The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards yesterday, and many of the films up for Best Picture were adapted from books. Check out these film-inspiring titles from your library.
“Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo
Yes, you have to wade through (pardon my pun) a lot of detailed descriptions of Paris’ sewer system at the beginning, but the effort is worth it. I read “Les Miserables” while on summer break during college (have I mentioned how much of a nerd I am?) and was completely drawn in by the stories of Jean Valjean (imprisoned 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread), Fantine (a single mother who turns to prostitution as a last resort to support her child), Cosette (Fantine’s daughter, abused by the family Fantine pays to care for her) and the other heartbreaking characters who populate Hugo’s epic tale of struggle and redemption in 19th century France.
“Life of Pi” by Yann Martel
The premise of this moving and and somewhat mystical story of survival sounds like the set-up for a joke: “A boy, a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a tiger are adrift on a boat.” Zookeeper’s son Pi Patel and his family set sail for Canada, but when the ship sinks, Pi escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a the hungry tiger remain. An inspiring and unusual coming-of-age tale.
“The Silver Linings Playbook” by Matthew Quick
Quick creates an endearing and unlikely hero in Pat Peoples, a mentally ill former history teacher obsessed with the hopeless pursuit of winning back his estranged wife. After four years in a mental institution, Pat moves in with his parents and makes it his mission to overhaul himself physically and emotionally. Along the way, he befriends Tiffany, a clinically depressed widow with issues of her own. An offbeat, funny and moving novel.
“Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Goodwin carefully examines Lincoln’s political genius in defeating three more experienced and better educated rivals to win the 1860 Republican nomination for the presidency. Lincoln later includes these men–William H. Seward, Edward Bates and Salmon P. Chase–in his cabinet and uses his extraordinary ability to empathize and understand others’ motives to transform them from enemies into allies, committed to preserving the Union.