If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know that I love all kinds of books. If you've been to my house, you'll know that the walls are being held up with bookshelves! I'm an avid reader, collector, and lover of great books.
Even though I'm fond of print, I do, however, enjoy movies quite a bit. What is even better is when the movie that is inspired by the book is just as marvelous as the book. Now, I know there are some that are reading this and already arguing with me that the movie is never as good as the book. You're saying that they take too much out of the book, and it's nothing like the book. And those are valid points.
However, I'm not watching the movie so I don't have to read the book. I love when a book inspires other worthy art, even if a character or two isn't quite as I imagined they would be from the book. So here are my five favorite books that have become movies, and why I love them!
1. A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of my favorite children's authors. Not only did she write A Little Princess, but she's also responsible for The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy (one of my favorites).
I'm absolutely in love with the 1995 movie version (Rated G) of this book. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, this movie is a masterpiece in its own right due to the amazing costumes, beautiful colors, and overall mood Cuarón sets.
The Shirley Temple version of this movie is also precious. They are both worthy of the book they represent.
2. Charlotte's Web
Can we just start by recognizing that E.B. White was a masterful writer. He's the White from the famous book on elocution: Strunk & White - Elements of Style.
I grew up on the cartoon version of Charlotte's Web, and it's still a favorite of mine, but the recent release (Rated G) is so precious, that it's made it to the top of my favorite book to movie list.
3. Willy Wonk and the Chocolate Factory
If you're looking for a zany read, look no further than Roald Dahl. His list of works include: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and BFG. His stories have inspired imaginations for years, and they continue to engage young readers today.
Even though many of his writings have been adapted for the big screen, the 1971 movie version (Rated G) of this great story is still one of my favorites. Wonka is sarcastic, witty, and downright crazy, and I love it!
I'm not a huge fan of the modern Wonka movie (Rated PG), so I won't recommend that one.
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Growing up, I loved the cartoon version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Not Rated). I have to admit that I was very unsure about whether I would like the modern version with real people in it. Thankfully, Andrew Adamson was an artist equal to the task of bringing C.S. Lewis's book to life, and it is a beautiful adaptation.
When the movie came out in 2005 (Rated PG), I really hoped that they would create movies for all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series. I guess I'll just have to be content to read them to children and let our own imaginations run wild with the amazing stories woven together by C.S. Lewis.
5. Sense and Sensibility
Oh Sense and Sensibility (Rated PG) is one of my all time favorite movies, and the book is even better. Jane Austin is such a masterful story teller. She captures the struggle of her characters in such a relate-able way that you can't help but fall in love with them and feel as if your own heart might break with theirs.
The best part of this movie, hands down, is the awkwardness of Hugh Grant. He is incredible as Edward, and the rest of the cast is equally brilliant. Another bonus to this film is the soundtrack. I listened to this soundtrack through most of my college studies. It is a beautiful work of art on its own!
6. Pride and Prejudice
I was sure I wasn't going to enjoy this movie. While the book is wonderful, how do you capture the outlandish Mrs. Bennett, the annoying Mr. Collins, or the proud/prejudiced Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Oh, but Keira Knightly does a marvelous job of portraying the challenges of being a woman with opinions in a time when women were not so free to express themselves.
I love sharing these movies with my daughters as they are good clean movies that uphold moral standards, while expressing redemption and forgiveness.
7. Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte, who wrote in the years following Jane Austin's death, approached the romance stories from a bit of an edgier and darker place, but with no less eloquence. Jane Eyre is a Gothic romance filled with characters you love to hate.
It's always challenging fitting 528 pages of material into a 121 minute feature movie. However the 2011 version of Jane Eyre (Rated PG-13) still captivates it's audience in its own way.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for a good romance, I don't know. I just love the British romance movies. They are timeless.
8. To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird has come back into my life as an adult, and it is so much better the second time around. This book raises so many important questions about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that every American should be reading it once every decade. Bold statement. I know.
The 1962 black and white adaptation of this book (Not Rated) was so good that no one has even attempted bettering it since. Gregory Peck does an amazing job of portraying Atticus Finch, a man of conviction and integrity, who finds himself torn between standing for what is right and defending his family. This is an excellent film worth watching again.
9. The Count of Monte Cristo
I'm currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo with my nephew, and while the book seems to be vastly different than the movie, I'm still recommending the movie version because of its excellence in its own right.
Jim Caviezel, who stars in the movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo (Rated PG-13), does an amazing job of portraying the transforming power of an educated man.
Sometimes it's nice to watch the movie first before tackling a 1300 page book. The movie can help orient the reader to the characters, setting, and general plot. Then the reader can fill in the gaps of understanding by reading the book. I can't wait to see how the book plays out the themes of redemption and forgiveness. I'm hoping it's better than the movie's portrayal!
10. The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings Series
I couldn't make a book to movie list without including J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy which have been carefully crafted into amazing works of art by Peter Jackson.
I will say that I was surprised to find that the Hobbit was being made into three separate movies, but the story is epic, so why not go big with the movies. I think my favorite is the Fellowship of the Ring (Rated PG-13) because it is such a beautiful tale of friendship and bravery.
If you haven't read the books that go with these movies, they are worth every minute of reading or listening to over and over again.
So that's my top 10 books with good movies.