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15 Novels You Should Read Before the Film Adaptation Comes Out

September 13, 2011  |  9:28am

With The Help reigning supreme at the box office, there’s no wonder why studios want to adapt best-selling novels for the big screen. From now until the end of 2012, there are over two dozen films coming out based on novels. Some you’ve heard of and are excited about, while others will make you ask, “They’re making that into a movie?” Perhaps you’ve read some of the original novels in high school (there are some classics) or maybe you never even heard of a book. Here’s a list of the novels worth reading before the film comes out.

Paradise Lost

15. Paradise Lost
Author: John Milton
Year: 1667
Synopsis: Satan is trying to lead a group of demons to takeover Earth and avenge being sent to Hell by God. Meanwhile, Adam and Eve are tempted and mankind falls. In short, Paradise is lost.
Why You Should Read It: Told in 10 parts, it’s written in an epic poem format—an enjoyable way to learn religion through the eyes of the 17th Century. It’s nice to see someone so passionate about what they are writing about.

Anna Karenina

14. Anna Karenina
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Year: 1877
Synopsis: Originally published in a serial format, there are eight parts to the story of Anna, as adultery rips apart a prominent family in Moscow.
Why You Should Read It: What more could you want than a hot and heavy love triangle? Today it could be made into your typical indie romantic comedy, but with Tolstoy it goes so much deeper than that and delves into the hypocrisy woman faced when it came to sex.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

13. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Author: Jules Verne
Year: 1870
Synopsis: We follow a group of sailors track a mysterious sea monster for 20,000 leagues. That’s right; we’re talking distance, not depth. In reality, they only go four leagues below the water’s surface.
Why You Should Read It: The plot has been twisted in every single adaptation, that even if you’d seen one of the dozens of films that have come out under the title, you’d still be shocked at the many interesting events the crew goes through. We’ve already said how David Fincher is going to “loosely” adapt the novel, so reading 20,000 will give you the plot that you were really meant to experience.

Wonderful WIzard of Oz

12. Oz: The Great and Powerful
Author: L. Frank Baum
Year: 1900
Synopsis: Baum’s original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was made into a widely popular musical that didn’t really follow the source material. It did get the basics right: a Kansas farm girl named Dorothy, a tornado, three bumbling friends, a witch, slippers and a wizard. You can fill in the blanks.
Why You Should Read It: The new film actually serves as a prequel to Wizard of Oz and describes the rise of the Great and Powerful. Reading the original novel will give you the chance to lean over and whisper in the theater, “He does X because Y has to happen later! Amazing.”

World War Z

11. World War Z
Author: Max Brooks
Year: 2006
Synopsis: With the subtitle An Oral History of the Zombie War, the novel uses interviews of survivors from the zombie apocalypse. It takes into account different perspectives from across the world and charts the downfall on mankind.
Why You Should Read It: We’ve already discussed how fanboys are upset that the film is taking a huge departure from the novel. Here you’ll be able to see the creativity that can unfold in a tired genre instead of watching a film that has become “just like any other zombie film.”

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

10. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Year: 2010
Synopsis: Abraham Lincoln, the president who abolished slavery, also hunted vampires. Didn’t you know?
Why You Should Read It: Graham-Smith already made a name for himself by writing the mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In his follow up he takes President Lincoln’s “secret diaries” detailing his escapades, mixing history and absurdity together flawlessly.

Life of Pi

9. Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
Year: 2001
Synopsis: In a mixture of fantasy and adventure, a Indian boy named Pi survives over seven months stranded in a boat in the middle of an ocean. All with a Bengal tiger on board with him.
Why You Should Read It: The novel explores spirituality and politics in a very creative way. Throughout the novel you have a chance to determine what is real and what is not. Think Lost without the Smoke Monsters and unsolved sub-plots.

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