Monday, November 29, 2010

The end-of-year booklists

Every year I am somewhat surprised and dismayed to find that I have read barely any books on the "best of the year" booklists. One reason is that I don't restrict my reading at all to the current year's releases. I also may have different standards than the book reviewers.

Check out some of the lists for 2010:
Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Fiction
Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Nonfiction
Library Journal Top Ten
The New York Times Ten Best Books
The New York Times 100 Notable Books
Publishers Weekly Best Books

What do you think of the selections? Have you read any? I haven't--except for Let's Take the Long Way Home, by Gail Caldwell (a PW pick for best nonfiction).

Notable novels that I want to get around to reading:
Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart

Notable works of nonfiction that I'm interested in reading:
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1, by Mark Twain
Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory, by Peter Hessler
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, by Daniel Okrent

Graphic by Sarah Illenberger for The New York Times

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Devil in the White City movie in the works!

Leonardo DiCaprio and partners have acquired the screen rights to one of my favorite books, Erik Larson's Devil in the White City. DiCaprio will play serial killer H.H. Holmes, who murdered between 27 and 200 people during the time of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

I am interested in seeing a film adaptation, but have a hard time believing I could like it as much as I like the book. The book is such an intriguing blend of true crime and architectural history. Larson juxtaposes (mostly in alternating chapters) the construction of the World's Fair, a magical success despite many obstacles, with Holmes' sinister construction of the World's Fair Hotel, complete with a gas chamber and crematorium, to which he lured victims. I wonder if World's Fair architect Daniel Burnham, as integral to the book as the notorious serial killer Holmes, will feature as much in the film.

DiCaprio is a good actor, though he looks nothing like the real Holmes, and are audiences interested in seeing him play such a despicable character? If you have read the book, what do you think about it being turned into a movie and about DiCaprio's role in it?