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Five Movies You Should Read

Updated on December 19, 2011

Do you prefer to read the book or watch a movie?

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The book is always better than the movie, or so they say. But some great movies were originally books. We all know about Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. And The Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum. But there are actually a great variety of films that look as good, or better, on screen than they did between two dustcovers.

And then there are the stories that are simply so well told by both their orginal author and the director/screenwriter partnership that they can be enjoyed interchangeably. Or at least, by all audiences in either venue.

The following list will make great gifts (or even gift sets) for those hard-to-buy-for members of your holiday list. Or a great gift for yourself. Check them out, at your local bookstore or your library.

The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle

I'm not sure anyone who grew up in the 80's missed this delightful animated movie about the unicorn who wonders if she's the last of her kind.

The animation is beguiling, if not up to today's standards, the story is charming, and the soundtrack is still pleasant. My daughter used to listen to the title song nightly. But what many people don't realize is that there's also a novel.

Unlike many book-to-movie translations, after reading the book we can still enjoy the movie just as much. Sure, there's more that could be in there. But it's a kid movie. And the book just has too much 'stuff' to fit into a two hour time frame. The book is written for adults young and old, it's a beautiful telling with plenty of humor and possible symbolism. (I like symbolism. My daughter says it's crazy and sometimes a unicorn is just a unicorn. Not a symbol of innocent times being chased by the red bull of technology...but I digress.) Schmendrick and Molly's relationship is a little more evolved in the book as well, but only a little.

This book should be added to everyone's to be read list. And it makes a great gift for the fantasy lover on your shopping list. It's appropriate for ages 12 and up or so.

The Princess Bride By William Goldman (or Morgenstern, depending on the edition)

"As you wish," is the stable boy's repeated sentiment when Buttercup has a request. And audiences everywhere swooned at the satirical swashbuckler that followed. Director Rob Reiner brought the tongue-in-cheek novel to life on screen, and did an amazing job breathing life into Goldman's work.

The novel itself was originally published as an 'abridged version' of a much longer narrative by S Morgenstern. Goldman presented himself as the editor and his editorial comments are found throughout the book (although there was no original). He also berates the publisher for editing out his 'original' scene and invites readers to write to the publisher if they want to read it. You can still contact the publisher for an updated email entailing fictionalized legal battles. this is one cult following that encompasses both literary and screen audiences.

You may remember loving the movie from the time you were about 10 on up. The book is great for reading aloud (after all, it's told as a narrative) for tweens and teens. Yes, you can get your teens to enjoy the family read aloud again...

Shoeless Joe by Ray Kinsella

"If you build it, he will come," Kevin Costner made history (or at least memories) as the Iowa farmer who started hearing voices and plowed under his corn field. The film is fondly remembered by fans, some of who still quote the mysterious voices.

But first, it was a book. This book actually translated fairly well to the screen. There is more information in the book, of course, but the movie version was clear. In the book, the author hunted down is actually Salinger. But of course, in the movie he's changed to Terence Mann. I'm not sure if that makes a difference to anyone, but it was an interesting side note for me.

I'm not sure if it's a must read, but it's definitely a must read if you're a Field of Dreams fan. And, like the other books on this list, it won't ruin your enjoyment of the movie in the future. However, although the movie is appropriate for kids, the book isn't likely to be enjoyed by kids under 14.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks by Mary Norton

Who doesn't remember and love Angela Lansbury as a bumbling witch? Well, before the "Murder, she Wrote" actress took over the role, Miss Price was penned by the beloved children's author, Mary Norton. The original version will delight young and old, and makes a wonderful bedtime read as you follow the adventures of Carey, Charles and little Paul. The book is told in two parts, The first summer that they meet Miss Price, and a few years later when they happen to be reunited.

When you're done, you can enjoy the movie. All over again. Both are totally appropriate for all ages, and can be enjoyed by the youngest of children as long as they're ready to listen to chapters.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Any romance lover knows the allure of this movie. The crackling chemistry between Rex Harris and Gene Tierney is still sizzling. If you are one of those lucky people who can put yourself into the time frame of a movie, Mrs. Muir's strength and pride are amazing. And the bedroom scene is much more amusing.

But did you know that this classic black and white film was actually based on a book? I must say that I enjoyed the book just as much as the movie, but nothing will ever beat the charm of the original film. You can read this book and watch this movie as many times as you like...neither will ever grow old.


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    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Princess Bride is two of my kid's favorite movie. I am going to have to research your suggestions and get them each a copy of the book as a gift for some future holiday! What fun.

      Sometimes movies inspire me to read the book and sometimes books inspire me to avoid the movie, because I love the book too much.

      Harry Potter movies got better as they went along- less Disney. But I won't see Twilight and frankly hated the books. Sometimes I read books so that I can understand my daughter's passionate responses, and that was indeed the case with Twilight. However, I can't wait for Hunger Games, the movie! Loved both Help the movie and the book. I think movies often make me research the period, like movies about the Tudors or World War 1.

      Wonderful hub! Voted up and interesting!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      I usually just do one or the other - the book or the movie, although I did go see The Help after it came out. I'll have to look for the ones I missed from this list.

    • msviolets profile image

      msviolets 6 years ago

      It doesn't happen often, does it LisaKoski? Thanks for stopping by and happy reading :-)

    • LisaKoski profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago from WA

      I love when you can enjoy a movie version and the book. I haven't heard of Shoeless Joe or The Ghost and Mrs. Muir so I'll have to check those out.

    • xethonxq profile image

      xethonxq 6 years ago

      I LOVE the Princess Bride....excellent book and movie. Classic stuff here!! Thanks for the hub MsViolets!!

    • msviolets profile image

      msviolets 6 years ago

      I'll have to check it out :-)

    • Rain Defence profile image

      Rain Defence 6 years ago from UK

      Another film that I liked as a book was The Running Man. It has a considerably more dark ending than the film.

    • msviolets profile image

      msviolets 6 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! You may be the first person I've met who knew "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" was a book. :-) (And The Last Unicorn is definitely worth reading.)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      The only one I wasn't familiar with was The Last Unicorn - somehow I missed the book and the movie. What a great Hub and what a great idea. Welcome to HubPages and Merry Christmas!

    • msviolets profile image

      msviolets 6 years ago

      It's a wonderful book! You should definitely pick it up. Or better yet, pick up one for you and one for a friend (that's what I did) :-) Thanks for commenting!

    • typeface profile image

      typeface 6 years ago

      Wow! I never new that The Last Unicorn a book! I used to love the film when I was little! I am now inspired to read it - thanks for an awesome and informative hub!!