You’ve seen the stories on the big screen but have you read the books?
To celebrate #ReadABookDay we’ve put together a collection of MUST-READ books– in all kinds of genres– so that even if you’ve already seen the films, there’s something to suit everyone!
Whether you’re looking for a meatier novel than your typical holiday read, or you fancy a better way to spend the commute to work than scrolling through Facebook, jump into these page-turners!
The Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling (1997 – 2007)
You might think the whole Daniel Radcliffe/Rupert Grint/Emma Watson combo is gripping, interesting and even, from time to time, quite humorous, but that is just the tip of the Marauder’s Map...
You might think, who am I to disregard the films so flippantly—especially since they are, after all, the 4th highest-grossing film franchise of all time—but the books are something else entirely!
Not only will you discover important details that cannot be found in the films due to screen-time restraints, J. K. Rowling has that sort of infectious writing style that is unpretentious and accessible to most audiences, whilst being nail-bitingly gripping.
WARNING: Possible side effects include: A clinical inability to put the books down resulting in lack of sleep and the possible hallucination of 'snitches' flying round your head...
Books in order:
The Philosopher’s Stone
The Chamber of Secrets
The Prisoner of Azkaban
The Goblet of Fire
The Order of the Phoenix
The Half-Blood Prince
The Deathly Hallows
Bridget Jones – Helen Fielding (1996)
Arguably one of the most unlikely yet loved modern-day heroines to hit the screens, Bridget Jones has waddled her way through our screens since 2001. Shining an unforgiving light on the day-to-day trials of a single woman’s reality, she obliviously dresses inappropriately for work, is outrageously clumsy and makes more than one painful attempt to speak in public – and that’s just the tip of the Turkey Curry.
As well as this, her choosing of bad relationships is something that anyone—not just women—can relate to… But Renée Zellweger hasn’t always been the face of this fearless female!
The thirty-something’s journey began as a column in The Independent newspaper and was so popular it became a fully-fledged novel in 1996. Written by Helen Fielding, there are three books now to match the films and, yes, the films are nothing short of hilarious, but the quick-witted writing of Fielding will have you laughing out loud!
REMEMBER: This book series is the perfect antidote to a bad mood. It’s difficult to feel glum when you’re following Bridget Jones and optimism even in the face of the many comical disasters!
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J. R. R. Tolkien (1937, 1954)
You may have sat through many extended hours of Middle Earth’s ups and downs from the comfort of your own T.V. but, honestly, there is no better person to tell those lengthy stories about tiny, shoe-less men, magical jewellery and hugely dangerous journeys than J. R. R. Tolkien himself!
Although the journey to the end of the books may seem as demanding as Frodo’s trek to Mount Doom, why not warm up with the smaller, less intimidating-looking The Hobbit, before tackling the toilsome task of the 1000+ paged The Lord of the Rings trilogy?
The sense of achievement when that ring finally gets tossed into the molten lava of Mordor and destroyed forever is more emotional than Boromir’s untimely (but necessary) death.
REMEMBER: “A day may come when the courage of men [to read the book and not just watch the film] will fail… but it is not this day”
– Aragorn, The Black Gate.
Books in order:
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
P. S. I Love you – Cecelia Ahern (2003)
You may remember this to be the film that everyone left the cinema screen resembling members of the glam rock band ‘Kiss’, but if you forgot your waterproof mascara to the cinema last time, make sure you remember it this time when you pick up the book!
Like the film, the book by Cecelia Ahern is funny, quirky and fresh, as well as being devilishly sad. Not for the faint-hearted, Ahern tells the story of a wife learning to deal with the death of her beloved husband through love letters sent seemingly from ‘beyond the grave’.
But, despite the film being, at times, inconsolably sad, thanks to The Pogues and some very convincing acting, the book will do more to your emotions than you could ever imagine. The jokes are magnified, the characters are deeper and the grief is suffocating – a MUST READ. Yes, there is a distinct lack of Gerard Butler’s cheeky charm and Lisa Kudrow’s raw wit, but what the book lacks in performance, it makes up for in words. Trust me.
TOP TIP: Probably best to avoid reading it in public but, if you do, waterproof mascara is a MUST!
Nothing Lasts Forever – Roderick Thorp (1979)
Whilst Die Hard is arguably one of the highest ranked Christmas films, why not have a read of the Roderick Thorp novel Nothing Lasts Forever that was the inspiration behind the blockbuster hit?
Following a similar story arc, a retired NYPD detective finds himself in a sticky situation on Christmas Eve, becoming targeted by a group of terrorists within the walls of a skyscraper. But even without the classic eighties happy ending and Bruce Willis in a tank top, you’ll still be on the edge of your seat, ‘Yippie Kay-Yay’ing all the way through!
The Jurassic Park Series – Michael Crichton (1990, 1995)
Now, most people have seen the timeless Spielberg adaptation, Jurassic Park that stormed the cinemas in 1993, however not many people might have bothered to pick up the two Michael Crichton novels released from 1990 that inspired the whole concept.
Strip away the exhaustive arrogance of Jeff Goldblum, the dramatized backing music and Richard Attenborough’s ‘Father Christmas’-esque portrayal of the park owner, John Hammond and you’ll begin to get a sense of how the books differ.
Strangely sinister, epically exciting and action-packed, the books are not to be missed out on. So, fasten your seatbelts because this story will be bumpier than a ride in one of those Park cars being chased by a herd of Raptors!
Books in order:
The Lost World
One Day – David Nicholls (2009)
Now, this film became famous for more than just the heart-wrenching story. This was the film to prove that, no matter how many acting awards you’ve won over the years, a Leeds accent is still a tricky one to execute.
The film’s story is a close parallel to the book’s—a typical story of boy meets girl, then life takes over and drives them in different directions, naturally creating a ‘will they, won’t they?’ scenario throughout.
Whilst the film managed to maintain some of the warmth and intelligence found in the book, it is dreadfully let down by Anne Hathaway’s uneven West Yorkshire accent. Described as ‘totally inconsistent’ by fans, the heroine, Emma Morley (Hathaway), dips between an uppity BBC news reporter and a non-descript Lancashirian, which gets so irritating towards the end that the shock of her death is more of a relief that she’s stopped talking than anything else.
At least in the book, you don’t have to wince every time 'Emma' opens her mouth, plus it sparks ounces more charm, humour and emotion than the films captures so grab a copy!
The Shining – Stephen King (1977)
You may remember a frenzied Jack Nicholson shoving his head through the axe-wounded bathroom door and introducing himself as someone called ‘Johnny’? Well if you thought that was scary enough, you obviously have never read the Stephen King original novel.
Hold on to your crayons because it’s about to get ‘redruM’!
“Surely it can’t be as scary as the film…?”, you might say. Without the screechy music, snappy edits and Nicholson’s gut flipping, core-shaking performance at being a nutcase, it’s surely nowhere near as scary!
But you’d be gravely mistaken.
King is known for many things but mainly that he is THE scare-King when it comes to his stories. Horror knows no boundaries with his writing. This book will literally reach up from the page and, with unyielding hands, drag you in to the nightmarish Overlook Hotel where everything is ten times scarier and the caretaker Jack is even more chilling.
TOP TIPS: Make sure you have a good supply of soothing drinks (Hot Chocolate, Horlicks – you know the kind), try to avoid reading it when you’re home alone and, for goodness sake, DO NOT read it before bed!
So whether you’re a bookworm or a film fiend, these books will have you either gripped, giggling, sobbing or cowering behind your sofa so switch off the tele today and get reading!