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By Jessica Beal

This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated eight movies that will be vying for the Best Picture Oscar.  The magic of the cinematic experience is well represented in a diverse list that covers historical figures, the human experience, and even the magic of superheroes. I’ve compiled a list of reading recommendations that help to continue the storytelling magic of each Oscar hopeful.

Black Panther made history by becoming the first superhero movie to receive a nomination for Best Picture.   Stan Lee and Jack Kirby originally created the character in 1966.  However, Christopher Priest’s Black Panther: The Complete Collection has come to be regarded as the modern reinvention that immerses the reader into the narrative world of Wakanda.  Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a recent graphic novel that stays true to the original stories while adding a modern take on the characters.  Black Panther: World of Wakanda, by notable feminist writer Roxane Gay, continues the exploration of Wakanda by bringing the female warriors into the role of main protagonist.  Following the theme of afrofuturism, An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Soloman takes place on a ship in outer space.  Aster, who is born into slavery, is trying to escape cruel and inhumane racial segregation while leading a resistance and sparking a revolution.  Akata Witch by Nnedi Okarafor is a young adult paranormal fiction story that follows Sunny Nwazue, a Nigerian albion, that learns she has magical powers.  She, along with three other gifted friends must utilize their abilities to defeat a serial killer and save the world.

 

BlackkKlansman is one of the many films this year based upon a true story. For readers that enjoyed the movie, you may want to read Ron Stallworth’s own account in Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime.  If you are interested in the history of the Black Power Movement, The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 by Goran Olsson and The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution by Bryan Shih offer excellent insight into the political organization’s history and legacy.  To examine today’s racial climate, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, a National Book Book Award Winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, that examines our nation’s racial history and what it means to be a black male in today’s America.

 

 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody follows the story of the rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury leading up to their appearance at the 1985 Live Aid concert.  We have a large variety of Queen’s music in our library’s collection for those wanting to enjoy the unique lyrics and powerful music.  Classic Queen by Mick Rock and Queen: The Complete Illustrated Lyrics designed by Richard Gray both offer an in-depth look into the band itself.  Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury by Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne is a biography that can be labeled as a tribute to Mercury that offers interviews from his closest friends and insights as to how he became one of the most captivating singers in rock and roll.  For those that enjoy a behind the scenes look into films, Bohemian Rhapsody: The Inside Story by Owen Williams is the official book of the film that includes information on character development, commentary from the actors and director, and descriptions of costumes and musical sequences.

 

 

The Favourite is tied with Roma for the most nominations with ten each.  The film tells the story of Queen Anne in 18th century England and the relationship with a new servant Abigail, and her close friend Lady Sarah Churchill.  Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Sumerset is a historical biography that offers a look into Anne’s role in some of the most momentous events in British history.  Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill by Susan Holloway Scott is a fictionalized telling of the life of Sarah Churchill who is played by Rachel Weisz in the film.  If you are interested in the lives of today’s British monarchs, Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne by Christopher Andersen delves into the relationships and rivalries between the three women closest to the throne.

 

 

 

Green Book offers a tale of an Italian-American that becomes the driver of Dr. Don Shirley, a classic pianist, as he tours the American South in the 1960s.  While our collection doesn’t offer any books about Dr. Don Shirley, we do have a CD The Don Shirley Point of View that allows you to hear and experience his brilliant talent.  The film is inspired by Victor Greene’s The Negro Motorist Green Book (check out New York Public Library’s Digital Collections of the books) which published editions between 1936-1967.  Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss is a children’s picture book that recounts the tale of Ruth and her parents navigating a trip from Chicago to Alabama as they rely on “The Green Book” pamphlet.  While this is a work of fiction, it does have facts about the original pamphlet included.  Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen offers a historical context for the creation of communities in America.  Loewen examines the tactics of legal formalities and violence that created Caucasian communities and the the lasting impact it has had on American race relations.

 

Roma, tied with The Favourite at ten nominations each, written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, shares a year in the life of a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.  Cuaron has shared that it is semi-autobiographical as it is inspired by his own memories of childhood.  The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano is similar to Roma in that it follows the experiences of two young individuals in early 1970s Mexico City.  Belano and Lima, two young poets, in the process of founding the literary movement they label “visceral realism”, have their unique journey told through the eyes of the people whose paths they cross throughout the world.  Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli follows a young mother living in Mexico City who is writing a novel based upon her time spent working as a translator in Harlem, and her goal to publish the works on an obscure Mexican poet.  Luiselli plays with the concept of memory and time to create beautiful dream-like narratives that allow the reader to reminisce on their own past and its extraordinary path to the present.

 

 

A Star is Born shares the experience of a young singer played by Lady Gaga, and her rise to fame through the help of musician that is battling his own demon of alcoholism.  This is the fourth remake of the original 1937 film. At the time of its release, it was rumored to be based upon the real-life marriage of Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay.  A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True: 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson examines Stanwyck’s life in intimate detail including her Hollywood experiences.   If you were captivated by Bradley Cooper’s performance, Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix by Charles R. Cross offers an in-depth look at a talented musician and his struggle with fame.  Two fiction novels offer exciting stories that delve into the glitz and glamor of Hollywood.  A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott follows Julie Crawford as she becomes Carole Lombard’s assistant.  Julie is able to observe the behind-the-scenes drama as Carole Lombard begins her affair with Clarke Gable.  What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw by Leah Stewart tells the story of the cost of stardom between its two main characters.  Josie is unable to find a role that will continue her stardom that she found many years earlier.  She struggles in the relationship with her boyfriend Charlie, whose fame is rising until he flees to a remote island in search of anonymity.

 

Vice follows former Vice President Dick Cheney and his rise from a bureaucratic Washington insider to the most powerful man in the world as VP to George W. Bush.  While Vice is not based upon specific material, there are numerous biographies of Vice President Cheney to choose from.  In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir by Dick Cheney is an autobiographical account of his tenure in the White House.  Peter Baker, Chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, has gathered tales from more than two hundred insiders to explore conflicts and their handling in his book Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House.  First in Line: Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the Pursuit of Power by Kate Andersen Brower delves into the roles of thirteen vice presidents and their role as the second in command to the President and all of the conflicts that entails.  If you interested in the secrecy that envelops the most powerful men in the world, The True Story of the Bilderberg Group by Daniel Estulin is a perfect selection.  The Bilderberg Group, started in 1954, is comprised of European Prime Ministers, American Presidents, and the wealthiest CEOs of the world.  The author has used covert tactics to recount the members’ discussion concerning the economic and political future of the world.

 

 

This list is just a beginning to the numerous titles that can connect to the movies we love.  Please visit any one of our locations and an Experience Facilitator would be happy to help in your search for your next great read.

 

Jessica Beal
Experience Facilitator

Jessica Beal


Jessica is a Ravenclaw super-fan. She is pop-culture obsessed and loves crafting of all kinds.

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