Top Ten Tuesday: Best TV Series Based on Books

TV PicMonkey Collage

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about television-related topics. As TV has evolved from sitcoms with standalone plots in favor of long-form storytelling, books are becoming more popular as the go-to place for outstanding content for the small screen.

I’m super excited to finish reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, in anticipation of the STARZ adaptation coming next year, but to celebrate this TTT, here are the best TV series based on books (according to the humble opinions of me and my friends!):

  1. Best wedding scene: “Game of Thrones” (2011-present) based on the series by George R.R. Martin
  2. Best accents: “Outlander” (2014-present) based on the series by Diana Gabaldon
  3. Best six-pack abs: “Poldark” (2015-present) based on the series by Winston Graham
  4. Best Clinton biography: “House of Cards” (2013-present) based on the novel by Michael Dobbs
  5. Best swordwielding: “Legend of the Seeker” (2008-2010) based on The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind
  6. Best wardrobes: “Sex and the City” (1998-2004) based on the novel by Candace Bushnell
  7. Best backstabbing: “Gossip Girl” (2007-2012) based on the series by Cecily von Ziegesar
  8. Best for Millenials: “Younger” (2015-present) based on the novel by Pamela Redmond Satran
  9. Best “Will they? Won’t they?” chemistry: “Elementary” (2012-present) based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  10. Best culinary show: “Hannibal” (2013-2015) based on the novels by Thomas Harris

I’ve listed some fan-favorites, and I’m sure that there will be a lot of overlap on other bloggers’ TTTs, but let me know if I missed a TV adaptation you love!

Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

If I could describe Kevin Kwan’s debut novel Crazy Rich Asians, I would say that it’s an intelligent, Asian version of Gossip Girl: Similar to Gossip Girl, because it’s saturated with designer clothing and name dropping, but intelligent because it’s an excellent window into the world of Asian billionaires.

But the reference is also a thinly veiled excuse to use Gossip Girls gifs! 🙂

Unfortunately, that description doesn’t do the book justice. It follows Rachel Chu, an ABC (American-born Chinese), and Nicholas Young, her history professor boyfriend with whom she lives in New York. When Nick suggests they spend their summer vacation with his family in Singapore, Rachel’s excited to reach that next step in their relationship.

What she doesn’t know, however, is that Nick’s family is crazy rich–and desperate to make sure that her peasant hands never see an engagement ring or touch a dime of their money.

How rich is crazy rich? Well, for starters, it’s normal to do some retail therapy when you discover your husband cheating on you. Nick’s cousin Astrid, on the other hand, finds solace in a high-end jewelry store, spending over $1M in less than ten minutes.

Then there’s Nick’s best friend Colin Khoo, who’s having the $40M wedding of the century that includes 800 guests and performances by Cirque du Soleil. All their friends possess their own private jets, armies of servants, and stockbrokers on speed dial.

Rachel, completely oblivious to Nick’s background, must fend for herself against Nick’s meddling mother and all the mean girls vying to win the coveted spot within this old money family.

Although I don’t have experience with the .000001%, I can relate to Rachel, as I’ve dealt with a fair amount of jealousy-fueled bullying. What her enemies don’t realize is that she doesn’t have a gold-digging bone in her body and actually finds all the extravagance exhausting.

Even in my own life these past couple years, I can empathize with the frustration of running in social circles that seem leagues beyond your own. Everyone around you is blowing money on fine dining and luxury cars, and all you want is a quiet night in with ice cream and Netflix.

I’m not sure whether Kwan is crazy rich himself, but he has admitted that he “grew up in an old, established Singapore family.” He includes footnotes which explain the histories of boarding schools and other elements of Asian elite culture, so it’s safe to say that he’s well-off. In fact, he revealed that his editor made him cut certain parts of the story because, despite being entirely true, sounded way too far-fetched for even the crazy rich.

All in all, reading Crazy Rich Asians is like being a fly on the wall of people who simultaneously fascinate and disgust you. Although the ending left quite a bit to be desired, I’m intrigued to read the sequel China Rich Girlfriend, out June 16, 2015.

This novel is also getting a film adaptation written by playwright Keith Bunin, so I encourage you all to jump on the bandwagon before it takes off!

Does Age Affect Your Reading Experience?

You’re never too old for cupcakes!

Last week Flavorwire had an interesting article about the “15 Books You Should Definitely Not Read in Your 20s.” Some of the books included themes about falling out of love, taking romantic road-trips, or the horrors afflicted upon or by children.

Others, like Gossip Girl and Fifty Shades of Grey, were not so much presented as a slight against all young adult fiction or erotica, just that these series are not worthy enough representatives of their genres.

However, as an avid reader, I must say that this list was pretty disappointing. Blowing off Plutarch because, “The Romans aren’t going anywhere?” Seriously? Most of the reasons for avoiding these books were superficial and weren’t even limited to people in their 20s.

By all means, read Terry Pratchett even though Discworld has 39 installments (not to be morbid, but wouldn’t reading the series while you’re young mean that you still have plenty of time to finish it?).

The only legitimate type of stories on the list that might be affected by age are the ones that deal with life’s transitions. You can certainly enjoy Eat, Pray, Love in your 20s, but I can see how reading about the struggles after divorce would better impact people who are old enough to experience the same challenges.

And even then, that’s only assuming that everyone lives on the same timeline. Some people will never marry, divorce, have children or pets, go to college, move across country or abroad, or even live to see old age. That doesn’t mean that their lives are less rich or fulfilling.

Of course, lying about your age is like keeping your life on repeat!

So yes, I felt that I was too young to appreciate a troubled marriage tale like Wife 22. In school, there’s also many classics that we fail to recognize their significance because we’re too wrapped up in teenage self-absorption.

But after taking another look at my “Books I’ve Read” list, most of the stories are enjoyable at any age. Granted, it helps that one of the biggest reasons that I read is to escape from the daily grind. I’ve never dated a vampire, been on trial, lived in Paris, time-traveled, or possessed magical powers, so it really doesn’t matter how old I am when reading about people who have.

So are there any books that you feel you should have read sooner or later in life? Why or why not? Let’s get a lively debate going!

PS: And for books you definitely should read in your 20s, check out a few from my non-fiction week: Life After College20 Something, 20 Everything and Generation Me.

UPDATE 10:40AM PST: Thanks to Grace over at the wonderful blog, A Confederacy of Spinsters, I stumbled upon Buzzfeed’s “65 Books You Need to Read in Your 20s.” My opinion? Another superficial list of mostly modern American novels that should by no means be limited to only 20-somethings. Lots of disappointed commenters. Skim with a grain of salt!

My 200th Post!!!

Just after I completely re-designed my blog, I’ve hit another major milestone: my 200th post! Granted, it’s almost been two years since launching Book Club Babe, and I could have achieved this months ago, but meet my excuses: Moving Out, Full-Time Job, and Who-Am-I-Kidding-I’ve-Been-On-A-Game-Of-Thrones-Bender-Because-Brace-Yourselves-Winter-Is-Coming-In-Only-6-More-Days!!!

Damn right LotR cross-over meme! Tyrion Lannister FTW!

Can you tell I’m excited for Sunday?! (Seriously, though, I haven’t read the books–yet, but the HBO series is freaking fantastic! Jump onto the bandwagon!)

Anywho, I’d like to celebrate my 200th post with a haphazard list of links to literary stuff I’ve been interested in. Don’t think I haven’t been keeping up with the news–it’s just that “keeping up” and “blogging about” are more like long-lost cousins than identical twins.

First off, here’s a reminder of the book adaptation blockbusters, coming to a theater near you this year:

  1. May 10 – The Great Gatsby
  2. June 21 – World War Z
  3. Aug 10 – Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
  4. Oct 18 – Carrie
  5. Nov 1 – Ender’s Game
  6. Nov 22 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  7. Dec 13 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Also, in non-Game-of-Thrones related TV news, I’ve given up on “The Carrie Diaries.” I was really excited before it premiered, because I’m obsessed with watching re-runs of “Sex and the City,” but now? Meh. Stopped watching after five or six episodes. Wide-eyed, innocent teenage Carrie is not nearly as much fun as sexy, confident 30-something Carrie, especially when her equally awesome friends aren’t in the picture yet.

Raise your hand if you’d rather be watching “Game of Thrones!”

Not to mention, the dialogue is stale, the plots are cliche, and the ‘bad boy’ is not hot enough to keep me interested, a la Chuck Bass in “Gossip Girl.” Granted, two of the executive producers of “The Carrie Diaries,” Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, were also behind the making of “Gossip Girl,” but in that show of NYC’s elite, they didn’t even attempt to follow the books, which sucked. “The Carrie Diaries” also kinda sucked, so tell me again why these two are attempting to adhere to it this time?

You know what would make this teeny-bopper show better? DRAGONS.

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Ok, ok, I’ll stop. Last two links:

Here’s a lovely post from Qwiklit on “50 Reasons You Should be a Bookworm.”

And here’s “A Brief History of Book Vending Machines” over at HuffPo. Seriously?! Book vending machines? Awesome!

Any other literary news you’d like to add? Just stopped by to reveal your GoT addiction? Anything goes today!

The House of Mirth: Book One

Cover of "The House of Mirth (Signet Clas...

Cover of The House of Mirth (Signet Classics)

Earlier this week, one of my favorite television shows, “Gossip Girl,” ended after six seasons. The program, which spotlighted the lives of New York City’s social elite, was influenced heavily by Edith Wharton’s work. The characters once reenacted The Age of Innocence in a school play, and one couple in the show, Lily and Bart Bass, were named after the protagonist of The House of Mirth, Lily Bart.

Wharton was a perfect inspiration for the teen TV hit, since she grew up among the power-players. As I’ve stated in my review of The Age of Innocence, her family originated the saying “keeping up with the Joneses.” This Pulitzer Prize-winning author became the voice of the wealthiest Americans of the early 20th century.

The House of Mirth (1905) begins with Lily Bart, a single woman in her late 20s, suffering from gambling debt. Raised by a father who experienced financial ruin and a mother who resented him for their “dingy” lifestyle, Lily is a on a mission to find a rich husband.

Lily knows just how beautiful she is, so she decides to work her feminine charms on multiple prospects. There’s Percy Gryce, a well-to-do but dull bachelor; Gus Trenor, a married man who helps with Lily’s investments; and Lawrence Selden, a man with passion instead of a fortune.

Book One does an excellent job of introducing the many characters, with plenty of details about their family backgrounds, financial situations, and style of dress. Fitting into this elite world proves increasingly more difficult, given that every little mistake is noted and gossiped around town at lightning speed. Lily’s confidence in scaling the social ladder fluctuates every day, depending on whether she garners male attention and a steady income.

On one hand, you want Lily to achieve happiness, but on the other, you have to shake your head at her foolish methods. Her vanity gives her a sense of entitlement, and her penchant for flirting with men for money without acknowledging the danger of that exchange gets her into even more trouble.

I’m a sucker for ‘fallen woman’ stories which highlight the battle between love and money, but as I’m halfway through this novel, I must say that although The House of Mirth is a well-written critique of New York’s upper class, it doesn’t hold up against The Age of Innocence. There’s enough drama and backstabbing in this literary soap opera, but so far it lacks the romance as seen between Newland and Ellen.

Lily reminds me of Madame Bovary, in the sense that both women play a large role in their respective demises. Even though the novels don’t have the fast-paced action many modern readers require, I love the social commentary because I feel that much of it is still relevant today. We are often just as concerned with reputation as these characters of 100 years ago. And as much as we’d like to think we choose significant others out of love, finances are still important in making and maintaining marriages.

I’m looking forward to finishing my last book of the year, but if I’m going to meet my goal, I better stop blogging and start reading Book Two! Keep an eye out for my review, and my recap of the 25 novels I read in 2012!

Calling All Fictional Sugar Daddies!

The Lost Boy (Gossip Girl)

Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass

So I’m going to a local casino with a friend this weekend, and that got me thinking about Forbes’ Fictional 15: the richest people who never existed. Those with literary origins include Carlisle Cullen from the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer, Artemis Fowl from his namesake series by Eoin Colfer, Smaug the dragon from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Chuck Bass from the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar.

So who would be the best gambling buddy? Smaug would never actually share its wealth and most likely burn everyone to a crisp. Carlisle could be very persuasive in getting my competition to lose, but a sparkly vampire would probably be more of a distraction to others. Chuck Bass is certainly rich, but if he looks anything like his TV counterpart Ed Westwick (*swoon*), he would be a major distraction to me.

Therefore, the winner: Artemis Fowl! Not only is he loaded with gold, both human and fairy, he is also a teenage genius.  A world-champion chess player would have no problem with a little blackjack, making him the perfect wing-man.

But alas! Their fortunes will only exist on the page, and I will have to fend for myself…it’s just fun to fantasize, right?

Know of any other sugar daddies or dragons that Forbes forgot? Who would you want by your side at the high-rollers’ tables?