Staff Picks: The Books That Inspired Oscar Nominees

If you’re a movie buff, then you already know that Oscar nominees were announced yesterday.  From romances to historical dramas and even a story about a bull who loves flowers, the list of nominees proves that critics and audiences love movies based on books.  Check out the original stories that inspired some of the best movies of the year.


Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound takes place is post-World War II Mississippi and follows a group of people living and working on a cotton farm.  Laura marries a man determined to own and farm his own land and moves with him from Memphis to a rural cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta.  Her new home is little more than a shack, and her nickname for it gives the novel its name.

As Laura adjusts to her new surroundings, two soldiers return from war.  Ronsel, a black sharecropper on the farm, resents the way he and other black soldiers are treated in the Jim Crow South.  His friendship with Jamie, Laura’s handsome brother-in-law, opens Jamie’s eyes to the racism that engulfs his home.   It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inevitable conclusion.



Personal History by Katharine Graham

While Oscar nominee The Post was not directly based on Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham’s memoir, Personal History provides firsthand insight into the events of the movie.  Namely, the newspaper’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified documents regarding undisclosed information about the 30-year involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War.

Graham also describes the struggle of taking over the Washington Post after her husband’s suicide and how it felt to be a woman running a newspaper in the old boys’ club of the journalism industry.



Call Me By Your Name Andre Aciman

Call Me By Your Name was an Oscar contender, it was a critically lauded novel about a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them.





The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand is one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, and the animated movie based on the book is nominated for Best Animated Picture.  Ferdinand is a big, strong bull who would rather smell flowers than fight.  Ferdinand’s aversion to violence caught everyone’s attention when the book was published–it was banned in Spain, and was handed out to children after Germany’s defeat in World War II to encourage pacifism.