What are you reading?

Just the other day, one of our patrons came into the library with a huge list of books. This is not unusual, and he was searching for a few titles from this list, most of which we had in our library. We often see people with lists of books they want to read, many getting ideas from the Sunday books section, from radio program suggestions or from magazines. This gentleman, however, had a list of books that his favourite author had listed as books that had influenced his writing.

This is actually something that many authors do, giving their readers and insight into what authors they regularly read or what books made them become the authors they are today. One of my favourite authors is Stephen King, and a few years back when he released his book “On Writing”, he included a very large list of books and authors that inspired him. Knowing the type of books that King writes, you might be surprised at the vast selection he recommended. I know that I worked my way through that list, purely from curiosity, and came up with several “new” authors that are now some of my favourite regular reads.

There is a great website that has actually compiled lists of books found on the bookshelves of famous dead people. The website itself is called LibraryThing and the lists include people from a wide variety of lifestyles, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Marie Antoinette and many more, including lists in progress for Charles Darwin and Benjamin Franklin. If you click on this link, you’ll be taken directly to the lists completed and in process:


Just doing a quick search of the internet, I came across several blogs and personal websites that are geared towards what books are on their bedside tables, as that is usually where we keep our books to read. You might want to read through some of these lists for some new ideas, or just out of curiosity. It is almost like being a fly on the wall in someone’s house! How fun!




Sharks, Hobbits and Wizards

Sharks need not be afraid anymore. The world has lost actor Roy Scheider, the hard-working sheriff from the movie “Jaws”. When we hear of someone in the entertainment world passing, we often associate them with their biggest role, or the one that left the biggest impression, and so it is true with Roy Scheider. Many of us will never forget the impact the movie “Jaws” had on us all those summers ago. And even watching it years later, without all of the special effects the movie world offers us now, the shark can still chill us to the bone and make us want to avoid even our own swimming pools. The imagination can be much more powerful than anything a movie can show us. Which is why books are so wonderful, and also why many books are made into movies.

Jaws was not the first novel to be made into a movie and it will hardly be the last, with so many amazing stories being written every day. It must be easier for studios to pick up a book that has been on the best seller list and make it come alive on the big screen, than to have writers come up with original stories. After all, someone has already done the hard work for them….creating characters and plots that beg to be brought to life. Often we read books that we think should be made into movies, because our culture these days demands the quick-fix that only a movie can bring. A lot of people would rather sit in the theatre and watch something for 2 hours than read a book over the course of a few days or weeks.

So, why don’t we all just read the books? Usually, they are much better. The characters are more fleshed out and there are usually more plot twists or details than we’d ever find in the movie version, but if we haven’t already read the book when we see the movie, very few of us ever go and get the book to compare. At the library, we do tend to see an influx of people coming in to get a book that has been made into a current popular movie, but rarely do we get requests for an older movie/book duo. Let’s think about it though….what inspired someone to make that movie? The book, of course! That book must have affected someone so powerfully with its story and characters to make them want to pursue making a movie. So, let’s talk about the books!

Jaws, by Peter Benchley, is just one of many famous movies derived from a book.


But there are many more award winning movies that came from books, such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone…..

harry-potter.jpg which of course was the first of seven amazingly popular books, and subsequent films. This movie, however, seemed to be produced more to give children something else “Harry Potter” during the frenzy. You would be hard pressed to find any child that hasn’t read at least one of the books and most have read all of them, and the movies are just a bonus to them.

What about “The Green Mile” by Stephen King? Many people didn’t even know that the famous horror writer had anything to do with this film.


This little gem of a movie actually came from the creation of a serial that King put out over the course of 6 or 7 months, producing mini-books, much like they used to do in the past to get readers hooked on a series. It worked. And the movie stuck pretty close to the book, but the draw to this story was only being told a little bit at a time. I don’t think it had the same magic even being published in a single book format once the entire serial version was finished, however, if any of you have seen the movie, you’ll agree it was a special film, and not what you’d expect from a horror writer.

And we can hardly mention books being made into movies without talking about The Lord of the Rings , by J. R.R Tolkien. I think that anyone who read the books as a child (or older) was pleased that the movies were made during this stage in history. If they had been done before (shorter versions were produced, but without much acclaim), the special effects could not keep up with our imaginations. I think we would have been disappointed in the translation to the big screen. But Peter Jackson’s version brought the characters and the places we could only imagine into reality for so many of us. lord-of.gif

Even though this is only a short splattering of movies created from books, it gives us all a sense of what can be done, and even if it should be done at all. The imagination can be so much more vivid than something produced, even with a big Hollywood budget. Maybe we should all save the $14+ ticket price and pop to the library to get the book! It might be more rewarding in the long run.