Book Report: From Page To Screen

They say no idea is a new idea, at least in Hollywood these days, and I can’t necessarily disagree. It’s why when a remotely inventive idea shows up on screen critics fawn over it, box office totals are inflated, and accolades are handed out come Oscar season. But the same thing can’t be said about the literary world, where originality is king (save for 50 Shades of Grey – which is basically an erotic rewrite of the Twilight series). Maybe that’s why books are increasingly being tapped on to bring a bright spark to the big screen – including major hits from the last few years like The Descendants, The Help, The Social Network, Winter’s Bone, True Grit, 127 Hours, Hugo, Moneyball, and many, many more. The books on film trend is still blazing hot, as demonstrated by not one but three major new releases that are hitting a cinema near you (or already have) in the next little bit. To give you a little preview of what you can expect to see (or read), check out my mini Book Reports for three top titles-turned-movies, all of which have recently been given a fresh new look to align with their movie releases.

What’s The Book About?: This is probably one of the more beloved literary fiction titles to be released in the last decade (2004 to be exact) – its already earned billing as a modern classic. The book is structured as a ‘nesting doll’ of six loosely connected stories spanning millennia, continents, and characters. The first story takes places in the 19th Century aboard a ship, and is told in the form of a diary, which is then found by a young musician / con artist in the 1930s who is writing letters to a friend, which are then found in the 1970s by an intrepid investigative journalist…and you get the point. While the ‘finding’ of the previous story in the next one is an interesting twist, what’s even more impressive is author David Mitchell’s ability to tackle six wholly unique time periods and writing styles, making for a master class in writing.

What’s The Buzz On The Film?: The Cloud Atlas was actually released in theatres at the end of October, and has pretty solid reviews for its dazzling visual storytelling, as re-imagined by the Wachowski siblings (of The Matrix trilogy). One of the most intriguing elements of the film is their decision to use the cast in multiple roles throughout the six stories. Halle Berry, for example, undergoes insane transformations to become everything from a male Asian doctor to a Aryan German woman to a post-apocalpytic woodlands warrior. Admittedly the slightly scattered style of the book seems downright impossible to adapt…but the general consensus out there is this is one of the films of the year to actually see on the big screen, and the Wachowski crew seems to have found some decent, more heavy-handed connections between this intricately woven book.

What’s The Book About?:
 Well first of all, it’s a Canadian book, written by Yann Martel. Secondly, its racked up some pretty impressive awards, including the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Thirdly, it’s already been coined (much like The Cloud Atlas) as a modern classic – expect to see it on a reading list near you if you’re a student or attempting to read one of those lists of the ‘best 100 books ever’ or what have you. The gist of the book follows a teenage boy named Pi, who becomes a castaway after the ocean liner he was crossing on from India to Canada sinks. Pi ends up on a lifeboat with several of the zoo animals that were also on the boat, including most notably, a ferocious Siberian Tiger he names Richard Parker. Over the 227 days he’s stranded (and most often, delirious), Pi grapples with survival at sea and the hostile conditions on the lifeboat alike, all while contemplating the various religious paths he’d been studying before setting sail for North America.

What’s The Buzz On The Film?:  I read a pretty fascinating interview with director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) about what a challenge this film is – and what a big gamble it’ll be for the studios behind the project. Apparently the three hardest things for any director to work with are water, animals, and children. While newcomer Suraj Sharma isn’t exactly a child (he’s 18), he completely new to the filmmaking and acting process, which naturally, took place on water and used both real and animatronic animals to populate Pi’s fantasy boat. Once again, the visuals are being heralded as absolutely dazzling on this to-be-released film (check it out on November 21st), and if the trailer or even the cover of the movie tie-in version of this book are any indication, it’s definitely one to watch come Oscar season.

What’s The Book About?: Admittedly of this list, this is the one title I haven’t finished reading yet (I have however, read Rushdie’s famed The Satanic Verses). Unlike the other two titles, Midnight’s Children has actually been kicking around since 1980 – and it’s no stranger to fame and praise, having won both the Booker Prize AND the Booker of Bookers prize, which was handed out to celebrate the 25th and 40th anniversary of the prestigious award. In terms of the plot, like most of Rushdie’s work, this is an allegory. It’s set around the events related to India’s declaration of independence, and told primarily through the eyes of a telepathic boy named Saleem that is born right at the moment India becomes free in 1947. The titular Midnight’s Children are all of those born between 12 AM and 1 AM on that very same night as Saleem was born – all of which are born with special powers. The book basically combines Saleem’s interaction with these other children alongside him growing up, moving around the country, and being held as a political prisoner – all of which are somewhat veiled criticisms of the Indian government and culture under Indira Ghandi’s rule.

What’s The Buzz On The Film?: Over 20 years after the book was written, Midnight’s Children has been adapted into a film that premiered at not one but two Canadian events – the Toronto Film Festival and the Vancouver Film Festival, both held in September. Rushdie himself actually penned the pared-down story the screenplay was sprung from – no easy feat when you consider it’s 600-pages plus of heavy content. Production was kept tightly under wraps for fear of protestors (Rushdie has famously been the subject of assassination attempts, death threats, and exile), and even then it still had to give up a few days when the government of Iran complained to the Sri Lankan government (the film was primarily shot in Sri Lanka) about the production. Despite all the outcry, the film was successfully made and is slowly trickling into wide release over the next two months.


I feel a little bit like I’ve been inundating you with book gifts so far this holiday season – but for good reason. Books are one of my favourite gifts to give (and receive!) and I know that a lot of folks out there want to read the book before they see the film. Keep in mind, all of these books are pretty literary so if your giftee is someone that uses sticks to legal dramas or romance novels, these might be a tad out of their wheelhouse. But if you find yourself in the camp of ‘I have to read it before I see it’ then you may very well be in luck. I’m giving away 5 sets of 3 books each, of the ‘Books On Film’ featured in this post. Here’s how to enter:

1) Leave a comment by November 20th on which of these books you’d most like to read, and which film you’re most excited to see.

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around November 21st to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible to participate in this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry #1: Like Random House of Canada on Facebook, and leave a comment on their wall (you’ve got no obligation to mention this contest). Leave your Facebook username in the comments below so I know to count your entry!

5) Bonus Entry #2: Follow Random House of Canada on Twitter and send them (@RandomHouseCA) and me (@cdngiftguide) a Tweet about the contest. Leave your Twitter handle in the comments / a link to your Tweet so I know to count your entry!

57 Responses to “Book Report: From Page To Screen”
  1. Hannah says:

    Life of Pi for both – it’s been on my to-read list forever.

  2. Kiki says:

    I’m a huge Rushdie fan, and would love to delve in to Midnight’s Children. I really loved Martel’s Life of Pi and I’m almost scared to see if it was butchered for the silver screen; tho, the choice of Ang Lee as director does bode well, but I’m still reserving judgement until I see it.

  3. kittypride says:

    The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is the one I would like to read and also see on the big screen.

  4. Debbie Petch says:

    They all sound great. Midnight’s Children would be one I would like to read.
    mysticmisha at hotmail dot com.

  5. Debbie Petch says:

    I liked at Random House. mysticmisha at hotmail dot com. Thanks.

  6. Audrey Skinner says:

    I would love to read Cloud Atlas and also see the movie. All three seem worth reading and seeing.

  7. darlene boyle says:

    midnight’s children

  8. Adina H. says:

    I’d most like to read Life of Pi and I’d most like to see Cloud Atlas.

  9. Adina H. says:

    I like Random House of Canada on Facebook and I left a comment on their timeline.

  10. Adina H. says:

    I follow @RandomHouseCA and I tweeted –

  11. LINDA says:

    I would especially like to read Midnight’s Children.

  12. Susan says:

    I would like to read and see Life of Pi (first)!

  13. Susan says:

    I like Random House on Facebook and left a comment.

  14. Evan says:

    I am most interested in reading Midnight’s Children, and would certainly like to see the new film, Cloud Atlas. All great choices listed up above. Thanks.

  15. Patrick Miller says:

    Cloud Atlas is the one I would like to see and read – I’m just not sure which one should come first!

  16. Kelly P says:

    I would love to read & then see Life of Pi!

  17. I want to read and see the Life of Pi.

  18. Cloud Atlas is the book I want to read most – I have a major problem where i MUST read the book before I watch the movie !

  19. Bonus Entry #1 already liked Random House on FB – and left a comment – fb name heather holmberg

  20. Sarah says:

    The only one of the list I haven’t read is Midnight’s Children. I’d love to see how they turned Life of Pi into a film.

  21. Cloud Atlas looks really interesting. I’ll read that first.

  22. Victoria Ess says:

    I really want to read Life of Pi, and I really want to see Cloud Atlas.

  23. Catharine says:

    I am excited to see Cloud Atlas.

  24. Cassandra says:

    I would love to read Midnight’s Children, as I think Salman Rushdie is a really interesting writer. As far as the movies go, Cloud Atlas looks INCREDIBLE. Can’t wait.

  25. icecreamandpickles says:

    I like Random House on FB

  26. icecreamandpickles says:

    I follow Random House on twitter @cassycola

  27. kathy wilson says:

    Life of Pi

  28. Linda says:

    Life of Pi

  29. Marlene V. says:

    Life of Pi

  30. Elizabeth B says:

    I’d like to read Life of Pi. But I want to see Cloud Atlas on Film, The previews look great.

  31. Elizabeth B says:

    I like Random House of Canada on Facebook. Elizabeth A Bailey

  32. Elizabeth B says:

    I follow RandomHouseCA on Twitter @MadisonRobyn I tweeted about the giveaway

  33. beewbedard says:

    Midnight’s Children

  34. beewbedard says:

    Liked Random House of Canada on Facebook and left a comment
    brenda witherspoon-bedard

  35. beewbedard says:


  36. Holly Sproule says:

    I want to read Cloud Atlas and I really want to see Life of Pi! And I like Random House on fb.

  37. I would love to read Salmon Rushdie and would love to watch Life of Pi. 🙂

  38. Random House of Canada on Facebook, and left comment
    doreen lamoureux

  39. follow them on twitter and tweeted

  40. sandra mitchell says:

    I would like to read Midnight’s Children but am looking forward to seeing Life of Pi because the book enthralled me

  41. Dreena says:

    I’d like to read “Life of Pi” and then see the film.

  42. Dreena says:

    I follow you and Random House on Twitter as @Alexandrina_M and tweeted:

  43. Anne Derkat says:

    I’d love to read Cloud Atlas

  44. Debbie Petch says:

    I would really like to read the Life of Pi! Thanks.

  45. Evelyn says:

    I’d most like to read “Life of Pi” and see the movie. The other books sound interesting too though.

  46. marlene says:

    Would like to read Midnight’s Children & then watch film

  47. sean pynaert says:

    I’d like to both read the book and see the movie Cloud Atlas

  48. Leah M says:

    I’m reading life of pi now and I want to see the movie too but midnight’s children is also on my reading list

  49. Theresa K says:

    I didn’t even know Cloud Atlas was based on a book, sounds like a good one! I’ve liked Random House on facebook and commented on their page (Theresa Kuzina)

  50. Ali says:

    I would most like to see Cloud Atlas and read Life of Pi. This was a tough question, however!

  51. stacey h says:

    i’m excited to read and see Life of Pi

  52. stacey h says:


  53. Alison K says:

    1) As I’ve already read Life of Pi, I’d most like to read Cloud Atlas as well as being most excited about seeing both movies. I haven’t heard about Midnight’s Children

    Bonus Entry #1: liked & commented (Alison K)

    Bonus Entry #2: followed Random House of Canada on Twitter and sent a Tweet about the contest (SoulSeeker0)

    Thank you 🙂

  54. julia g says:

    I really want to read and see Cloud Atlas. I have to read it first, though.

  55. julia g says:

    I have liked and commented on the Random House Facebook page. (Julia Grant)

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