- Pohl, Frederik — Gateway (278 pages)
- Clement, Hal — Mission of Gravity (193 pages)
- Benford, Gregory — Timescape (499 pages)
- O'Hare, Mick (editor) — Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? and 114 Other Questions (232 pages)
- Dos Passos, John — Number One (218 pages)
- Heller, Joseph — Catch-22 (457 pages)
- St. John of the Cross — Dark Night of the Soul (119 pages)
- Day, Dorothy — The Long Loneliness (286 pages)
- Allen, Ted, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez — Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better (250 pages)
- Whittemore, Carroll E., ed. (William Duncan, illus.) — Symbols of the Church (59 pages)
- Hardy, Thomas — Jude the Obscure (507 pages)
- Lee, Harper — To Kill a Mockingbird (278 pages)
Page count: 3,376 of targeted 12,500.
There's nothing I can add to a discussion of this book. Thank you for selecting it for me. I knew nothing about it other than that it was a classic. It's unusual for me to crack a book open with such a clean slate. I was blown away. Ms. Lee's story was so imaginative and so well constructed.
I watched the movie a few minutes after I finished the book. I had heard the movie was great, too, and it is. But perhaps I should have waited more than a few minutes. In a direct comparison, the movie suffers. As is the nature of movie adaptations, only the bare essentials could be conveyed, as characters and plot elements were collapsed and combined. So much of the nuance and richness of detail was gone, especially from the children's relationship with their family and neighbors and from the courtroom scenes. It's still a powerful movie, but it's emotional punch is delivered through the acting. Most notable were Peck, who was the impeccable emodiment of Lee's Atticus, Duvall, whose brief appearance as Boo Radley was emotionally charged, and the young lady who was priceless as Scout.
I am reminded of the conversation I had last Sunday after the cricket match with my friend, an aspiring screenwriter, and of a discussion thread I read at Library Thing about movie adaptations of books. It seems there are countless examples of mediocre books being made into great movies and vice versa, but there don't seem to be too many examples of great movie adaptations of great books. The problem, as my friend pointed out, is that it's so easy, when condensing a novel into a two-hour movie, to make the wrong choices. One is far more likely to succeed adapting a short story—for example, "Brokeback Mountain," "The Green Mile," "Shawshank Redemption"—into a movie.
How many great movies were adapted from great books? Off the top of my head, I can think of: The Lord of the Rings (though I missed Tom Bombadil), To Kill a Mockingbird, Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now…I've been told 1984 qualifies, but I never read the book and couldn't stay awake for the movie. (A movie adaptation of Jude the Obscure, called Jude and starring Christopher Eccleston and Kate Winslet, was made in 1996, but I cannot find it online.) How many other examples can you think of? Not too many, I bet.