Books to Film: Holidays 2018

Queen of Scots by John Guy

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When it comes out: December 7
What the book is about: She was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age, and Queen of France at sixteen years; at eighteen she ascended the throne that was her birthright and began ruling one of the most fractious courts in Europe, riven by religious conflict and personal lust for power. She rode out at the head of an army in both victory and defeat; saw her second husband assassinated, and married his murderer. At twenty-five she entered captivity at the hands of her rival queen, from which only death would release her.

All the Mowgli Stories by Rudyard Kipling

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Movie: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
When it comes out: December 7
What the book is about: The collected stories of Mowgli, the fabled wild boy who was raised by wolves, taught by a panther, befriended by a bear and had many great adventures in and around the jungles of India.

Schindler’s Ark (List) by Thomas Keneally

1394875Schindler's List movie.jpgMovie: Schindler’s List: Remastered
When it comes out: December 7
What the book is about: In the shadow of Auschwitz, a flamboyant German industrialist grew into a living legend to the Jews of Cracow. He was a womanizer, a heavy drinker, and a bon viveur, but to them he became a savior. This is the extraordinary story of Oskar Schindler, who risked his life to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland and who was transformed by the war into a man with a mission, a compassionate angel of mercy.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Movie: Dumplin’
When it comes out: December 7
What the book is about: Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

287861Mortal Engines teaser poster.jpgMovie: Mortal Engines
When it comes out:
December 14
What the book is about:
“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”
Welcome to a post-apocalyptic world where communities exist only as crews of giant, predatory vehicle-cities, criss-crossing the decimated landscapes of Earth.

The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule” (featured in The New York Times) by Sam Dolnick

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Movie: The Mule
When it comes out: December 14
What the book is about: A 90-year-old horticulturist and WWII veteran is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Michigan for a Mexican drug cartel.

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers

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Movie: Mary Poppins Returns
When it comes out: December 19
What the book is about: Pulled down from the clouds at the end of a kite string, Mary Poppins is back. In Mary’s care, the Banks children meet the King of the Castle and the Dirty Rascal, visit the upside-down world of Mr. Turvy and his bride, Miss Topsy, and spend a breathless afternoon above the park, dangling from a clutch of balloons.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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Movie: Bird Box
When it comes out: December 21
What the book is about: Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from. Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

4788505Image result for holmes and watsonMovie: Holmes & Watson
When it comes out: December 25
What the book is about: “It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Sherlock Holmes, scourge of criminals everywhere, whether they be lurking in London’s foggy backstreets or plotting behind the walls of an idyllic country mansion, and his faithful colleague Dr Watson solve twelve breathtaking and perplexing mysteries.

Books to Film: October Edition

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

32075671The Hate U Give poster.jpgMovie: The Hate U Give
When it comes out: October 5
What the book is about: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

 

The Old Man & the Gun (essay featured in The Devil and Sherlock Holmes) by David Grann

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When it comes out: October 5
What the book is about: Each of the dozen stories in this collection reveals a hidden and often dangerous world and, like Into Thin Air and The Orchid Thief, pivots around the gravitational pull of obsession and the captivating personalities of those caught in its grip. There is the world’s foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes who is found dead in mysterious circumstances; an arson sleuth trying to prove that a man about to be executed is innocent, and sandhogs racing to complete the brutally dangerous job of building New York City’s water tunnels before the old system collapses. Throughout, Grann’s hypnotic accounts display the power-and often the willful perversity-of the human spirit.

 

Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar by Virginia Vallejo

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When it comes out: October 5
What the book is about: At 33, Virginia Vallejo was media elite. A renowned anchorwoman and socialite, and a model who appeared on magazine covers worldwide, Vallejo was the darling of Colombia’s most powerful politicians and billionaires. Meeting Pablo Escobar in 1983, and becoming his mistress for many years, she witnessed the rise of a drug empire that was characterized by Escobar’s far-reaching political corruption, his extraordinary wealth, and a network of violent crime that lasted until his death in 1993. In this highly personal and insightful story, Vallejo characterizes the duality of Escobar’s charm and charisma as a benefactor to the people of Colombia, and the repulsion of his criminal actions as a tyrannical terrorist and enemy of many world leaders.

 

First Man by James R. Hansen

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When it comes out: October 12
What the book is about: On July 20, 1969, the world stood still to watch thirty-eight-year-old American astronaut Neil A. Armstrong become the first person to step on the surface of another heavenly body. Perhaps no words in human history became better known than those few he uttered at that historic moment. In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and an individual.

 

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

13455504Image result for I Still See You (film)Movie: I Still See You
When it comes out: 
October 12
What the book is about: 
Living in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren’t disappearing-they’re gaining power. When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined.

 

Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel

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When it comes out: October 19
What the book is about: Before turning to her life of crime—running a one-woman forgery business out of a phone booth in a Greenwich Village bar and even dodging the FBI—Lee Israel had a legitimate career as an author of biographies. Her first book on Tallulah Bankhead was a New York Times bestseller, and her second, on the late journalist and reporter Dorothy Kilgallen, made a splash in the headlines. But by 1990, almost broke and desperate to hang onto her Upper West Side studio, Lee made a bold and irreversible career change: inspired by a letter she’d received once from Katharine Hepburn, and armed with her considerable skills as a researcher and celebrity biographer, she began to forge letters in the voices of literary greats.

 

Firing Point by Don Keith & George Wallace

13542604Hunter Killer film poster.jpgMovie: Hunter Killer
When it comes out: October 26
What the book is about: Below the polar ice cap, an American nuclear submarine moves quietly in the freezing water, tailing a new Russian sub. But the usual, unspoken game of hide-and-seek between opposing captains is ended when the Americans hear sounds of disaster and flooding, and the Russian sub sinks in a thousand feet of water. The American sub rushes to help, only to join its former quarry in the deep. The situation ignites tensions around the world. As both Washington and Moscow prepare for what may be the beginnings of World War III, the USS Toledo—led by young, untested Captain Joe Glass—heads to the location to give aid. He soon discovers that the incident was no accident. And the men behind it have yet to make their final move.

 

Barn Burning (short story featured in The Elephant Vanishes) by Haruki Murakami

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When it comes out: October 26
What the book is about: With the same deadpan mania and genius for dislocation that he brought to his internationally acclaimed novels A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami makes this collection of stories a determined assault on the normal. A man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald’s in the middle of the night; and a young woman discovers that she has become irresistible to a little green monster who burrows up through her backyard.

Page to Screen – September Edition

Cyrano de Bergerac by Ermond Rostand

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When it comes out: September 7
What the book is about: This is Edmond Rostand’s immortal play in which chivalry and wit, bravery and love are forever captured in the timeless spirit of romance. Set in Louis XIII’s reign, it is the moving and exciting drama of one of the finest swordsmen in France, gallant soldier, brilliant wit, tragic poet-lover with the face of a clown. Rostand’s extraordinary lyric powers gave birth to a universal hero–Cyrano de Bergerac–and ensured his own reputation as author of one of the best-loved plays in the literature of the stage.

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

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When it comes out: September 14
What the book is about: It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time. But then Emily doesn’t come back.

 

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

8664353Unbroken path to redemption.jpgMovie: Unbroken: Path to Redemption
When it comes out: September 14
What the book is about: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

 

The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson

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When it comes out: September 14
What the book is about: Anders Hill, entering his early sixties and seemingly ensconced in the “land of steady habits” — a nickname for the affluent, morally strict hamlets of Connecticut that dot his commuter rail line — abandons his career and family for a new condo and a new life. Stripped of the comforts of his previous identity, Anders turns up at a holiday party full of his ex-wife’s friends and is surprised to find that the very world he rejected may be the one he needs.

 

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

21965107The Children Act.jpgMovie: The Children Act
When it comes out: 
September 14
What the book is about: 
Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child’s welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts. But Fiona’s professional success belies domestic strife. Throwing herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah’s Witnesses, her attempts to resolve the issues of her personal and professional life may strain her to the breaking point.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

5826Bel Canto poster.jpegMovie: Bel Canto
When it comes out: September 14
What the book is about: In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

 

The House with a Clock in the Walls by John Bellairs

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When it comes out: September 21
What the book is about: Orphaned Lewis Barnavelt comes to live with his Uncle Jonathan and quickly learns that both his uncle and his next-door neighbor are witches on a quest to discover the terrifying clock ticking within the walls of Jonathan’s house. Can the three of them save the world from certain destruction?

 

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

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When it comes out: September 21
What the book is about: Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living – and whom he does it for.

 

Nappily Ever After by Trisha R. Thomas

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When it comes out: September 21
What the book is about: Venus Johnston has a great job, a beautiful home, and a loving live-in boyfriend named Clint, who happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous doctor. She also has a weekly beauty-parlor date with Tina, who keeps Venus’s long, processed hair slick and straight. But when Clint–who’s been reluctant to commit over the past four years–brings home a puppy instead of an engagement ring, Venus decides to give it all up. She trades in her long hair for a dramatically short, natural cut and sends Clint packing.

 

Colette by … Okay, it’s not actually a book but a biographical drama about a French novelist

SidonieGabrielleColette.jpgColette (2018 movie poster).pngMovie: Colette
When it comes out: September 21
What the book it is about: Colette was a French novelist whose writing career spanned from the end of WWI through the mid-1950s. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Her best known work, the novella Gigi (1944), was the basis for the film and Lerner and Loewe stage production of the same name. She was also a mime, an actress, and a journalist.

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

1934Little Women 2018 poster.jpgMovie: Little Women
When it comes out: September 28
What the book is about: Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

Books to Film: June 2018

Tag, He’s ‘It’ for Another Year by Russel Adams (of The Wall Street Journal)

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When it comes out: June 15
What the book is about: Okay. So it’s not from a book, but it is based on a true story that was written about in the Wall Street Journal.

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

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When it comes out: June 15
What the book is about: “The war tried to kill us in the spring,” begins this breathtaking account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

6604712Eating Animals (2017)Movie: Eating Animals
When it comes out: June 15
What the book is about: Faced with the prospect of being unable to explain why we eat some animals and not others, Foer set out to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the fictions involved with creating them. Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill.

The Catcher Was a Spy by Nicholas Dawidoff

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When it comes out: June 22
What the book is about: The only Major League ballplayer whose baseball card is on display at the headquarters of the CIA, Moe Berg has the singular distinction of having both a 15-year career as a catcher for such teams as the New York Robins and the Chicago White Sox and that of a spy for the OSS during World War II. Here, Dawidoff provides “a careful and sympathetic biography” (Chicago Sun-Times) of this enigmatic man.

 

 

 

Books to Film: May Edition

Suprisingly slim pickings.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

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When it comes out: May 18
What the book is about: Enn is a sixteen-year-old boy who just doesn’t understand girls, while his friend Vic seems to have them all figured out. Both teenagers are in for the shock of their young lives, however, when they crash a local party only to discover that the girls there are far, far more than they appear!

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

815309On Chesil Beach (film).pngMovie: On Chesil Beach
When it comes out: May 18
What the book is about: It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence’s response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence’s anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite.

 

Genre Friday – WESTERNS

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The Western genre is uniquely American (more-or-less – Australian and Eurowesterns [see below], and spaghetti western films [many oddly inspired by Japanese samurai films] create a few exceptions to this rule). The genre’s main feature is its setting, the untamed western half of the United States during the 1800s (and occasionally stretching into the late 1700s or early 1900s), which makes sense as it got its start in the “penny dreadfuls” and “dime novels” of the 19th century. These cheap books were wildly popular and helped spread the mythic image of the old west with stories about the mountain men, outlaws, settlers, and lawmen who were taming the wild western frontier. Western novels as we know them today began appearing in the early 20th century, popularized by well known authors like Zane Grey and later, in the mid 20th century, by authors like Louis L’Amour. Maybe due to the timing of it, as the Western novel was becoming popular as motion pictures came into their own, but the Western genre is as well known for its movies (and movie stars) and TV shows as it is for its books (maybe better known). This is why you’ll notice in the list of Western subgenres below that more than a few of the examples given are film titles.

Sadly, the genre peaked around the early 1960s and has been undergoing a long, slow decline ever since. Most of the best movies are old, and a lot of the new ones are remakes, and many of the most iconic Western novels (and their authors) are several decades past their prime. Still, as long as there is an audience for them, Westerns and their rugged heroes will continue to prevail before stoically riding off into the sunset.

Western Subgenres

You can be fairly certain that there will be six shooters and horses, but aside from that Westerns can vary quite a bit. Below is a list of many of the subgenres associated with tales of the wild west.

1063180Australian westerns are a rare exception to the ‘time and place’ bounds of the genre, moving from the western US to the untamed Australian outback. Sometimes, the protagonist is an American that is no longer satisfied with the rapidly-filling western United States, and instead settles in Australia’s vast outback. Sometimes the story centers around European or Australian outlaws and their western-like adventures and escapades. Ned Kelly, the fictional account of a real Australian outlaw is a good example.

Black Cowboy (Buffalo Soldier): These westerns feature a protagonist of color. Gerald Haslam’s story Rider is a fine example. These stories sometimes depict members or veterans of the US Army’s 9th and 10th Cavalry (aka Buffalo Soldiers), African-American soldiers that gained fame for their actions in the west. Z.Z. Packer’s novel The Thousands is a good example of this subgenre.

Bounty Hunter tales center upon these morally ambiguous characters. Peter Brandvold’s novel Bounty Hunter Lou Prophet is a clear example. Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian follows a band of bloodthirsty killers after the money offered for killing Native Americans.

Cattle Drive westerns are set amidst this definitive frontier activity and, along with gunslingers and wagon trains, is among the most well known and frequently depicted western subgenre. Often the young protagonist makes long strides toward adulthood during these grueling journeys. Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove and its sequels are famous examples. Clay Fisher’s novel The Tall Men is another.

2881203Civil War westerns are defined by the conflict that gives the subgenre its name – pitched battles having been fought as far west as New Mexico. Stories can be set during or after the war as former soldiers carried Blue/Gray antagonisms throughout the frontier in the years following the official end of the fighting. Johnny D. Boggs’ novel Camp Ford is a comprehensive example. Howard Hawk’s 1970 film Rio Lobo places John Wayne in a similar situation.

463124Cowpunk is a subgenre that derives its name (and irreverant tone) from science fiction’s ‘cyberpunk.’ It can also, but does not have to, overlap with the steampunk subgenre of sci-fi to varying degrees. These tales depict all sorts of bizarre happenings on the remote frontier. Elisabeth Scarborough’s novel The Drastic Dragon of Draco Texas mixes ethnic mythology with comedy and horror.

Doctor and Preacher is a subgenre with two main types of protagonists. I’ll give you two guesses… Well done.

The common thread between the two character types are that such lead characters are committed to peace and healing (or know they should be) despite frequently finding themselves surrounded by violent situations and people. TV’s fictional Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is a well-known example. Robert B. Parker’s novel Preacher is a more recent one.

Winnetou I: Kepala Suku ApacheEurowestern tales come, as the term implies, from Europe. Karl May’s German-language novels, starting in 1892 with his Winnetou I, brought the excitement and allure of the rugged frontier across the Atlantic. Sergio Leone’s classic 1966 ‘spaghetti western’ films, like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef in the white and black hats, could also be considered part of this genre. Traditional examples of this subgenre are often more gritty; in a an emotional and violent (and even dusty) sense, than its American cousins, which could depict a more romanticized version of the Old West.

257837Gunfighter tales are an iconic western subgenre. In reality, two men dueling each other on the dusty main street of an old west town almost never happened , yet that image is probably what people most often picture when thinking of westerns and it is essential the plot of these stories. Often a ‘white hat’ protagonist reluctantly agrees to go up against a cruel ‘black hat’ villain on behalf of oppressed common folks. Jack Schaefer’s 1949 novel Shane is a classic example. Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 film High Noon casts Gary Cooper in the lead role.

2917585Humorous or Parody is self-explanatory. Mel Brook’s 1974 film Blazing Saddles towers over this subgenre. Gene Kelly’s 1970 film The Cheyenne Social Club is another example and Ellen Recknor’s novel Prophet Annie is full of wry humor.

Indian Wars dominate the subgenre of the same name. They are often historically accurate in the details, but can also reflect the time and worldview (and thus, bias) of the author. James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans remains a classic. Douglas C. Jones’s novel The Court Martial of George Armstrong Custer vividly depicts a “what if?” cultural clash, asking ‘was General Custer a hero or a villain?’ Many older American films depict the Indians as ruthless savages to be swept aside. In Arthur Penn’s 1970 film Little Big Man the natives are wise and noble and white Americans cruel interlopers. Kevin Costner’s 1990 film Dances With Wolves portrays a more realistic mixed bag.

235292Land Rush stories usually focus on Oklahoma, where vast tracts of land were suddenly opened to homesteading — whether the resident Native Americans liked it or not. Al and Joanna Lacy’s novel The Land of Promise is one example. Ron Howard’s 1992 film Far and Away has a dramatic portrayal.

4554887Lawmen (Texas Rangers): This subgenre centers around the honest lawmen (especially Texas Rangers) who struggled to bring order and justice to the wild frontier. Often the protagonist is, or is based upon, an actual person. Jack Cumming’s novel The Last Lawmen is a realistic example.

1063298Mexican Wars (Texan Independence): Stories in this subgenre include the decisive geopolitical events of 1845-48. Marion G. Otto’s novel Hugh Harrington is a good example. Many Texan tales feature the siege of the Alamo, like Stephen Harrigan’s novel The Gates of the Alamo. Mexican authors who write in this subgenre often depict the secession of Texas, and the US invasion of Veracruz and Mexico City — but with heroes and villains reversed.

48119Modern Indians is a western subgenre that is set in the present day with a protagonist must bridge a venerable Native American heritage with modern American culture and technology. Tony Hillerman’s novel Coyote Waits is perhaps the best known example. Hillerman’s books are often listed with the ‘mystery’ genre, as they feature the Navajo tribal police. To his credit, they’re immensely popular in Navajo country.

24598788Mormon tales center upon the settlement of Utah in the 1840s and 50s, under the leadership of Brigham Young. Marilyn Brown’s novel The Wine-Dark Sea of Grass is an unstinting depiction and From Everlasting to Everlasting, by Sophie Freeman, mirrors real-life experiences. Many of these novels are published by imprints associated with the LDS church.

3680174Outlaw westerns focus on the ‘black hats,’ the colorful villains of that era cast as anti-heroes. The Dalton Brothers, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and many others became legends in their own time. Eugene Manlove Rhodes’ 1927 novel Paso por Aqui (later reprinted as Four Faces West) depicts an unusual robber hunted by the famous marshal Pat Garrett.

1208794Prairie Settlement tales are not quite standard ‘westerns,’ but they do fall within the time-and-place bounds of the genre. They depict the taming of the vast flat plains of the midwest, during the 1800s. Ole Rolvaag’s classic novel Giants in the Earth depicts a Norwegian family enduring bitter winters and maddening loneliness, as civilization slowly follows them west. While intended for children, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series is enjoyed by all ages.

830742Prospecting (Gold Rush): This subgenre focuses on the quest for sudden riches, whether as a comfortable silver mine owner or a hardscrabble gold panner. In the 1860s, Bret Harte and Mark Twain immortalized these characters even as the California gold rush was in full swing. Jack London extended the ‘western’ genre northward, with realistic accounts of the 1896 gold rush into Alaska and the Yukon Territory, most famously in his novel The Call of the Wild.

10090301Quest westerns involve a protagonist on a mission, set against a harsh untamed frontier and relentless rivals and/or enemies. Cameron Judd’s novel The Quest of Brady Kenton is an oft-cited example of this subgenre. Elmer Kelton’s Cloudy in the West is another.

Railroad stories center upon a titanic project: the bridging of the east and west coasts by the Central Pacific and Union Pacific lines. Rugged geography, indentured Chinese workers, and international scandals add depth to this milieu. John Ford’s 1924 film The Iron Horse remains a classic.

169751Range Wars (Sheepmen): These stories center upon a peculiar western rivalry, as ranchers trying to claim the best grazing land came into conflict with homesteading farmers (sometimes sheep ranchers) who were fencing off said grazing land. Owen Wister’s classic 1902 novel The Virginian, later filmed at least twice, depicts Wyoming’s fratricidal Johnson County War.

A few subgenre tales focus on shepherds, many of them Basque immigrants, and the wool merchants who owned the flocks. Zane Grey’s 1922 novel To the Last Man depicts a cattlemen vs. sheepmen feud (based upon real Arizona history) so vicious its title is a literal description.

10035073Revenge westerns are a relatively dark subgenre. A determined protagonist, often a young survivor of some cruel massacre, goes after the perpetrators. In the Western setting, witnesses to crimes were few, and law enforcement scarce (and sometimes corrupt), leading to such harsh individual actions. Charles Portis’s 1969 novel True Grit, soon filmed by Henry Hathaway (also remade by the Coen brothers), follows a determined young woman on such a mission.

3467451Romance is an overlapping subgenre, where the Romance and Western genres meet, which features the elements of Romance but in the ‘western’ novel setting. A.H. Holt’s Silver Creek and Morgan J. Blake’s Redemption are two such novels.

Town-tamer westerns are well described by their name. A lone gunman, or sometimes a group of friends, take on the corrupt and oppressive leaders or marauding bandits that are terrorizing an isolated town. Frank Gruber’s story “Town Tamer,” filmed by Lesley Selander, is a clear example. Lawrence Kasdan’s 1985 movie Silverado is a great depiction. John Sturges’ 1960 film The Magnificent Seven extends this subgenre into rural Mexico.

822935Most Trapper or Mountain Man tales are set earlier than other western subgenres, when Native Americans still dominated the land and civilization was still a long way away in the “East.” Often the rugged protagonist is the only white man for hundreds of miles around, and he’ll find a native bride. Louis L’Amour’s novel To the Far Blue Mountains depicts the earliest English settlement of the Appalachians, in the 1500s. A.B. Guthrie’s novel The Big Sky crosses the continent, and James Michener’s sprawling Centennial is another example.

Wagon Train westerns are a quintessential subgenre. The Oregon Trail was the interstate highway of its era, with lumbering Conestoga wagons, and hardships that were often extreme. Zane Grey’s 1936 novel The Lost Wagon Train is a classic example. George Stewart’s episodic novel Sheep Rock follows waves of settlers through a remote Nevada desert.

The WindWomen protagonists lead this subgenre. Some tales idealize their courage and triumphs, as with the real-life Annie Oakley. Opposite this, Dorothy Scarborough’s 1925 novel The Wind is a harsh depiction of a young woman’s life in frontier west Texas – so harsh that the leaders of Texas at the time protested.

Loved A Quiet Place? Here’s What To Read Next

Emily Blunt and Millicent Simmonds in A Quiet Place (2018). Photo Credit: Jonny Cournoyer © 2017 Paramount Pictures

Being alone in the dark, unable to make a sound, unseen creatures waiting to attack – these are some of humanity’s most primal fears, fears that lurk deep within us all. These sorts of fears, and the anxieties they pry from us, have long been fertile ground for horror and thrillers across all mediums. “A Quiet Place” is set to arrive in theaters on April 6th, telling the story of a family surviving in total silence out of fear of unseen creatures who hunt purely by sound, so naturally these sorts of deep-down fears are firmly on our minds. While there’s undoubtedly something special in catching a great horror film on the big screen in a dark theater, nothing quite compares to the chill that comes from curling up with a terrifying read. Fortunately, there are an abundance of frightening and unnerving reads to scratch this particular itch – silently, of course.

 

The cover of the book Bird BoxBird Box

Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman’s debut novel is an unrelenting excursion into suspense and tension. Set in apocalyptic near-future, Malerman imagines a world beset by mysterious creatures who drive anyone who catches even a glimpse of them into a volatile and deadly mania. Malorie and her young children, who were born after the creatures appeared and have been trained to navigate the world under blindfolds, set off on journey downriver to what they hope is a safe haven. But something is stalking their every move.

And if this sounds like your cup of tea, good news – a Netflix adaptation of Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock is due out later this year.

 

The cover of the book BlindnessBlindness

José Saramago

Blindness is among José Saramago’s finest novels and was cited by the Nobel Committee when Saramago won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. The novel follow seven strangers stuck in an epidemic of blindness. As the city around them descends into chaos and becomes more and more dangerous, a woman who has miraculously retained her sight attempts to lead the group to safety and keep them alive. It is a haunting parable of loss and man’s capacity for violence and degradation.

 

The cover of the book The RoadThe Road

Cormac Mccarthy

Cormac McCarthy took home a Pulitzer Prize for The Road, which centers on an unnamed father and son making their way across a an America devastated by an unexplained apocalyptic event. Their bleak and harrowing journey is both shockingly violent and unexpectedly hopeful. It is an unflinching meditation on man’s capacity for brutality as well powerful love between a parent and child.

 

The cover of the book The SilenceThe Silence

Tim Lebbon

They are blind and hunt purely by sound, twisted creatures that emerge from an underground cave system to feed, tracking their prey by the slightest sound. A young girl and her family watch the news in horror as the creatures lay waste to mainland Europe. When the creatures begin to appear in the UK, the girl – who has been deaf for most of her life – set out for a safe haven, hoping silence will shield them from the terrifying creatures.

 

The cover of the book The FiremanThe Fireman

Joe Hill

Beginning in the early days of a devastating global pandemic, The Fireman centers around the journey of a nurse named Harper Grayson. A deadly spore causes its victims to break out in beautiful gold markings and eventually spontaneously combust. When Harper spots the gold markings on her arms, her only goal is to survive long enough to give birth to her child, but as she struggles for survival she soon discovers there is far more to the outbreak than she ever could have imagined – and that perhaps it isn’t the death sentence she thought it was.

 

The cover of the book The TroopThe Troop

Nick Cutter

It’s Lord of the Flies meets an apocalyptic contagion! I’m not really sure I need to say more than that, but here goes: Nick Cutter’s novel centers on a scout troop’s annual weekend camping trip to an island in the Canadian wilderness. What begins as a reliably fun experience quickly deteriorates into an exercise in survival and terror when an emaciated, pale, and disturbingly hungry stranger wanders into the group’s camp.

 

The cover of the book HexHex

Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Black Spring is a seemingly picturesque community harboring one unsettling secret – the streets are haunted by seventeenth century woman whose eyes and month are sewn shut. Known as the Black Spring Witch, she enters homes at will and menaces townsfolk as they sleep in their beds. The town elders have kept the town effectively quarantined to keep their secret and keep the curse from spreading, but when a group of teenagers break the long-established traditions, the town descends into chaos and darkness.

 

The cover of the book The Beast of BarcroftThe Beast of Barcroft

Bill Schweigart

Barcroft is like any other well-to-do commuter suburb, except for one major difference – a ferocious creature is stalking the community. Ben McKelvie bought a house in Barcroft with his fiancée before everything fell apart. Now he’s square in the sights of the otherworldly creature, and he needs help. Now.

 

The cover of the book Wytches Vol. 1Wytches Vol. 1

Scott Snyder & Jock

The Rooks moved to the remote community of Litchfield, NH, hoping to find relief and a safe haven from their family’s recent traumas. Unfortunately, Litchfield harbors a dark secret stretching back generations. An ancient and hungry power lurks in the forest just beyond the town, and it’s watching the Rooks.

 

The cover of the book WatchersWatchers

Dean Koontz

On a hike through the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, Travis Cornell runs across a disheveled golden retriever. Soon he and the remarkably intelligent dog are on a run for their lives from an unseen and terrifying creature intent on destroying the dog and anyone who gets in its way.