I’ve been in a reading slump lately. I’m also about to go a long plane journey. These two things represent a horrible combination, and something must be done about it before I have to spend another seven hours on a plane playing Angry Birds. So in the spirit of breaking the slump with a little something different, here are four books I want to read because of their film adaptations.
Isak Dinesen is the pen name of Karen von Blixen-Finecke, a Danish baroness who, famously, “had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.” Out of Africa is her memoir of the seventeen years she lived in Kenya, several of which she spent running a coffee plantation on her own after divorcing her husband.
Although the movie is largely a love story featuring Blixen and Denys Finch-Hatton (gorgeously played by Robert Redford), and indeed, they are rumored to have been lovers, the book itself apparently never commits itself on this point. Instead it focuses on her life in Africa and the people she met there, in what sounds to me something like an early ethnography. It’s going on the plane with me.
2. Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick
Since this movie is one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time (it’s the moment he throws Hemingway out the window. One should always throw Hemingway out the window) I was delighted to learn that it was based on a book of the same name.
But I’m a little scared of the book, too: apparently it’s quite a bit darker than the movie, and I admit that worries me. Something I love about the movie is its combination of light and dark—the way humor skates right on top of tragedy. Get that alchemy wrong, and I have a feeling I’d react quite differently to the story.
On the other hand, I do love a good sports romance.
3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
Well, Truman Capote and I are not quite all right, even though ten years have probably passed since I read In Cold Blood. I still have traumatizing flashbacks to it, damn his eyes.
But…I admit I’m intrigued by this novella. It sounds like it’s quite different from the film—for one thing, it’s set in the 1940’s rather than the 1960’s—but there’s something so strange about the idea that the author of In Cold Blood wrote the source material for Breakfast at Tiffany’s that I need to see the evidence for myself.
Fun Fact: Apparently Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the part of Holly Golightly, but she was under contract at another studio and thus precluded from participating.
4. The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, by Ben Mezrich (source material for The Social Network)
I love a juicy, semi-libelous tell-all (it’s all those grandmother-sourced Hollywood biographies—that shit can turn a young girl’s head); and this promises to be a good one. I enjoyed The Social Network (mostly) and was intrigued enough by the story to want to know a little more. I’m not convinced that this book is particularly factual, but apparently I’m willing to overlook that in the name of “Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal.” Well, come on. Who isn’t?