The Book Club

As per its usual fashion, the Wisconsin weather has been a bit temperamental lately, and we have had to say goodbye to the warm sunny days we were seeing in order to greet the return of the brisk cool air and cloudy skies. All in all, it is the perfect time to have a day filled with Netflix binging, or your other preferred streaming service. I happened to have watched a few films with friends over the weekend, which prompted this week’s recommendation theme: a few of my favorite books that inspired film or television adaptions. For the record, I am not commenting on the movies and shows themselves, just the books that they are based on.  

To start off this week’s batch of recommendations, we have American Gods by Neil Gaiman. In this fantasy novel readers meet Shadow, who has finally been released from prison and is ready to live a quiet life with his wife. However, his plans are quickly ruined, as he is told that his wife and best friend have died tragically, leaving him with no purpose — until the mysterious Mr. Wednesday offers him a job. He becomes tangled up in the business of gods and magic as he travels across America, slowly discovering his purpose in this world. While we may have been introduced to the idea of gods walking among us in a modern setting before, Gaiman boldly incorporates gods from not only one mythology, but from numerous mythologies, legends and folktales from around the world. Not only do we meet classic Norse gods, but also Slavic gods, Irish beings, Egyptian gods, etc. Plus, Gaiman introduces his own “American gods,” such as the gods of Technology and Media. I personally loved this book and feel that it is perfect for any fan of modern-day fantasy novels. You can also stream the T.V. adaption on the STARZ channel, which can be added to streaming services, such as Amazon Prime and Hulu.  

Next, we have the well-renowned novel, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The book’s narrator, Death, is busy collecting souls on their shoulder as the Holocaust’s number of casualties increases. However, Death becomes intrigued with young Liesel, who is later deemed as the infamous “Book Thief” the story is named after. We, along with Death, witness as Liesel grows up in Germany in the midst of World War II, as she tries to harbor numerous books and save them from being burned by the Nazi soldiers. I will warn you in advance that this book made me tear up a bit, and I don’t cry very easily. Readers will get filled with dread as Death foreshadows the terrible occurrences that will pop up in the pages to follow, but nevertheless, the pain is worth it in the end. This book was turned into a film adaption in 2013, and can be found on services like YouTube, Google Play and Amazon Prime.  

My last recommendation for this week is the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman, though it is easily more recognized by its first book, The Golden Compass. In these fantasy novels, we follow Lyra and Will as they travel through parallel universes in order to save the world(s), encountering armored bears, witches and fallen angels along the way. They also have the help of the titular dark materials — a golden compass that can mysteriously answer questions, which reminds me of Tarot cards, personally, a knife that can cut through the fabric between worlds and a spyglass that allows users to see the strange Dust that is prominent throughout the series. The trilogy tackles ideas such as fate, religion, physics, cosmology and growing up. It’s a beautiful trilogy that I have reread countless times, and I was excited to learn that Pullman is actually working on a sequel trilogy currently. There is a film adaption of the first novel starring famous actors, such Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Ian McKellen that you can watch on services like HBO Max and Amazon Prime. Plus, there is now a popular show on HBO Max that plans on covering the entire trilogy starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dafne Keen, Amir Wilson and James McAvoy. You can also add an HBO subscription to your Amazon Prime, Hulu and YouTube TV accounts.  

That’s it for this week’s recommendations! I hope you’re able to set some time aside this week in order to read some books or watch their movie and T.V. adaptions!