December 7th, 2011

Books That Inspired Great TV

When I read a book, I don’t really “see” much. Characters are just vague outlines in my imagination, like people seen at a distance without my glasses. Their words are spoken in my voice, making some scenarios a little awkward. Descriptions of beautiful vistas? Consider them instantly forgotten. Perish the thought of having to imagine what a fantastical creature looks like, even with a long string of adjectives to guide me.

This problem makes Fantasy an untouchable genre. Science Fiction is a considerable struggle as well. Remove the setting descriptions in Westerns and it’s just a bunch of faceless cowboys with nondescript guns and war cries that sound a lot like my “ack! a spider!” shriek.

I don’t like being confined to a few genres, particularly because I help people find their next favorite book. So I cheat a little. Watching movies and TV shows based on books helps me see the scenery, hear the characters, and experience the story more fully before I read the book. This ruins things for people with a rich visual mindscape. (You can easily pick them out of a crowd because they say things like, “I can’t believe they casted so-in-so in that movie. He doesn’t look at ALL how he’s supposed to look.”) To them, I tip my hat.

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Check out this list of TV shows based on books and make your own comparisons!

•    Bones (FOX): Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs
•    Christy (CBS): Christy by Catherine Marshall
•    Dexter (Showtime): Dexter Morgan series by Jeffry Lindsay
•    The Dresden Files (Syfy): The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
•    Flashforward (ABC): Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer
•    Game of Thrones (HBO): A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
•    Friday Night Lights (NBC): Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
•    Gossip Girl (The CW): Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar
•    The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (BBC): Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George
•    Rizzoli & Isles (TNT): Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series by Tess Gerritsen
•    Kitchen Confidential (FOX): Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain
•    Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family): Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard
•    True Blood (HBO): Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries by Charlaine Harris
•    The Vampire Diaries (The CW): Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith
•    The Walking Dead (AMC): The Walking Dead graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman

For a list of books that inspired movies, click here.

When you read, do you “see” anything? What’s your favorite book/film/TV show adaptation?


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November 1st, 2011

Creepy Reads for Dark, Winter Nights

I’d give almost anything to see the original Nightmare on Elm Street again for the first time. Not just for that first glimpse of a very young Johnny Depp, but for the opportunity to squeal like only a scared teenage girl can. These days, seeing Freddy Krueger’s tongue popping out of a phone makes me lunge for the Mercurochrome rather than my neighbor’s arm.  Glimpses out of the corner of your eye, déjà vu, coincidence, and fate all tingle my now adult spine with dark possibilities far more than a bloody knife. With my son’s football practices lasting well past sunset, I’ve been working to rediscover my timid inner self through the undercurrents of a subtle ghost story.  Here are a few titles I probably shouldn’t have read sitting in the car by myself:

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Those Across the River—Christopher Buehlman
The residents of Whitbrow, Georgia refuse to cross the river. Only a monthly sacrifice of two garlanded pigs sets foot on the other side, never to be seen again.  Researching his great-grandfather’s local plantation, WWI vet Frank Nichols votes to end this tradition, igniting the unquenchable revenge of those across the river.

Black Light—Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan
Buck can pull the most evil of spirits out of the air, trapping them deep in his core. The danger of madness is worth the glimpse of the Black Light and the chance to connect with his lost parents.  From the creators of the Saw movies, Buck’s search for the Something Horrible feels as deadly as it sounds.

The Man in the Picture—Susan Hill
Hanging on the wall of a Cambridge professor is a rather dark painting of an 18th century Venetian carnival scene. Looking closely, a visiting student spots a man in the picture dressed in modern clothes being propelled down a dark alley by two captors. Mesmerized by his pleading stare, the student tempts fate to uncover the man’s identity.

Property of a Lady—Sarah Rayne
Insanity, disappearances, and death follow the Dead Man’s Knock heard by visitors to Shropshire’s Charect House.  The knocking figure with no eyes is looking for Elvira.  Who is she and what will happen if her hiding place is found?

Floating Staircase—Ronald Malfi
The Glasgow’s new house in western Maryland comes complete with both a small lake and the ghost of the young boy drowned in its waters.  Or is the ghost the brother of homeowner Travis who also tragically drowned many years ago? Plagued by ghosts seen and unseen, Travis’ sanity begins to float just like the wooden staircase rising from the lake.

What are your favorite reads now that the days are growing shorter?


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