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Arts Culture 10 Books Behind The Movies To Read

10 Books Behind The Movies To Read

10 Books Behind The Movies To Read
By Mika Apichatsakol
By Mika Apichatsakol
August 31, 2019
Exploring the origins of some of our favourite films and TV series

Behind every great movie or television show is great writing. Which is why a countless number of films are based on books. In this list, we highlight 10 must read (or reread) books, each a masterpiece in its own right, that were turned into iconic films. 

1/10 Like Water For Chocolate


A supernatural Mexican romance about star-crossed lovers, Like Water For Chocolate by author Laura Esquivel is the book behind the 1992 film of the same title. Set during the Mexican Revolution, the story follows the tragic life of Tita, the youngest daughter of Mama Elena, who is not only forced to take care of her mother for the rest of her life but must also bear the burden of having her love, Pedro, marry her older sister. Tita, a talented chef, expresses her sorrows in her recipes, and the story culminates into a wild ending that is burning with emotions. 

2/10 Never Let Me Go


An Ishiguro classic, sci-fi Never Let Me Go has, of course, been turned into a film starring famous British actors Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield. While the movie aptly translates the moral dilemma of Ishiguro's subtle dystopia—a world that has figured out a way to keep humans alive longer but at the cost of others—the book offers more depth to the relationships between the three main characters, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. 

3/10 The Green Mile


Like Shawshank Redemption, Carrie, It and many other Steven King books, The Green Mile was destined to become a silver screen legend. Starring Academy Award winner Tom Hanks and the late Michael Clarke Duncan, the Hollywood version compellingly tells the story of Cold Mountain Penitentiary death row prisoners and prison guards. If you were moved by the film, you must experience The Green Mile at its original eloquence. 

Fun Fact: The Green Mile was initially published in instalments, keeping Steven King fans truly on edge in 1996.  

4/10 The Joy Luck Club


We know you've read Crazy Rich Asians somewhat recently, but chances are it's been a while or never since you picked up The Joy Luck Club by celebrated Chinese-American author Amy Tan. The book's 1993 film adaptation was a breakthrough for Asian representation even before we knew what that really meant. A story about generations for generations, The Joy Luck Club ought to be read/watched every decade or two for perspective and is especially significant to those with sizable extended Asian families. 

5/10 The Handmaid's Tale


It's easy to dismiss movies for being "not as good as the book", but streaming service Hulu took the premise of Margaret Atwood's masterpiece and absolutely ran with it for three seasons, adding depth beyond the source material, and for that, we give credit where it is due. Nevertheless, Atwood's 1985 dystopian fiction is scarily ahead of its time, even by today's standards, and never fails to shake you up no matter how many times you've read it. 

6/10 Interview With The Vampire


Are you really into Vampire fiction if you haven't read Anne Rice? Interview With The Vampire, which was obviously turned into a film in 1994 starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, was indeed Rice's debut novel. Although arguably not her best piece of vampiric fiction, the book gave birth to the author's cult Vampire Chronicles, a collection of 12 books that proved her to be one of the greatest fictionists of modern times, if not the greatest in the genre of vampire lit. 

7/10 Bridget Jones's Diary


This is perhaps the only chick-lit I could ever recommend. If you love the Bridget Jones's Diary movies, what's there to do but to read the original diary from which one of the greatest rom-coms of our times arose. You'll hear Renee Zellweger's solid British accent throughout the read (a gentle reminder that the actress is from Texas, USA).

8/10 Little Women


Prepare for the exciting upcoming remake of Little Women, starring Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh and Meryl Streep, by rereading this Louisa May Alcott classic. Little Women was written in 1868 about the lives of the March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—living in New England in the 1860s. The book is said to be autobiographical or semi-autobiographical, based on the lives of Louisa and her three sisters. Testament to its fascination, it has been made into a movie several times, including one version that starred 90s it-girl Winona Rider and Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes and Christian Bale.

9/10 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button


Incredibly, you would finish reading The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F Scott Fitzgerald faster than you would finish watching its Hollywood remake starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Benjamin Button was originally written as a short story, later anthologised with other short stories by the eminent American author. Fitzgerald flexes his talents taking us on such an imaginative ride in so few words. 

10/10 The Umbrella Academy


Take a break from novels and go graphic. Published in 2007, The Umbrella Academy (volume 1) precedes its hit Netflix original series by 12 years. Gerard Way, lead singer of former band My Chemical Romance and the comic's creator, helped produce the TV series, along with the comic artist's Gabriel Ba, to ensure that fans of the source material wouldn't be disappointed. However, slight differences in characterisations between the comic and the series are evident. Why? Most likely to offer more depth and story arc to each of the main characters and meet the demanding standards of today's streaming audience. 

Related: Things To Do For Book Lovers In Bangkok


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