Hey guys, Jana here,
I love to be entertained, whether it’s watching a great movie, ballgame, series, listening to Led Zeppelin or reading a book, I always have at least two of them going at once. Reading gets a lot of time and attention from me, so it stands to reason that I would have a list of favorite books, not just favorites that I love to read, but favorite titles that should be given the big screen treatment.
Bringing a beloved book to screen is a difficult tight rope to walk. On one hand you have the source novel that gives you characters and a plot outline, on the other we have to realize that the author’s vision for the novel does not transfer seamlessly to a film treatment. The filmmaker gets to chip away parts of the story, or build up others in their unique visions of the finished product. The result is a hit or miss with fans of the books. Most of the time, there are bit characters (even BIG characters) that end up deleted, characteristics, appearance and even the sex of those characters get changed to achieve hopeful success. I want to be in love with every adaptation I see, but I just haven’t been that lucky. Having said that, let’s start my top 10 list of books that need to jump off the page and onto the big screen.
1. ‘Icewind Dale’ , ‘The Dark Elf Trilogy’, ‘The Cleric Quintet’ – R.A. Salvatore I know this was supposed to be about my top 10 books and these three series encompass 11 books, but stick with me here. ‘Icewind Dale‘ is located in the fictional Forgotten Realms which is the same world the RPG Dungeons & Dragons is set. IWD introduces us to a dark elf, a barbarian, human, dwarf and a halfling. Salvatore said that he intended the barbarian, Wulfgar, to be the lead character, but he was overshadowed by the dark elf or drow, Drizzt Do’Urden. Drizzt has a deep sense of honor that is incredibly unusual for drow which is only one of the things that make him the more unique and fascinating character. This series covers the adventures the party encounter as they travel far from their homes. It’s fascinating, intriguing and has the most vivid, hilarious, determined characters I’ve ever come across.
‘The Dark Elf Trilogy‘ is an immersion into the deep, dark, underworld of Menzoberranzan that tells the story of where Drizzt began his life, why he left and his struggle to reach the surface world. Even though ‘Icewind Dale’ was released first, for new readers, I suggest you begin with ‘The Dark Elf Trilogy‘ then tackle IWD. It will give you a much better picture of Drizzt, who is the real all-star.
I’m adding ‘The Cleric Quintet‘ into this entry for the fact that I don’t want to duplicate authors. This series does not follow the story of Drizzt but it takes place in the same world. The heroes in these stories are Cadderly, a scholar who is not content with just learning about his surroundings any longer but wants to experience what he reads. His future wife, Danica is a small, but fierce monk, she and Cadderly are both human. Their traveling companions often consist of two dwarven brothers named Ivan and Pikel. This series is absolutely gripping, suspenseful and flat out compelling. It’s hard to put these books down. With all of Salvatore’s work, I see the strides Peter Jackson has given the fantasy world with his adaptations of Tolkien’s works and know that, with the right budget and director, these stories would be another successful vein of creative story telling the movie world could use to their advantage. Take into consideration that the fan-base of Salvatore’s work has been established since 1988 and is growing with each new novel Salvatore produces.
2. ‘Wicked’ – Gregory Maguire The origins story or the Wicked Witch of the West has been made into a glorious Broadway musical and the buzz has been there for years that it will be transferred to the big screen, but Marc Platt producer from ‘Into The Woods’ said that it’s in the works and that 2016 is the projected date. Fingers crossed!
3. ‘Soulless’ – Gail Carriger If you think the big thing lacking in the supernatural world is proper etiquette, then these are definitely the books for you! Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster who likes her food and doesn’t hold her thoughts in without a lot of effort, we are SO alike! She’s a new class of supe called a soulless and it’s just what it sounds like. She accidentally kills a vampire who was rude enough to attack her in the first place. From a dead vampire to a loud werewolf lacking even the most rudimentary social skills. Queen Victoria orders an investigation into how this could happen in London’s high society in the first place. Alexia doesn’t wait around for someone else to clear her name, she begins her own investigation using her own innate skills. This 5 book series has vibrant characters that leap off a book so easily, it would be a perfect transition for film.
I can easily see Alex Kingston taking on the brassy, sassy Tarabotti. This ties in fans from not only the books, but the steampunk culture also. It’s a brilliant twist on the classic “Who done it?”
4. ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ – Bill Watterson I can’t even put into words how much I loved this comic strip. I bought several of the books and am so thrilled that my kids are carrying them off to read, the scary part is the kid that carries them off reminds me of Calvin in oh so many ways. I see this as a perfect vehicle for Pixar, come to think of it, Calvin looks a little like Dash from ‘The Incredibles‘, doesn’t he? There is more than enough material to produce countless movies, not to mention the spin-off TV series and all the marketing options this would create. Alas, I don’t ever see this seeing anything more than what it has. Watterson has spoken out against merchandising in the past and has stated that he doesn’t see any benefits to adapting the comic because he has done it exactly as he wants it. I can respect that, but feel a little loss at knowing I’ll never see this brought to theaters.
5. ‘Heart-Shaped Box ‘- Joe Hill Hill is the son of novelists Stephen King and Tabitha King, ‘Heart-Shaped Box‘ was his first novel and I really think this should have been the first adaptation to film and ‘Horns‘ should have been put on the back burner. I’ve read both books and this book is the one that kept me up at night, the one that popped into my head when I was going to sleep. It had that deliciously frightening quality that permeated every part of me and I loved it! Sometimes even the memory of just how much it freaked me out is still enough to give me a rush. The main character is Jude, a former rock star that lived life to excess, especially with his hobby of collecting the macabre. He has a collection that includes some of John Wayne Gacy’s drawings, a used hangman’s noose and a human skull that was trepanned among many other bits of creepy things. When Jude finds an honest to goodness ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately buys it. The heart-shaped box he receives in the mail contains a suit belonging to the deceased and, unbeknownst to Jude, a very angry and spiteful spirit. Jude discovers the identity of his spectral guest as being the stepfather of a groupie that wanted more from Jude than he was willing to give, after their relationship ended, she committed suicide. I can’t even say enough how much I loved this book. It is one of the few books that has given me an honest-to-goodness scare in a very long time.
6. ‘The Grimm Legacy‘- Polly Shulman This book is more on the Young Adult side of things, but it’s still fascinating and could create a whole new world that ‘Harry Potter‘ opened up. High school student Elizabeth has taken a new job as a page at a library, but it’s not a regular library of books, it’s a lending library of objects. Hidden in the basement is a secret room that contains the Grimm Collection. This collection contains the mirror that Snow White’s stepmother used, seven-league boots and winged sandals are among the very real magical items that the German brothers Grimm collected. When objects come up missing, everyone is a suspect and Elizabeth does a dangerous bit of sleuthing to discover the identity of the thief. Shulman stated that the novel had been optioned with intentions of turning it into an animated project. I can see that working out fairly well for this one. This is a book that my daughter has read and we both loved it.
7. ‘The Devil in the White City:Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America‘ – Erik Larson Larson took the daunting task of telling a story of two different men, Daniel H. Burnham the architect that was responsible for the fair’s larger than life construction and H.H. Holmes, the man who is known as America’s first serial killer taking anywhere from 27 to 200 lives. Where Burnham dealt with seemingly insurmountable obstacles in seeing his vision become reality for construction of the world’s fair, Holmes was building something entirely different and a lot more sinister. Holmes built The World’s Fair Hotel, which later became known by the even more grisly moniker, the murder castle complete with a gas chamber and crematorium. Larson works from fact building the dissecting stories that create a gripping account of what really happened in 1893. Four years ago, the project was announced with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead as Holmes but it has lost steam. Hopefully this can get off the ground to become a gritty, realistic look at one of the best – and worst times in American history.
8. ‘Looking For Alaska‘ – John Green In true John Green fashion, Alaska is a coming of age story that sucks us into sharing in the laughter, heartaches and unanswered questions. High school junior Miles “Pudge” Halter moves from Florida to attend Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama. He has been waiting for his life to start and the moment he meets his roommate “The Colonel” and the beautiful, but emotionally troubled, Alaska Young. She is everything Pudge has dreamed of, she does have a devastating self-destructive side but he is entranced by the total package. The group of friends pull pranks on some elitist students and celebrate their victories with some underage drinking. This turns into a constant event for some of the crew. Pudge’s feelings grow stronger and he and Alaska grow closer together, in a turn of events, Alaska leaves the school which leads Miles and his friends to constantly discuss what they could have done to stop it. This novel deals with the vast myriad of issues high school students face. Green’s fan-base has been speculating as to who their ideal casting choices are and I’m sure it’s been optioned for adaptation, but it hasn’t moved forward, yet, with the success of ‘The Fault In Our Stars‘ I see this getting fast-tracked.
9. ‘Assuming Names‘ – Tanya Thompson Most of my entries in this list seem to be the more popular books, but let me veer off that track for a minute. Names debuted less than a year ago, but it has entranced readers from the first sentence. Thompson tells her story, which is entirely true, about how she managed to pull off one of the largest cons I’ve ever heard of. Some might be saying that isn’t such a difficult task with how gullible some people are, but this was under the noses of the FBI, DEA and Interpol as they investigated her. The ruse – convincing everyone she was a world-traveled countess, when in reality she was a 15-year old runaway. As I mentioned earlier, this book grabs your attention with it’s unbelievable-sounding log line, then the details filled page after page with her hilarious and entirely irreverent memoirs of the events as they unfolded. I can totally see a teenager’s take of ‘Ocean’s 11‘ opening to maybe not the most crowded of theaters in the beginning, but the rave reviews would undoubtedly draw in big numbers. If this were done well and not too campy, this could even be a vehicle for an unknown actress to garner some Oscar buzz perhaps.
10. ‘The Gunslinger‘ – Stephen King I clearly remember the day I picked up the very first book in the series that had already had sequels by then. I was in the 7th grade school library and I had proven my bravery with my friends by watching ‘It‘ and ‘The Shining‘ and announcing to everyone that would listen, that I wasn’t scared. By the way, that statement was followed by my being scared by my best friend’s mom who saw the holes in my bravado. I loved that hot skin prickle sensation of being scared. That feeling was like a drug and I am still addicted. Give me horror,thrillers and anything supernatural and I will find a way to love it. I was a little let down when I got into the meat of the story and discovered it wasn’t as scary as what I was expecting it to be, but I soldiered on, carrying a dictionary with me from class to class just so I didn’t miss a single bit of what has widely become known as King’s magnum opus.
TDT series tells the story of Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger, who is traveling southeast across Mid-World’s post-apocalyptic landscape, searching for the powerful but elusive magical edifice known as The Dark Tower. Located in the fey region of End-World, amid a sea of singing red roses, the Dark Tower is the nexus point of the time-space continuum. It is the heart of all worlds, but it is also under threat. Someone, or something, is using the evil technology of the Great Old Ones to destroy it. This has been optioned and I’m sure there are at least a dozen scripts in different stages of development right now for the project, but I can only hope these will finally see the lights of the big screen.