5 Great Reads for Fans of SyFy’s ‘The Magicians’

“The Magicians”/SyFy ©

“The Magicians” returns in 2019 for season four! In celebration of this great series, here’s our list of great books that “The Magicians” fans of might enjoy.

The cover of the book The MagiciansThe Magicians

LEV GROSSMAN

Obviously, reading the novels that spawned the series should be your first step. If you love one, you’re bound to love the other, and this is definitely a situation in which the two are different enough that they can be enjoyed based on their own merits.

 

 

The cover of the book Jonathan Strange & Mr. NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

SUSANNA CLARKE

Rivalries are a fact of life among the magicians of Brakebills, as they are in Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. In Regency England, magic is has become the province of armchair sorcerers and academic theoreticians. No one actually practices the art. No one, that is, but Gilbert Norrell: a reclusive magician who believes the time has come to bring the art to the aid of his country. His apprentice, Jonathan Strange, shows great promise in the mystic sciences, but seems to have very different ideas about how they are best applied.

 

The cover of the book The Chronicles of NarniaThe Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. LEWIS

There’s no way around reading The Chronicles of Narnia. C. S. Lewis’ great work of allegorical fiction was a big influence on author Lev Grossman’s land of Fillory. Comparing and contrasting Fillory and Narnia should be a fun exercise for any fan of “The Magicians”.

 

The cover of the book Sorcerer to the CrownSorcerer to the Crown

ZEN CHO

In Lev Grossman’s novels, you’re not likely to know that magic exists unless you’re invited to Brakebills. So why is magic in such short supply in the mundane world? That’s the question that sorcerer Zacharias Waythe sets on to answer in Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown. The search for an answer leads him to Prunella Gentlewoman, a — gasp — woman with immense power.

 

The cover of the book The HikeThe Hike

DREW MAGARY

“The Magicians” is a great series, but would you really want to step into a world of magic? Say what you will about the mundane world, but at least there’s practically no chance you’ll be consumed by a giant or chopped into pieces by angry dog-men. These are serious possibilities for the hapless hero of Drew Magary’s novel The Hike, the story of a man who takes one wrong turn on what was supposed to be an ordinary walk through the woods.

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Attention Louisa May Alcott Fans!

This is your chance to see it on the (relatively) big screen (at the Moline Library)! 

little women

2018 Golden Globes Nominees Are Chock-Full of Literary Adaptations

From left to right: Elisabeth Moss in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ © 2016 Hulu; Claire Foy in ‘The Crown’ © 2016 Netflix; Judi Dench in ‘Victoria & Abdul’ © Focus Features; Timothée Chalamet in ‘Call Me by Your Name’ © 2017 Sony Pictures Classics; Reese Witherspoon in ‘Big Little Lies’/Hilary Bronwyn Gayle © 2017 HBO

It is officially that time of the year – awards season is upon us.  As usual, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has kicked things off with the announcement of the 2018 Golden Globe Awards nominees. The literary world is represented in this year’s lineup with a smattering of great adaptations leading the charge in both film and TV. While the slate of nominees is populated with a few of the marquee titles you’d expect – “Game of Thrones” got it’s annual nod, for instance – a few surprises cracked the surface as well. It looks to be another interesting year at the Golden Globes. Let’s have a look.

Starting with the Best Motion Picture Categories – “Drama” and “Musical or Comedy” – “Call Me By Your Name,” based on the 2007 novel by Andre Aciman, joins a field arguably led by Christopher Nolan’s historical epic “Dunkirk,” although “The Post” feels purely calibrated to make some awards season noise. On the “Musical or Comedy” side of the aisle, “The Disaster Artist,” based on the memoir by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, will be contending with likely favorite “Ladybird” for the top spot. In perhaps the oddest bit of news to come out of the nominations, “Get Out” did indeed garner a Best Motion Picture nomination…as a “Musical or Comedy”. While the film did sport a handful of excellent jokes, we find it a bit hard to categorize its depiction of racism – no matter how Jordan Peele presented it – as “Comedy.” Here’s what Peele himself had to say.

The acting categories for a motion picture were anchored by a number of strong performances from adaptations. On the women’s side of the aisle, Michelle Williams picked up her fifth Golden Globe nomination for her performance in “All the Money in the World,” based on the book Painfully Rich by John Pearson. She’s joined by fellow five-timer Jessica Chastain for “Molly’s Game” which is based on the memoir of the same name by Molly Bloom. Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench each picked up nominations for their respective performances in “Leisure Seeker” and “Victoria and Abdul” – each film was based on a novel of the same name. Mary J. Blige also snagged a nomination for her supporting performance in “Mudbound,” an adaptation of the novel by Hillary Jordan.

The gentlemen had an equally strong showing on the literary front with Timothee Chalamet snagging a nomination for his role in “Call me By Your Name.” Chalamet, however, will be up against a host of awards season heavyweights with Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Daniel Day-Lewis rounding out the best actor in a drama category. Day-Lewis is an obvious favorite for the acting categories anytime he deigns to grace us mere mortals with a performance, and Gary Oldman is said to have turned in a career best performance in “Darkest Hour,” so it will likely be tough going for Chalamet in a particularly crowded slate.

In the “Musical or Comedy” category, James Franco’s performance as Tommy Wiseau in the “Disaster Artist” has finally – if a bit circuitously – given the the bizarre Wiseau the recognition he craves. The Supporting Actor category featured one of the biggest surprises of the morning as Christopher Plummer picked up a nomination for his role in “All the Money in the World.” The role had originally been filmed by Kevin Spacey. Following the myriad allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey, he was dropped from the role and Plummer stepped in at the literal last minute. All of Spacey’s scenes were refilmed with Plummer. This nomination situates Plummer as perhaps a pinch hitter in film history. Plummer will be up against Armie Hammer’s performance in “Call me by Your Name.”

Now for the Television categories. HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” already a big winner at the Emmy’s, also dominated the Golden Globes nods. The adaptation of the novel by Liane Moriarty picked up nominations for Best Limited Series, Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon), Best Performance by a Supporting Actress (Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley), and Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (Alexander Skaarsgard). “Big Little Lies” will duke it out with “The Sinner,” based on the novel by Petra Hammesfahr, in the Limited Series category. “The Sinner” star Jessica Biel also picked up a nomination in the best actress category.

In the Best Television series – Drama category, perennial nominee “Game of Thrones” will be up against likely favorite “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. However, “The Crown” and “This is Us” are each poised for an upset here. Interestingly, “Game of Thrones” was shut out of each of the possible acting categories despite a couple of strong performances from Lena Headey and Kit Harrington.

To round out the acting nominations for adaptations not called “Big Little Lies,” Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer each pulled nominations in their respective categories for their roles in “The Wizard of Lies” based on the book by Diana B. Henriques. De Niro will vie for best actor against Geoffrey Rush for his performance in “Genius,” an adaptation of Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. Ann Dowd picked up a nod for her supporting role in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In the best actress category, Elisabeth Moss is the odds-on favorite for her brilliant turn in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Caitriona Balfe picked up a best actress nod for “Outlander” – based on the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon – and Katherine Langford rounds out the nominations with her performance in “13 Reasons Why,” an adaptation of the novel of the same name.

As is becoming the norm, streaming services and premium networks once again dominated the Television categories. HBO made its usual big showing and Netflix’s latest critical darlings – “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” – appear to have replaced former awards favorites “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.” The question is whether Hulu will beat its streaming service brethren to the punch and pick up that coveted Best Drama statue as it did at the Emmy’s this year? We’ll have to wait for the January 7th broadcast to find out. Will you be tuning in?

The 10 Best Book-to-TV Adaptations of 2017, Ranked

2017 was the year that television adaptations become at least as good as film adaptations. And why not? In many ways, TV is an ideal medium for bringing books to screen, for the episodic format enables us to to dig deep without throwing babies out with the bathwater. Many of the year’s strongest TV adaptations strayed from their source material in fascinating ways, and this was how it should be. A book worth its salt deserves a reincarnation that honors its essence as well as its new medium.

The cover of the book Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty

#10. “BIG LITTLE LIES”

It’s been confirmed that the HBO series based on Liane Moriarty’s best-seller has been picked up for a second season, and while not everyone is convinced there’s more story to tell, fans of the beachside psychological thriller are ecstatic. In addition to its central whodunnit, the HBO series spearheaded by Jean-Marc Vallée (“Wild”) investigates all kinds of excellent questions about female communities and competition–perhaps because stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman took an active hand in producing as well.

The cover of the book A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One

George R. R. Martin

#9. “GAME OF THRONES”

I can’t pretend that HBO’s megapopular adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy book series is my favorite cup of tea— the sexual politics leave something to be desired–but neither can I deny its spectacular wallop. This seventh season is as steeped in gorgeous, blood-stained wintry visuals as ever, and ties up some plot points admirably.

The cover of the book Mozart in the Jungle

Mozart in the Jungle

Blair Tindall

#8. “MOZART IN THE JUNGLE”

Fewer than ever are watching Amazon’s series about a fictional New York symphony, and that’s a shame. This improvement on Blair Tindall’s woe-is-me memoir stars Gael García Bernal in manic-pixie-dreamboy mode and offers a gimlet glimpse into classical music’s rarified pleasures and economic disparities. As a bonus, much of Season 3 takes place in Italy at its absolute swooniest.

The cover of the book I Love Dick

I Love Dick

Chris Kraus

#7. “I LOVE DICK”

Co-created by “Transparent” showrunner Jill Soloway, this outré Amazon series doesn’t just expand upon Chris Kraus’s experimental novel about disappointed creatives and obsessive love. It highlights the female gaze and desire in ways television has never seen before, with a optical splash that is an art installation unto itself.

The cover of the book Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

#6. “ANNE WITH AN E”

This post-modernist, PTSD-addled take on L.M. Montgomery’s beloved young adult classic is created by “Breaking Bad” writer Moira Walley-Beckett and matches its red-headed orphan’s “tragical, romantical” nature with windswept coastal landscapes and gritty backstories. Like our heroine, the bracing, smart Canadian import is more loveable than likeable, just what the 2017 doctor ordered.

The cover of the book Mindhunter

Mindhunter

John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker

#5. “MINDHUNTER”

This Netflix series based on John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s true crime book may be set in 1977, but it’s perfectly timed for this #metoo cultural moment. Created by David Fincher and starring Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany in a classic buddy-cop pairing, the show zooms in on the FBI’s discovery of serial killers just as women’s liberation was being mainstreamed. Sharp-toothed and soft-eyed, it forsakes the genre’s standard female objectification to place the full spectrum of sexism and male sexuality under a microscope.

The cover of the book Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Margaret Atwood

#4. “ALIAS GRACE”

Margaret Atwood’s books may not necessarily translate well to the big screen, but the feminist Canadian author is having her moment in terms of TV adaptations. Based on the true story of an Irish-born servant accused of killing her male employer and his housekeeper mistress, this one comes with stunning feminist credentials of its own: screenwriter Sarah Polley, director Mary Harron, and the unflinching Sarah Gadon in the titular role. Adapted from Atwood’s 1996 novel and set in 1840s Canada, it offers insight into the intersection of gender, sex, and class that still applies today. “Guilty until proven innocent,” indeed.

The cover of the book American Gods

American Gods

Neil Gaiman

#3. “AMERICAN GODS”

The long-anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaman’s 2001 novel finally hit STARZ this year, and lo! it was worth the wait. Part social commentary, part fantasy series, it’s set in a (slightly) alternative America in which slaves and refugees bring individual gods who take myriad, technologically savvy forms. Co-created by “Hannibal” showrunner Bryan Fuller (oh my!) and starring such character actor luminaries as Ian MacShane as Odin, it’s as psychedelic as it is psychological, and defies us to resist its lessons, let alone describe it coherently.

The cover of the book The Leftovers

The Leftovers

Tom Perrotta

#2. “THE LEFTOVERS”

Based on Tom Perrotta’s spare, philosophically interrogative novel in which two percent of the population has suddenly disappeared, this HBO series may be co-created by the author along with “Lost” showrunner Damon Lindelof, but it ventures into places never covered in the book. At times David Lynch-like, at times wryly comic, at times a mystery cop thriller, at times existentialist sci-fi, the brilliant show costars Regina King, Justin Theroux, Ann Dowd, and Amy Brenneman, and reimagines continents, decades, and worlds. This third and final season offers a looking glass we may never glimpse anywhere else.

The cover of the book The Handmaid's Tale (Movie Tie-in)

The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood

#1. “THE HANDMAID’S TALE”

Hulu’s most talked-about series updates Margaret Atwood’s beloved dystopian feminist novel without sacrificing any of its impact. As the book is written, Gilead, the uber-conservative religious nation that supplants the United States of America, is all-white. But making an all-white television show in this day and age, even to demonstrate extreme racism, would be deeply problematic; the last thing we need right now is the visual normalization of an Aryan nation. Instead, showrunner Bruce Miller’s “slightly futuristic,” racially integrated Greater Boston keeps its focus on the erosion of women’s rights – an issue that becomes more relevant by the day (not that racism does not). Produced by and starring Elisabeth Moss, this is 2017 television’s most powerful testament.

16 Books to Read After You Binge Watch ‘Stranger Things’

StrangerThings

by Hayley, October 27, 2017, first appearing on Goodreads Blog

Grab your Eggo waffles because the second season of Stranger Things available on Netflix. The wildly popular supernatural series, which is equal parts charming and spooky, celebrates the pop culture of the 1980s and features a cast of lovable kid adventurers and otherworldly monsters.

If you abandon your reading to binge the new season, we won’t blame you (because we might be doing the same thing). But when you finish the final episode, your bookshelf will be waiting.

We asked you on Facebook and Twitter to share the books that Stranger Things fans would love. Check out the top answers below.

 

Meddling Kids
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Annihilation
Welcome to Night Vale
Weaveworld
The Girl with All the Gifts
House of Leaves
It
Paper Girls
NOS4A2
My Best Friend's Exorcism
The Door to December
Neverwhere
The Hike
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
The Talisman

Post-Binge Reads

Post-Binge

By Keith Rice and first appearing on  Signature Reads

The words “peak TV” get thrown around a lot, but the fact is we are in a period where television is daring, complex, and quite possibly at a creative zenith. Basic stations are catching up with the creativity of cable networks. Streaming services and premium networks continue to push the envelope ever further. Unfortunately, TV series do not operate on a perpetual schedule and there can sometimes be seemingly interminable waits between seasons. How should you fill your time between the premieres of your favorite series?

We’re glad you asked.

There is thankfully no shortage of literary analogues for the best television has to offer. To whet your appetite for a little literary exploration, we’ve taken a few of our favorite series and paired them with the books to read when you’re through binge-watching.