I have spent lots of time on airplanes in the last week and a half, and that means I've made SERIOUS book progress. Ok, I don't think any of these books were actually on my unread book shelf. But they were all books that I wanted to read.
1. Mansfield Park. When I was about 20 I realized I only had one Jane Austen book to go, so I decided not to read it - I wanted to save it for later. Then PBS started The Complete Jane Austen, so I wanted to read it before I saw the TV version. I'm glad I did save it - I think I read it really differently than I would have 10 years ago. However, it was a mistake to read it immediately before watching the TV version, because all the changes they made just annoyed me. Collapsing the plot, sure, that's necessary for an hour-and-a-half-long version of a 19th century novel. But they messed with Fanny Price's character a lot, too, and that was annoying.
2. The Joy Luck Club. I had to talk to Amy Tan for work and felt bad that I'd never read any of her books. I had actually only read about half of it by the time I talked to her. In case you're wondering, she is so cool. (The book is also most excellent. That Amy Tan, she knows how to write.)
3. The Children of Men. I read this in 1992 or so and I loved it, but I'd mostly forgotten it by the time the movie, which I also loved, came out last year. So I wanted to go back and see how much of the movie was in the book. The answer: not that much. I think this shows the advantage of adapting a book that is *not* a much-loved classic. There just weren't that many fans to piss off. So instead of having to glue themselves to the book, they started with the basic idea, rearranged the characters a bit, borrowed a bunch of scenes, gave it a whole new ending, and modernized heavily. Good stuff.
So, I can heartily recommend all three books. I haven't seen the movie of The Joy Luck Club, but for the other two, my vote goes to the book of Mansfield Park and the movie of Children of Men. I mean, it's a great book, but the movie was freaking awesome.