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Exploring Philip Roth's Memorable Protagonists

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 19, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

The best stories have memorable protagonists. Over the course of his illustrious career, Philip Roth has fashioned numerous standouts. Roth said in a 2014 interview republished in the New York Times that his “focus has never been on masculine power rampant and triumphant but rather on the antithesis: masculine power impaired…[His] intention is to present [his] fictional men not as they should be but vexed as men are.”  A look at some of the great Rothian main characters reveals that perhaps it’s the characters’ realistic struggles and less-than-picture-perfect lifestyles that make them as memorable as they have become.

     
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Top Books by State: Indiana

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 10, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Movie Tie-Ins, Literary travel

Today we continue our literary road trip through the United States by taking a closer look at my home state, Indiana. For many people, the Midwest is little more than a flyover region and simply considered farm country. It's easy to think of Indiana by the things its most known for: NASCAR, basketball, corn, and perhaps the infamous level of violence located in the Gary, Indiana area. While Indiana is definitely known for those things, it's also a state rich in history. Abraham Lincoln lived a large portion of his childhood in southern Indiana, and President William Henry Harrison and Native American leader Tecumseh led their respective sides in the Battle of Tippecanoe. Indiana is also a beautiful state, home to the Indiana Dunes near Lake Michigan, numerous protected areas of woodlands like the Hoosier National Forest and the Lincoln National and Lincoln State forests, and a rich network of limestone caves. One of America's oldest theme parks, Holiday World, is also in Indiana. Let's take a look some of the best books set in the Hoosier state.

     
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Six Famous Horror Novels Based on True Stories

By Kristin Masters. Jan 7, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Movie Tie-Ins

On July 26, 1984, Edward Gein died in a state mental institution. Gein's case stole the headlines in November 1957, when police went to his farmhouse to investigate the disappearance of local hardware store clerk Bernice Worden. Gein had been the last customer at the store and had been seen loitering on the premises. Officers were horrified to find Worden's corpse hanging in the barn⁠—along with a collection of household items and a suit made out of human skin, and bowls made from human skulls. It seemed that Gein was responsible for the deaths of countless victims, not just that of Worden. 

     
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The Lost World: 5 Books Steven Spielberg Almost Adapted

By Brian Hoey. Dec 18, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Steven Spielberg (who turns 73 today!) is more than just one of the most successful and well-respected directors in Hollywood—he’s also a prolific adapter of books and other literary works for the silver screen. Some of his best known works, from Jaws (1974) to the Color Purple (1982) to Jurassic Park (1990), were originally based on books of various levels of literary acclaim. Because one of the great all-time literary and filmic pastimes is comparing novels to their screen adaptations, the book lovers of the world owe Spielberg a huge debt of gratitude (the fact that many of these films are truly great on their own doesn’t hurt either). 

     
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Five of Disney's Best Adaptations

By Abigail Bekx. Dec 5, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Movie Tie-Ins

It has long been a tradition to adapt older, well-loved works into more modern versions. From the re-telling of fairy tales, each with their own flair, to the use of popular tropes instituted by some of the most popular authors, the practice of making the old new has long held reader’s and author’s interest. Technology has allowed for this tradition to transform into new medias. One of the best known providers of adapted classics is The Walt Disney Company. While sometimes they change little and sometimes they change much, Disney’s productions are all masterfully created to inspire and draw audiences into the classic tales. 

     
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Louisa May Alcott and the Continuing Relevance of Little Women

By Audrey Golden. Nov 29, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, Movie Tie-Ins

As you may know, a new adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved novel Little Women will appear in U.S. cinemas on Christmas Day of 2019. The recent film adaptation, directed and adapted by Academy Award-nominated Greta Gerwig, stars Meryl Streep as Aunt March, Emma Watson as Meg, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Timothée Chalamet as Laurie, and Florence Pugh as Amy. Given the recent fascination with and interest in Little Women, we thought it would be a fantastic time to revisit the numerous cinematic adaptations of the novel across the last century, and to consider how the continuing relevance of Little Women might inspire you to start a single-author, single-novel book collection.

     
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The Work and Career of Lauren Bacall

By Abigail Bekx. Sep 16, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Born Betty Perske on September 16, 1924, Lauren Bacall spent her childhood wanting to be a dancer before deciding to pursue acting. After high school, she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York where she participated in several off-Broadway productions. She started working in modeling after graduating, which led to the start of her film career when director Howard Hawks’ wife saw Bacall’s picture on the March 1943 cover of Harper’s Bazaar and arranged a screen test.

     
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How Jesse James Became an American Myth

By Brian Hoey. Sep 5, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

This blog post is not the first place it’s been pointed out that the Wild West era lasted a scant few decades—compared to the century-plus of folk songs, dime novels, movies, TV shows, and other forms of myth-making that take up (and sometimes interrogate) the inherent romance and drama of the era. Given all that, it shouldn’t really surprise us that Wikipedia’s article on “Cultural depictions of Jesse James” is almost as long as the article on James himself. And yet, the piece leaves out what is arguably the first piece of popular culture that took up the life (and death) of the one of the West’s most notorious outlaws: the touring stage show put on by Robert Ford, James’ assassin, dramatizing the moment when Ford himself put a bullet in the back of James’ head.

     
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Happy Birthday, Sean Connery!

By Brian Hoey. Aug 25, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond, Movie Tie-Ins

Today, “The Greatest Living Scot” (according to The Sunday Herald), turns 89. Just as much as author Ian Fleming, Sir Sean Connery brought James Bond to life and forever defined him as a character—so much so that Fleming eventually began writing details from Connery’s life into Bond’s backstory. Those of us here at Books Tell You Why who appreciate a good literary adaptation (read: all of us), can’t help but recognize the role that Connery played not just in bringing Bond himself to life, but to bringing the whole world of past and future literary superspies into the greater public consciousness. Without him, it’s hard to imagine a universe in which Tom Clancy and John le Carré entered the realm of blockbuster films. Connery himself even starred in the 1991 film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October (1984).

     
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Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Ludwig Bemelmans

Each year, the Caldecott Medal is awarded to a children's book that exemplifies the best work being produce in the field of children's book illustration. The award is a massive professional accolade and often results in a certain desirability from the reading public and from collectors. It is hard to imagine a book more enduring and beloved than 1955's winner, Madeline's Rescue, written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans. Come learn more about this iconic illustrator and his beloved Madeline series as we continue our Caldecott Winning Illustrator Series.

     
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