Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
By Jonathan Safran Foer
A Renaissance man at age 9, Oskar Schell, is trying to accept the death of his father, who was 100 floors up in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. After he finds a key in his father's possessions, Oskar sets off to find its matching lock, believing his father has left him clues to a treasure. His travels through New York bring him in contact with survivors of all kinds, some of whom are coping better than others but all of whom ultimately help the boy find a path to peace. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's universal message will resonate with almost everyone. The movie starring Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, and Sandra Bullock is in theaters now. Bonus read: For another book dealing with the loss of a father and a search for answers, try The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss.
The Woman in Black
By Susan Hill
In a classic-style Victorian gothic tale, young solicitor Arthur Kipps is sent from London to the isolated and dark Eel March House to attend the funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow and close her estate. He's sure this will be a quick and easy trip to the country but soon notices the townspeople seem to be afraid to talk about anything that has to do with the deceased. Regardless, Kipps decides to stay alone in the Drablow house while settling his client's affairs, a choice he will soon regret. Complete with screams in the night, unexplained noises and sightings of a ghostly woman, The Woman in Black will make your hair stand on end. The movie starring Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame), Janet McTeer and Ciarán Hinds opened in theaters on Feb. 3. Bonus read: If you're looking for another Victorian-era spine-tingling read, turn to The Ghost Writer by John Harwood.
What's Your Number?
By Karyn Bosnak
Delilah Darling is looking for love and has failed 20 times. Nearing her 30th birthday and not wanting to sleep with another guy unless he's her forever man, she decides that one of her exes was probably a winner but she just didn't know it. The only way to find out is to track them all down and reassess their prospects. After crisscrossing the country and getting in and out of crazy situations, she resigns herself to a life of celibacy. But just when she stops looking, love comes calling. What's Your Number (originally titled 20 Times a Lady) is fun, light chick-lit, perfect for brightening up a winter's evening. The movie starring Anna Faris, Chris Evans and Ari Graynor is out on BluRay and DVD. Bonus read: If you're a fan of romantic comedies, give Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me a try.
By Bethany Hamilton
Just 13 years old, Bethany Hamilton was already a competitive surfer. She had found her passion and was blessed to have parents who supported her endeavors. Although she was serious about her sport, Bethany was a regular teen who liked hanging out with her friends and who didn't always listen to her parents. The girl's bright future was threatened the day she lost her left arm as a result of a shark attack. Soul Surfer is Bethany's own perspective on her life before and after her injury. Relying on her family and her faith in God, she was determined to get back in the water and relearn to surf. Soul Surfer is an inspirational memoir for the whole family. The movie starring AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt, is out on BluRay and DVD. Bonus read: For more inspirational sports reading, try Wendelin Van Draanen's The Running Dream.
The Old Curiosity Shop
By Charles Dickens
This classic tale is the story of Little Nell who is forced into poverty when her grandfather's gambling debts reach a tipping point. The pair take to the streets in hopes of escaping their creditors, especially the vengeful moneylender Quilp. Nell, no longer sheltered from the evils of the world, must cast away her childish dreams and try to survive in Victorian London's seedier side. Will Nell be rescued before all is lost? The Old Curiosity Shop has been a favorite with readers for more than a century. PBS's Masterpiece Classics is re-airing their production, starring Derek Jacobi, Sophie Vavasseur and Toby Jones, this month. Check your local listings for date and time. Bonus read: For a funnier, lighter look at early-19th-century life in England, try Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford.
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