does it deserve all the awards it has collected this season - for me: no.
Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin
Too Big to Fail was the OurBookClub book pick of the month for August 2011. In its new guise as a film, it has a blockbuster cast including James Woods, John Heard, Willian Hurt, Cynthia Nixon, Kathy Baker and Paul Giamatti amongst others. It was also nominated for a string of Golden Globe Awards. The film follows the storyline of the book at looking at behind the scenes between late March and mid-October 2008 which saw how the Global Financial Crisis was caused and also how it could so easily have been adverted except for the greed of a few men. This is a gobsmacking look at how, even today, banks can do whatever they want in the pursuit of larger and larger payouts for themselves. This is a fascinating movie and who would have thought banking and regulation could be made that way. Click here to watch the HBO Movie trailor.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a different look at espionage in Britain in the 1970s. This isn't a movie starring beautiful people, well they may be, but in this movie the big TV glasses and bad suits prevail. George Smiley is the hero of the movie and is now an ageing man who has spent his life as a bureaucrat. This movie has an all star cast with Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones and David Denick as the original group of spies. The movie is directed by Tomas Alfredson who also directed the surprisingly fantastic Let the Right one in lends his hand in a realistic look of the decade. The novel was originally made into a 1970s TV series starring Alec Guinness but the movie lets you see the hidden sadness involved in their secret lives. I found the book slightly slow in places and thought that the movie might pick up the pace, especially considering nearly every spy movie these days involves huge car scenes, lots of killing and all sorts of cgi work. However, we are taken back to the 1970's and the spy game was a lot different then, all about working with informants, there were no electronic devices or gadgets. The acting was interesting and you were left hanging with suspense on how the mole had remained so imbedded in the departnment for so long, playing both sides. Yes it is slow with lots of cigarette smoke filled rooms and you realise how much office life has changed in a relatively short space of time, but I think it was a great change for the action packed movies of today. It is up against some big name movies for the 2012 movie award ceremonies and will probably lose out, not for the acting, but because it does not fit with what is expected in a movie today.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Help was a slightly disappointing movie. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the book took on the hugely debated topic of slavery and servitude in America. The movie does star the fantastic Octavia Spencer who has also been nominated for the Best Supporting Actess at the Golden Globes alongside Jessica Chastain.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Atonement would have to be one of the few Ian McEwan books that we have liked. The movie, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy is also equally enjoyable, despite having a slightly different ending. Whilst this is still as sad as the novel, the setting in which Briony reveals the real truth is a little different. The film has been named as one of the Top 10 movies for 2007 and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards. It took home the Best Film Award at the 61st BAFTAs. A beautiful and haunting love story, this is well worth a look.
Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding
Both Bridget Jones' Diary (released 2001) and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (released 2005) were adapted for the big screen, and like their written counterparts, the first movie was good and the second was ok. In Bridget Jones's Diary we follow Bridge over the course of a year as she confides her hopes, her dreams, and her monstrously fluctuating poundage, not to mention her consumption of 5277 cigarettes and "Fat units 3457 (approx.) (hideous in every way)." In 365 days, she gains 74 pounds. On the other hand, she loses 72! There is also the unspoken New Year's resolution - the quest for the right man. In Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason the wilderness years are over! But not for long. At the end of Bridget Jones's Diary, Bridget hiccuped off into the sunset with man-of-her-dreams Mark Darcy. Now, in The Edge of Reason, she discovers what it is like when you have the man of your dreams actually in your flat and he hasn't done the washing-up, not just the whole of this week, but ever. Lurching through a morass of self-help book theories and mad advice from Jude and Shazzer, struggling with a boyfriend-stealing ex-friend with thighs like a baby giraffe, an 8-ft hole in the living-room wall, a mother obsessed with boiled-egg peelers, and a builder obsessed with large resevoir fish, Bridget embarks on a spiritual epiphany. Both movies featured an all-star cast these big-screen adaptations divided us - Natalie thought Renee Zellweger was excellent as our Bridge, while Tracy was not happy at all. Rumour has it that Hugh Grant didn't even realise she was American, her accent was that good! What was great were Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and of course Bridget's 3 friends. Complete with fantastic soundtracks, these movies are the perfect accompaniment to a night in with the girls and a couple of bottles of wine.
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Tracy and Natalie saw Confessions of a Shopaholic shortly after it was released. Thankfully half way through there was a power failure at the cinema and we weren't forced to endure the entire painful experience. We later caught up with the rest of the movie via a dodgey Bali copy and plenty of wine, which is really how it should be seen anyway. The entire movie is over-acted and pathetically annoying, watching how one woman can be so stupid as to max out all her credit cards and avoid the debt collectors. Isla Fisher, you are a great comedic actress, but even you couldn't pull this off!
I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
I Am Number Four is definitely a teen book which is said to be the beginnings of a 6 part series. Designed to fill the hole left by Harry and the gang and the Cullen clan, this has action for the boys and romance for the girls. The movie on the other hand comes with an M rating and although it is pretty tame, they might lose some of their teen audience by doing this. However, this increased age, action and violence of the movie is actually a smart move. The book lacks credibility because I just can't believe 15 year old boys act this way, while the movie makes up for this by casting 20+ actors as 17 year olds. If you're looking for something light and mostly entertaining go and see the movie. If you want to encourage your teen to read, buy them the book!
Let The Right One In/Let Me In
This Swedish book was originally adapted by the Swedes into a hauntingly beautiful movie by the same name. The Americans also adapted it, renaming the movie Let Me In. Both big screen adaptations are excellent and although they both shy away from the issue of Eli's true identity, omitting all of her back story, they are nonetheless fabulous. While the Swedes gave a darker version in terms of Eli's father, the Americans did leave large parts of this characters personality out - probably in keeping with the conservative nature of the US. However the cinematography of both movie versions is excellent and despite knowing the plot, I'll admit to being on the edge of my seat and/or covering my eyes at times! The dark, slow camera movements, the erie soundtrack and excellent casting of the young actors make both of these movies fantastic accompaniments to a compelling book. Don't watch them at home in the dark by yourself!
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Said to be based on one girl's experince working with the infamous Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, The Devil Wears Prada is both a funny book and movie. Featuring an all-star cast including Meryl Streep (as high powered Miranda Priestly), Anne Hathaway (as Miranda's new assistant) and the gorgeous Emily Blunt. This is an insiders look into the workings of a fashion magazine. Everything from the photo shoots, articles, bitchiness and free clothes, this will have you dieting on lettuce leaves and signing up for a journalism course in no time!
The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
Clearly one of our favourites The Millenium Trilogy is outstanding trilogy of books that was adapted by the Swedes into an equally impressive trilogy of movies. Although a number of minor plot points were altered or left out, the overall concepts remained true to the books. The only bad thing was the movie's subtitles, which were possibly the worst we have ever attempted to read! Thankfully the DVD versions are better. In what appears to be an entirely pointless exercise, the Americans are now in the process of creating their own movie adaptations. Due for release in November 2011, this will be worth seeing for two reasons - 1. Daniel Craig as Blomkvist and 2. to see how much they can mess it up.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Nominated as a Man Booker Finalist, Never Let Me Go is an interesting book that examines relationships, mortality and genetic cloning. The book has now been made into a movie starring Oscar winner Carey Mulligan and Oscar nominee Keira Knightly, as well as Andrew Garfield from the smash hit movie The Social Network. The movie, like the book is bound to raise questions and get people thinking about the future of genetic engineering and morality.
Sex And The City by Candace Bushell
Originally starting out as a book it has since spawned a prequel book with The Carrie Diaries, a hugely successful TV show and 2 average movies. In an attempt to capitalise in on the 6 season run, the first movie came out to show us the after story now that Big and Carrie were FINALLY together. Of course they had to go and ruin it again by turning Carrie into a bridezilla, but we eventually got our happy ending. Then came movie number 2 and boy did this ruin it. It what was nothing more than a series of costume changes and fashion parades with the movie's biggest squeal from the audience coming with the return of Aidan and that kiss.....well this made Tracy happy. Natalie was happy at Big's black diamond engagement ring. Although Sarah Jessica Parker has talked about a third movie, we think you should stick with the TV series which is much more entertaining and plot driven.
The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
Polarising both readers and viewers alike, the Twilight series is undoubtedly a global money making phenomenon. The movie versions have gone one step further and created 5 installments as they are obviously planning to include every pointless detail from the fourth book. Although to be fair, the movies are actually improving with each installment and their soundtracks are very good. While Team Edward and Team Jacob fans around the world continue to debate as to who Bella should be with, in real life, Bella (Kristen Stewart) hooked up with her Edward (Rob Pattinson) and their surly faces regularly grace the pages of glossy magazine covers as they attempt to deny "their love".The fourth movie installment Breaking Dawn, Part 1 hit cinemas recently and is the story of Bella and Edward's wedding and honeymoon - including the sex scene that all fans have been waiting for.....Part 2 is out in 2012 and will finally give fans a look at Bella as a vampire! Here it is people, a 45 second teaser trailor for Breaking Dawn part 2. Due to be released in November 2012, fans will finally get a glimpse of Bella as a vampire...and it's safe to say she actually looks pretty good! For more, click here
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Hold on to your hats Rob Pattinson fans because he's back in a brand new movie that involves more than just his hair or sparkling skin!! The international best-selling book Water for Elephants has now been made into a movie. Starring teen heart-throb Rob Pattinson as the young veterinarian, Jacob Jankowski, and Reece Witherspoon as his love interest (Marlena), this is bound to be a smash hit with those who actually enjoyed the book and those who still lust after Twilight. Click here to watch Rob Pattinson talk about his role and glimpse the movie trailer. Reese Witherspoon also discusses her role with an interview on Entertainment Tonight.
Books That Became Legendary Movies
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
"Illuminating and well-written, as are all of Goodwin's presidential studies; a welcome addition to Lincolniana." Well-practiced historian Goodwin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in history for No Ordinary Time (1994), examines Abraham Lincoln as a practical politician, focusing on his conversion of rivals to allies.
No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
"Magnificent writing, nonetheless, makes the best case yet for putting McCarthy on a pedestal just below the one occupied by William Faulkner. " Almost as frustrating as it is commanding, McCarthy's ninth (and first since the completion of his Border Trilogy: Cities of the Plain, 1998, etc.) is a formidable display of stunningly written scenes that don't quite cohere into a fully satisfying narrative.
About Schmidt by Louis Begley
"A sly, sharp portrait of an amoral but appealing figure, and of the declining world of privilege that has shaped him." An elegant, precise, droll novel about a lawyer's startling transformation, by the author of Wartime Lies (1991) and The Man Who Was Late (1993).
The color Purple by Alice Walker
"A lovely, painful book: Walker's finest work yet." Walker (In Love and Trouble, Meridian) has set herself the task of an epistolary novel—and she scores strongly with it.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
"A Mafia Whiteoaks, bound for popularity, once you get past the author's barely concealed admiration for the "ethics" and postulates of primitive power plays." Ten years in the workaday progress of a New York Mafia sort of family dynasty tale with all the attendant flurries of great houses at war.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
"Though extension is possible, make no mistake about it; this is a ward and not a microcosm." This is a book which courts the dangers of two extremes.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
"Should be easy to sell — easy to rent." A brilliant piece of writing, with the atmosphere and suspense and pace that made Jamaica Inn an absorbing and thrilling story — and it has besides a depth of characterization and soundness of psychological conflict that makes it a finer and more penetrating book.
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, illustrated by Mark Hannon
"Anecdotal — incidental — in character, but it is the manner of telling that gives it such rare charm, the fluency and case and delightful with and subtlety, which characterized her Seven Gothic Tales." The author of Seven Gothic Tales — presents here reminiscences of twelve years on a coffee farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
"One half of dealer's orders to be filled with firsts." This is the sort of book that stirs one so deeply that it is almost impossible to attempt to convey the impression it leaves.
The Lost Weekend by Charles Jackson
"There's an awareness of psychological motivation, but indifference to cause and effect, in the relentless drive of self-annihilation." Exceedingly effective handling of a ticklish subject, in an anatomy of alcoholism, a dogged, shattering study of the periodic drinker destroying himself knowingly, wilfully.