And the Oscar Goes To…

The books that were made into Oscar-nominated films of 2013.

If you’re following this year’s awards season, you may have noticed that many of the movies receiving the highest accolades were adapted from novels. Some of the big winners at last night’s Golden Globes made me want to compile a small list of the books that inspired the movies. While many viewers of the awards season make it their mission to watch all of the nominated films, wouldn’t it be an interesting idea to read the book behind each lit-inspired movie? If you care to tick off that list, it is…

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

8 Nominations

Someone over at Goodreads likened this book to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower for adults.” That’s probably on account of the novel’s tender qualities, quirky humor, and soul. Warm your heart with this debut novel from Matthew Quick.


Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio J. Mendez

7 Nominations

The book and the movie provide a behind-closed-doors look into an almost unreal CIA mission to save six embassy workers from Iran in the 1970s… by impersonating a sci-fi film crew. Don’t get a manicure before watching or reading this entertaining political thriller.


Life of Pi by Yann Martel

11 Nominations

A boy, a boat, and a tiger — one might say those are the main components of Martel’s novel, and correspondingly director Ang Lee’s movie. But both deliver much more: spellbinding visuals, philosophical themes, and yes I just have to reiterate, an amazing tiger called Richard Parker.


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

3 Nominations

Adaptations of Tolkien’s works have dominated cinema for the last decade, so unless you call the lonely space beneath a rock your home,  you’ll probably know what you’re in for with Jackson’s latest movie. Yet, returning to Middle Earth to recount the fantasy of your childhood will yield memories that might not have made it to the film (despite it being the first three-hour installment of a trilogy).


Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

12 Nominations (for the film Lincoln)

Though of course Spielberg’s biopic is based on actual history, it had a helping hand from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography. But beware, it’d probably be faster to complete an AP course on U.S. History than to read this 944-page tome. For the ambitious among you, the biography reveals the brilliance behind one of America’s most cherished forefathers and comes highly recommended by the elite who have the will to sit down and read it.


Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

8 Nominations

The musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s sprawling tragedy set during the upheaval of the French Revolution has been on stage for years and has now made its way to the silver screen. But if you want a reading of the work that does not involve singing every line, try picking up Hugo’s original. Of course, if you enjoy the catharsis of singing every line as you read them, by all means go ahead… so long as I’m not anywhere near you at the time.


What Oscar-nominated adaptations did you enjoy this past year? Which did you enjoy that did not make it into the Academy’s good graces? Share with us in a comment below!

All Things Tolkien: Five Ways to Await the Release of “The Hobbit”

If you are counting the days until the December 14, 2012 release date of The Hobbit (Part I) chances are you do not have a girlfriend and therefore need to find ways to pass the time. (I kid the geeks… I kid. Some of them do not have boyfriends.)

Not to worry. Since its original publication in 1937, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy that followed (between 1938 and 1949) Tolkein’s world of Hobbits, Ringwraiths, elves, and wizards has enthralled generations, inspiring countless songs, studies, puzzles, tributes, and cosplays. Here are just a few ways you can count down the next 35 days… or however they measure time in Middle Earth.

1.  Listen to Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” on Auto-repeat

(Sing along now!)

Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear.
How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her….yeah.

2. Trace Middle Earth’s Family Tree

Ever wonder how, exactly, Fingoflin is related to Maeglin? Well, you can be prepared for that next panel discussion at the 2013  Comicon by memorizing all 817 characters and their relationships to one another. There’s even an app for that! And you can keep up with all the other people interested in the complex genealogy of the works by staying in touch on Facebook.

3.  Start Getting Prepared Now for Comic-Con

Every summer the San Diego Convention Center is host to the world’s largest gathering of fantasy….enthusiasts… many who dress up in elaborate costumes as homage to their favorite characters. Once only a venue for comic books, Comic-Con now caters to multiple genres including horror, anime, toys, and more. So extend No-Shave November through July and you’ve likely grown yourself some fine Hobbit feet!

4. Whip up Second Breakfasts and Elevenses

Nothing passes the time quite like eating so why not try to make your own delicious Seedcakes, courtesy of  The Lord of the Rings Cookbook Whether you need some comfort food for breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, tea, dinner and/or supper, Ms. Kittle has you covered.

5.  How About a  Hobbit Jigsaw Puzzle?

Get a pizza, the LOTR trilogy on DVD, shove the cat(s) off the table and get busy with this vintage two-sided puzzle. Done? Great! Only 4 and a half more weeks to go!

“The Hobbit” Film Finally Greenlighted

For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings series (both the books and the films), a long wait is over. The Hobbit, prequel to the trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King) has finally been given the go-ahead by the Tolkien family, who had delayed the film rights due to legal disputes. Those differences have been settled and filming is set to begin in the near future.

Peter Jackson is on board again to direct the film, which will be released in two parts. However, some people are upset that the role of Bilbo, formerly played by actor Elijah Wood, has gone to English actor Martin Freeman (The Office, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

It is likely that the film will once again be shot in New Zealand, although monetary disputes have arisen and this may eventually lead to the selection of another locale.  New Zealand’s film industry, however, is rallying to keep the $500 million dollar film on Kiwi shores. Thousands turned out to protest a possible move, arguing that New Zealand “is Middle Earth.”  A decision should be reached by the end of the week.

Part One of The Hobbit is expected to be released in December 2012.