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July 22, 2013
12 Books You Should Read Before The Movie Comes Out

With only a little over a month to go before Labor Day, what better way to take advantage of the remainder of summer than to catch up on some light reading?  We all know that Hollywood loves to adapt best-selling novels in order to gain that built-in brand recognition.  Just look at this summer's zombie blockbuster 'World War Z' -- a film that had little to nothing in common with the novel it was supposedly based on, but Brad Pitt spent the dough to buy the rights anyway just so he could slap on a familiar title.  Here I've put together a list of the 12 books you should absolutely not forget to read before heading to see the movie in theaters...because we all know the book is always better.

 

37987031. The Spectacular Now

by Tim Tharp (2008)
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Kyle Chandler
A hard-partying high school senior's philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical "nice girl."

Written in stream-of-consciousness-style prose, the book tells the story of Sutter Keely, a teenager obsessed with living in the "now."  That all changes when he meets Aimee, who's constantly dreaming of the future.  Starring Shailene Woodley (who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as George Clooney's daughter in 'The Descendants') and with a screenplay by the writers of '(500) Days Of Summer,' the film will undoubtedly be a heartwarming coming-of-age story you'll enjoy if you loved recent films like 'The Way, Way Back' and 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.'

Coming: Aug. 2

 

serena-book-cvr22. Serena

by Ron Rash (2008)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans
In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton's timber empire becomes complicated when it is learned that his wife, Serena, cannot bear children.

This novel, featuring a Lady Macbeth-like character who drives her husband toward increasingly violent acts, drew comparisons to such classic authors as John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy when it was released.  Hopefully the reunion of 'Silver Linings Playbook' stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper will capture the volatile spirit of Rash's riveting prose.

Coming: Sept. 27

 

horns_book_cover3. Horns

by Joe Hill (2010)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, James Remar
In the aftermath of his girlfriend's mysterious death, a young man awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples.

Though his name may still sound unfamiliar to many, author Joe Hill has a fairly prestigious background: he's the son of none other than the Master Of Horror himself, Stephen King.  Both scary and funny, the book tells the story of protagonist Ig Perrish, whose new horns also come with the power to make other people admit things they normally wouldn't.  Tight plotting, clever dialogue, and a surprisingly touching love story makes this book a can't-miss.  The film will star Harry Potter himself as the protuberance-afflicted man.

Coming: Oct. 11

 

Carrie-Novel-Cover4. Carrie

by Stephen King (1974)
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianna Moore, Judy Greer
A sheltered high school girl unleashes her newly developed telekinetic powers after she is pushed too far by her peers.

Family feud alert!  Stephen King has a film version of one of his own books coming out just one week after his son's: 'Carrie' is being re-adapted for the screen just in time for Halloween.  This time, the story of a telekinetic girl terrorized at her prom will be headlined by Chloë Grace Moretz (Hit Girl from 'Kick-Ass') with Julianne Moore as her crazy-religious mother.  Don't miss the chance to revisit King's very first novel, because it's still one of his creepiest.

Coming: Oct. 18

 

Old_Boy_15. Oldboy

by Garon Tsuchiya (1996)
Starring: Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen
An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.

This is an American remake of a 2003 South Korean film based on a Japanese manga series that ran from 1996-1998 in 8 volumes.  The original Korean film is very highly regarded (in 2008, voters on CNN ranked it one of the 10 best Asian movies ever) and now director Spike Lee has taken his turn tackling the controversial, violent and thrilling source material.  Though this remake will likely have more in common with its Korean predecessor than the Japanese manga, the original material, featuring a pulpy paranoid mystery, is still worth checking out, especially for graphic novel fans.

Coming: Oct. 25

 

endersgame6. Ender's Game

by Orson Scott Card (1985)
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Harrison Ford
70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion.

If you were once a nerdy teenage boy, then you've probably already read this gripping sci-fi novel back in middle school.  If you weren't, you've probably heard of it thanks to the controversy surrounding its author, his anti-marriage-equality views, and the resulting boycott of the film.  No matter how you feel about Orson Scott Card's political opinions, disregard them and read (or reread) this book.  It's a fantastic coming-of-age story filled (ironically enough) with positive messages of compassion and anti-xenophobia.  The movie features Asa Butterfield (the kid from 'Hugo') as Ender, as well as Hailee Steinfeld (Oscar nominee for 'True Grit') as a fellow student under the tutelage of such impressive stars as Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis.

Coming: Nov. 1

 

8931367. The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak (2006)
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse
While subjected to the horrors of WWII Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. Under the stairs in her home, a Jewish refuge is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

If the premise of a girl growing up during the Holocaust sounds overused and depressing, fear not -- there's a twist: this book is narrated by the figure of Death himself.  The story is told from the point-of-view of the reaper as he encounters Liesel during significant moments throughout her life.  It remains to be seen how, and even if, that unique narration will make the leap from page to screen, but even if it doesn't, count on the brilliant Geoffrey Rush to act the hell out of his role as Liesel's foster father who is forced to join the Nazis despite disagreeing with them.

Coming: Nov. 15

 

97805533847728. The Wolf Of Wall Street

by: Jordan Belfort (2007)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey
Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

This film, based on the real-life memoirs of criminal-stockbroker-turned-motivational-speaker Jordan Belfort, marks the fifth collaboration between director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio.  So far their team-ups have yielded spectacular results, and this one doesn't look like it will disappoint.  In his memoir, Belfort doesn't dig too deep into his motivation or his past -- it's told mostly in dialogue and focuses on his hard-partying lifestyle during his time on Wall Street -- but if you're a fan of memoirs and/or true crime, then the behind-the-scenes exposé of his fraud and corruption may be right up your alley.

Coming: Nov. 15

 

catching-fire-book-cover-019. Catching Fire

by: Suzanne Collins (2009)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

If you're reading this article, you've likely already read the second novel in Suzanne Collins' bestselling 'Hunger Games' trilogy.  But now's the perfect time to refresh your memory before the film comes out in November.  The book continues the story of Katniss and her struggle against The Capitol and the nefarious President Snow.  It looks like the movie will feature even more action, drama and better effects than the first.  It also boasts the addition of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright and Jena Malone to the already star-studded cast.

Coming: Nov. 22

 

hobbit-book-cover10. The Hobbit

by: J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
The Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the Misty Mountains, and Bilbo has gained the One Ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon, Smaug.

If you forgot to reread this seminal classic before last year's 'An Unexpected Journey,' now's your chance.  Many fans bemoaned the announcement that Tolkein's shortest work would be turned into a trilogy, and complained that the first installment featured too much talking and too little action.  That shouldn't be a problem here, as 'The Desolation Of Smaug' features the return of several beloved characters from the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy (including Orlando Bloom as Legolas and Christopher Lee as Saruman), the exciting addition of several new cast members (Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly), plenty of action, and the arrival of Smaug himself.

Coming: Dec. 13

 

monuments-men-book-cover11. The Monuments Men

by: Robert M. Edsel (2009)
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bill Murray
In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renowned works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.

This film, with a star-studded cast (including Jean Dujardin, 2012's Best Actor Oscar-winner for 'The Artist') and written and directed by George Clooney himself, is based on the very true story of the men and women whose job it was to save as much of Europe's art as possible from the destruction of World War II.  Originally charged with simply trying to prevent damage to historic buildings, their mission became more complex and more dangerous when they started actually hunting down artifacts stolen by the Nazis.  A true-crime book that reads like a thrilling spy novel, this source material will surely make a successful (and undoubtedly award-winning) jump to the screen.

Coming: Dec. 18

 

41tq63X3zHL._SY300_12. August: Osage County

by: Tracy Letts (2007)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregory, Benedict Cumberbatch
A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

Awarded the Tony for Best Play in 2008, this brilliant script tells the story of a hyper-dysfunctional family headed by a terrorizing matriarch that reunites under one roof after a family tragedy.  The play is simultaneously hilarious, dramatic, shocking and moving.  It's hard to imagine how the sprawling three-act 180-minute play featuring over a dozen characters will make the translation from the stage to the screen -- but even if the film is only half as good as the original Broadway production, it will be a must-see event filled with great scenery-chewing roles for two of the biggest stars of our time.

Coming: Dec. 25
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Written by: Jefferson Grubbs
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