20 books to read before they hit theatres this year

Ben Affleck in

Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl."

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:47 PM ET

Ever wished you could thoroughly preview a movie before seeing it?

Get out your library card.

There are dozens of highly anticipated movies scheduled for 2014, and it’s surprising how many of them are based on books. And by “books” we don’t mean Fifty Shades of Grey.

Here’s a list of just some of the big movies coming this year that started life on the page:

GONE GIRL

A woman vanishes on her fifth wedding anniversary. Gillian Flynn’s best-selling thriller concerns Nick Dunne and his missing wife, Amy, and a he-says/she-says narration that leads a viewer to wonder just whose story can be trusted. So this is what the rot at the heart of a modern marriage looks like? Terrific twists and fascinating characters will come to life on the big screen this fall with Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris. David Fincher directs.

DARK PLACES

While we’re talking about writer Gillian Flynn, lets’ not forget Dark Places, a gothic mystery about poverty, family and the “satanic cult” hysteria of the 1980s. A child who was the lone survivor of a mass murder is approached 25 years later to reconsider what she saw and experienced — if the real killers are ever going to be found. The film opens in September and stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz and Tye Sheridan.

LABOR DAY

Joyce Maynard’s drama about an escaped convict, a fragile single mother and the unexpected result of their encounter became a film last year and opens next week in theatres, with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet as the leads. The story is told from the perspective of the adolescent boy (Gattlin Griffith) whose life is changed forever when his lonely mother meets the stranger.

UNBROKEN

Laura Hillenbrand’s account of the extraordinary WWII experiences of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini cover his survival at sea after having been shot down, and his imprisonment by the Japanese. Angelina Jolie directs the film version, with a screenplay by Ethan and Joel Coen and a cast that includes Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney and Garrett Hedlund.

SERENA

A cold and calculating timber baron’s wife is at the heart of Ron Rash’s gothic novel about greed and revenge in the creation of an American empire, circa 1929. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in the film version, with Susanne Bier (Open Hearts; After The Wedding) directing. Look for a fall release.

A LONG WAY DOWN

Nick Hornby’s black comedy concerns four people who meet on New Year’s Eve, each intent upon suicide. They decide to band together instead. In the film version, Pierce Brosnan, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette and Aaron Paul are the four thinking of jumping off a building — until staying alive proves marginally more important.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

Jonathan Tropper’s bestseller features a dysfunctional family of four siblings forced into each other’s company when they sit shiva for their father. The film stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver and Abigail Spencer.

EVERY SECRET THING

This harrowing story from former reporter Laura Lippman centres on two girls, aged 10, who go to prison for the death of an infant. Years later, when other children begin to go missing, the story takes a particularly dark turn. The movie stars Dakota Fanning, Diane Lane and Elizabeth Banks, is directed by Amy Berg (West of Memphis) and has a screenplay from Nicole Holofcener.

THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY

A famous chef tells the story of how his life progressed from a family restaurant in Mumbai to an Indian restaurant in a French village and then on to fabulous success at his own haute eatery in Paris. Film version of the bestseller stars Rohan Chand, Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal.

WINTER’S TALE

A fantasy about love and reincarnation sounds like just the thing for Valentine’s Day — which is when this film version of Mark Helprin’s novel opens in theatres. Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Jessica Brown Findlay star in a tale that time-travels centuries as a thief struggles to save the heiress he loves.

THE MONUMENTS MEN

Robert M. Edsel’s riveting book examines the work done by a special force of museum directors, art historians and curators who went behind enemy lines during WWII to try to find the stolen artworks being hoarded (and sometimes destroyed) by the Nazis. George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Bill Murray star in the film, which opens in February.

A MOST WANTED MAN

John Le Carre’s espionage thriller about international terrorism, money laundering and the U.S. extraordinary rendition policy comes to the screen with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright and Rachel McAdams.

LONDON FIELDS

Martin Amis’ bestseller about a woman, her three lovers and her certain psychic knowledge of her impending murder is now a film with Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Jim Sturgess and Billy Bob Thornton.

THE GIVER

In the near future, in an almost perfect society where suffering, pain and war — and choices — do not exist, one child is chosen to learn the truth about the world before all pain and pleasure were eradicated. What he learns changes everything. Lois Lowry’s novel comes to life on the screen with Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift and Alexander Skarsgard.

WILD

Cheryl Strayed decided to sort out her failed marriage and her grief over her mother’s death by taking an 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail — solo. Her memoir is a movie starring Reese Witherspoon;

the screenplay was worked on by Nick Hornby and Canadian Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) directs.

EDGE OF TOMORROW

Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel, All You Need Is Kill, is a time-loop thriller about a war against aliens. Now it’s a film starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Sort of like Groundhog Day, only with futuristic weapons and death.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Get out your hankies. Teens with cancer meet and fall in love, as per the novel by John Green. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort star in the movie.

IN SECRET

A loveless marriage, a torrid affair, and terrible consequences: Emile Zola’s stunning novel Therese Raquin becomes a film with Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton and Jessica Lange.

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

A woman with a rare form of amnesia must determine for herself — slowly and painfully — if those around her are telling her the truth about who she is. Highly anticipated film version of S.J. Watson’s thriller stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.

TRACKS

Robyn Davidson walked 3,200 kilometres though the Australian desert with four camels and her dog in the 1970s. When the time came to turn the memoir into a movie, Davidson wanted Mia Wasikowska in the lead. Done.

WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget all the young adult fiction that gets turned into movies this year. Here’s a sampling:

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY — PART 1: The continuing saga of Katniss Everdeen, as created by novelist Suzanne Collins and brought to life by Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.

VAMPIRE ACADEMY: Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry populate the action-filled world of human/vampire hybrids brought to life by novelist Richelle Mead.

DIVERGENT: In a divided future society, anyone not easily manipulated must hide or be destroyed. The trilogy from Veronica Roth begins on the screen with Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet.

HORNS: A girl dies; her boyfriend sprouts strange horns on his head. Joe Hill — a.k.a. Stephen King’s son — wrote the horror/fantasy novel that is now a movie due in November. Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple star.

THE MAZE RUNNER: In a terrifying future world where memory has vanished, a group of boys work together to escape the complex maze that entraps them. Will Poulter and Dylan O’Brien star in this film version of James Dashner’s novel.

TRASH: An urchin who picks through garbage for survival in a third world country finds a leather bag in the rubble, and the contents of that bag may change his life. Mystery/adventure from Andy Mulligan is a film starring Rooney Mara and Martin Sheen.

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca


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