The Book Was Better: Books You Need to Read Before They Become Films

There's a sort of smug satisfaction that comes with reading a book before it's adapted into film. We’ve all heard or uttered the phrase “the book was better” at least once in our lives, after leaving a movie theater, disappointed with what we had just seen or how it failed to live up to its written predecessor. That's not to say that there aren't times when the film or television adaptation surpasses expectations by capturing what it is we loved about the book, and when that happens, it's a revelation.

So if you're the kind of person that gets off on that kind of stuff (don't worry, we won't judge you), we've compiled a list of the books we think you should read before they hit the silverscreen.

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Patti Smith’s heartbreakingly touching memoir of her life and relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith gives you an inside look into her most private and treasured moments, and what she reveals is both shockingly honest and beautiful.

Patti Smith just teamed up with screenwriter Jon Logan to adapt her best-selling memoir into a film. Logan definitely knows a thing or two about telling stories: he wrote the screenplays for Oscar-winning films like Gladiator and The Aviator.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

The story of Oskar Schell, a nine-year old boy who lost his father in the 9/11 attacks. One day, Oskar finds a key belonging to his late father, prompting him to go on a quest to find out what the key unlocks, meeting a slew of interesting characters along the way.

Foer isn’t a stranger to his books being optioned; his debut novel Everything Is Illuminated was adapted into film in 2005. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close started filming last April. Directed by Stephen Daldry (The Hours) and written for the screen by Eric Roth, the film’s set for release in 2012.

You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers

Eggers’ debut novel, his first one was his memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Velocity follows the story of Will and Hand, who set out on a trip across the globe to give away a large amount of money.

The book was optioned by Process Productions and will be directed by Miguel Arteta, who directed the Michael Cera-led 2010 film Youth In Revolt.

For listings of bookstores around Metro Manila, click here!

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Set in the fictional Midwestern town of St. Jude, the story focuses on the Lambert family, particularly, Alfred and Enid Lambert who feel like they have been abandoned by their three children who moved to the East coast to start new lives free from their parents’ influence. The book depicts, in great detail, each member’s flaws and past mistakes, and the subsequent “corrections” each of them feel they must make to atone.

In August 2001, the book was optioned by Scott Rudin for Paramount Pictures. It originally had Stephen Daldry attached as director with rumors that Brad Pitt, Tim Robbins, and Naomi Watts were cast as the Lambert children. But last month, Rudin announced that it will be written and directed by Noah Baumbach as a dramatic series project for HBO.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

A comedy and literary parody of the 1976 film The Omen, the story follows the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley who, accustomed to their comfortable lives and growing affinity for humanity, attempt to stop the apocalypse by seeing to it that the Anti-Christ grows up in a manner that he will not be able to choose between good and evil, thus postponing the End of the World.

Although original plans were for Terry Gilliam to direct the film adaptation, in February of this year, it was reported that plans for a television adaptation are underway instead, with Terry Jones (of legendary comedy troupe Monty Python) and Gavin Scott in talks to write the series.

Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The plot revolves around three characters, Malachi Constant, the richest man in 22nd century America; Winston Niles Rumfoord who, along with his dog Kazak, aboard a personal spacecraft, travel between Mars and Earth; and a Tralfamadorian explorer called Salo. The paths of each character intertwine resulting in the Martian invasion of Earth (among other things).

Vonnegut sold the films right to Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, and by January 1985, had finished the first draft of the film’s screenplay. When Garcia died in 1995, Robert B. Weide acquired the rights to the film on a verbal agreement between him and Vonnegut, although in 2006, Weide announced that he had lost the rights and the following year James V. Hart (Hook) announced he wrote a screenplay which Vonnegut had approved of before his death.

The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman

A series of graphic novels published by Vertigo Comics which chronicles the adventures of Dream, who governs the world of dreams, going by many names such as Morpheus and the Dream King among many others. The series also follows the comings and goings of the Endless, omniscient and immortal beings that exist beyond human consciousness, among them are Death, Destiny, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction.

Throughout the late '90s and into the '00s there have been countless rumors about the supposed film adaptation of the series but as of yet, nothing is in production. At a 2007 Comic-Con Q & A panel, Neil Gaiman had this to say about it: "I'd rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie. But I feel like the time for a Sandman movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same obsession with the source material as Peter Jackson had with Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi had with Spider-Man."

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