Beat the Heat with Cinematic Summer Reading

by Amanda Festa

It is no surprise that the balmy weather of summer inspires many to spend lazy hours reclining in lounge chairs, inhaling an intoxicating mixture of sun, surf and SPF, their minds engrossed in that popular pastime of beach reading.  After all, there is nothing quite as relaxing on a hot summer day.  That said, with the temperature steadily rising, it might be time to duck out of the sun’s reach, if only for a brief respite.  What better way to keep cool than to indulge in a little beach reading of the visual variety.  It seems literature is continually finding its way onto the big screen and this summer is no different.

Readers tend to be rather skeptical about film adaptations, often discovering they don’t live up to their literary predecessors.  Sometimes the authenticity of the source isn’t intact, and othertimes the cast doesn’t evoke the characters the reader envisioned.  While these concerns are valid, film adaptations do have something to offer.  They provide an optic re-imagining of visually striking settings and fast paced action sequences that allow us to experience a text in a new way.  Of course not all adaptations meet the high standards we have set for some of our most beloved stories.  After all, throughout the years, well worn favorites have been like children to us–and who doesn’t want the best for his or her children?  Despite our reservations, most of us will allow our curiosity to get the best of us. We’ll sit expectantly in cool, dark theaters, munching on buttered popcorn, as the pages come to life.

With adaptations of works from a variety of genres, August is the perfect month to beat the heat and catch one or more of these upcoming releases, direct from the shelves of your local library to the air conditioned comfort of your nearby cinema.


A coming-of-age tale based on Mark Jude Poirier’s novel of the same name debuted at Sundance this year and will hit theatres nationwide on August 10th.  The novel and subsequent film find Ellis, the teenage protagonist (aged from fourteen in the novel to fifteen in the film), a fish out of water at an East Coast boarding school, a far cry from his upbringing in Arizona, which includes a pothead father figure who goes by the name of Goat Man. The 2001 novel calls up Catcher in the Rye in it’s recollection of male adolescence as well as its writing style.  The film adaptation, directed by Christopher Neil in his directorial debut, stars David Duchovny as the title character, Goat Man.

Total Recall

Finding its way to theatres on August 3rd is a remake of the 1990 film of the same name, which was loosely adapted from a 1966 short story “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick.  While the two filmic remakes have differences in plot, they both take their themes from Dick’s short story which calls into question ideas of memory and reality in a future society.  The 2012 reboot stars Colin Farrell as the central character Douglas Quaid, originally made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Kate Beckinsale taking on the role originally played by Sharon Stone.  Dick, a name unknown by many despite his renown in the genre of science fiction, has had many of his stories adapted for the big screen including the popular films, A Scanner DarklyMinority ReportBlade Runner and The Adjustment Bureau.


An adaptation of award winning author Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this year and will reach theatres August 17th.   Starring Robert Pattinson as Edwar—,  I mean Eric Packer, a twenty-something billionaire whose quotidian trek through New York City to get a haircut becomes anything but. The novel’s title in Greek literally means “universe city” and, while NYC provides the setting for the tale, most of the novel and filmic action take place inside of a limo, which becomes a universe unto itself.  Pattinson’s role in the film was originally given to Colin Farrell, who had to pull out due to a scheduling conflict with Total Recall.  Given that Farrell is a bit older than the character, this may work in the film’s favor, and teen girls and grown adults alike know that brooding vampiric anti-hero falls squarely in Pattinson’s wheelhouse.


August 29th sees the release of a film adapted from Matt Bondurant’s novel The Wettest County in the World, which is loosely based on the true story of the author’s family.  The novel is told from multiple perspectives, but is predominantly narrated by the character of Jack Bondurant, who was in fact the author’s great grandfather and is played in the film by Shia LaBeouf. The plot centers itself around his family’s role in bootlegging during Prohibition in Franklin County, Virginia.  Also given a role in the novel is early twentieth century writer Sherwood Anderson, whose perspective is also imagined in correlation to Anderson’s visit to Franklin County in 1934.

There is still time to do some reading before August, so check out some of the books if you haven’t already.  While some of the film translations will not be as easy to swallow as that Cherry Icee in hand, some may surprise you.  So sit back, relax and ponder such queries as whether Robert Pattinson has the acting chops to embody DeLillo’s anti-hero, whether Farrell or Schwarzenegger better represents Dick’s Doug Quaid and if the portrayal of the Prohibition era in Lawless is everything you imagined.  Regardless which film piques your interest take a hiatus from the humidity and experience summer reading on the big screen. And if at the ticket counter you decide you would rather partake in some summer blockbuster action, remember even The Bourne Legacy was originally in paperback form.


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