Contemporary Books You Can’t Read Anymore. Thanks, Hollywood

I’m something of a book nerd. I’m usually juggling 3 books at once, never able to decide what story I want to commit myself to (sounds like most things in my life, hm?). I’m also a bit of a book snob. I hate jumping on the bestseller bandwagon and I cringe when my favorite books end up on the big screen. In fact, there are some books that are just plain ruined after getting picked up by Hollywood. I don’t care how good they are, you can just never enjoy them in the same way again. Here are some of my favorite/ most hated titles of recent years.

1)  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – As an English major, I took a contemporary American lit class my junior year of college. I adored this class. We read such diverse books, starting with The Talented Mr. Ripley (yes, this was also a book before Matt Damon and Jude Law graced the silver screen as the title character), tore through Philip K. Dick and even analyzed the video game series The Sims as a work of contemporary literature. But my favorite book we read in that class was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I took this class during the 2005/ 2006 school year. Fast forward to late 2011 and Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks star in the big screen adaptation that is now nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Vomit. I don’t care how good this movie is, I refuse to see it because I have loved this book so much (really, I didn’t sell it back at the end of the semester, and I was always broke and needing whatever money returning my books could offer) that anything they do to it will only destroy my memories. And if you haven’t read the book yet, don’t bother. Go see the movie with the rest of mainstream American and kill the novel. Again. Jerks.

2) Fight Club – Does anyone out there remember reading the book before seeing the movie and getting to the end and having your mind fucking blown and flipping back pages to make sure you read what you read correctly and just shaking your head thinking, “you got me again, Pahalniuk”? Or are you only imagining Brad Pitt in that leather jacket and hideous set of sunglasses? I hate you. Chuck Palahniuk is one of the best American writers out there right now, in my opinion. His books are smart and clever and bitter and uncomfortable. Fight Club was an experience to read. Sure the movie was good and all, but it doesn’t do the pages justice. I won’t even mention the adaptation of Choke which is one of my favorite books (by Palahniuk or anyone else) and the movie was deplorable. I’m sorry, Chuck.

3)  The Help – This book fits into the bestseller bandwagon category I previously mentioned. When you’re on the subway and literally ever nice girl with a cable-knit sweater is reading a book, I know this is not for me. Over the last year, that yellow cover has haunted my commutes. Admittedly, I’ve heard fromeveryone that the book is amazing, the movie is brilliant, blah blah blah. But I’m just not interested. I feel terrible for the poor author who will never be able to make a comeback from this widely successful mainstream disaster.

4) Anything by Nicholas Sparks – Ok, ok, Nicholas Sparks is hardly a legitimate writer and his books are hardly literary. However, just like cupcakes are not really a meal – we all need to indulge in a little junk once in awhile. When I was in high school and into my early college years, Nicholas Sparks (and his ability to turn out new titles in time for every winter, spring and summer break) was what I was reading to give my brain a rest from all the Joyce, Shakespeare and Stein I was struggling through as a young lit major. Then came all the movies. Literally every book this man writes ends up a movie. Yes, The Notebook was great. But that movie with Diane Lane? The MILEY CYRUS one? Come on. His books are no longer literary cupcakes. They’re literary arsenic. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

5) Eat, Pray, Love – Listen, Julia, I love you. I really do. Erin Brokovich? Genius. When you were Tinkerbell? Hello, brilliant. Pretty Woman? I wanted to be a hooker. But as the lead in Eat, Pray, Love? Well, even your skills couldn’t redeem what is possibly one of the worst film adaptations of a memoir, like ever. Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey was one of those books that I read at exactly the right time in my life when it just hit me where it counted. I was actually sort of excited to see it turned into a movie because I didn’t love the book for its literary qualities, but more for the journey the writer took the reader on. I thought it would translate beautifully to the big screen. Nope. Awful. I only spent $1.00 renting the movie, but I would like that dollar back. Now, even if you read the book, you’ll likely just picture a frumpy Julia Roberts and totally pretentious James Franco. Ruined forever.

BONUS: A book you still have time to love and cherish before the movie comes out. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I read this book when I was a freshman in high school. I have re-read it dozens of times over the years, the pages have my underlinings and notes in the margins, the pages are dog-eared. I have bought copies of this book for some of my favorite people in the world because I couldn’t imagine them not knowing it existed. And now someone is making it into a movie. I’m not sure when it comes out, but I know that chick from the Harry Potter movies is in it. Please, read this book and then refuse to see the movie.


Posted on March 13, 2012, in rants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Will check those books out!

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