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Book Recommendations: Novels That Were Adapted to Films

Happy National Reading Month! Last November 8, the Department of Education has kicked-off the celebration virtually via their official Facebook page. Reading holds a vast amount of definitions, one being that it is one of the most essential and useful skills a person, a storyteller, can have.

Reading is a necessity that allows us to learn and acquire knowledge. Additionally, for some people it can go beyond. It can be a form of leisure, where one voluntarily reads self-selected forms of literature for enjoyment or entertainment. This is similar to watching movies, hence, there is almost always a debate on the two different types of media - books or films, which is better?

Before answering that, let's go over the major differences of reading books and watching films:

Both mediums can carry the same message and story, but ultimately, they are two different forms with their own pros and cons, and there really shouldn't be any reasons as to not being able to consume and enjoy both.

In celebration of this November's reading month, we'll give a little bit more attention to books. As an avid bookworm myself, there is a certain sense of comfort with physically holding a book, and feeling and hearing the crisp turn of a page. Aside from that, there is also the relaxing ambience that reading offers.

Listed below are some of the benefits of reading:

  • Strengthens your brain

  • Improves your vocabulary

  • Reduces stress

  • Improves sleep

With this, here are some fiction books I recommend you read, even if you have already seen its adaptation, or vice versa:

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This is a classic children's novel by British writer Frances Hodgson Burnett was first published back in 1905, the story made popular in the Philippines back in the 90s when the Japanese cartoon "Princess Sara" was dubbed in Tagalog and aired on local television.

The popular novel was adapted into several films by different countries, but the 1995 Filipino version that starred young Camille Prats may probably be the one we have seen or at most, remember. The film does not differ too much from the novel, which is about an intelligent and kind-hearted preteen girl named Sara. She goes from being wealthy to suddenly orphaned and penniless, but the story mainly presents the actions and consequences from being envious, and generous, from both adult and children characters.

“Perhaps kind thoughts reach people somehow, even through windows and doors and walls. Perhaps you feel a little warm and comforted, and don’t know why, when I am standing here in the cold and hoping you will get well and happy again.” - Sara Crewe

This is a great start for those who are looking into beginning their reading journey.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Don't be intimidated by the sight of 13 books by American writer Daniel Handler (under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket). One book is considerably short, consisting of roughly 200 pages each. ASOUE was adapted into a film released in 2004 which starred Jim Carrey as the story's main villain. The feature-length film covered the first 3 books of the series, but due to delays in production and the main cast unable to reprise their roles as they aged, the franchise was cancelled.

Fortunately, Netflix picked up the mystery, gothic fiction (classified as both children's and young adult) and adapted

it into a 3-season series which streamed in 2017. This is one of my favorites because the series did the books its well-deserved justice. Of course, a big factor would be the creators deciding to adapt each book into two 40 minute-long episodes, allowing for most details to be included and presented.

Still, there are some major differences between the written novels and the motion-picture.

"The challenge was finding these pieces of stories that could have been going on behind the scenes of the books, just out of the Baudelaires' view. We didn't photocopy the books and put them on television, but the choices we made are in the same spirit." - Daniel Handler (The Incomplete History of Secret Organizations)

Some of the charm from reading the books is its style, and the many, many vocabulary lessons sprinkled all throughout its pages.

Despite the author repeatedly discouraging the reader to proceed with his books, a mystery-lover just wouldn't be able to resist.

Lemony Snicket narrates the lives of the Baudelaire orphans, and the accounts of how they (their fortune, rather) are continuously pursued by the cruel and greedy theatre actor, Count Olaf. The story is plagued with mysteries surrounding their parents and just about everything around them.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how many people are chasing you, what you don’t read is often as important as what you do read.” - Lemony Snicket

Be With You by Takuji Ichikawa (Translated to English by Terry Gallagher)

This touching fantasy story by Japanese novelist Takuji Ichikawa may not be widely popular especially internationally, but it was adapted into film twice - first in 2004 as a Japanese movie, and then in 2014 as a Korean remake (currently available on Netflix).

The lead character, a middle-aged man named Takkun, is left struggling to raise a 6-year old boy following his wife’s death. But then she reappears, seemingly well and alive but with little to no memories. How and why was this happening?

Most of the events that occur in this sweet yet heart-wrenching story are actually normal life activities, almost realistic except for the fact that a dearly departed one is in the middle of it all. This sentimental story presents life, death, grief, and love, that will make you laugh, feel fuzzy, and cry your eyes out.

“It's alright - this isn't the end of it. Endings and beginnings are as different than exits and entrances.” - Takuji Ichikawa

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

This fantasy series has become one of the highest grossing title in both the literary and film industry. Consisting of seven novels published from 1997 to 2007, what started as a magical story centering a 10 year old orphan Harry led to a darker and morally-complex narrative.

While diving into the books can be a commitment, the journey Harry Potter takes us with him is filled with both beautiful and horrifying magic, wizardry, prophecies, adventures, and mysteries. The 8 films did unquestionably fantastic adaptations, but as with most book-to-film productions, some details and even characters do not make it to the script and screen. With a fantasy-set world, the books are a treat as we can consume all the wonderful things we missed out on from the films.

It’s also a satisfying and almost a surreal experience to consume this one huge story with different kinds of characters, beings, and seeing (well, reading) this scrawny, mistreated kid turn into a bold, brave, and strong young adult. Harry Potter, though perceived as fantasy fiction, teaches us most of what we need to learn in life - about friendship, overcoming fears, believing in oneself, and also what good and bad can come from power.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” - Albus Dumbledore

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Translated to English by Richard Howard)

The classic French literature, Le Petit Prince, was first published in English in 1943. Since then, the book has been translated into different languages including Spanish, Chinese, Bavarian, and Filipino, and adapted into multiple television series and films. The latest adaptation was released in 2015 as a full-length animated feature.

The story begins with an adult aviator, who is the main narrator, crashing in a desert and meeting an extraordinary little boy, The Little Prince. This timeless classic is a fairly short one but packed with adventure-filled stories experienced by the Prince, with colorful characters in different forms (animals, humans, plants, objects), personalities, and lessons.

There are a lot of discussions with this book, ranging from its intended age-range audience to its core message. If you haven’t read this book yet, I suggest you do without going online and researching it. Going into a book blind may offer you a fresher perspective and appreciation of the story.

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Most of the books mentioned above are usually available locally in both digital and physical bookstores. If you are on a budget, preloved copies can also be found online.

If the books above don't seem to suit your tastes, don't worry. That's the beauty of books, there are so many out there that we're sure there's a story for everyone. Check out more titles below:

  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Romance, Adult)

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Historical classic)

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Queer, Young Adult)

  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Children's)

  • Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn (Young Adult, Romance, Christmas)

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Mystery)

  • The Mortal Instruments (Fantasy, Young Adult)

Happy reading!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” - Dr. Seuss

Want more film recommendations? Click HERE if you're craving for something scary, or HERE for some feel-good and inspirational movies.


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