19 ‘Great American Read’ Picks That Have Been Made Into Classic Movies

“The Great American Read” is an eight-part television and online series designed to spark a national conversation about reading and the books they’ve selected. Hosted by Meredith Vieira, the series features 100 books that have inspired, moved, and shaped us. The goal is for viewers to read the books and vote from the list of 100, advocating for their favorite read.

“The Great American Read” premieres Tuesday, May 22 at 8/7c on PBS stations. Voting will be open through the summer and into the fall, when seven new episodes of the series will air as the quest to find America’s most beloved book moves into high gear.

We at Signature scavenged through the nominated books to find that many of them have been adapted into classic movies that you’ve probably seen. If you know us, you know we are big fans of reading the book first. Check out the list we’ve curated below, culled from the list of 100, note the movies you’ve seen and the books you’ve read, and be sure to tune in to “The Great American Read” on PBS.

 

The cover of the book A Prayer for Owen MeanyA Prayer for Owen Meany

John Irving

This classic John Irving novel explores what happens when unthinkable tragedy strikes two eleven-year-old boys in 1963, when the best friends are playing a little league game, and one of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. Owen Meany, the boy who hit the ball, happens to not believe in accidents, and so he thinks his action was God’s will. The Mark Steven Johnson-directed 1998 film “Simon Birch” was loosely based on Owen Meany, so much so that they don’t share the same name.

 

The cover of the book Charlotte's WebCharlotte’s Web

E.B. White

You are likely to have seen “Charlotte’s Web,” whether the 1973 animated version, or the 2006 live-action starring Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts, and Oprah Winfrey. And it’s likely you’ve read the book as well, but a beloved children’s classic like this one always warrants a re-read. The story of Wilbur, Fern, and Charlotte’s friendship has withstood the test of time as a tale of bravery, sacrifice, and the power of love.

 

The cover of the book The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas’s classic story of Edmond Dantes’ wrongful imprisonment and subsequent escape to the Isle of Monte Cristo in search of buried treasure was inspired by a true case of wrongful imprisonment, and remains relevant to this day. It was most recently adapted in 2002 into a fairly well-liked film starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce, but we recommend returning to the source material.

 

The cover of the book Don QuixoteDon Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Now, this is one we should all see: Terry Gilliams’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” (when it comes out in late 2018, that is). Until then, we can sate ourselves with the 2000 TNT television adaptation starring John Lithgow, Bob Hoskins, and Isabella Rossellini. Oh, and we can read the book. Don Quixote tells the tale of the exploits of Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, after Quixote takes it upon himself to become chivalry embodied.

 

The cover of the book FrankensteinFrankenstein

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, about Victor Frankenstein and the monster he creates, has inspired countless adaptations. Our personal favorite is the 1935 film “Bride of Frankenstein” starring Elsa Lanchester, but to each their own. And we can’t wait for the upcoming historical biopic “Mary Shelley” starring Elle Fanning as Shelley, either. But again, in the meantime, let’s take to the books and read (or reread) the source material.

 

The cover of the book The GodfatherThe Godfather

Mario Puzo

Our guess is, you’ve seen “The Godfather,” but you haven’t read The Godfather. And we don’t blame you—that’s completely understandable. Clocking in at 448 pages, Mario Puzo’s classic saga of American crime family the Corleone’s is a daunting book to add to your TBR, and the 1972 adaptation starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan is just so good. But go ahead, take a walk on the wild side and pick up this doorstopper from your local library (or maybe just download it on your e-reader). We promise you won’t regret it.

 

The cover of the book Gone with the WindGone with the Wind

Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 classic may have been assigned to you in high school English, but if you read the Sparknotes or watched the Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh-starring 1939 film adaptation, we won’t judge you. That adaptation is pure gold—it’s actually even got a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes—but please, we beseech you, give the book a try. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time, there’s a reason why Mitchell’s novel has stood the test of time.

 

The cover of the book The Grapes of WrathThe Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck

The 1940 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic starring Henry Fonda is a masterpiece in its own right, to be sure. But Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning chronicle of the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s through the lens of the Joad family paints a compelling portrait of the struggle between those who have power and those who do not in America that persists to this day, and is worth a read of its own.

 

The cover of the book Great ExpectationsGreat Expectations

Charles Dickens

There’s a lot to choose from when it comes to adaptations of Charles Dickens’s 1861 classic, from the 1998 film starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Estella and Ethan Hawke as Pip to the more recent 2012 adaptation, memorably starring Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham. But we at Signature are big fans of reading Dickens, and Great Expectations is a particular favorite of ours. Dickens’s sprawling tale of the life of a boy (and then man) transformed by a mysterious and enormous inheritance is a must-read.

 

The cover of the book The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Okay, you’ve probably read this one. And if not, please change that immediately. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of a man consumed by love (ahem, obsession) may be overplayed, but with good reason. Those of you divided between love for the Leo DiCaprio-starring 2013 adaptation and the Robert Redford and Mia Farrow-starring 1974 adaptation will find common ground in Fitzgerald’s expertly-weaved original text.

 

The cover of the book Heart of DarknessHeart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness tells the thrilling tale of Marlow, a seaman who travels into the heart of Africa in search of the infamous ivory trader Kurtz, who has gained an unexplainable amount of power over the local people. We want to disclose something: the 1979 film we are recommending, “Apocalypse Now,” was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but deviates extensively from the book. Don’t freak out without giving it a watch. Today, it’s considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.

 

The cover of the book The Hunt for Red OctoberThe Hunt for Red October

Tom Clancy

If you haven’t taken the time to dive into Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan thrillers, this is the perfect time to start. The Hunt for Red October introduced the world to Clancy’s unforgettable hero, Jack Ryan, and follows him as he races to find a highly advanced nuclear submarine before the Russians get their hands on it. The 1984 film was the first of several films based on the novels, and stars Alec Baldwin as CIA analyst Ryan and Sean Connery as Soviet submarine commander Marko Ramius.

 

The cover of the book Little WomenLittle Women

Louisa May Alcott

Little Women famously follows the lives of the four March sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy — who couldn’t be more different from one another. But when their father is sent to fight in the war, their mother works to support the family, and the girls must learn to rely on one another. Though the 1933 film is the third screen adaptation of the book, it’s the first one with sound. That’s why we advise starting your “Little Women” journey with the 1933 film, and then moving on to the 1949 version, with June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Peter Lawford, and finally the 1994 adaptation, starring the talented Winona Ryder.

 

The cover of the book Moby-DickMoby-Dick (or, The Whale)

Herman Melville

“Call me Ishmael” — this famous line begins one of the most renowned journeys in literature. Moby Dick centers on a whaling ship named the Pequod and its Captain, Ahab, as he sails for revenge against Moby Dick, a sperm whale that destroyed Ahab’s former vessel and left him crippled. John Huston’s 1956 film adaptation remains faithful to the book, unlike previous versions that included romantic subplots and happy endings. So if you want to watch the story unfold on the screen, be sure to check out John Huston’s adaptation.

 

The cover of the book The Outsiders 50th Anniversary EditionThe Outsiders

S.E. Hinton

First published in 1967, S. E. Hinton’s novel was an immediate phenomenon, and continues to resonate with readers more than fifty years later. It’s a coming-of-age story that follows Ponyboy’s experiences in a world divided into two groups: the Socs (rich kids who can get away with anything), and the greasers, who aren’t so lucky. Basically, if you haven’t read it yet, get yourself a copy and do so immediately. Then, be sure to watch the 1983 film, which is noted for its cast of up-and-coming stars, including C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane.

 

The cover of the book The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic read, and though it was published in 1890, it still resonates with readers today. The story centers around Dorian, who is an extremely wealthy and good-looking young man living in London. Dorian has a portrait of himself done by the great artist Basil and becomes obsessed with his own handsome, youthful appearance – so much so that he sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. The book was originally attacked for exposing the dark side of Victorian society, and for evoking ideas of homosexuality. Released in March 1945 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film, shot mostly in black and white, was directed by Albert Lewin and stars George Sanders as Lord Henry Wotton, and Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray.

 

The cover of the book Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice is one of the most well-known novels in the United States and around the world. With the most compelling of stories and the most memorable of characters, it has remained unparalleled for two hundred years. Readers will find themselves immersed in the Bennet family, comprising a quiet father, a dutiful mother, and five beautiful daughters. Grand country estates, beautiful young men and women, and unwavering courtship all comprise this endearing story of heartache and romance. The film was released on July 26, 1940, and was critically well-received. It’s definitely a story that’s worth reading and watching, if you haven’t already done so.

 

The cover of the book To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is a compelling coming-of-age tale set in the south. It’s told from the point of view of a young girl who watches as her father, a local lawyer, risks everything to defend an innocent black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime. We insist that you watch the highly-ranked 1962 film — directed by Robert Mulligan, it was a box-office success and won three Academy Awards.

 

The cover of the book War and PeaceWar and Peace

Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace takes place during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the most well-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves his family behind to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman who intrigues both men. We recommend the 1956 film directed by King Vidor which stars big names like Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer, and Anita Ekberg, in one of her first breakthrough roles. It had several Academy Awards nominations, and should definitely be on your list of must-watch classic movies.

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What should the Avengers read?

by Cassie Hall, et al., April 24, 2018, first appearing on Novelist Blog

Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War opened in the U.S. last weekend, and its sprawling cast of heroes and villains offers an irresistible readers’ advisory opportunity. Below, NoveList staff share book recommendations for their favorite MCU characters.

T’Challa (Black Panther)

Oh, T’Challa, we love you, and want to pick the perfect books for you. Bear with me, I have a lot of thoughts here. First, I choose the graphic novel Malika: Warrior Queen, by Roye Okupe. Malika, like T’Challa, is a warrior and ruler in Africa, with strong ties to her countrymen (and, hello, graphic novel?). To embrace his love of Wakanda, a nation that thrives on its technological advancements, T’Challa would likely enjoy Everfair, by Nisi Shawl, a steampunk story set in Africa. T’Challa obviously has the utmost respect for the strong women in his life — Shuri, Nakia, Okoye — so chances are he would enjoy books featuring strong female protagonists. How about the Akata Witch fantasy series by Nnedi Okorafor? And, since he’s so totally awesome, he would share his books with his fellow Wakandans (or donate them to the public library when he finished them). –Suzanne Temple

Shuri

I’m assuming that Shuri, the smartest person in the MCU (fight me), has already read allllll the STEM books, and so I think she might want to try something different. Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper Cypher series features several elements that will feel familiar to Shuri — ancestral magic, people with unusual abilities, and a powerful heroine — but it’s set in contemporary Brooklyn, the kind of place that Shuri can explore now that Wakanda has emerged from isolation. Also, while she clearly doesn’t need fashion advice, Shuri might enjoy browsing Amber Keyser’s Sneaker Century. –Rebecca Honeycutt

Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier)

Much like his BFF (truly…these guys are old) Steve Rogers, Bucky will eventually need to catch up on pop culture. What better way to get him up to speed than by exploring concepts close to his heart? Chuck Klosterman’s witty and thought-provoking essay collection I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) explores pop culture villains like Bernhard Goetz and Darth Vader, and asks such philosophical questions as: Where do we draw the line between hero and villain? What does it mean to be a villain? Speaking of pop culture, Bucky is probably still confused about Tony Stark calling him “Manchurian Candidate” in Captain America: Civil War, so he should read Richard Condon’s nail-biter thriller as well – after all, he can empathize with Raymond Shaw, the Korean War veteran who returns home brainwashed to serve nefarious purposes. –Kaitlin Conner

Now that he’s free from the grips of Hydra’s brainwashing and has a sweet new (vibranium???) arm courtesy of Shuri, Bucky really just needs a hug. Call me Katniss because I VOLUNTEER. But seriously, someone get this guy a cozy blanket, a stack of Shel Silverstein books, and throw on some Bob Ross in the background. –Cassi Hall

Steve Rogers (Captain America)

History repeats itself, and Steve Rogers understands this more than most. He’d appreciate Timothy’s Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, which offers examples of how to protect democracy from authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, drawing parallels between current events and 20th century threats like the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe. Timely, reflective, and most importantly, concise — at 128 pages, it can be finished in one sitting — On Tyranny is the perfect read for Steve, a man ready to save the world but without a lot of time to spare. –Kaitlin Conner

Thor

Our very own Norse god! The obvious choice for Thor would be Norse Gods, by Neil Gaiman, but let’s face it — he would spend his time picking it apart. He may enjoy another Neil Gaiman book inspired by mythology: American Gods. Obviously, Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series would be a fun read, but you know he’d be getting into arguments with every Riordan fan he encountered, because he’s a god and thinks he knows everything. If this happens, steer clear of Thor, kids! –Suzanne Temple

Loki

Poor Loki. It’s hard when everyone sees your brother as the stronger, virtuous one, and you are the black sheep. He may feel that his path is set, and there’s no turning back. Did anyone ever tell him he’s loved? I believe the words and aphorisms of Mister Rogers can crack even the hardest heart. Loki should read The World According to Mister Rogers to learn his value and worth in the cosmos. Maybe it will inspire him to see the upcoming documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, too. –Lindsey Dunn

Pepper Potts

Pepper is a successful, high-powered businesswoman who’s likely spent years enduring the casual and not-so-casual sexism of corporate America, so I think she’d get a kick out of Penelope Bagieu’s Brazen, a collection of short comics profiling both famous and lesser-known women who forged various paths in directions they weren’t expected to go.  –Kendal Spires

James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine)

In between striking up a formative friendship with Tony Stark at MIT and stepping into the War Machine suit in Iron Man 2, James Rhodes pursued a successful career in the U.S. Air Force. Given that background, Rhodey would likely enjoy the insight of Redeployment, fellow vet Phil Klay’s National Book Award-winning collection of short stories told in and around the Iraq War. –Kendal Spires

Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow)

Resident superspy (and former KGB agent) Natasha Romanoff would likely find upcoming thriller Star of the North compelling. Featuring a CIA agent infiltrating North Korea to track down her twin sister (who was abducted by North Korean operatives 20 years ago), this suspenseful and realistic exploration of an elusive government will appeal to Natasha, a woman all-too-used to a life in the shadows — and to going to great lengths to protect those she loves. –Kaitlin Conner

Natasha’s been in the spy game for a long time, and would find something to relate to in the exploits of Tara Chace, another espionage veteran and the protagonist of Greg Rucka’s classic Queen and Country comics. The series depicts both tense missions in the field and bureaucratic maneuvering in the office, and Natasha might even find it refreshing to read some straight-up spy tales that don’t involve superheroic dramatics. –Kendal Spires

Peter Quill (Star Lord)

At this point, it’s an understatement to say that Peter Quill has daddy issues; I wouldn’t blame him if he decides to keep up the charade that his real father is David Hasselhoff. If Peter’s still looking for solace, he might find it in the Hoff’s upbeat autobiography. Don’t Hassel the Hoff is at turns self-deprecating and self-congratulatory (sound familiar?) and, per Kirkus Reviews, “covers [Hasselhoff’s] life in standard greatest-hits format” — a narrative structure music lover Peter would dig.  Reviews aren’t the greatest, but since when does Peter care about reviews? At the very least, he can catch up on the life of the father he wishes he had. –Kaitlin Conner

No one knows better than Peter Quill the maxim that “everything old is new again” (see: his treasured mixtapes, his love of sitcom tropes). No book explores pop culture’s cyclical nature quite like Ernest Cline’s nostalgic, action-packed Ready Player One (and its recent film adaptation), in which teenager Wade Watts escapes his dystopian world in 2044 for a virtual one that embodies 1980s pop culture. Self-made superhero Peter — call him “Star-Lord,” thank you very much — would see a kindred spirit in Wade, whose alliterative name is meant to recall superheroes of yore and whose passion for 1980s pop culture is unparalleled.  –Kaitlin Conner

While I agree that Peter/Star Lord has daddy issues and loves all things nostalgic, if he’s at all representative of a male brain, what is really on his mind right now is a more practical, pressing matter. Now that Gamora seems ready to open her heart, how can he form and maintain a good relationship with her? It would be my duty as a librarian to guide him to the relationship book section. Mating Intelligence Unleased by Glenn Geher should do the trick. He has a lot of intelligence to gain in this ignored area of his life.  –Lindsey Dunn

Clint Barton (Hawkeye)

Clint is possibly the only hero not present on the massively overpopulated Infinity War poster (having apparently been sick on Avengers class picture day or something), an amusing omission that puts me in mind of his more hapless counterpart and his canine sidekick Lucky in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye comics. Assuming MCU Clint holds a similar affection for dogs, I’d hand him John Grogan’s Marley and Me, because who doesn’t love crying their eyes out over someone else’s dog? –Kendal Spires

Peter Parker (Spider-Man)

Poor Peter Parker. He was just a sweet, nerdy kid, minding his own business, until — BAM! — he’s bitten by a spider and life is forever changed. I know for a fact (yes, a fact!) that Peter loves a good, goofy comic. Since he already lives the superhero life, I would recommend the Rick and Morty comics for a healthy dose of offbeat humor. –Suzanne Temple

Special mention (and possible spoiler): Miles Morales is incredibly serious, so would surely enjoy Game, by Walter Dean Myers. Miles and Drew both have strong families, live in New York, and are likeable characters who are just trying to keep their noses clean. –Suzanne Temple

Bruce Banner (Hulk)

This dude has some problems, and no one understands him. They think he’s just a big, green lunkhead inside a guy who can’t control his anger. Some obvious classics come to mind (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, The Island of Dr. Moreau), but as Dr. Banner is a very learned scientist, chances are he has already read these titles. To help him not feel so alone, Hulk would enjoy The Only Child, by Andrew Pyper, a take on multiple classic characters within one monster. Being the genius he is, Bruce Banner would want to hear about the scientific aspect of good and evil, so he would like The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by Philip G. Zimbardo. (Honestly, though, how much of a genius could Bruce Banner be if he can’t take the proper precautions when doing his experiments?) –Suzanne Temple

For all the Avengers:

Ok, I’ll be honest. I really just wanted to make this recommendation and the more I thought about it, the more I believe that all of the finally-assembled Avengers would take something away from it. Worm is a completed web serial by the author known as Wildbow and clocks in at roughly 1,750,000 words. It’s a dark, complex, wildly imaginative superhero story that surprises (and often, shocks) at every turn. I will offer a warning that the word count isn’t the only reason Worm is not for the faint of heart — some of the more villainous parahumans (powered people) take on names like Jack Slash, Bonesaw, Hatchet Face, Acidbath, Lung, Murder Rat…and yes, they’re all even worse than they sound. Seriously, if you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to superheroes, superpowers, and especially supervillains, I promise that you haven’t.

Nat and Bucky would appreciate the moral complexity of Worm’s multitude of characters (fair warning: there are a lot of them), and Ant-Man would definitely relate to the protagonist’s powers. Many of the antagonists would have our big purple baddie Thanos wishing he could recruit them to the Black Order — and honestly, no shade to Marvel but the Slaughterhouse Nine make the Black Order look like a 90’s boy band. Worm is the single most ambitious work I have ever read, so it’s a fitting recommendation for the culmination of this ambitious franchise.  –Cassi Hall

 

Editors Note:

Cassi Hall is the Communications Specialist at NoveList, and unashamed by her love of supervillains.

Kaitlin Conner is a Readers’ Advisory Librarian at NoveList.

Lindsey Dunn is a Readers’ Advisory Librarian at NoveList.

Rebecca Honeycutt is a Readers’ Advisory Librarian at NoveList.

Kendal Spires is a Collection Development Analyst for Core Collections.

Suzanne Temple is a Metadata Librarian II at NoveList.

Books to Film: May Edition

Suprisingly slim pickings.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

13378509How to Talk to Girls at Parties poster.pngMovie: How to Talk to Girls at Parties
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.

 

Here’s What You Need To Know About Infinity Stones Before The New Avengers Movie

Ya Got The Stones For This? Thanos (Josh Brolin) blithely ignores Coco Chanel’s advice on accessorizing — so you knowhe’s evil — in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.
Marvel Studios

by Glen Weldon, April 16, 2018, first appearing on Books : NPR

Call them the Mighty Marvel Movie MacGuffins. They’re the glittery objects that drove the plots of several individual Marvel movies and that collectively shaped the direction the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe has been heading (almost) since its inception.

They are the Infinity Stones — immensely powerful gems that contain and channel elemental forces of the universe. They’re what the villains crave and what the heroes protect. They can be used to destroy or create.

Mmmmmostly that first thing.

They’ve been seeded throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2011, and now, with the release of Avengers: Infinity War on April 27, all the logistical heavy lifting of seven years’ worth of films — chasing the Stones, finding them, wielding them, handing them off to shady minor characters for safekeeping — comes to a head.

Well. To a hand, anyway.

Thanos’ hand, to be specific. Thanos’ gauntlet, if you want to get technical.

Thanos is the MCU’s biggest Big Bad, first glimpsed in a post-credit scene in 2012’s The Avengers. He is a hulking, purplish-reddish-bluish (seems to depend on the movie’s color balance) space warlord determined to reduce the population of the universe by half. If he collects all of the Infinity Stones and affixes them to a metal glove-thingy called the Infinity Gauntlet, he will be able to go about his deadly halving business, according to his daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in the trailer, “with a snap of his fingers.”

(Leave aside, for the moment, how difficult it would be to snap one’s fingers in a metal gauntlet.)

(I mean it would be less of a snap and more a rasp, right?)

(Or maybe a clang? Like he was striking some terrible Xylophone of Pan-Galactic Death? Or a Wind Chime of Cosmic Annihilation?)

Anyway. That’s Thanos pictured at the top of this post. He is played in the movie by Josh Brolin and a superfluity of CGI chin dimples. And that thing he has on his left hand (so literally sinister!) is the Infinity Gauntlet.

As you can see, he is already well on his way to collecting ’em all — not quite at full, “Billie Jean”-era sparkle-glove status, but close.

Let’s review where the various Infinity Stones were the last time we saw them — and what they do.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Space Stone

AKA: The Tesseract

What It Looks Like: When first glimpsed in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), a glowing blue cube. (The cube is just a housing that allows the glowy blue stone inside to be handled by us lowly humans.)

What It Does: Opens wormholes in space, making possible instantaneous travel between any two points in the universe. Also has undetermined (read: hazily defined) power to develop weaponry.

Transporting is what the eeeevil Red Skull did with it in Captain America: The First Avenger. It was later recovered by S.H.I.E.L.D., which lost it when Loki absconded with it in The Avengers (2012) and used it to open a wormhole above Manhattan through which an alien army attacked Earth.

Where It Is Now: It spent some time in Asgard’s armory, but at the end of Thor: Ragnarok (2017), it was stolen by Loki. (At the very end of Thor: Ragnarok, the spaceship Thor and Loki were flying was intercepted by what was very likely Thanos’ ship. So if you’re taking bets, the Space Stone is likely one of the first Infinity Stones we’ll see Thanos add to his collection.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Mind Stone

AKA: The Scepter

What It Looks Like: At first, in The Avengers, a scepter housing a glowy blue gem. Nowadays, a yellow gem (long story) embedded in the forehead of Vision.

What It Does: Oh, a lot of stuff. In its Scepter mode, it granted Loki zappy powers and the ability to manipulate minds, and its mere presence made the Avengers more snippy than baseline. In its current mode (as of 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, it grants Vision the ability to … do lots of stuff, including phase through matter, fly, zap others with energy beams and, you know … live.)

Where It Is Now: Doing time on Vision’s forehead. But the trailers suggest this will not be a permanent condition. Look for Vision to get blurry.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Reality Stone

AKA: The Aether

What It Looks Like: Not like a stone, for one thing. Instead, it’s a thick, red liquid that sends out tendrils that undulate in a cinematically creepy way.

What It Does: Look, it’s OK. You didn’t see Thor: The Dark World (2013). A lot of people didn’t. So you didn’t see the Reality Stone (in the form of the Aether) take over the body of Thor’s girlfriend, Jane Foster, allowing her to send out shock waves and … whatnot. As its name suggests, the Reality Stone alters reality, by converting matter to dark matter. Don’t bother asking why that’s a thing. Doesn’t matter. Lots of people didn’t see Thor: The Dark World.

Where It Is Now: For safekeeping, it was given to an ancient being who collects lots of stuff. His name, appropriately enough, is the Collector. (He is played by Benicio del Toro in Thor: The Dark World, and his character is the brother of Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster from Thor: Ragnarok.)

Given that not a lot of people saw Thor: The Dark World, I’d wager we won’t get a big protracted scene of Thanos hunting down and claiming the Reality Stone, and Infinity War will simply cut to the (end of the) chase.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Power Stone

AKA: The Orb

What It Looks Like: When we first see it, at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), it’s encased in a silver spherical rock-thing. Later, the Orb is split open and the stone inside is grafted onto a bad guy’s space-hammer and given the awesomely ridiculous name of Cosmi-Rod. Once the bad guy is defeated through the power of dance, the Stone is returned to another Orb-casing.

What It Does: Grants … power? Look, I know, the specific abilities of the various stones seem kind of frustratingly all over the place, but this one’s legit. It makes its wielder more powerful — better, stronger, more zappy. You know: energy blasts and energy tornadoes and energy waves and energy bars. (No, OK, not that last one.)

Where It Is Now: Benicio del Toro’s Collector character nearly added it to his collection, but it sent out a massive energy blast, as is its zappy wont, that destroyed most of his menagerie. It ended up in hands of the Nova Corps — basically the Marvel Universe’s resident space-cops, run by Glenn Close in a complicated wig — and there it will stay, until it won’t.

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Time Stone

AKA: The Eye of Agamotto

What It Looks Like: First (and only) seen in Doctor Strange (2016), it’s a glowy green gem housed inside an amulet embossed with an eye.

What It Does: Finally, some specificity! Some truth in advertising! The Time Stone allows its wielder to control time — to speed it up, slow it down, reverse it or create time loops. See, there, Marvel? Simple. Precise. Clean.

Where It Is Now: Hanging around Doctor Stephen Strange’s neck, right under his dumb goatee.

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Soul Stone

AKA: ?

What It Looks Like: Again, ? It has yet to turn up in a Marvel movie, at least by that name. It’s most likely an orange gem, the largest of them all, which fits on the back of the gauntlet — not, as the others do, on the fingers.

What It Does: In the comics, it grants its owner the ability to do lots of mystical things — trap souls in an artificial existence, see into a person’s soul, etc. It’s not known how closely the film will adhere to this.

But given the fact that so much of the Infinity War trailer is set in and around Wakanda — and the fact that the “heart-shaped flower” seen in Black Panther grants the ability to commune with the dead — many have speculated that the Soul Stone will turn out to have something to do with vibranium.

Where It Is Now: Your guess is as good as any. Unless you guess, “in Wakanda,” in which case it’s slightly better than most, probably.

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Sharon Stone

AKA: Catherine Tramell, Ginger McKenna, Iris Burton

What It Looks Like: A human woman.

What It Does: Wears the Gap to the Oscars, famously. And nowadays? Rocks the hell out of a Disaster Artist cameo and gives a great interview in a sweater to which attention must be paid.

Where It Is Now: Not getting the work it deserves, HOLLYWOOD.

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Slyandthefamily Stone

AKA: Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Rose Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Greg Errico, Jerry Martini, Larry Graham.

What It Looks Like: Deeply groovy.

What It Does: Effortlessly fuse rock, soul, funk and psychedelia into chart-topping, socially conscious pop anthems.

Where It Is Now: On the set list of every wedding DJ at or slightly after 10:30 p.m.

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Coldcreamery Stone

AKA: “That place your Aunt Janice likes? With the slab? What’s it called?”

What It Looks Like: An ice cream store, duh.

What It Does: Grants its wielder one unusually muscular forearm.

Where It Is Now: 1,100 locations in the U.S. and abroad.

Loved ‘Ready Player One’? Check out these 8 Books

Image result for ready player one wallpaper

Photo Credit: Ready Player One © 2018 Warner Bros. & De Line Pictures

by Cybil, March 28, 2018, first appearing on Goodreads Blog

With Steven Spielberg’s shiny new adaptation of Ready Player One hits theaters this past weekend, we thought it would be a fun game to round up eight more highly rated books for people who loved Ernest Cline’s dystopian science fiction debut.

Set in a rather bleak 2045, Ready Player One centers on a young Wade Watts who’s searching for the ultimate Easter egg in a global 1980s-themed virtual reality game—and the chance to win an outrageous inheritance from the game’s creator. The book has become beloved since its 2011 publication, with more than a half million reviews on Goodreads and a very robust 4.30-star rating from the community.

With such talented competition, we made sure that every sci-fi book in this roundup also has at least a four-star rating. And we looked at what books people who highly rated Ready Player One also read…and loved.

Ender's Game Snow Crash Warcross Red Rising
We Are Legion Daemon Nexus Altered Carbon

Loved Annihilation? Here’s What to Read Next

Photo Credit: Peter Mountain © 2018 Paramount Pictures

Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation is finally making its way to the big screen. The haunting first volume in the Southern Reach Trilogy is the sort of novel that slowly worms its way into your thoughts and takes root like a malignant infection – and that’s a very good thing. It’s a near-future tale of the twelfth expedition into the mysterious Area X – an uninhibited and abandoned part of the US that has been reclaimed by nature, and something more. The first expedition mapped an Eden-like paradise. The second ended in mass suicide. It’s a slow-burn piece of bizarre suspense, part of the literary niche of New Weird fiction. Alongside China Miéville, Jeff VanderMeer has been one of the pre-eminent voices of New Weird – a shambling amalgamation of speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror with a literary bent. If “Annihilation” has piqued your interest and you’re wondering where to turn next, the seven books below should point you in the right direction.

The cover of the book Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; AcceptanceArea X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance

Jeff Vandermeer

If you haven’t already read the Nebula- and Shirley Jackson-award winning novel that “Annihilation” is based on, there’s no better time. And the best part? It’s a trilogy. Jeff VanderMeer’s acclaimed Southern Reach Trilogy begins with Annihilation and continues the bizarre and horrifying chronicle of Area X through Authority and Acceptance. And you can pick up all three in this handy single volume.

The cover of the book The New WeirdThe New Weird

Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, Eds.

Much like Weird Fiction, New Weird can be a little tough to pin down in terms of defining characteristics – but that’s sort of the point. New Weird has its roots in speculative fiction but tosses in a healthy dose of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy all tied together with tight literary thread. This anthology, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, is a perfect jumping-on point to this weirdly eclectic genre.

The cover of the book The Etched CityThe Etched City

K. J. Bishop

With The Etched City, K.J. Bishop drops readers into the darkly fantastical world of Copper Country – a region that’s part Wild West and part 1001 Arabian Nights. It centers on Raule, a healer, and Gwynn, a gunslinging bounty hunter. The Etched City falls somewhere on a spectrum that includes Stephen King’s Dark Tower and the bizarre urbanscapes of China Miéville. In other words, it’s violent, weird, and thought-provoking.

The cover of the book JagannathJagannath

Karin Tidbeck

Karin Tidbeck’s award-winning short story collection earned rave reviews from no less than the likes of China Miéville and the late Ursula K. Le Guin. That in and of itself should be enough to grab your attention. Jagannath is a strange and haunting assortment of tales that draws on the folklore of Tidbeck’s native Sweden while introducing elements of Le Guin-esque speculative fiction and Lovecraftian levels of existential dread.

The cover of the book Bloodchild and Other StoriesBloodchild and Other Stories

Octavia Butler

Bloodchild is Octavia Butler’s only short story collection and it features some of the celebrated author’s best and most unnerving work. The title story, which centers on a boy impregnated by an alien race, took home the Nebula and Hugo Awards. In true Butler fashion, the stories included here are thought provoking and upend conventional conceptions of race, religion, gender, and sexuality.

The cover of the book Perdido Street StationPerdido Street Station

China Mieville

China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station is a sprawling epic that borrows liberally from fantasy tropes only to tear them all down and assemble the pieces into something wholly original, wholly unsettling, and wholly captivating. Perdido Street Station introduces New Crobuzon, a city built beneath the ribs of a dead leviathan. It’s a squalid city where dark magic and perverse science intermingle. It centers on a scientist named Isaac who finds himself in the thrall of half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda. Soon Isaac’s increasingly bizarre experiments malignant terror unlike anything New Crobuzon has experienced.

The cover of the book Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction AnthologySisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, Eds.

Challenging traditional conventions and tropes has long been a hallmark of Speculative and Weird Fiction. This collection features a host of feminist fiction ranging from the 1970s to the present. The stories are diverse examinations of gender fluidity, misogyny, and sexuality. It is equal parts a celebration of diversity in speculative fiction and a reminder of just how essential the feminist voice in literature continues to be.

Books to Film: April Edition

You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames

32792414You Were Never Really Here.pngMovie: You Were Never Really Here
When it comes out: April 6
What the book is about: Joe has witnessed things that cannot be erased. A former FBI agent and Marine, his abusive childhood has left him damaged beyond repair. He has completely withdrawn from the world and earns his living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade. When he’s hired to save the daughter of a corrupt New York senator held captive at a Manhattan brothel, he stumbles into a dangerous web of conspiracy, and he pays the price. As Joe’s small web of associates are picked off one by one, he realizes that he has no choice but to take the fight to the men who want him dead.

The Spinning Man by George Harrar

1536598SpinningMan-Poster.jpgMovie: The Spinning Man
When it comes out: April 6
What the book is about: Mild-mannered philosophy professor Evan Birch spends his days teaching college students to seek truth. Then, one afternoon, he’s pulled over by the police, handcuffed, and questioned about the disappearance of a local high school cheerleader. When the missing girl’s lipstick turns up in his car, the evidence against him begins to build. Even his wife and sons are having their doubts. And as the investigating officer engages him in a decidedly non-Socratic dialogue, Evan Birch begins to understand that truth may be elusive indeed-but sometimes you have to pick a story and stick with it…

Zama by Antonio di Benedetto

18490870Zama (2017 film).pngMovie: Zama
When it comes out: April 13
What the book is about: Zama takes place in the last decade of the eighteenth century and describes the solitary, suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, a highly placed servant of the Spanish crown who has been posted to Asunción, the capital of remote Paraguay. There, eaten up by pride, lust, petty grudges, and paranoid fantasies, he does as little as he possibly can while plotting his eventual transfer to Buenos Aires, where everything about his hopeless existence will, he is confident, be miraculously transformed and made good.

The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni

6552346The House of Tomorrow poster.jpgMovie: The House of Tomorrow
When it comes out: April 20
What the book is about: Sebastian Prendergast lives in a geodesic dome with his eccentric grandmother, who homeschooled him in the teachings of futurist philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. But when his grandmother has a stroke, Sebastian is forced to leave the dome and make his own way in town. Jared Whitcomb is a chain-smoking sixteen-year-old heart-transplant recipient who befriends Sebastian, and begins to teach him about all the things he has been missing, including grape soda, girls, and Sid Vicious.

Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

202677Disobedience.jpg

Movie: Disobedience
When it comes out: April 27
What the book is about: The story begins with the death of the community’s esteemed rabbi, which sets in motion plans for a memorial service and the search for a replacement. The rabbi’s nephew and likely successor, Dovid, calls his cousin Ronit in New York to tell her that her father has died. Ronit, who left the community long ago to build a life for herself as a career woman, returns home when she hears the news, and her reappearance exposes tears in the fabric of the community.