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Published June 11 2012

From the page to the big screen: Books that are becoming movies

WEST FARGO – Summer is a great time for book lists and blockbusters, so we figured, why not combine the two?

What we ended up with was an interesting mix of old and new, complex classics and easy reading.

The staff at the West Fargo Public Library weighed in on some of the choices, which should help you become an expert on the big-screen adaptation.

Now you, too, can be one of those people groaning as the credits roll, “Oh, the book was so much better.”

“Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter,” by Seth Grahame-Smith

Movie release date: June 22

The upcoming film based on the 2010 novel will likely get a few raised eyebrows. It’s a (fictitious, as if that needed mentioning) biography of Abraham Lincoln, based on “secret diaries” he kept about his adventures hunting vampires.

Go ahead, admit it – you’re a little bit intrigued.

“Savages,” by Don Winslow

Movie release date: July 6

The plot is basic enough: To rescue their shared hippie girlfriend, two marijuana growers must confront a Mexican drug cartel.

“Savages” might be one of the more obscure entries on our list, but the movie is getting definite A-list treatment. With Oliver Stone directing, the cast includes Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Benecio del Toro and more.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky

Movie release date: Sept. 14

The tale of a 15-year-old experiencing his first love and coping with the suicide of a friend, this coming-of-age novel is a hit with the indie-teen bunch, and the movie is likely to unite the same crowd.

Starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, the film should share the book’s tone and themes; it was adapted and directed by the author, Steven Chbosky.

“Alex Cross,” based on the crime thrillers by James Patterson

Movie release date: Oct. 26

Based on the James Patterson crime novel “I, Alex Cross,” the plot involves the typical elements of a Patterson thriller – enough murder, intrigue and plot twists to keep you up late reading.

And whether you check out this particular Patterson novel or any involving the protagonist Alex Cross (there are several), West Fargo Public Library’s Assistant Director Carrie Scarr says you probably can’t go wrong.

“The stories are fast-paced and the characters are engaging,” she says of Patterson’s books, which are a big hit with library patrons. “They are perfect ‘beach read’ material.”

“Life of Pi,” by Yann Martel

Movie release date: Nov. 21

This 2002 award-winning novel (and book club favorite) explores themes of spirituality, revolving around the tale of an Indian boy named Pi who finds himself stranded on a boat with a Bengal tiger for 227 days.

If you want a book this summer that gets you thinking and is tough to put down, you probably can’t go wrong with “Life of Pi.”

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Movie release date: Dec. 14

The much-awaited prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy detailing the adventures of Bilbo Baggins finally gets adapted this winter.

Staff members at the library agree – this book is undeniably a classic.

“The Hobbit whisks readers away to a magical world where there’s danger, yet Tolkien’s lyrical prose gives readers the confidence that Bilbo’s tale will turn out all right at the end,” Scarr says.

“The other movies were outstanding,” adds Sandra Hannahs, the library’s director. “It’s one to look forward to.”

So, this summer, even if you’ve read The Hobbit before, take the time to lose yourself in the world of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

“Les Miserables,” by Victor Hugo

Movie release date: Dec. 14

Victor Hugo’s classic about ex-convict Jean Valjean is getting adapted to cinema for the second time in 15 years this winter.

It’s a big book, one you’ll likely have to devote a good chunk of time to get through, but it is summer vacation after all.

Read Hugo’s masterpiece while you have the time now, and then enjoy seeing Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackson singing later.

“The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Movie release: Dec. 15

As required reading for many middle and high school English classes, “The Great Gatsby” is the book on our list that most people are likely to have read.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the adaptation of Fitzgerald’s tale about a Midwesterner living on Long Island is garnering a lot of buzz, and library staff member Mary Jo Moorhead, a big fan of Fitzgerald’s writing, says she’s anxious to see how it turns out.

“I have never seen a great movie made from this book,” she says.

Director Baz Luhrman, known best for his work on “Moulin Rouge” and an artsy 1996 adaptation of “Romeo + Juliet,” is likely to make this classic into a flashy spectacle.

“On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac

Movie release date: Late 2012

Kerouac’s most well-known book, “On the Road” is mostly autobiographical, detailing the cross-country adventures of narrator Sal Paradise.

Although gas prices are still pretty high these days, summer is the season for road tripping, and “On the Road” is as good a book as any to take with you.

It gets the big-screen treatment later this year with major stars, such as Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and more.

Scarr loved the book when she read it for the first time 20 years ago, especially the “single scroll” format that Kerouac used to type the book – with no paragraphs.

“Hopefully the movie will attract a new generation to the novel,” Scarr says.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535