Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Inspired by Soneva’s Cinema Paradiso, I’ve put together a list of my top read-it-before-you-see-it suggestions. This is your fair warning . . .
Sally Rooney is nothing short of a literary phenomenon and Normal People has won the love of readers and prizes alike. I devoured the novel when I first got my hands on it and, still obsessed, I’ve read it twice since. It follows the lives and love of Marianne and Connell, two students from Mayo who come of age as their paths cross and uncross in Trinity College Dublin. It feels so real to me that initially, I was a little nervous to hear it would be adapted for television. Luckily, Rooney is writing the screenplay and Lenny Abrahmson (Room, Killing of a Sacred Deer) is set to direct, so it’s in the best hands possible.
I still get goosebumps when I think of William Kamkwamba’s memoir The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. It is the incredible true story of how 13 year old William, inspired by science and determined to bring electricity and running water to his village in Malawi, built a wind turbine, with nothing more than a few old science books and scrap metal. In doing so he changes the village, and the lives of the people who live there, forever. The film adaptation marks the directorial debut of Chiwetel Ejiofor and ok, you caught me, it has just been released on Netflix, but you can definitely find time for the book before watching, and I really recommend that you do.
Having your book pre-emptively optioned by Reese Witherspoon has come to be an early hallmark of an absolute must-read, and I’m delighted that Eleanor Oliphant is just that. Equal parts hilarious and heart-warming, the story of socially awkward Eleanor and her discovery of friendships and self-worth is magic. It’s one of the best things that I (and over 2 million other people) have read this year. Ms. Oliphant is one of the most unique characters I have ever met, and I can’t wait to see her jump to the big screen.
Ok just hear me out. Obviously this is already a film. In fact for many it’s *the* film. But Luca Guadagnino’s iteration leaves us in the cold winter, with Timothée Chalamet as young Elio, staring longingly into a fire as fresh tears roll down his face. It doesn’t include his reunion with Oliver twenty years later, when they reflect on what has passed. Given a recent tweet from author André Aciman where he rather casually mentions that he’s writing the sequel, I advise a re-read of Call Me By Your Name, in order to savour the last few pages before they inevitably make their way back to the silver screen.
Amy Adams stars as our agoraphobic protagonist Anna in the film adaption of AJ Finn’s bestseller. It’s a familiar yet satisfyingly fast – paced psychological thriller and direct descendant of Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window, which the novel pays homage to. It will be interesting to see how the film unfolds in its own right. I recommend reading The Woman in the Window and then the rather controversial New Yorker piece on the author before the film’s October release date.