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Cat in the Stax: Books to the Big Screen

By Jenna Newman

With the weather getting cooler and damper, that means more time inside and more time reading books and watching movies. A constraint refrain heard from book lovers when a film adaptation is announced is, “The book is always better.” That being said, there are a handful of incredible books that have been made into just as incredible films or TV series. Below is a list of four books that have since hit the screen and had success there, too! 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The novel was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Last year, 150 years after the second volume was published, Greta Gerwig directed the most recent adaptation of Alcott’s classic story. Although this is not the first film adaptation, I would argue that it is the best. Gerwig perfectly captures Jo’s determination, Meg’s responsible and kind nature, Amy’s artistic talent and practicality, and Beth’s quiet and loving personality. Alcott made the March sister’s stories come to life and 150 years later, Gerwig brings them to the big screen with her own 21st century twist.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This novel was published in 2017 and explores themes of race and motherhood, taking place in author Celeste Ng’s childhood town, Shaker, Ohio. Ng opens with the main tragedy and conflict and then backtracks as the reader slowly tries to figure out who set little fires everywhere. This past March, right as the world began shutting down, Hulu released their TV series based on the novel starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. Despite the show showing an entirely different ending than the novel, it was done with Ng’s blessing. Although there are no definitive plans for season two, there are many people asking for it, so who knows what will happen!

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

If you’ve been reading my Cat in the Staxs for a while now, you may have realized that I love a good non-fiction, based-on-a-true-story novel, and this is no different. The story brings to light the under-told story of three Black pioneers, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, who served as NASA’s “human computers,” sending many space heroes safely to space. Following the film’s release it was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Movie at the BET Awards, Outstanding Motion Pictures at the NAACP Image Awards, Best Action or Adventure Film at the Saturn Awards, along with many other accolades.

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This installment is the first and most widely known novel in the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Despite being for children, the book has a depth engages the reader in at any age. In the same way, while I would argue that other film adaptations for books in the series did not fully live up to C.S. Lewis’s novels, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe did. Although director Adam Adamson changed the storyline slightly, the magic of Narnia is brought to the big screen. From the cold ways of the White Witch to the kind, sacrificial ways of Aslan, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the perfect story to read through in a weekend or watch huddled under blankets with hot chocolate. 

I will always be someone that claims books are better than films, but that’s not to say books can’t also be turned into great films and TV series. What’s your go-to on a cool, damp day? A book or a movie? Let us know in the comments below!

Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department. Current mood: Watching Greta Gerwig’s Little Women for the one millionth time.








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Last Modified: October 21, 2020

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