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Not A Major Motion Picture: The Literary Equivalents Of 10 Great Films

For cinephiles who need a break from the big screen, a few book recommendations based on our favorite movies.

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January might be the ideal month for cinephiles: Not only is it usually too cold to even think of doing anything outdoors, it’s also prime time for the Golden Globes and the kickoff of Oscar season. Of course, January also brings us great opportunities to snuggle up with a good book, so why not combine both interests? After all, if there’s something cinephiles and bibliophiles have in common, it’s that we all love a good story. Here are 10 books that pair perfectly with some of our favorite films:

1. For Fans of Harold and Maude: The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Harold and Maude makes it clear that ephebophilia doesn’t always play out like Lolita; some relationships between adults and teenagers are actually mutual. Harold isn’t abducted by Maude, and the same goes for the narrator of The Lover: She meets a man 10 years her senior in Vietnam and has a private affair with him. Like Harold, the girl is an old soul beyond her years, deeply frustrated with her mother, who is too blind to understand her. It’s a coming-of-age story similarly driven by the passionate relationship between two outcasts.

2. For Fans of Do the Right Thing: The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

Nostalgic for what Brooklyn used to be? These two works provide different perspectives on what it was like to grow up in the borough before the 21st century. Fortress of Solitude spans the 1970s to the ‘90s, while Spike Lee’s film plants itself in the late ‘80s. Like Do the Right Thing, Lethem’s novel discusses race, class and gentrification in a way that will play your heartstrings into oblivion.

3. For Fans of Requiem for a Dream: Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

Fans of this movie have likely read the novel it was based on, but have you read Jesus’ Son? These two works offer kaleidoscopic perspectives of drug addicts, lost souls and dreamers. If you want to experience worlds fueled by hallucinations, desperation and delusions — the ugly beauty of it all — Johnson is your writer. The title of his short story collection is taken directly from The Velvet Underground’s song “Heroin” (“When I’m rushing on my run, and I feel just like Jesus’ son”), which is a departure from the dramatic string symphony that plays throughout Requiem, but the subjects and, more importantly, the takes are similar — though, thankfully, Jesus’ Son will likely leave you with a bit more hope.


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