Don’t be like my students (just kidding guys, you know I love you) and respond with, “Well, I’ve seen the movie” if someone asks you if you’ve read a book. Movies are awesome, and the film adaptations of Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games and Everything is Illuminated, for example, are on the same level as their printed counterparts. But no matter how advanced and authentic the film version is, watching the movie just isn’t the same as reading the book. Are you guys with me on this?
With that out of my system, I’m super excited all of these will be heading to the big screen this year. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be scrambling to finish as many of these as I can before I see them in theatres—under my covers and with a flashlight, of course.
1. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Adam Driver
Release date: Sept. 12, 2014
Like in many great stories, the catalyst that brings a whole bunch of different people together is the death of a parent. Judd Foxman, our protagonist, not only loses his father, but also has to deal with his absent wife (who has been having an affair with Judd’s boss). Before he died, Judd’s father requested that his sons and daughters spend seven days together after the funeral, so that’s what happens. Of course, insanity ensues because what’s not to love about a dysfunctional family?
2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Starring: Reese Witherspoon
Release date: 2014
Based on a memoir, this film is about a young woman who loses everything: her mother, family, and marriage. With nothing to keep her tethered down, she sets off to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. Alone. With no real experience. Nature is both Cheryl’s nemesis and healer: she faces rattlesnakes, bears, snow and heat on this journey that revives her shattered spirit.
3. Serena by Ron Rash
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper
Release date: 2014
At this point, Jennifer and Bradley just need to get married, right? With their amazing on-set chemistry, there is no doubt in my mind that they will totally nail these roles. In Serena, newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to North Carolina in order to start a timber empire. George cheats on Serena and fathers a baby boy; Serena, meanwhile, proves herself as an equal to the men as she takes on a leadership role, hunts snakes, and even saves her husband’s life. However, their life starts unraveling as soon as Serena finds out she can’t have a baby. Jealous and angry, she wants to hunt down George’s illegitimate child and kill him. This novel is set in 1929 so we can only imagine how awesome costumes are going to be.
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
Release date: Oct. 3, 2014
It’s Nick and Amy Dunne’s 5th anniversary, and things seem to be going as planned until Amy suddenly disappears. All eyes are on Nick (including the cops), since evidence seems to strongly suggest he played a huge part in her disappearance. Even though their marriage is anything but stellar, Nick still pledges innocence. I can’t go into point-of-view, but I will say that you are in for one hell of a plot twist.
5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christina Hendricks
Release date: Sept. 1, 2014
2014 is the Year of Gillian Flynn, and I’m all for it. Flynn is an incredible storyteller who takes self-destructive female characters and pushes them (as well as everyone around them) to their limit. In Dark Places, Libby Day is forced to confront the murder (nicknamed “The Satan Sacrifices of Kinnakee, Kansas”) of her family, which happened when she was seven. The Kill Club, a secret society which is obsessed with infamous crimes, wants to prove that her brother, Ben Day, is innocent. They pay Libby to reconnect with him and try to figure out what actually happened that winter night so long ago. In Flynn’s stories, the truth is usually accompanied with danger and death, so brace yourselves.
6. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Release date: March 21, 2014
Divergent follows Beatrice Prior, who lives in a dystopian Chicago, which is divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Once a year, every 16-year-old must select a faction to which they will belong. Beatrice, of course, is different. During initiation, Beatrice renames herself as “Tris” and struggles with the choice that she has made and secret that she’s kept hidden because she knows it could destroy her.
7. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby, who also wrote High Fidelity, brings four people together on New Year’s Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl and a mother. All characters share the desire to kill themselves. An evocative, emotional and funny story, A Long Way Down is about suicide, but it’s also about life and its realness.
8. Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Starring: Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner
Release date: Oct. 10, 2014
If this book was featured in your childhood syllabus, then you’re in luck! If it wasn’t, just know that it’s an adorable story about Alexander, who has an extremely bad day. His best friend deserts him, he has no dessert in his lunch bag, he has to eat lima beans for dinner, and he EVEN has to watch KISSING on TV. YUCK.
9. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
Starring: Michelle Monaghan
Release date: Oct. 17, 2014
Everyone secretly loves a good Nicholas Sparks novel, right?! We hide them in our textbooks or read them on our Kindles, but everyone knows these stories are addicting. Author of The Notebook, Sparks writes about two high-school star-crossed sweethearts from the opposite sides of the tracks. Fast forward forty some years and the two aren’t really where they wanted to be, but neither can let go of their love-lorn past. When they are forced to come back to their hometown for a funeral, we can only guess what happens.
10. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson
Release date: Nov, 21, 2014
Catching Fire left Katniss Everdeen in the hands of the rebels, but what’s going on with Peeta? District 12 has been destroyed and we find out District 13 has existed this entire time. Mockingjay focuses on the big picture of the Hunger Games trilogy: a social revolution. If you’re expecting Katniss to become the hero that conquers The Capitol and takes down bad guys, then you’re in for a surprise.
11. A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
Starring: Christina Hendricks
Release date: 2014
A Book of Common Prayer is bound to win awards. Didion writes about two American women who live in Boca Grande. One is ultra-wealthy, controlling most of the country’s wealth and knows all of its secrets, while the other knows nothing. This story is about political history, family, the definition of authority, and violence.
12. Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Stephen Moyer, Colin Firth
Release date: 2014
This true story follows the murders of three eight year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas (note to self: never move to West Memphis; nothing ever good happens in West Memphis). Mara Leveritt, an award-winning journalist, explores what exactly happened to the three teenagers (who were part of a satanic cult) charged with murder.