This year the Academy has nominated ten films in the Best Picture category, and five of them are based on books. Join the age old debate of which is better; the book or the movie? Read and decide for yourself...
Aron Ralston's Between a Rock and a Hard Place was the inspiration for the film 127 Hours. It is his account of the six days he spent trapped in the remote canyon lands of Utah. He is an experienced mountaineer and outdoorsman and took off for this hike alone and without telling anyone where he'd be or when he'd return. Things started out fine, but while climbing down a narrow slot, a rock suddenly came loose, falling and pinning his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall. He didn't have a lot of water or food and wasn't dressed for the cold nights. After pondering possible options of escape or rescue, he wondered, would he simply die of dehydration? So, Aron starts recording videos to his family and friends, saying good bye and hoping that whatever happened to him someone would find the camera and share it with his family. For a non-mountaineer, some of this book is quite technical, but I found it possible to skim over these parts without missing the gist of the experience. The chapters alternate, with him telling about his previous climbs/adventures during even numbered chapters and describing this ordeal in the canyon during odd numbered chapters.
The Social Network, the movie about the founding of Facebook, was based on, Accidental Billionaires. It tells the story of the Facebook phenomenon. Sort of, this is something of a tabloid version of what happened. Ben Mezrich spins a fascinating story of betrayal, huge amounts of cash and two friends who changed the way we connect with each other. The end result was a colossal falling out. Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were awkward Harvard undergrads that wanted to be cool. Eduardo tried to gain acceptance into one of the school's semi-secret Final Clubs. Mark hacked into Harvard's computers to create a 'hot or not' site exclusive to campus. The prank nearly got him kicked out, but he and Eduardo realized the concept could be something big. Eduardo talked with Mezrich, but Zuckerberg did not; making this a somewhat limited view of the truth. So, while the framework of the history of Facebook may be correct, it's only an outsider's version of it--for something more authoritative, try The Facebook Effect. It explains how Facebook went from a dorm room pastime to having 500 million users. It's become an essential part of social life for many teens and adults worldwide and as it spreads it produces amazing effects. David Kirkpatrick had Facebook's key execs go ahead in researching the company and its impact on our lives. Pointing out successes as well as mistakes, he gives readers the Facebook story that can't be found anywhere else.
True Grit was first published in 1968 and was adapted for a film starring John Wayne in 1969. The Coen brothers, who directed the 2010 movie, have been clear that their film is not a remake of the earlier film, but an even more faithful adaptation of the novel. Written in the first person, the story is told by Mattie as an old woman, looking back 30-40 years on her adventure. When she was 14, a drunken hired hand killed and robbed her rancher father. When her mother sends her into town to collect the body she finds the US Marshal, Rooster Cogburn and convinces him to go with her to avenge her fathers death. A Texas Ranger is also on the trail and they all have different ideas about how justice should be served. Mr. Portis did an incredible job with his characters; the Bible verse spouting Mattie working alongside foul mouthed Cogburn lends a lot of humor. He also took care to use accurate terms from the time period and the region; for example, blue john is used for skim milk and kerosene is referred to as coal oil.
Winter's Bone is about 16 year old Ree Dolly, who is growing up in the poverty stricken Ozarks. When the sheriff shows up and tells her that her father used the family home and land as collateral to get out of jail, and that they'll lose the house if he doesn't show up for court, she sets out to find him. He's disappeared before; skipping out due to charges that he runs a crystal meth lab. Her younger brothers and her mother depend on her and while all she wants to do is join the Army and escape, she knows her first duty is to her family. This is the first Woodrell novel that I've read, but I'm looking forward to reading more. Since they are mostly set in the Ozarks, where he grew up and still resides, he can really give life to his stories. At first I thought the dialect he used would be difficult to read, but after a few pages it just started to flow and the impact of the story would be lessened if he'd done it any other way. He calls his writing, 'country noir' because of the setting and the unsentimental portrayal of crime.
The Kings Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy by Mark Logue is about Britain's Prince Albert, known as Bertie. As the son of King George V, and younger brother of Edward VIII he developed a stammer when he was young, which effectively made him shy about communicating. Sometime after marrying Elizabeth, Duchess of York, Bertie started working with Lionel Logue, an Australian-born speech therapist to improve his speech; they met many times and eventually succeeded in helping the Duke gain more self confidence and speak more clearly. Their success was especially important when King Edward VIII abdicated, leaving the throne to Bertie. Now he was required to make a number of speeches in person and on the radio. While it was still extremely difficult, he was able to speak well enough to satisfy his toughest critics and lead his nation through some of its darkest times of war and economic downtimes. This biography is written by his grandson, Mark Logue and a co-author, Peter Conradi. It is based, in part, on Lionel's diaries and case files and will be of great interest to historians and anyone dealing with speech difficulties.
Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central