The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures

From Book to Best Picture

We are still a few weeks away from the Academy Awards, but the nominations were announced last week.  Out of the nine best picture nominees, six are based on books.  So while maybe watching the nominated movies is on your February list, it also proves an opportunity to add some new book titles as well.  The six books include:

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

"With beautiful and blunt prose, Hemmings explores the emotional terrain of grief, promising something far more fulfilling than paradise at its end."--San Francisco Chronicle

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a miracle, a daybreak, a man on the moon. It's so impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving and fine." --Baltimore Sun

The Help by Kathryn Stocket

"Lush, original, and poignant, Kathryn Stockett has written a wondrous novel. You will be swept away as they work, play, and love during a time when possibilities for women were few but their dreams of the future were limitless. A glorious read." --Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of the Big Stone GapHugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Hugo) by Brian Selznick

"It's wonderful. Take that overused word literally: Hugo Cabret evokes wonder." -- New York Times Book Review

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Ebullient, invigorating...provides plenty of action, both numerical and athletic, on the field and in the draft-day war room." -- Time

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

"In effect, a horse's eye view of the First World War--heart-rending in Black Beauty tradition, anti-war like All Quiet on the Western Front is certainly unusual and dramatic." -- Kirkus



Night Circus Readalikes

Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus tells the story of two competing magicians trying to outdo each other in the creation of an enchanted circus. Whether you've read it and want more of the gothic atmosphere, period charm, and dazzling detail, are on the holds list for it, or just enjoy a bit of whimsy and dark Victorianism, these books should be of interest.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a tale of the resurgence of English magic in the early 19th century, is just as dense and immersive as the equally thick Night Circus, and like that novel features a period writing style and a fully realized magical world-within-a-world.

Her Fearful Symmetry shares the formal, slightly sinister tone and otherworldly atmosphere of The Night Circus. Twin sisters inherit a house abutting London's Highgate cemetery, and the mysterious aunt who left it to them continues to wield an influence from beyond the grave.

Mechanique takes place in a futuristic/steampunk postapocalypse, where a circus made up of mechanical people travels the harsh landscape. Its author's care for detailed and striking visual description and the overall gothic atmosphere are very akin to The Night Circus, and despite the time period there is an old-fashioned flavor to it.

The dueling magicians in Robert Priest's The Prestige become not lovers (as in The Night Circus) but ever fiercer competitors, and their unbelievable secrets and magical/scientific tricks ratchet up the stakes in this elegant, tense novel. The Victorian writing style is taken even further here, and the gothic atmosphere and magic-related drama are very reminiscent of The Night Circus.

The dramatic black and white world of the lushly illustrated The Invention of Hugo Cabret could easily stand side by side with Morgenstern's circus. At the turn of the century Hugo is living in a Paris train station and is obsessed with mechanics and automata--one of which might carry a secret message. The dark whimsicality and period charm are similar to The Night Circus.

Likewise, Amphigorey, a collection of odd, gothic works by Edward Gorey, offers a more overt visual component. Gorey's careful, old-fashioned, twisted style could have perfectly captured Morgenstern's circus world, and the overall dark, Victorian cast of the stories is parallel (if a bit more humorously done).

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