30 June 2008

Unbookening Month 5: Turning This Ship Around

Are you ready for this?

3 books Bookmooched (none of which were mooched during June proper)
12 books checked out of the library
11 books received for review
Was given 3 books -- two from my Aunt Trish and one belated birthday present from Uncle Clark and Aunt Mel
Got 4 books from the free table at work
Bought 1 book
= 34 books in.

10 books given away on BookMooch
18 books returned to the library
Lent 1 book
Gave away 5 books (about which mum, most of them are still in the mail)
= 34 books out.

Total: Same number of books in as out.

Books I read this month
65. Ford Madox Ford, THE GOOD SOLDIER (on Dailylit)
66. James Salter, A SPORT AND A PASTIME
68. Julie Salamon, HOSPITAL
69. Patrick Suskind, PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER (For a future Filmbook!)
71. David Simon and Edward Burns, THE CORNER 72. Elizabeth Noble, THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO KNOW
73. Joyce Carol Oates, MY SISTER, MY LOVE
74. Michael Chabon, MAPS AND LEGENDS
75. Michelle Goodman, THE ANTI 9-TO-5 GUIDE
76. Stephanie Klein, MOOSE (a true story!)
77. Elin Hilderbrand, A SUMMER AFFAIR
78. Francie Lin, THE FOREIGNER
79. Rowan Somerville, THE END OF SLEEP

Photo of a Salem, Mass. bookstore: mistermajik2000

25 June 2008

Talk of the Town Tonight: Elizabeth Noble

Find out if this book, Elizabeth Noble's THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO KNOW, is worth reading tonight!

Talk of the Town with Parker Sunshine
I'll be on ~7:20PM EDT (4:20 PDT, 1:20 Anna Time)
WEBR for D.C./Virginia/ Maryland locals (available through your TV)
Everyone else: Tune in here!

FYI, the last time I was on the radio was when I called in to Milwaukee's New Rock Alternative 102.1 in the '90s and found myself on the receiving end of a DJ's riff about tambourines. In two hours, I hope to say something more substantial than "Uh... what?"

ETA 7:45PM Hooray! Despite a few first-timer issues (I was using Skype on my PC, which didn't want to play nice) I think we all had a good time doing that. If you're surfing by here courtesy of Parker's site, welcome! Stick around, we're fun.

No Krak For Any Price

My book club recently met to discuss Jon Krakauer's book UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN, a work of nonfiction that impressed me both when I read it the first time and when I skimmed it to prepare for our meeting. I actually just wrote a preview piece for the fall in which I expressed a deep interest in Krakauer's next book, THE HERO, about Pat Tillman's death in Iraq and the fallout over it.

Well, I'm still interested, but it looks like I'll have to wait for now because Krakauer has "withdrawn the title" less than four months from its publication date. The Publishers Weekly account (disclaimer: I write for them) suggests he is so unhappy with the book that he's willing to tick off his publisher, Doubleday, by forcing them to cancel all their plans for it. This is the first time I've heard of such a "withdrawal," perhaps because publishers would rather we don't find out about the things they can't for whatever reason sell. But no way would they have been able to sneak it under the rug given Krakauer's many fans (like me).

Of course, since the book is about the war in Iraq there will be some speculation over whether political motives are forcing Krakauer's hand, but I can't find anything to suggest that its status has anything to do with his charged subject. From what I've read, Tillman's family cooperated with Krakauer, but the Army Rangers (the division in which Tillman served) did not.

In any case, I'm with The Egalitarian Bookworm:
I fully expect Jon Krakauer to do justice to this fascinating guy who died far too young, and also to do a different kind of justice to the insidious forces that kept the truth from Americans.

23 June 2008

Talk of the Town page is live!

Hey, so remember when I told you I was going to be on the radio? The week has finally arrived! My radio voice is not ready, but show host Parker Sunshine has thrown up a neat page for my feature on the show, officially called "Parker Sunshine's Bookworm." So if you don't already know my last name or what I look like, check it out.

And cancel all your plans for Wednesday when I'll be LIVE on air with Parker to talk about Elizabeth Noble's THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO KNOW. Will I always be this annoying about reminding you to tune in? Perhaps!

22 June 2008

Memoir madness has gone too far!

On an otherwise routine trip to the library...

LIBRARY EMPLOYEE scans my copy of Stephanie Klein's MOOSE: A MEMOIR OF FAT CAMP. We're waiting for the receipt with all my books on it to print...

L.E. (pointing to the words "fat camp" on the cover): That's not real, right?
Ellen: What, fat camp?
L.E.: Yeah.
Ellen: Yeah, it is.
L.E. makes a doubtful face.
Ellen: It's where you send your fat child to get skinny. Thinking: Backtrack! Backtrack! I don't know, I'll read the book and let you know when I finish.

From Klein's website:
Stephanie was a seventh-grader with a weight problem. It was a problem at school, where the boys called her “Moose” and her only friends were the nerds and misfits, and it was a problem at home, where her father reminded her, “No one likes fat girls.” After several unsuccessful attempts at dieting and many frustrating sessions with a nutritionist known as the Fat Doctor of Roslyn Heights, Long Island, Stephanie’s parents enrolled her for a summer at fat camp.
I didn't want to go too hard on the librarian on duty considering last week I shoved my gym swiper instead of my library swiper at him when it came time to check out, and he had to verbally tell me, "That's not your library card." Doh.

21 June 2008

June Unbookening continues!

Week 2: 7 books in (3 from the library, 2 to review and 2 from the free table at work), 2 out (1 to the library, 1 lent to my dad). Back, back, free table! Okay, I'll probably review one of them and pass the other one along posthaste, but still.

Week 3: Came back from California to find a tower o' review books waiting for me -- sorry, roommates. 10 books in (1 from the library -- MOOSE -- 6 to review, 1 Bookmooched and 2 from my aunt Trish with a solemn promise I will give them away after), 8 books out (6 to library, 2 on Bookmooch).

After being hit with a string of library fines I am forcing myself to return overdue books if I haven't even had time to start them yet. Sadly this means I will have to re-request LUSH LIFE some other time, because I didn't take it on my trip and just haven't gotten a chance to get around to it. C'est la vie.

Summer Reading #1: David Simon and Ed Burns, THE CORNER

David Simon's first book HOMICIDE focused on the activities of Baltimore police detectives as they investigate crimes, many of which are related to the inner-city drug trade. In a sense, his next book, THE CORNER (co-written by former police officer Edward Burns) explores the other side of the situations he saw riding with the cops, in picking one West Baltimore intersection and looking at the people who live there by observing them for years.

Fayette and Monroe is only one of more than a hundred "open-air drug markets" as Simon calls them, places where people go to buy and sell (and near which they often use). Typically, the sellers or their helpers will call out the name of the drug on offer -- as anyone who saw "American Gangster" knows, they all have nicknames, almost brands, like "Red Tops" or "Blue Magic" -- with the drugs either on them or in a stash close by. Also close by are a number of houses known as "shooting galleries" in which addicts either rent the space to one another to shoot up or have broken into a boarded-up house for the same purpose. Police enforcement of the corner is spotty; the local cops know the dealing is going on and occasionally round up people on the corner, but they recognize the futility of arresting the lower-level operatives while those with larger crimes -- bringing the drugs in over state lines, packing it and cutting it with intent to sell -- remain at large.

The McCullough family is just one whose activities revolve around the corner. Once father Gary was an up-and-coming real-estate developer and his wife, Fran, worked at a telephone company. Now the parents, separated, are both drug users, and older son DeAndre is developing a neighborhood reputation for small-time dealing with his friends in the Crenshaw Mafia Brothers (a gang named for a more famous L.A. outfit). Younger son DeRodd isn't involved in drugs yet, but since many of the dealers recruit young adults for small jobs, it's assumed he will somehow get involved in DeAndre's gang or in a different organization. The book also follows a number of other neighborhood characters, including a 25-year user whose health problems are at odds with his addiction, a community organizer who runs a children's after-school program in the neighborhood and a "shooting gallery" owner whose troubles with the law are tempting him to kick the habit and his friends once and for all.

I'm still not sure how to respond to this book because the lives described in it are so alien to me, it's hard to know where to begin. I think the authors do a good job treading the line between sympathizing with their subjects and holding them accountable for what they do, illegal, dangerous or otherwise. I don't know that I would be able to give the situations they were in such an objective reading.

This book reminded me of one of my favorites from 2006, RANDOM FAMILY, which examines social life among teenagers in the Bronx, but Simon and Burns go a step further and address the reader directly, taking us to task for our belief that the war on drugs can be "won," that welfare recipients are "lazy" and that teenagers on the corner have babies because they don't know any better. (The chapter on teen pregnancy alone should be required reading for everyone; the authors really challenge us to think about how teenagers think and act. If you've been following the Gloucester High story, a little of this may be familiar to you.) In a nutshell, and to put it obviously, the factors driving the way people act on "the corner" are extremely complex, and what we societally are doing to help them sometimes isn't really that helpful.

These thought-provoking passages get more and more prominent as the book goes on but they never overwhelm the narrative, which is as riveting as a fictional story. An epilogue discloses the subjects' fates as of its paperback edition in 1998, but I actually Googled one of them to see what had happened later and found that he had become involved in David Simon's next project, the HBO show "The Wire." ("The Corner" was also adapted by Simon into a miniseries for HBO but I haven't seen it.) The authors almost make it easy to forget that these are real people and that they continue to live because or in spite of this attention.

17 June 2008

Oh, the Places You'll Go With O.

I am a laggard blogger of late because I just flew home from sunny California. One of my amazing awesome sisters graduated from college this weekend, so it was a happy occasion indeed to request some time off work and give her the credit she deserves. Next year she could be teaching your kids to read as a Teach for America corps member. Congrats, Buddy!!

For her graduation I gave her a few books I thought might be useful to her as an (and oh how I loathe to use this word) adult -- two I had read and found useful and one I read reviews of that made it seem promising. Turns out someone else had the same idea I had -- her graduation speaker, She Of The One Name, Oprah. I liked Ms. Winfrey's speech fine but what I really appreciated was that she gave copies of two of her current favorite books, Eckhart Tolle's A NEW EARTH and Daniel Pink's A WHOLE NEW MIND, to undergrads and graduate students being fĂȘted. I've never read either but I thought it was a nice gesture -- better than leaving one of your own books, and certainly easier to move out of a dorm than, say, a free car.

Anyway, I knew the trip was coming, and yet things came up and I didn't have time to write anything before I left. Suffice to say, I finished two books while I was there (as usual slightly less than hoped for), delivered two to parents and got two recommended by my aunt (she of the amazing Bookmooching prowess -- up to 107 books given away already!) I came home to a stack of packages, though, so I will have many mighty tomes to review. Ah, books! If only you could cure the sunburn I got from sitting in the stadium.

But to invoke the title, I have never given or received OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO as a graduation gift... what about you?

11 June 2008

What's In My Library Queue

I revealed on Sunday that BRIGHT SHINY MORNING was on its way to me through the largesse of the NY Public Library system. (It has since landed at my branch; I'll pick it up tomorrow.) Here are the other books I am waiting for, arranged by the likelihood of my receiving them according to the information provided:

Jincy Willett, THE WRITING CLASS -- I added this today because its premise sounded interesting. Apparently no one else thinks so. 37 copies; I'm 3rd of 3 requests.
Andrew Sean Greer, THE STORY OF A MARRIAGE -- A friend of mine raved about this novel of conformity and change in '50s San Francisco. 60; 29th/105.
Joseph O'Neill, NETHERLAND -- not sure what to expect about this novel, but it seems to have been mentioned everywhere as a well-done 9/11 response, with cricket. 257; 221st/515.
Stephanie Klein, MOOSE -- another memoir by the blogger behind Greek Tragedy, about her childhood summers at fat camp. The backlash against Klein has kind of taken on a life of its own, but I don't really feel the need to participate, because I liked her first book STRAIGHT UP AND DIRTY. 42; 32nd/53.
Dean Wareham, BLACK POSTCARDS -- a memoir by one of the members of Luna, a band I never loved (despite seeing them in concert at college), but the book is supposed to be good. 29; 43/52.
David Sedaris, WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES -- the latest by the celebrated memoirist may never reach me this year, I'll have better luck cajoling my mom to buy it and lend it to me. 170; 252nd/363.
Daniel Radosh, RAPTURE READY! -- Radosh writes for the New Yorker and follows Christian culture in this, his first book. 1; 13th/14.

Also on the list to borrow are CDs by the New Pornographers and Jay-Z and one DVD (an Antonio GaudĂ­ documentary which is not on Netflix for some reason).

All of these books have one thing in common: They were all published in 2008. This doesn't happen all the time, but it's probably because older books tend to filter through the system to me faster, even when they're coming from a distant branch. If I don't get my hands on that Sedaris book until November, though, it's all right; my longest request so far has been in the system for about 9 months before being filled, and that's not bad for a new title.

09 June 2008

Grass in my hardcovers

I held my first impromptu Summer Reading Club this weekend. I had a friend visiting and, with temperature hitting 90 on the streets, we decamped to Riverside Park with our books, snacks and a blanket. We saw Razor-riding girls, happy families, and a dog in a stroller. (No, I don't get it either.)

I brought a review book (Julie Salamon's HOSPITAL), which I think breaks the rules, but that's all right. My reading buddy finished Taylor Clark's STARBUCKED and started Michael Pollan's IN DEFENSE OF FOOD.

08 June 2008

All that is left here is the truth, Part II

Look what's looming over the horizon like a very, very sorry cloud:

(That's the NY Public Library queue system in action.)

You lucky people won't have to read BRIGHT SHINY MORNING, 'cause I'm going to do it for you. Or at least try until I can't any more.


Unbookening progress report for the first week of June: 8 books in (2 Bookmooched, 5 from the library, 1 to review), 11 books out (5 Bookmooched, 4 to the library, 2 wrapped up and sent to my folks).

Unfortunately after I saw May was not going my way, I had a temporary loss of sanity and requested 4 books on Bookmooch. (One of the ones I got, I had actually requested in April, but it didn't show up until now.) But that's okay, I will continue to cull and make room.

07 June 2008

30. Ford Madox Ford, THE GOOD SOLDIER

I'm beginning to think it's just as important to teach one's children, "Don't judge a book by its title," as the more classic adage. I found this book on Dailylit but nearly put it off because I thought it was a war story. One of the characters is a soldier ("good" is up for debate), but there are no military maneuvers in this book.

THE GOOD SOLDIER is one of those books where the narrator starts by saying, We had a great life -- what happened? Or in his words:
We were, if you will, one of those tall ships with the white sails upon a blue sea, one of those things that seem the proudest and the safest of all the beautiful and safe things that God has permitted the mind of men to frame. Where better could one take refuge? Where better?... I can't believe it's gone.
Meet John Dowell. John is an American who, at the start of the sad story he tells, is living in Nauheim, Germany with his wife Florence. John and his wife came over to Europe some years ago and have been living in Nauheim, a spa town, because he has been told Florence's heart is too weak to make the trip back across the Atlantic. At Nauheim they get to know another couple, Edward and Leonora Ashburnham -- Edward is a former army officer who is there getting treatment for his heart.

Or so John thinks. Because throughout the course of the book, John relates how many of his illusions were destroyed about his own marriage, his friends, and the shape of his very comfortable life. To begin with, his wife's heart condition may or may not be real, and his best friends' marriage is a mess because of how Edward, the "good soldier" of the title, behaves and the way his wife chooses to deal with it. Without giving too much away, the lovely foursome of the first chapter is completely smashed due to a series of tragic, but possibly inevitable, events.

This book sucked me in completely and almost immediately. I began trusting all these characters at their word and ended not really knowing if I could even trust the narrator John at all, but I read the last half of this book over about 3 days of hitting "receive the next installment immediately" because I was hanging on to their fates. (Also, some of the Dailylit installments ended in cliffhangers like, "Edward said gruffly:" and then what can you do except move forward? I ask you.) If you liked ATONEMENT but thought it got a little wordy at times, this book is right up your alley; if you are familiar with Fitzgerald, Ford is similar though working 20 years earlier than its closest cousin, TENDER IS THE NIGHT. And if you hate so-called classics where nothing happens, you will love this book, because a ton of stuff happens to characters you want to care about and chastize at the same time.

I definitely want to read more Ford Madox Ford after this, so I'm excited to see his book PARADE'S END is also on the Modern Library list (#57) -- and it's a tetralogy! Which normally would scare the crap out of me, but if it's half this good, bring it on.

Progress of LN VS. ML: 47 read, 53 unread.

Next up on Dailylit and LNVSML: Max Beerbohm's ZULEIKA DOBSON, OR, AN OXFORD LOVE STORY (#59) Having read the prologue, I can tell you the author pronounced it ZuLEEKa, not ZuLIKEa.

06 June 2008

The Readiness Is All

I have an announcement to make. It's something that has been in the works for a few weeks but, as is common with things arranged through the Internet, seemed rather tenuous at first. And may I preemptively say, no, I am not quitting the blog.

When I started this blog I didn't consider myself a book critic. I read compulsively and sometimes I wrote reviews, but really I was just a dork who read a lot. I don't write about my reviewing activities much in part because I can hardly believe that I even get the opportunities I've had in the three years since, that people send me books in the mail and occasionally respect my opinion on them. And not to toot my own horn, but I think that's pretty awesome.

Beginning this month, the blog and I are doing something a little crazy: We're going live! I'm hitching my wagon to a D.C.-area radio show, Talk of the Town with Parker Sunshine, and will join Parker on air once a month to review a book of interest. I'll be covering mostly popular fiction and nonfiction, such judicious mix as Ms. Sunshine and I decide together, beginning with Elizabeth Noble's THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO KNOW.

My first appearance will air June 25; till then I'll be taking impromptu broadcaster lessons from Camus (who used to be a college-radio DJ) and getting used to the sound of my recorded voice because I've never been on the radio in a non-calling-in-for-free-concert-tickets capacity. Hopefully it won't bother you if I remind you all to listen to the show that night (online if not locally), talk up the book itself, and generally drive you insane with my new! Fun! Project! Because I hope this will be fun. I have big plans for fun.

05 June 2008

Summer Reading 2008: Big Fat Paperback Edition

I know a LOT of books will come up and I will be diving into my collection with solar-powered fever, so my list is shorter than last year's. There are some high page counts on there, though.
  1. Michael Gross, 740 PARK. This has been sitting on my nightstand with a bookmark in it for over a year. And I promised Pearl I would let her borrow it after we went to see 740 Park Avenue. Pearl, I didn't forget!
  2. David Simon, THE CORNER (follow-up to HOMICIDE: A YEAR ON THE KILLING STREETS) Finished 6.14.08; read my review here
  3. Vikram Chandra, SACRED GAMES
  5. Nobel Prize Winner Doris Lessing's THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK
  6. Tina Brown, THE DIANA CHRONICLES -- the one book I bought last month, in mass market.
  7. Galt Niederhoffer, A TAXONOMY OF BARNACLES
  8. Joseph Berger, THE WORLD IN A CITY
  9. Mark Helprin, FREDDY AND FREDERICKA -- removed off my "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads because I can't remember anything that took place in this book. I thought I remembered a few scenes but upon further reflection they were all from Alan Bennett's THE UNCOMMON READER.
I would also like to reread Min-Jin Lee's FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES and Betty Smith's A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.

And the book I want so badly to put on this list but feel I may never get to it: Robert Caro's THE POWER BROKER.

So what are you reading this summer, besides the back of that SPF45 bottle? (Pale people unite!)

04 June 2008

"Books entered my house under cover of night"

I came clean yesterday about how opposed to my goals May was, but here's a guy who has it worse than me. Meet author Luc Sante, who writes in the Wall Street Journal about "The Book Collection that Devoured My Life":
After living in smallish apartments for decades I just spent seven years in a house with a full-size attic, and everything went to hell. Books entered my house under cover of night, from the four winds, smuggled in by woodland creatures, and then they never left. Books collected on every surface; I believe that somehow they managed to breed. Now that I have moved again -- into a house that's not necessarily smaller but that I am determined to keep from being choked with books like kudzu -- I have just weeded out 30 boxes worth: books I won't read and don't need, duplicates, pointless souvenirs.
He also manages to isolate and name my biggest fear about having a book collection this size, the fear of moving. I don't remember how many boxes of books I had the last time I moved, but I certainly will have more the next time around. But why does he have so many?
Books function as a kind of external hard drive for my mind -- my brain isn't big enough to do all the things it wants or needs to do without help... I realize that books are not the entire world, even if they sometimes seem to contain it. But I need the stupid things.
Well put, sir.

03 June 2008

Depending on how you feel about Frost...

A group of teenagers were punished with poetry after throwing a house party at Robert Frost's old farm in Ripton, Vermont. The prosecuting attorney on the case offered the 28 partygoers a deal: Your record will be cleared if you attend a class on Frost's poetry taught by a Middlebury professor. In the first of these classes the perps were led through a line by line reading of "The Road Not Taken" and "Out, Out--"

Yeah, that's the way to get kids into poems -- threaten them!

Unbookening Month 4: Should Have Called This The Rebookening

The Fourth Month of the Great Unbookening
2 books mooched (well, technically one was mooched in April, but I admitted to the other)
12 books checked out of the library
23 books received for review
Bought 1 book
Was given 1 book (from my mom -- she had just read it)
Got 10 books at a giveaway party
Got 11 books from the free table at work
= 60 books in.

6 books given away on BookMooch
9 books returned to the library
Sold 1 book on Amazon
Gave away 1 review book (to someone else at a magazine who wanted to read it)
Left 5 books in the lobby of my building.
= 22 books out.

Total: 38 more books in than out. Year to date: 72 more books in than out.

Good grief. Well, that didn't work. In addition to Bookmooching, I think I will have to forgo book giveaway parties in the future (not that I go to that many, but STILL). I did get a stack of review books for future months, but that doesn't explain that. But okay, goals for this month:

1. Continue to not mooch any books.
2. Go through the stack under my desk and apply the two-chapter rule (if it doesn't grab you in two chapters, it's out). Be ruthless!
3. Don't buy any books.
4. Ideally I would like to have 3 books out of the library at a time. I have 13 now. Read 'em or return 'em.

Books I Read This Month
Peter Benjaminson, THE LOST SUPREME
Candace Bushnell, SEX AND THE CITY
Benjamin Nugent, AMERICAN NERD
David J. Schwartz, SUPERPOWERS
Karyn Bosnak, SAVE KARYN (reread)
Sherwood Anderson, WINESBURG, OHIO (LNVSML)
Candace Bushnell, 4 BLONDES
Mary Ruefle, THE MOST OF IT
Lewis DeSimone, CHEMISTRY
Candace Bushnell, TRADING UP
Candace Bushnell, LIPSTICK JUNGLE
Rick Perlstein, NIXONLAND

02 June 2008

Candace Bushnell Week Special Filmbook: "Sex and the City" (2008)

The four women we follow in the new movie "Sex and the City" would be almost unrecognizable to the girls in the book of the same name. The first major change was to clarify all the escapades into four women for the television show; gradually, stakes were introduced that put Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda into positions closer to the women of LIPSTICK JUNGLE than to early Bushnell with the coke and the partying and the... well, singleness. The friends all end the series paired up, and they begin the movie that way, and any fan who believed their men friends would magically disappear probably weren't paying attention.

Still, in their transformation from single and dating to committed or married, they preserved that sense of sisterhood which informed the TV series but not the book. Women sit around talking about sex in SEX AND THE CITY, but it's not central, the men are. The HBO series' thesis which it kept returning to was, Men come and go, but your friends are forever -- something with which viewers like me clearly identified with. (Although to be fair, when I watched the series there were no men coming or going for me.)

Thus I underestimated how moved I would be by this movie, which in essence recycles some very common "women's plots" we've all seen before. Two women are trying to put the spark back into their relationships, one faces a major change to her family and a fourth, Carrie, popularly regarded as a star, is finally marrying Mr. Big, the man she's been with on and off for 10 years. (I'm pro-Big, for the record; he is still a topic of argument.) In a way it was, as other television-shows-turned-movies have not been, strangely comforting to drop back in on these characters' lives and meet them again, for better or for worse. Probably because the film was written and directed by a writer and producer for the show, there was no sense of scrapping the original series ending to make room for unnecessary crisis.

I'm being vague because so much of this movie was not spoiled for me, and I'm hesitant to spoil it for anyone else. Suffice to say, if this is the direction Bushnell's work has wandered, then it ought to stay there; there was a sense of real emotion that drove the characters in this movie to support each other which I never felt from any of her books.

Filmbook verdict: See the movie (if you like the show). Read the book (if you REALLY like the show).