Heartburn by Nora Ephron (Vintage, $14). Nora was a true daughter of Hollywood. Her wit and sly asides crackle and pop throughout her work, but her emotional honesty is what makes her books and movies perennial favorites. Heartburn, her roman à clef about her marriage to Carl Bernstein, still resonates. In the 1986 film version, the scene where a very pregnant Meryl Streep realizes that her husband is cheating on her remains chilling.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins, $9). I had misgivings when I heard that one of my childhood favorites — and a book loved by my own "wild things" at home — was being adapted to film. I needn't have worried: Director Spike Jonze delivered a lyrical rendition of a troubled little boy's world of the mind, both a visual and a spiritual feast.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (Picador, $11). I remember strolling around a hotel pool on a Hawaiian vacation years ago and noticing every woman reading one book. That week, I too fell in love with Helen Fielding's awkward and charming Bridget.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Vintage, $14). Chandler's dialogue and description are sharp, masculine, unrelenting, and absolutely delicious. No one evokes L.A.'s seamy side like Chandler, and his first Philip Marlowe remains a classic. In the 1946 movie version, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart practically invented sexual tension.
Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher (Pocket Books, $15). I remember sitting in my car for hours reading Carrie Fisher, devouring her every bon mot. Born and raised in the very vortex of Hollywood, she rendered it viscerally in her hugely funny first novel. Both the book and the 1990 film version with Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine absolutely skewer Hollywood mores.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Grand Central, $8). Is this the finest morality tale ever written? Dealing with vast themes of racial injustice, rape, and the loss of innocence, Lee told the story through the eyes of 8-year-old Scout Finch and wrote with an honest, sure hand. Gregory Peck's performance in the 1962 film still brings tears to my eyes.
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