Some of my top picks for books are pretty dark, such as The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, which is about a character named Esther Greenwood who’s depressed in the 1950s and goes through such experiences as ECT (better known as electric-shock treatment). This is a fascinating book, full of metaphor and beauty, even with this difficult topic.
However, it’s not exactly a fun holiday read.
There are two books by Jonathan Safran Foer that I adore, however, which would be perfect holiday reads: Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The latter actually has a movie adaptation coming out this holiday season. Don’t you love reading the books before the movies come out? That said, Everything is Illuminated is already in DVD form, but the book is much better.
Don’t take my word for it–you, as film students, can test the adaptations for yourselves.
What’re they about? Well, both involve more than one story thread coming together in the end. What will these characters have to do with each other, and what will they reveal about each other in the end? Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close follows a ten-year-old narrator as he grieves for and searches for clues regarding his father, who died a year previous when the towers fell on 9/11.
Everything is Illuminated follows a character named Jonathan Safran Foer to the Ukraine for insight into his family’s history. He’s guided by a fun Ukrainian guy who worships him and has the best-written voice I’ve ever read.
What else? Ah, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. This book chronicles the opening of the World’s Fair in Chicago, which was paralleled by several women going missing. This book is suspenseful, well-written, dark, and, with the information about the fair, quite insightful.
I must recommend another book that’s become a movie in more than one country: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was reluctant to read it at first, just because it was so popular (I know, I’m strange that way), but it immediately sucked me in. Now, the violence made me a bit queasy, but you know it’s all going to be worth it in the end with this punky, plucky heroine.
Last, I’m recommending two memoirs.
This recommendation is a memoir that’s written in very short chapters. It’s called Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and it’s by Nick Flynn. It’s also coming out as a movie this fall, I believe, and it will be called Being Flynn. Julianne Moore is in it, so it’s going to be awesome.
The memoir is about Flynn’s father’s homelessness and overall zaniness. It’s gritty and dark
Another zany father and homeless family is featured in The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Her book is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. I saw her read in Seattle, and I just fell in love with the words. There’s something very delicate yet fierce in her prose, and, had my boyfriend at the time and I not been broke, we surely would have bought a copy of her book right then. Oh, regrets.
Well, this list should keep you and your recipients busy for a while. If you have any questions or recommendations of your own, please comment!