What Harry Potter Taught Us, 20 Years Later

Hello, dear readers! I have missed you! Life since my last post has been thrilling, heartbreaking, amazing, rather epic and ultimately beautiful…but that’s all for another post (or dozen). Today, I’m going to be talking about an anniversary important not just to me, but to millions of readers around the globe. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter publication. I think it’s just as popular and relevant now as when it first debuted.

Despite J. K. Rowling’s battle to get Harry Potter published, the work was so instantly a pop culture smash hit that I initially shied away from it. (I’ve since learned that rabid book fans are the best fans and usually of good taste.) I’d developed my book snobbery at a very early age (likely in utero), and thus anything with mass appeal seemed unappealing to childhood me. Had I known one of the main characters herself was just such a snob, I might have been open to it earlier.

It took until the third book came out–at my sister’s utter insistence–for me to pick up the series.

I was instantly hooked, so much so I couldn’t even pretend not to be–nor did I want to. Even in a blurb, the story appeals to all: underdog finds self, triumphing over daily hardship and ultimately great evil, with a lot of love and help from quirky friends. Add magic into the mix, and it makes for a spellbinding (pun always intended) read.

Rowling is credited for “getting the world to read again,” and it’s no wonder why or how. The universal message appeals to all, but the world is so chock-full of heartwarming and quirky characters, there’s someone for everyone to relate to.

For me, that was Hermione Granger. Not since Belle (Beauty and the Beast) did I come across a character I loved so much because she was me. She was unabashedly brainy, always choosing justice over popularity. Her devotion to the pursuit of knowledge, to speaking her mind, became central to her heroism. She made it cool to be smart and opinionated.

Wingardium Leviosa! Hermione is one of my favorite cosplays!

Another aspect of Harry Potter I cherish is how it showed the world that the power of friendship and love can overcome anything–that there’s nothing more powerful than those. It did that throughout the plot in the whole series. It also did that, beautifully and unpredictably, through the fandom that linked the world together through the series. These books inspired people to be themselves, and at impressionable ages, showed teens they weren’t alone or strange. What could be more pure than a love of books (perhaps I am biased)? A Harry Potter book in someone’s hands is a universal symbol of community, of the message, “I value love, friendship, and courage, too.” It brought my community of friends and fellow bibliophiles closer, too. While my sister and I were already at maximum sister closeness, it was so much fun to celebrate every book and movie release together, having someone right in your own house with whom to discuss every plot twist and inkling! 

Sisters cosplaying for the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” book release 10 years ago!


What a unique experience it was to grow up with this series as it was coming out! It is one of the only book series I know of that “matures” as the characters get older–a neat experience for a girl paralleling the ages of the characters as the books were released (but then–children nowadays can get the same effect if they space out their reading year-to-year–but the addictive quality of these books makes that a difficult feat!). Indeed, the books became more dark and angsty as the characters grew up, which I found a fascinating and intriguing concept.

Something else Harry Potter taught us: to see magic in the everyday–that it’s all around us. Twenty years later, this is a lesson I use every day. ✨

Women Warriors–Literary Match-Ups

Hello, dear readers!

Imaginary battles between established have been a thing since action figures were invented–OK, maybe since imagination was invented. So while they’re certainly not new, this one, in particular, caught my eye.

Cage Match 2015 Round 3: Susan Sto-Helit vs. Alanna Trebond

This is a pretty neat concept: pitting literary heroines/#StrongFemaleCharacters against each other. This is my second round of voting, although the match is in round three at the moment. Each round on Suvudu features a story describing the battle and predicting the winner of the match.

Round 3 pits Tamora Pierce‘s Alanna Trebond vs. Sir Terry Pratchett’s Susan Sto-Helit. I will forever be partial to Tamora Pierce, but Pratchett’s recent passing and enormous fandom may tip this match in his favor.

Click here to see the match-up schedule.

Whom would you vote for, readers? Better yet–go cast your vote, then leave your decision in the comments. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Feminist Young Adult Books

It’s Top Ten Tuesday! Since Sunday was International Women’s Day (click here for my blog post about “Strong Female Characters” on that day)–and since this month is Women’s History Month, it seems fitting to make today’s list fit that theme. Marissa Dubecky posted this lovely list on Bustle on Sunday: “12 Books For Young People That Will Turn You Into A Feminist At Any Age.” It includes classic favorites, like Jane Eyre, to modern hits, like The Hunger Games, and why they’re good representations of strong, capable women.

Click here for the list.

What books would you add, readers? Men–do you enjoy these just as much as women do? I’d venture to say yes. I think the best feminist books are the ones that are great books that just happen to feature Strong Female Characters. 😉

A Wedding and a Campaign: Andrea & Ben | #LikeAGirl

Good evening, dear readers! It seems the whole Midwest has been pelted with thunderstorms and worse today; I hope everyone is OK! As for me, that puts me in that gothic melodramatic writing mood (it’s all so sweepingly romantic), so I have come here to funnel those energies. My novel characters have been awfully greedy with my time lately, talking to me in every moment. (Writer friends–does this happen to you, too? 🙂 ) I tell them my blog misses me, but they don’t listen…so I put the towel over their cage for the moment, if only briefly, for one of them will surely set it on fire sooner or later (*spoiler alert*). First, I’d like to say congratulations to my writer-friend Andrea, who got married this weekend. It was a beautiful wedding, and Jeremiah and I were so honored to be invited to share the special day. The reception was a blast! Andrea snuck several literary details into her wedding design, which I absolutely loved. I wouldn’t expect any less of this clever lady! 😉

Bridesmaid Meg reads a Shakespeare sonnet during Andrea and Ben’s ceremony

Writing buddies 🙂

Jeremiah and I had so much fun! 🙂 (A special thank-you to Jennifer for wrapping the gifts gorgeously, as well as buying that dress for me without me even there!)

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Secondly, I’d like to share something that’s been going viral on Facebook, which I first saw from my sister. It’s for a campaign the company Always is trying to start: #LikeAGirl. It’s based on the concept–what does the phrase “Like a Girl” mean to you? This video, comparing what little kids think, versus adolescents, is so moving–and it says a lot about our society.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with a few friends several months ago (they shall remain anonymous…you’ll see why 😉 ).

They were talking about a time when *someone* had, for some reason, an electric fly-swatter. She wanted to test it on our male friend, because obviously, right? (Haha, I couldn’t, but she can get away with these things. 😉 ) Anyway, the best way to go about such a thing is with shock, so she snuck up behind him and zapped him. Since I was hearing this story for the first time, they courteously reenacted the subsequent scream for me. “He screamed like a girl!” exclaimed another female friend. “That’s an insult!” I retorted. They laughed, but, to his great credit, the male friend laughed hardest of all.

But all of us were playing off of the societal message that “like a girl” is a bad thing, somehow lesser than the average. [Scholarly note: Even the French diminutive “-ette” suffix, borrowed into English is a feminization.] To translate for people less strangely obsessed with language than I, it means that even on a language level, we make “lesser” mean “like a girl.” I love this usage note on dictionary.com (at the bottom), which says that the diminutive forms for females is going out of style and evolving into gender-neutral. Yay!

This also echoes my earlier post about strong female characters–that “strong” has to be said, because it’s not the socially believed standard. I hear “like a girl” all the time, from people I love and respect; I’ve said it many times, myself!

I am all for this #LikeAGirl campaign, and I hope you will be, too. From now on, when someone says I do something “like a girl,” I will say, “Thank you. I take that as a compliment.” (Or, if I just did said activity poorly, I will simply say that it is not my gender, but rather the negative aura of their company that has influenced my performance. Yessss.)

Until next time, my dear readers. I shall try to escape my characters’ demands soon, if only for brief updates or shares. 😉

Who Are You? Literary Character Quiz

TGIF, readers! It’s been a busy week of work for me, and though it’s been productive and fun, I’m looking forward to some down time to relax and work on my own writing projects.

What better way to kick off the weekend than with a fun, quick quiz–about BOOKS? (I seriously cannot think of one.) AbeBooks poses this question:

Have you ever been so involved in a story that you imagined yourself as the protagonist? Or have you ever read a book where you relate so strongly to a character that you think the author may have used you for inspiration? Or maybe you’ve just had one of those days where you’d love to be your favorite fictional hero.

Um…yes, yes, and yes. After that set-up, I know you’re itching to take the quiz.

You can find it here.

And this was my result–too proud not to share. 😉 But don’t click it until after you’ve taken the quiz yourself!

So, dear readers, who are YOU?

Enjoy your weekend. I hope you have some fabulous journeys, out in the world or in between pages. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn-Offs

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday Thursday list was actually suggested last week by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Book Turn-Offs (thanks to Michelle for this idea! You know..you are reading and then SOMETHING happens to completely turn you off — cheating, absent parents, multiple POVS etc.).

Oh my. I always try to play nice, but this kind of prompt brings out my inner reading/writing snob. OK, then, the gloves are coming off…but I won’t name any names. 😉

Not long ago, I had a policy that I would always finish any book I started–well, at least, I’d intend to. (It would never come off of my “reading” shelf, even if the bookmark hadn’t moved for years.) But recently, with my to-be-read Goodreads shelf growing exponentially, I realized something.

No longer would I chain myself to an interminable abomination of dictionary refuse. If a book meets one of these ten deal-breakers, it now finds itself on a new shelf: banished (to the back of a closet. I still can’t ever get rid of books.).

1. Bad writing.

Zoidberg won’t let it slide, either.

I can’t help it. I may care more about the way you’re saying something than what you’re saying. Like I’ve said before, good language can save a bad story, but bad language can ruin a good one. It’s about the journey as much as the end. You can chalk this up to my obsession with grammar and vocabulary. I’ve gotten even more picky since my writing program at DePaul, but this has always been a #1 make-it-or-break-it point. I can usually tell within one page if I’m going to like the writing.

2. (Only) weak female characters.

Funny Flirting Ecard: I should warn you that dizziness or fainting may occur upon kissing me.

This one should not be a surprise, considering how much I love strong female characters. What may surprise you, though, is that qualifier–“only.” I actually am okay with one or more weak female characters being in a book IF AND ONLY IF their weakness is meant to portray a negative, especially in opposition to a strong female character. For instance, if a society prizes weak women, but the lovable heroine is strong and transcends–and preferably changes–that (stupid) society, that’s okay with me.

3. Obsessive love.

you have other friends? i can take care of that | Overly Obsessed Girlfriend

This one actually was a surprise to me when I finally realized it. I’ve always been, and still am, a romantic. The best stories have a love story in them–but, I realized, that’s not all they have in them. I think the best love is one that makes you stronger, better, more balanced–not one that is all-consuming. I also think that love has to make sense; it’s not instantaneous, and it’s not equivalent to lust. I think we’ve all learned those things the hard way, whether through personal experience, through watching friends in their PDA vacuums, or reading books with few pages between descriptions of longing. Some people can’t get enough of non-stop romance, but I still haven’t found an example of this that I like. My new blog friend Canary the First just wrote a list of suggestions for me to try, located on the comments of my “Banned Books Week Fun” post, if you’d like to check it out. By the way, somehow, I’m slightly more tolerant of obsessive love in movies than books, but NOT IF IT CAUSES A #2–on this list, that is. (Ahem, a weak female.)

4. Unjustified disturbing violence.

KILL ALL THE THINGS!

I’m pretty squeamish when it comes to violence. I’ll always close my eyes during a movie and wait for someone to tell me when that part is over. I’ll sing “LA LA LA” over violent parts in audiobooks so I block out most of it, and I’ll glaze over the sections in printed books. Forget about horror movies and gory horror books (though I’ll still read psychological horror, sometimes, if it’s creative and I’m feeling brave). When it comes to violence, I feel it must be justified. It’s really not that different from #3; anything intense needs to make sense and have a place. The Hunger Games was very hard for me to get through, especially the last book, but I felt like the violence was an integral part of the story; it wasn’t just there to be sensational.

5. Static characters.

When you go through life and learn things, you should change, right? No one is born perfect; that’s what makes us human. So books should be the same, in my opinion. Even if the characters aren’t human, they will annoy me if they never change. My favorite type of book is one where characters surmount their challenges and become heroic because of it. Also, the opposite reaction to those same challenges is ripe potential for some great villains.

6. Annoying narrator–text or audio.

I like to think I am a nice person who’s tolerant of people different than me, even if I’m not their biggest fan. But if I’m going to have to listen to someone talk for 400 pages or 10 hours, I’m sorry, but I have to like you. If I’m annoyed by the character, usually by some unredeemed, unchanging trait (mean, airheaded, etc.), I do not want to hear what you have to say; I do not want to see the world through your lens. As for audiobooks, I prefer readers who are a medium on an enthusiasm scale. Zany can be overwhelming, and boring is, well, boring.

And, for the ultimate example of a narrator mismatched to a text, witness Gilbert Gottfried reading excerpts of 50 Shades of Grey. Warning: NSFW, rated R, and hilarious.

'Fifty Shades of Grey' narrated by Gilbert Gottfried: NSFW video

7. A Mean/Bigoted Author

Image from weknowmemes.com

We live in an age of celebrity, where spotlight is constant and public image is everything. For some celebrities, all publicity is good publicity; even if people are saying bad things about you, at least they’re talking about you, which will likely lead to some sort of increase in your revenue, even if only by echoing in the subconscious minds of consumers. But guess what, authors? Readers pay attention to words, and because you are a master of them, we WILL hold you accountable for them. So while it might have been OK for the public to watch Transcendental poets escape from civilization into the woods, writing a book the public would subsequently be frantic to buy, now, with the transparency of social media and instantaneous news posts, writers have to watch what they say. I won’t delve into this too much in this post, but I may in the future: in recent literary news, lauded author Jonathan Franzen was at it again with his offensive statements which can pretty much be summed up as he doesn’t want people to buy his books because most of us are too stupid to appreciate them. Well then, Jonny, we won’t. Enjoy your Ramen noodles. Literature is one industry in which bad publicity is just plain bad. I don’t want to spend time in your head, reading your words, if you’re outright hateful.

8. Sentimentally sad for no good reason.

Image from alltheragefaces.com

This one really gets to me, because I’m usually blindsided by it. If I suspect a book will rip my heart out, I ask a trustworthy reader if it will, and if so, if it’s worth it. If I don’t know anyone who’s read it yet, I wait till someone gets around to it (sometimes via my convincing), and then I ask. I almost feel bad about this, but it’s just that I REALLY get emotional about books. More than is normal or healthy. And it’s very hard for me to like a book where every lovable character dies, but unfortunately, I’m usually too invested to see it coming and avoid it.

I have to admit that as an author, I’ve been guilty of this. In a writing workshop at DePaul, my teacher Michele Morano described my story as “manipulatively sad.” It took me some time to understand what she meant, but after being manipulated by other sobby books, I finally understand. If a book–especially an ending–is extremely sad, it must be justified. Usually, a completely sad ending doesn’t work so well; bittersweet chocolate is far more palatable than 100% cacao (I’ve tried it, trust me, it’s disgusting–it’s an oily bean, after all). The ending can be a surprise but mustn’t be an out-of-left-field shock. There has to be poetry in the sadness. And usually, I’m happy to let someone relay the poetry to me. I’m just trying to save trees by conserving tissues. O:o)

9. Fanservice.

I’m guessing this guy isn’t going to be subject to an author’s lusty musings, but that’s sort of my point. There’s a fine line between interesting romance (see #3) and shameless out-of-place erotica. I think authors can fall into this trap when a character becomes popular, which is almost guaranteed for popular YA novels, and the more–um, intense–fans clamor for more descriptions of abs and sweat rolling between shoulder blades, distracting from a perfectly philosophical scene that may not even be told through a crush’s eyes. I doubt a fellow blacksmith, holding a molten tool, is watching a bead of sweat trace a pattern over the sooty chiseled cheek of his uncle (but I guess it could happen). Anyway, fan service is a turn-OFF for me, not a turn-ON, you naughty authors, you.

10. No ending

Image from qa.rsu.ac.th

Do you like the symbolic lack of punctuation on this one? I wanted to be subtle, but I can’t bear a suspicion of a typo. What would the neighbors think?

While #8 sometimes isn’t clear till the end, this one definitely isn’t. Sometimes, you may start to suspect you’ll be disappointed when an epic moment has concluded, or not yet concluded, with only a few pages left. At the least, it won’t be the shapely plot diagram you’ve grown to expect.

I’ve come to accept endings not wrapped with a bow, endings that are ambiguous, or even endings that are sad (#8). But you must give me something, or else I’ll think it’s a printing error. It’s like driving ten hours to a grocery store but never getting out of the car. What’s the point?

—————————————–

And so concludes my list for this week, readers. Because of how long it took me to compile this, I’ve realized it’s harder for me to be negative than positive. I think this is a good thing. It also may be because I am more or less illiterate in pop culture, and memes can take forever+ to find when you don’t know what you’re looking for. On that note, a special thank-you to my sister for helping me find many of these. It went something like this:

Me: *scrolling endlessly on Google* Jennifer, have you seen this picture of a crazy-looking girl’s face, I think I’ve seen it once, she’s like a stalker or something…?
Jennifer: Oh, yeah! That’s Overly Attached Girlfriend!

As I mentioned before, she is my pop-culture liaison.

Top Ten Tuesday: Book–>Movie Adaptations

Hello readers! I’ve decided I would like to participate in the “Top 10 Tuesday” trend suggested by The Broke and the Bookish on this blog. So each Tuesday, barring other pressing news I’d need to post instead, I will post a top-10 list right here on this blog.

Today, I am going to list my top 10 personal favorite book-to-movie/television adaptations. You will notice the sci-fi/fantasy theme (except for #9). Not all of these movies perfectly mimic the books; some I think were even better (but some, worse–but not bad enough to exclude them from the list). Also, I only chose adaptations where I’ve read at least part of the book and seen at least part of the movie/series; I’ll specify where I haven’t finished. Read on and let me know what you think–what would YOU add or take off of this list?

1. Beauty and the Beast/Tangled (Rapunzel)/The Little Mermaid

Beauty and the Beast (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

OK, so I may be cheating a bit with this first one, but there’s a good reason I lumped them all together: they’re all semi-dark fairy tales adapted into Disney movies done well. In each case, I much prefer the movie to the original fairy tale, but perhaps it’s unfair that I saw the movies before reading the tales (I know, I know, but I couldn’t even read yet when two of them came out). I think part of this preference is because each of the movies are adapted for a modern audience, whereas the fairy tales were written for centuries past, with all of its societal influence–recall my “no book is an island” explanation. So while both the written tales and the movies seek to teach lessons, they are different lessons, even if the stories are almost the same. I think Disney did a great job with making happy endings for each of these that don’t diminish the suffering and growth the characters went through–it almost reinforces the good lessons by saying “do good and you will receive good.” One of these original tales has an ending so, so sad that I couldn’t get all the way through it, though I’ve read about it (I won’t spoil it for you, in case you haven’t read them). Plus all the heroines are way more kick-butt in the Disney versions, which you know I love. This is why I will forever be a Disney princess.

2. The Lord of the Rings (+ The Hobbit)

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

You already know my love for this story is intense. I did see the LOTR movies before I read the books–and actually, reading them is a project I began several times in high school and still haven’t finished, and I can feel your eyes burning like Sauron while reading this, but rest assured they are on my to-finish-soon list. I did finish The Hobbit, and I’m a big fan of what Peter Jackson has done so far. This epic story of good vs. evil is so lush and complex that it will forever be a hallmark in my mind and the mind of literary (and cinematic) canons everywhere. I was not a fan of earlier film adaptations, but I love Jackson’s rendition, for all the flack he gets. (Again, adapting an older story for a modern audience requires some changes–and again, I will never be against making females more kick-butt.)

3. Stardust

Stardust (2007) Poster

Stardust (image courtesy of imdb.com)

Stardust has always been described as a fairy tale for adults. It was a book written by Neil Gaiman before it was made into a movie, with the shortest time gap for adaptation so far on this list. In fact, Gaiman had a lot of input on the project. You can read an awesome interview about it here. Although he’s written scripts before, he had a specific screenwriter for this movie–and she had to be female, he said, to have the right touch. (An interesting quirk about Gaiman is that he ascribes a gender to all of his works; Stardust is a female book, he says, but it does appeal to all.) And while I LOVE Gaiman–one of my top 3 favorite authors of all time–I have to say I preferred the movie in this case. Gaiman did a fantastic job of writing in a true fairy tale style, but I think an inherent problem of that style is faraway narrative distance. I didn’t connect with the characters as much in the book as the movie, although I did enjoy the extra details and lore included in the book that weren’t in the movie. Also, I felt like the movie focused more on the love story, which is extremely appealing to a romantic sap like me. ❤ But Neil, if you’re reading this, I still love you the mostest, especially for The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere, and your accent.

4. Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera (photo courtesy of matineedeals.com)

There is nothing I don’t love about this movie adaptation–the costumes, the music, the scenery, the acting–it’s perfect. This is a case where I like the movie WAY better than the book, and I like it as much as the musical, which is nearly identical. The book came first, written by Gaston Leroux in 1910 as a horror story. It seems I’m not alone in my preference, because the book did not do well for a long time. It was pure horror and very little romance, and the heroine was much too weak. She’s the only one on this list who wouldn’t qualify as a strong female character, at least in the book (and it’d still be a stretch for the movie). While she is still manipulated in the musical and movie, I can forgive her because of her growth and passion, and because it’s kind of hard not to be manipulated by a psychopath, especially one who sings to you so dreamily and gives you roses, all while wearing a tuxedo.

5. Harry Potter

Harry Potter (images courtesy of the Harry Potter Wiki)

Harry Potter was such a special experience for my generation,  because we grew up with Harry as the books and movies came out. The books and movies taught us all about courage, friendship, and love. Despite small discrepancies, I thought the movies were very faithful to the books. More had to be left out later in the series, because the books got longer, but still, the ideas and main events were preserved. I love both the books and the movies, and I’d like to reread the whole book series as an adult and see what it’s like from that perspective. J.K. Rowling opened up a whole world for writers and readers alike, and her magic extended beyond the pages and made kids want to read again. The movies had that power, too, compelling fans to read the books to see what they’d missed.

6. The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (2012) Poster

The Hunger Games (image courtesy of imdb.com)

The Hunger Games is another mostly faithful book-to-movie adaptation. The rest of the movies aren’t out yet, but based on the first one (and the INTENSE trailer for the second one), I think they will not only be faithful but excellent. Some books read like movies, and this series is one of them. This made the violent parts a little gruesome to get through, but more than anything else I’ve ever read, all the violence had a purpose, and it was sobering. The first movie did a great job of balancing the theme of it with making it PG-13 enough for younger viewers to sit through; it will be interesting to see how they navigate that for the future movies, since, as series go, it will only get MORE INTENSE. The Hunger Games introduced me to the dystopia genre of books, which is one of my very favorite. The movies made me realize it was already one of my favorite cinematic genres, although I’ve seen more that did it wrong than right. THG has set the bar very high, and it’s made big steps in legitimizing YA books/movies for adults–not one I’d recommend for younger than high school. Oh, and BTW,  Katniss (in both the books and movie) is the ultimate strong female character–physically strong, emotionally responsive, and imperfect. She’s a great role model for women of all ages.

7. The Mortal Instruments

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) Poster

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (image courtesy of imdb.com)

This first movie just came out, and I almost need to see it again to finalize how I feel about it. I love the book series, as I’ve mentioned, and the movie was fascinating and very cool. Most of it was pretty faithful, up until a certain point where it started pulling in elements from future books, so let’s just say I was glad to be done with book 3 (of 6) before I saw the movie. I can understand some of the changes, but not all, at least without having seen any of the future movies. This is definitely one I’d recommend reading before seeing, but it’s still on the list because I know I really liked both versions. When I watch the movie again, I will try to watch it as a movie, not as a comparison to the book. What both got right was development of the primary characters, which is one of the main draws to this series. They are all complex, believable, and at the end of the day, lovable in their own ways. Both also did a fantastic job of portraying the world–it actually helped to see it on the big screen to tie all the elements together visually.

8. Dune

Dune (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

This book series and TV miniseries has been one of my favorites since the beginning of high school. Like LOTR, it has a sweeping story about good vs. evil with a complex universe. And like LOTR, this is the only adaptation I like; the earlier one is soooo trippy, even for a universe where people get powers from a drug. Of course, these universes differ, and Dune has always been strictly sci-fi, whereas LOTR is strictly fantasy. I’ve read 2/3 of the Dune series and none of the other posthumous publications based on Herbert’s works; this is another to-finish series on my bookshelf. This miniseries adaptation was very faithful to the books, and it did a good job with pacing, scenery, acting, etc.

9. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones (image from GoT Wiki)

This one made it on the list mostly out of speculation. I must confess, I’ve only read a small bit of the first book of the series. I was holding off watching the series till I finished the books, but I couldn’t resist any longer. A few friends have recommended watching the series first because it helps you keep the characters straight to see them visually (though it’s still difficult, because there are a billion of them). I’m only 6 episodes in, but I’m already on the path to obsession. I think about it when I’m not watching it, and when I am watching I forget to watch the clock. It’s high fantasy in some ways like LOTR, but with more rated-R+ content and less magic. From what I’ve read so far, it’s a great adaptation, and I can’t wait to finish both versions (no rush,  George R. R. Martin).

10. Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Poster

Pride and Prejudice, BBC miniseries (photo courtesy of imdb.com)

This is the only one on the list that isn’t sci-fi/fantasy, but I love it just as much. Oh, do I love it. Austen is one of my top writing, life, and humor influences; she’s one of those authors who’s changed my life in immeasurable ways. I can’t imagine many other books that have been adapted as much as this one, and I can’t imagine any book that fans would be more defensive of. That being said, the BBC version is well-loved by diehard fans of the book, and deservedly so–it is the closest book-to-screen match I have ever seen. The dialogue is verbatim in many parts. Settle yourself down for six hours of wit, romance, and eye candy (Mr. Firth, I’m talking about you), or escape in the pages/your own mind to the rural England of the nineteenth century–it’s up to you, because you’ll get the same experience either way. Elizabeth Bennet is an SFC of the Regency Era, convincing girls to be strong in their own rights rather than rely on the opinions and actions of others.

I hope you enjoyed the list! What do you think is missing? Let me know what your favorite book-to-screen adaptations are.