Saturday, January 24, 2009

Seen Any Good Movies Read Any Good Books Lately?

From mid January to mid February I rarely go to movies. Oscar season is, oddly enough, my only real break for moviegoing (though I'm still busy writing). I've been in a reading mood. Any suggestions?


I'm planning to read Chéri before the Pfeiffer movie arrives. I've already read Coraline (l-o-v-e-d) and The Lovely Bones (good book but I worry about the movie) which will both be hitting screens in 2009. I usually like to read books before I see the movies adapted from them.

I'm currently three books into this Vampire Earth series. Though my favorite books are usually the critically acclaimed /classic sort (some all time favs: The Great Gatsby, Beloved, The Road, Animal Farm, The Body Artist, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Le Petit Prince) more often than not I end up reading any old scifi / fantasy paperback. This particular series is a post-apocalyptic yarn. It's not vampires in the typical sense at all but I like it. I suppose my reading habits are quite like those mainstream moviegoing habits that I bitch about. Unless I've heard great things about a particular book I just stay in my comfort zone. I'm like those people who only go to big action movies or bad comedies with household name stars. Isn't that terrible?

How about you? What are you reading right now?
And what one book do you think everyone should grab and read immediately?

52 comments:

Bernardo S said...

I'm reading the Manhattan screenplay while waiting for my Amazon order with Inkdeath and Shake hands with the Devil (Non-Fiction on the Rwanda Genocide), among others.

At school we're finishing Medea and starting Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Anonymous said...

I actually just started reading The Lovely Bones. I like it so far, but I do wonder how they are going to transfer it to the screen. A lot of it, at least so far, seems to take place from the viewpoint of Susie Salmon and I don't know how that will transfer to the screen. But, I have trust in Peter Jackson.

Erik

The Know Nothing Know It All said...

Are you looking for fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction: I just finished "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan. It's very good. About strife and woe during a new marriage (on the wedding night) in 1960s Britain.

Do you do David Sedaris at all? I think he's a good, if a little precious at times. But when it comes to queens who write memoirs that are at once self-effacing and self-congratulatory, I take Sedaris over Augusten Burroughs any day.

Aaron said...

I just finished Tom Robbins' Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas. It's about a cure for cancer and the stock market crash - except it's funny ha-ha. It would make a lousy movie, though...

billybil said...

If you haven't read THE HUNGER GAMES (a supposed YA novel from Scholastic) READ IT NOW! It is wonderfully exciting and will make a great movie (negotiations are happening now, I believe). Be warned - the sequel isn't being published until September and you are gonna want to read it IMMEDIATELY after finishing the first book. Please don't underestimate it because it is YA - it is a great read, with action but a budding romance too! It is well written, with really great characters in it.

Peter Chan said...

I actually managed to get a free copy of 'The Great Gatsby' (at the library- why I didn't think of that earlier is beyond me) and am noticing things I didn't when I last read it way back in high school- I hated books back then.

I can't deny the news of Baz Luhrmann's attachment to the most recent film adaptation had something to do with it, but it does make me eager to see confirmation of casting rumours.

I will say this- my crush on Nick Carraway is thriving and abnormal. The Aussie needs to cast James Marsden ASAP.

Sally Belle said...

Augusten Burroughs is a B- David Sedaris.

RJ said...

I just read A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Pretty good book.

I do worry a bit about The Lovely Bones BUT I think Peter Jackson was the right choice for director. Seems like it could use the Heavenly Creatures touch.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading Pfeiffer's Married to the Mob costar, the great Matthew Modine's Full Metal Jacket Diary. Highly recommend it.

JoFo said...

Well obviously there is Cormac McCarthy. But Im assuming like everyone else you've read them all.

If you've got the time check out anything by Wally Lamb, especially "I Know This Much Is True" for a true heart wrencher. But I must emphasise: If you've got the time. If it takes a paragraph he'll take three pages.

Im currently reading 'The Book Thief', which in pretty damn fascinating. It follows the perspective of death during the... well i hate to use the word of the week, the "h" word, but holocaust.

Sounds like another role for Winslet...

CJ said...

I'll keep it simple...

Read anything/everything written by David Sedaris.

Enjoy!

m. said...

I'm reading "Brother, I'm Dying" by Edwidge Dandicat. It's a family memoir set mostly in Haiti. Beautiful beautiful book and a story full of heart.

The best book I read in the last year though is "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. Fantastic and compelling read. I read somewhere that Scott Rudin bought the rights after it won the Pulitzer.

JOT said...

I'm not sure if you've ever tried reading plays, but I tend to enjoy reading them more than anything else. Some great suggestions, outside of the classics (Virginia Woolfe, Long Days Journey, etc).

-August: Osage County (by Tracy Letts, has a movie deal in the works apparently) is one of the most scathing family dramas since Long Days Journey Into Night, won the Pulitzer and Tony and is already one of the highest selling plays of all time. It's fantastic, and SO much fun to imagine what actress you'd love in the Mama Weston rold.
-The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (by Stephen Adly Guirgis, a frequent collaborator with Philip Seymour Hoffman in NYC). Judas is on trial for his crimes against Jesus. One of the best religious comedies, and a fascinating look at how and why people betray and forgive. It's ridiculous and hilarious and will make you cry.

Adam said...

If you haven't yet, you must read "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster. It's outrageously clever, and somewhat Petit-Prince-esque.

If you want to laugh your little bum off, give Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" a go. You'll squeal at how delightful it is.

And no one should die without reading Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" or William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury." The former is the most heartrending, complex love story ever told, and the latter is soul-scraping in dramatic intensity.

Two other phenomenal sci-fi classics: Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" (my favorite book). Both, incidentally, are in the works as movies to be released in the next few years (hopefully!).

lauren.miller said...

I just finished reading Wicked a week ago and... amazing. It's more realistic than 99 percent of the books I read, despite being set in Oz. And so elegant.

Rick said...

If you like novels that will surprise the hell out of you , I recommend "Shutter Island" by Dennis Lehane. He wrote Mystic River.

Mason Mahoney said...

I suggest the History of Love by Nicole Krauss. It's brilliantly creative and IMDB says Alfonso Cuaron is directing the film.

Kelsy said...

I'm the same way with books (and usually music). I have to have someone tell what's good.

I just finished The Watchmen. My comic book reading until this has been Archie and Jughead (or more likely Bettie and Veronica) so this is quite the contrast, but I loved it. If you're in the mood for dark and cynical (which I usually am) than this will suffice. There's a lot you can do with a graphic novel, so it was fun to explore this different reading material

Cluster Funk said...

Right now I'm reading 'In the Wake of the Plague' which is very interesting (if you love Medieval history).

'Diana Vreeland' by Eleanor Dwight also is fascinating (if you like iconic fashionistas).

Rob said...

oddly, I haven't read "Lovely Bones," but I have read the screenplay for Jackson's adaptation. I don't know what sort of changes were made, but for what it's worth, I adored it, and it made me weep, which rarely happens to me from reading.

SolShine7 said...

I'm currently reading The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. It's a YA sci-fi book.

cal roth said...

As a NYer, you really should read Gay Talese's Fame and Obscurity, a collection of several works of him on New York (so beautiful), the building of Verrazano-Barrows bridge, and several profiles of celebrities. This last part includes the unbelievable profile of Frank Sinatra, the best non-fiction piece I've ever read, and works on Peter O'Toole, Joe diMaggio, Joshua Logan and many more brilliant texts. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, and you can can read the way you want. One article today, another one month later... (but you'll want to read the whole thing as fast as you can)

cal roth said...

His Sinatra profile starts just like this:

FRANK SINATRA, holding a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other, stood in a dark corner of the bar between two attractive but fading blondes who sat waiting for him to say something. But he said nothing; he had been silent during much of the evening, except now in this private club in Beverly Hills he seemed even more distant, staring out through the smoke and semidarkness into a large room beyond the bar where dozens of young couples sat huddled around small tables or twisted in the center of the floor to the clamorous clang of folk-rock music blaring from the stereo. The two blondes knew, as did Sinatra's four male friends who stood nearby, that it was a bad idea to force conversation upon him when he was in this mood of sullen silence, a mood that had hardly been uncommon during this first week of November, a month before his fiftieth birthday.

Sinatra had been working in a film that he now disliked, could not wait to finish; he was tired of all the publicity attached to his dating the twenty-year-old Mia Farrow, who was not in sight tonight; he was angry that a CBS television documentary of his life, to be shown in two weeks, was reportedly prying into his privacy, even speculating on his possible friendship with Mafia leaders; he was worried about his starring role in an hour-long NBC show entitled Sinatra -- A Man and His Music, which would require that he sing eighteen songs with a voice that at this particular moment, just a few nights before the taping was to begin, was weak and sore and uncertain. Sinatra was ill. He was the victim of an ailment so common that most people would consider it trivial. But when it gets to Sinatra it can plunge him into a state of anguish, deep depression, panic, even rage. Frank Sinatra had a cold.

par3182 said...

i second adam's suggestion of the phantom tollbooth, which is still my favourite book 34 years after first reading it

i recently read miranda july's collection of short stories no-one belongs here more than you - brilliant

Runs Like A Gay said...

I read Cheri at the end of last year. It's a really beautifully written novel with an almost poetic edge. Cinematically though I'm not sure it will work as it's a typical French novel in that it's description led rather than plot lead. When the story does get started, after about half a book of Lea (Pfeiffer) describing how beautiful her lover Cheri (Rupert Friend) is, there isn't a lot of action. Saying that Lea does have plenty of character development to put through from her courtesan lifestyler to hiding her love to realising what she has done by denyig herself love.

As for one book you really must read, I don't know if it made it over to the States, but The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon is a great read, and a fascinating insight into Autism.

Finally you must read every book by J.G. Ballard, my favourite novelist.

Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guy said...

I'm currently reading Annie Proulx's new collection "Fine Just the Way It Is," which is a thing of beauty.

Can I be patriotic and recommend something South African? Marlene van Niekerk's "Triomf" is an extraordinary portrait of lower-class white society facing the social changes of the 1994 election.

I know, I just made it sound like a barrel of laughs, but it's actually really witty and moving -- and I want as many people as possible to get an authentic impression of this period in history before Old Man Eastwood gets his hands on it in his next film.

Guy said...

As for "The Lovely Bones," I was more excited when Lynne Ramsay was attached to direct, as I'm sure anyone who has seen "Ratcatcher" and/or "Morvern Callar" will understand.

But at least she's getting to do "We Need to Talk About Kevin" instead. Yay!

Anonymous said...

What is the movie called with James Stewart, you posted a picture from Nathaniel?

I just finished reading "Need" (where there is supposed to be a film adaptation with N. Kidman and N. Watts) and I loved it.
I also read "The Danish Girl" which was intersting.

Now I head to read "New Moon" and "The Hours"

Mikadzuki said...

"American Tabloid" by James Ellroy. It's grim and cynical but oh so fascinating. Recommended, of course.

Catherine said...

As happens every two years or so, I'm indulging my Mitford obsession so I've just polished off Anne de Courcy's biography of Diana Mitford and begun Diana's own autobiography, A Life of Contrasts, read in conjunction with The Pursuit of Laughter which is a collection of her journalism pieces and diary entries. On an unintentionally related note, I have her stepson Nicholas Mosley's (supposed) masterpiece, Hopeful Monsters lined up for the next fiction book I tackle.

I'm also dipping out of the collected correspondance of Robert Lowell and Elisabeth Bishop (which can I just strongly recommend for anyone with an interest in poetry, letter writing, unrequited love) and I have to start reading Top Girls and Henry IV for school.

As for general recommendations, my default favourite book ever since I was 13 has been Paul Auster's New York Trilogy but I also love Great Expectations. So, yeah.

Catherine said...

Oh! I completely forgot about Marlene Dietrich's ABC which my sister got me for Christmas. I'll open on a random page: okay, here you could find out Marlene's definition of words like HARMONY, HATE, HATS, HAUPTMANN GERHART, HEALTH, HEALTH FOOD, etc... It's a treasure trove! So bizarre/amusing/informative.

Anonymous said...

I am reading Michael Ondaatje's Divisadero. Eager to start reading The White Tiger, latest Booker Prize winner.

Recently, I read Homer's The Odyssey and besides being incredible it was FUN, which I did not expect it to be.

Marcelo - Brazil.

Michael Parsons said...

I am currently reading 'The Cement Garden' but think everyone should go out and read 'Push' by Sapphire.

woodstock said...

hahaha... yes it's a bit horrible. but reading like any for of entertainment should be done under tastes and what makes us happy - so any reading is valid! except new age and self-help books.

i'm currently reading "henry & june" by anaïs nin, my favorite author so far. i'm also trying to resume the reading of machiavelli's "the prince" and am about to start "carta abierta de woody allen a platón", the second book of a trilogy on cinema and philosophy by spanish philosopher juan antonio rivera.

viennarain said...

"Veronica" by Nicolas Christopher is a really good one. I guess it's categorized as fantasy, but I'm not a big fan of that genre and I loved this book.

Alex said...

I'm reading Sarah's Key by Tatiana DeRosnay.

I'm only about 40 pages in, but if it were a screenplay, I'd say it was good Oscar bait. A middle-aged American female reporter living in France discovers secrets about her French husband's family run-ins with Nazis. The author provides flashbacks to chronicle a little Jewish girl's life - from the round ups to well a death camp.

dusty said...

I'm currently involved with Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels and am half-heartedly reading a YA book one of my students loaned me about the rebirth of King Arthur in the middle of the 12th Century. Total yawner.

You *might*, however, pick up Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, which was published in the late 80s and has become something of a cult classic, if not a bona-fide critical classic. An aunt recommended it to me before Christmas, and I swallowed up its 900 pages in about three days. Good read about the people surrounding the construction of a giant old cathedral in England. You can read my review on Goodreads. :-)

Moose said...

I'm reading The Collected Stories of Nabokov, which is great like everything else he's written.

On being with the masses on books, I've gradually realized I have the cheapest/least critical taste in music. Kind of makes being a movie/book/philosophy snob a little harder.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Yay I do this too. I feel it helps with movies like The Reader where it seems like they're about to end, and then there's another 20 minutes of silence and meaningful looks, but I'm the only one among my friends who is not angry because I know what happens, so I'm fine.

I'm reading Elmer Gantry right now. Are there any actors capable of playing this role today? At first, I thought George Clooney, but he doesn't seem "loud" enough to me. Best leave it alone for now, methinks.

TV writer Rita Lakin has a number of ridiculously fun murder-mysteries about retired Jewish women solving crimes in South Florida. The lead, Gladdy Gold, is a voracious reader who's dating an Englishman that reminds me of Michael Caine. It's soooo much fun. The first is Getting Old is Murder, then Getting Old is Criminal, Getting Old is To Die For...there are five in all right now.

Carl said...

"Guilty", by Ann Coulter. (Okay, let's see if this blog now spontaneously ignites...)

Got "Watchmen" on the nightstand 'on deck', and the new Bujold novel comes out Tuesday. Yum.

Anon. 6:41 - looks like "Bell, Book, and Candle."

Sean said...

Since you liked The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, making yu Chabon-oriented, and since you like to read novels before their respective movies come out, you've got to read The Yiddish Policemen's Union, which I just finished and is excellent. The first half or so reads like Coen fanfic, but it eventually goes someplace else. The whole thing's terrific.

Rebecca said...

I like the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris - about a telepath who is intrigued by vampires, because she can't hear what's going on in their heads. The first book is 'Dead Until Dark,' and it gets progressively sillier as the series goes on, with werepanthers, fairies, and other craziness.

I also recommend from my recent reads 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and 'the curious incident of the dog in the night-time' by Mark Haddon.

Rebecca said...

I like the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris - about a telepath who is intrigued by vampires, because she can't hear what's going on in their heads. The first book is 'Dead Until Dark,' and it gets progressively sillier as the series goes on, with werepanthers, fairies, and other craziness.

I also recommend from my recent reads 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and 'the curious incident of the dog in the night-time' by Mark Haddon.

Trent Sketch said...

Currently reading: The Dark Chamber by Leonard Cline, The Manse by Lisa Cantrell, The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood, and No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.

The drop everything book of the moment is still Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. What an incredibly disturbing debut novel. Dog lovers beware: it's not a happy situation, no matter how justified and well composed it is.

Pedro said...

I am currently reading several books, but the best of them is The Interpreter of Maladies from Jhumpa Lahiri. It is a collection of short stories, and they are so beautifully written that it is like immersing yourself in the softest, warmest river or beach you can find. I also read Oscar Wao and did not like it that much (overpraised and when you compare it with other literature from the Caribbean -the author is from the Dominican Republic and part of the novel is set there- it is really not that good).

Pedro

James Hansen said...

The Corrections or House of Leaves.

Carri said...

World War Z by Max Brooks... Not only because it's the best zombie book ever written, but also was a big duke-out between DiCaprio and Pitt's production companies, with PlanB coming out on top (if I remember correctly).

Anonymous said...

I suggest you Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. These books are very popular in Europe nowadays:

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE
THE AIRCASTLE THAT BLEW UP

mirko

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend "The Littlest Hitler" by Ryan Boudinot. It's collection of short stories that are funny, touching, human, creepy and downright unsettling. You will read all 13 stories in one sitting - you won't be able to put it down. Please let me know what you think. Michael in DC

adri said...

Like Catherine, I've also read the Nancy Mitford books (several times). They're perfect reading for grey days, light and clever and beautifully written. Of that era, I also like Elizabeth Bowen's novels.

The Jasper Fforde series (The Eyre Affair) is a delight for people who read a lot, a time travel sci-fi adventure that takes place in books. A friend gave it to me because she knew I'd love it, and I let it sit on my living room side table for a year, then my bedroom dresser for a year...but I did love it when I finally read it, and then I immediately read the others in the series.

For Sci-fi fantasy, everyone I've lent it to, loves "To Say Nothing of the Dog".

Nathan said...

I just finished with The Lovely Bones, which was required reading for my English class. It is a strange book, but just as strangely moving (now I have to write an essay on it, and I'm stumped for ideas).

I'm currently reading several books at once: "The Case for a Creator," by Lee Strobel; Darwin's "The Origin of Species;" and "The Problem of Pain," by C.S. Lewis.

I think everyone should read "Ender's Game," by Orson Scott Card (sci-fi), and at least the first (very short) book of "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. The former has been one of my all-time favorites since junior high; and the latter certainly lives up to The Los Angeles Times' declarationg that "Lewis, perhaps more than any other twentieth-century writer, forced those who listened to him and read his works to come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions."