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A Look at the Best Recent Adaptations

Books and movies are favorite forms of entertainment. Combined, they can be the best of both worlds. Here are some recent successes in recent book-to-movie adaptations.

'The Lincoln Lawyer'

"The Lincoln Lawyer" by Michael Connelly is a legal thriller that depicts a bottom-feeding lawyer who conducts business out of the back of his old Lincoln Town Car. He defends criminals and lands a big score with a wealthy Beverly Hills client. The case becomes more than he anticipated. The March 2011 film adaptation features a solid cast with Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy and Marisa Tomei. Some of the film's exaggerated characters seem larger than life, adding to the movie's appeal.

'Water for Elephants'

"Water for Elephants" is the novel penned by Sara Gruen. The book begins with a disastrous day at the circus. Character Jacob Jankowski admits to keeping a 70-year secret. The book picks up with 90-year-old Jacob living in a nursing home, retelling his life story on the road with the "Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show." Book clubs praised the book, making it a bestseller. The film came out in April 2011 and stars Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

'The Hunger Games'

"The Hunger Games" is Suzanne Collins' breakout novel. The book is part one of a series, which fuels its popularity flames. The novel takes place in the ruins of former North America in the nation of Panem. The nation consists of a capitol surrounded by 12 districts. The outlying districts waged war on the capitol and were defeated. Part of the surrender terms mandated that each district send one boy and girl to appear in an annual event called "The Hunger Games," a fight to death on live television. Character Katniss Everdeen steps up to take her younger sister's place in the Games, considering her role to be a death sentence. The film was released in late March 2012. It's directed by Gary Ross and stars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, Wes Bentley and Woody Harrelson.

'The Help'

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett is a popular novel about a young white woman in 1960s Mississippi and a group of black maids who work for her friends' families. It depicts the women's struggles as they confront societal limitations and challenges in their culture. It's written from the perspective of an aspiring young writer during the American Civil Rights Movement. The film was released in August 2011. It's written and directed by Tate Taylor and stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.

If you're interested in picking up chart-topping reads and renting their film adaptations, these titles are a sure bet. The last year or so has brought several popular books to the big screen with successful results.

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