Film-inspired books a good choice during Oscar season

Nominations will be announced Jan. 10

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March 28, 2014 | 9:43 am

One of wintertime’s many pleasures is the season’s great movies.

Currently, “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Impossible” are playing in theaters, to name just a few films that may be on the list when Oscar nominations are announced Thursday.

When the weather outside is cold, we also gather around the hearth and home theaters to watch recently released movies or old favorites.

What could make these times even better? Reading about the marvelous medium that brings literature to life — books that make you want to see and understand movies and how they connect us to our lives. The Cedar Rapids Public Library has many new fiction and non-fiction titles that do just that.

Movie club members and book club aficionados will especially identify with conversations in Mia March’s “The Meryl Streep Movie Club.” When relatives Isabel, June, Kat and Lolly reunite at a quaint Maine inn they are at crossroads in their lives. One faces death, another searches for her child’s father; others deal with infidelity and indecision. As they watch “Bridges of Madison County,” “Defending Your Life,” “Out of Africa,” and “It’s Complicated,” they compare and contrast the films’ subjects and characters’ decisions to their lives. Their discourse clarifies relationships and sheds new light on lives.

Two more compelling works of fiction at the library are the international best-seller “Syndrome E” and young adult gem “Pirate Cinema.” In the former, Detective Lucie Henebelle and Inspector Franck Sharko team up to solve the mystery of five murders and a case of hysterical blindness linked to a film with horrific subliminal images. Author Franck Thilliez raises the bar on police procedurals by adding fascinating technological twists.

In Cory Doctorow’s futuristic young adult adventure, “Pirate Cinema,” 16-year-old filmmaking phenom Trent McCauley is accused of pirating video material. As a result, his family is cut off from the Internet for one year which causes the financial, academic, and physical ruin of his family. He takes to London’s mean streets where he discovers true cinema influence over a government monopolized by rich media conglomerates. A trendy, topical teen thriller, this novel will appeal to adults, too.

Two non-fiction books enhancing the movie experience are “The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael” and “The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies” by David Thomson. These are two top-notch film critics whose work here represents the best of the craft. Kael wrote for 40 plus years and was known as a “fan’s reviewer.” Knowledgeable, entertaining and candid, she showed how movies liberate imagination with “intimacy and immediacy” as other formats do not. British reviewer Thomson delineates the rise, power and technology of film in this “age of screens” in which we live.

Melia Tatman is a librarian at Cedar Rapids Public Library.

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