With Hollywood's record of taking perfectly good books and ruining them, I don't know that any of the books I'd name would survive being 'adapted' for film, but what the heck - I can always dream.
My Top Ten Choices for Books I'd Want to See Turned Into Movies: These are my Books-to-Film choices. What are yours?
1) HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON by Naomi Novik.
I've read that Peter Jackson (of LOTR fame) has optioned this series of amazing books, but that's about it. I'm waiting with bated breath to see what his plans are. These alternate history/fantasy books set during the Napoleonic Wars would make splendid films. Plain and simple: these are some of the most inventive books I've ever read and I'm not even that big a fan of fantasy. Casting: I'd love to see Colin Firth as Captain Will Laurence. For the voice of the dragon, Temeraire: Hugh Grant.
2) THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE. by Laurie R. King You probably all know about my love for this book, the first in King's brilliant series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, the young woman who is Holmes' intellectual equal. I can't imagine why anyone would NOT want to see these made into movies. My only question is: what on earth is Hollywood waiting for?? Casting: I'd love to see Jeremy Irons as Holmes and Mia Wasikowska (from Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre) as Russell.
3) CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK by Elizabeth Peters. The Amelia Peabody books seem tailor-made for films. The part of perfect for an actress of a certain age and what's more the book is the first in a series. They begin at the turn of the 19th century and continue, in real time, until after WWI. They setting is Egypt, but also London, and they involve a family of archaeologists who find murder and mayhem wherever they go. Great fun and I like that the author writes mostly in the exaggerated style of H. Rider Haggard and other 19th century authors. Casting: I'd love to see Cate Blanchett as Amelia and possibly, Michael Fassbender as Emerson.
4) VANISHING ACT by Thomas Perry. Another terrific series featuring a strong woman character. Jane Whitefield is a Native American woman living in upstate New York. She has a very unique profession: she is a 'guide' out of trouble for people who are desperate to 'disappear'. People who have no other way out, who are being threatened by an unstoppable enemy seek her unique talent. She is expert in establishing a new life and new identity for those she decides to help. Casting: I'd love to see Claudia Black as Jane Whitefield.
5) ODD THOMAS by Dean Koontz.Though I rarely read 'horror' I made the exception for this brilliant book. It is, I think, Koontz's masterpiece. Odd is a young man with an old soul, a short order cook in a small out of the way California town, who sees the dead and can anticipate when awful things are going to happen. Not such an unique idea, but it is in the characterization, the creation of the Odd Thomas character that Koontz excels. In the right hands, this would be an amazing movie. Casting: I'd love to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Odd. 2nd choice: Tobey Maguire.
6) MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson.This charming, gently told English love story involving people of a 'certain age' is perfect for adaptation to the screen. A story that proves that love can happen at any age, at any time would be a welcome diversion from the relentlessly youth driven fare we regularly see up on the big screen. Simonson's book is a delight and one of my favorite reads from 2010, Casting: I'd love to see Anthony Andrews as Major Pettigrew. (I'm not familiar with any Pakistani actresses, so can't name one to play Jasmina Ali.) 2nd casting choice: Simon Williams as Pettigrew.
7) THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS by Agatha Christie.Only if they follow the book to the letter and do NOT change the whole story to make it 'better'.This would make a perfect madcap comedy/murder mystery if there's anyone left Hollywood who knows how to make this sort of thing work. AND it must absolutely be kept in the period in which it was written - none of this ridiculous 'modernization'. Casting: I'd love to see Paul Bettany as Anthony Cade, Keeley Hawes or Kate Beckinsale as Virginia Revel, Hugh Bonneville as Battle.
8)THE DREYFUS AFFAIR by Peter Lefcourt.One of my favorite books: the offbeat love affair between two male baseball players on a team headed for the World Series if only scandal doesn't break. It's a comedy, it's a social indictment, it's a satire, it's a love story. Just a treat of a book and you don't have to know much about baseball to enjoy it. Casting: I'd love to see Patrick Wilson as Randy Dreyfus the happily married Major League shortstop who suddenly finds himself falling hard for his second baseman, D.J. Picket. For Picket, I'd like to see: Jesse Williams or Anthony Mackie.
9) THE NIGHTINGALE LEGACY by Catherine Coulter.Just about my favorite historical romance, this is a very visually written book which would make a fabulous movie. Part comedy, part love story, part murder mystery, all taking place in Cornwall, during the Regency period. What more could you possibly want? A great story? That's part of the mix as well. Casting: I'd love to see Karl Urban as Frederick North Nightingale and Liv Tyler as the plucky Caroline Derwent-Jones. (Can she do an English accent?)
10) MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH by Ariana Franklin.I love a good historical movie and this story, set in the 12th century England of Henry II, is made for film - at least in my view. Another strong-woman-in-the lead story (which will probably guarantee that it never gets optioned), this is the first book in a well thought out, very well written series with fascinating characters. None less so than the lead, Visuvia Adelia Aguilar, a doctor (raised in Salerno, Italy) and forensic specialist in an age when medical practitioners of any sort were thought to be witches or sorcerers and women even more so. An age, I think, where it was especially dangerous to be brilliant. Casting: I would love to see Keira Knightly as Adelia.
These are my Books-to-Film choices. What are yours?