Which First: the Book or the Movie?

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There is a long-running debate about whether it’s better to read the book first or see the movie. My opinion on this matter of the utmost importance is, without any doubt, see the movie. The book is almost always better, so you see the movie first and think “Wow, that was great!” Then read the book, and discover it’s even better. If you go the other way around, there’s an inevitable sense of disappointment about what was changed or that the actor they chose didn’t match the picture in your head at all.

The movie/book combo is my favorite way to read the classics. I tried to read Middlemarch by George Eliot several years ago and just got confused. There are so many characters and I kept getting lost. I checked the Masterpiece Theater film out from the library and realized that it’s an amazing story with love, betrayal, and hope for a better world. I then read the book and it became one of my favorites.

Come to the Information Desk for a list of DVDs we have that are based on books. Feel free to let me know if I have the book/movie order all wrong!

The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story

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Stranger than fiction may be a cliché, but it is one that succinctly describes many of my favorite non-fiction works. No book embodies this more than Angela Bourke’s The Burning of Bridget Cleary. This true story, set in 1895, is often referred to as Ireland’s last case of witch burning, but the reality of Bridget Cleary’s horrific murder was more complex. Believed by her husband and a group of extended family members to be a changeling – a sickly double or imposter left by the fairies in place of the real Bridget – the young dressmaker was burned to death in the hearth of her own cottage in an effort to release her from her captors and destroy the evil spirit that had taken her place. Bourke describes the crime and those whose lives were altered by it with vividness and compassion, and the story is both sad and fascinating, exploring as it does the explosive mixture of traditional folk beliefs, gender roles, and the societal changes of late nineteenth-century Ireland that combined to bring about such a tragic occurrence.

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben

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Harlan Coben’s suspense fiction usually involves rapid action and dialogue revolving around ordinary people who find their lives changed by extraordinary events, and Hold Tight is no exception. Tina and Mike Baye are parents of sixteen year-old Adam, worried because Adam’s friend has recently committed suicide and Adam has become distant and secretive, then disappears. They debate the issue of their son’s privacy and install a spy program on Adam’s computer, resulting in their finding a disturbing message on the computer. The story also involves a sadistic killer and neighbors with their own problems. The various plot lines converge and the suspense continues until the last page. Coben raises many issues for parents today–how much freedom and privacy to allow our children? What lengths will we go to in order to protect them? How much information do we share with children and at what age? How much privacy are children entitled to? I found the book hard to put down and, if you have children, the questions raised by the story are ones to think about for a long time.

The Longest Trip Home: a memoir

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John Grogan’s first book, Marley and Me was a success story because of a wonderful, goofy dog that claimed our hearts. The cover art showing adorable Marley would grab the attention of any dog lover. When I read that John Grogan had another book coming out for adults I couldn’t resist seeing what else he had to share.

The Longest Trip Home: a memoir is another heartwarming story of family that draws parallels for many of us lucky enough to be part of a family. We laugh at Grogan growing up in Detroit during the baby boomer years as he discovers girls, smoking and how to annoy his teachers who are nuns in Catholic parochial schools. We struggle with him as he shares his departure from his parent’s values and the disappointment he causes them. His departure from his parent’s Catholic faith, marrying outside the faith and raising his children outside of the church all cause him guilt when he considers his parents wishes.

I found this book to be a departure from Marley and Me but a very moving tribute to how an American family loves and loses and learns how to grow together through the years.