Surznick Reads: August 2016 - The Surznick Common Room

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Surznick Reads: August 2016

We are pretty ashamed to say that this is the first Surznick Reads post ever where we didn't read any books. I know, I know - reading has been slow for months and we thought for sure we were going to get back into the swing of things soon, but it just isn't happening (for now.)

So today we thought we'd share some of our favorite book-to-movie adaptations. When parsing through our bookshelves we found that SO many books we've read have been turned into movies, so these are just a few of the best. If you haven't read/seen these, we highly recommend you check them out this fall! In no particular order...

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (Book/Movie)
From "A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to 'redeem' him, the novel asks, 'At what cost?'"

An intense but awesome story. Reading the slang takes a little while to get used to, but once you do it's a great read.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Book/Movie)
From "In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild."

One of our favorite non-fiction books of all time. This is an awesome, though heartbreaking story. The movie is equally as fantastic.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (Book/Movie)
From "A young man arrives in the Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a 'blind' old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive - a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down..."

One of my favorite movies (I prefer it over the book, actually, but both are great.) The movie stars Eugene Hutz, singer of Gogol Bordello. You can't go wrong.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (Book/Movie)
From "In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront."

Warning: This book is GRAPHIC. And may make you want to throw up a little.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (Book/Movie)
From "The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is, however, one conspicuous absence: Judd's wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva-and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions are reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher: she's pregnant."

I don't know which I love more, the book or the movie. Both are so, so good. The cast in the movie is phenomenal. Read it, then see it. You will love it.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (Book/Movie)
From "It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl. This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life."

Part of the reason we love this story is that it is SO PITTSBURGH. They eat at the places we eat and hang out at the places we hang out. We love it. The movie is better than the book, in our opinion. If you had to pick one, see the movie.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (Book/Movie)
From "In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters - beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys - commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life."

I read this book in early high school and for awhile claimed it as my favorite book. It still holds a special place in my heart, as does the movie. Oh, the Lisbon girls.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (Book/Movie)
From "Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they’ve reached the end of the line. In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances."

I read this book within the past couple of years and hailed it was one of my new favorites. Nick Hornby has a new #1 fan. The movie is not as great as the book, but with stars like Aaron Paul and Toni Collette, it certainly isn't bad.

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich (Book/Movie)
From "Robin Hood meets the Rat Pack when the best and the brightest of M.I.T.’s math students and engineers take up blackjack under the guidance of an eccentric mastermind. Their small blackjack club develops from an experiment in counting cards on M.I.T.’s campus into a ring of card savants with a system for playing large and winning big. In less than two years they take some of the world’s most sophisticated casinos for more than three million dollars. But their success also brings with it the formidable ire of casino owners and launches them into the seedy underworld of corporate Vegas with its private investigators and other violent heavies."

A true and fascinating story. You've probably already seen the Kevin Spacey movie, but reading the book behind it all is so worth it. As someone with a math degree, I found the book so interesting and started wondering if I could count cards myself (probably shouldn't say that.)

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (Book/Movie)
From "In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele - Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles - as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary."

The movie starting Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie (Academy Award winner for the film) is pretty well known, but the book it's based on is a great read.

And a bonus! These books have movie adaptations being released later this year or in 2017 and we can't wait to see each of them. The Glass Castle is one of my favorite books of all time and I'm sure the movie starring Brie Larson is going to be fantastic.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Book/Movie Trailer)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Book)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Book/Movie Trailer)

Have you read or seen any of these? Which are your favorites/least favorites? Any you recommend we check out?

Sarah & Nick


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