On the Big Screen: Books in the Movies

Being the book lover that I am, a book can grab my attention no matter where I am — at a bookstore or library, certainly; but I’ve even noticed books on the big screen.  Here are my top 5 favorite movies featuring books.

WARNING: Spoilers may be given in the details below.

Number One:  Serendipity (2001) starring John Cusak (Jonathan Trager) and Kate Beckinsale (Sara Thomas).  While Christmas shopping in a department store, Jonathan and Sara meet when they reach for the same pair of gloves.  They strike up a conversation and then spend a few hours together going from location to location in New York City.  Jonathan is completely smitten with Sara.  Sara, a believer in fate and destiny, wants a sign that they should be together.  Enter the book Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Sara just happens to be carrying this book around with her, so she writes her name and phone number in the book.  She tells Jonathan that she will sell the book the next day and if he is able to find it, they are meant to be together.  Jonathan spends many years searching for the book.  Is Jonathan able to reunite with Sara?  I won’t give everything away! As for the book in the story… several weeks ago, I stumbled upon a used copy of it.  I automatically opened it up looking for the name and phone number! I laughed at myself for doing it, but wouldn’t that have been something if I’d found THE book!

Number 2:  Indian Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), starring Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) and Sean Connery (Henry Jones, Sr.).  The book I’m referring to in this movie is Dr. Jones Sr.’s grail diary.  This fictional book plays such an important part of the movie that it is almost a character itself.  Jones Sr. spends a good portion of his life researching the grail and making notes in his diary.  When he realizes that he is in danger, he sends the dairy to his son, Indy, in order to keep it safe.  It seems that either people want to steal the book, or see that the book is destroyed. If you’ve seen the movie and are a book lover like me, you won’t forget the book burning scene.  Some years ago I thought it would be interesting to track down the location of this movie prop.  I did some research and found a website that discusses the diary, which resides in the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles.  To learn more about the diary, please click here:  Grail Diary | Indiana Jones Wiki | Fandom

Number 3:  Hocus Pocus (1993) starring Bette Midler (Winifred Sanderson), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah Sanderson) and Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson).  The Sanderson sisters return to life after 300 years when a boy lights the black flame candle.  Max, his sister, and a friend steal Winifred’s spell book and the Sanderson sisters chase them all over Salem, Massachusetts in an attempt to recover it.  The Sandersons need the book to take the souls from children, thus keeping the sisters alive, young, and beautiful.  The children finally succeed in turning the three witches to dust, but as the credits are rolling, we see a shot of the spell book cover, with the eye opening.  Is this really the end of the Sanderson sisters?  According to an article I found, there were three book props created for this movie, which are now stored in the Disney archives.  If you’d like to know more about the props, please click here:   13 Bewitching Props from Hocus Pocus – D23  

Number 4:  You’ve Got Mail (1998) starring Meg Ryan (Kathleen Kelly) and Tom Hanks (Joe Fox).  What could be better than a movie with a bookstore setting?  Though several books are mentioned in this movie, the book that gets the most attention is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  While chatting anonymously online, Kathleen mentions to Joe that she loves this book.  Joe wants to impress Kathleen, so he reads it.  When their characters are to finally meet in a café, Kathleen leaves the book on the table with a red rose so that Joe will be able to identify her.  Joe discovers his crush is really his arch nemesis, and he decides not to tell Kathleen he has been her online pen pal.  You could say Kathleen is like Elizabeth Bennett – stubborn and only thinks the worst of Joe.  Joe is like Mr. Darcy in that he initially thinks Kathleen is beneath him and her bookshop is small and inconsequential compared to his bookstore chain.  Elizabeth and Darcy marry by the end of their story.  Will Kathleen and Joe?

From my personal collection

Number 5: The Lake House (2006) starring Keanu Reeves (Alex Wyler) and Sandra Bullock (Kate Foster).  Kate and Alex both live in the same lake house, but two years apart.  They discover that they can write to each other by placing letters in the lake house mailbox…and that Alex’s present is 2004 and Kate’s is 2006.  After corresponding for a while, Kate and Alex fall in love.  Kate asks Alex to got to a train station on the day she left her favorite book behind.  The book was Persuasion by Jane Austen, and it had been given to her by her father.  Alex locates it and hides the book under Kate’s floorboards to find at a later time. He marks a passage from the book for Kate, which she reads when she finds the book:  “…there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison…” They arrange to meet on a certain date.  When Alex does not show, Kate writes to Alex to say goodbye.  Alex begs her to arrange another date, and he says, “What about Persuasion?  You told me…they wait.  They meet again.  They have another chance.”   Do Kate and Alex ever meet?  You’ll have to watch the movie to find out!

Honorable mention: The Princess Bride (1987) starring Cary Elwes (Wesley/Dread Pirate Roberts) and Robin Wright (Buttercup/The Princess Bride). This movie is a film adaptation of William Goldwin’s 1973 novel The Princess Bride. This movie makes my list because I always enjoyed reading to my daughter when she was little. The movie begins with a the late, great Peter Falk as a grandfather reading a book to his grandson. The grandson isn’t interested in the story to begin with, but as the grandfather reads on the tale becomes more enchanting and adventurous. I won’t give away the plot of the movie, but I can tell you that the boy wishes for his grandfather to read the book again the next day.


Let’s Shed a Little Light on This Subject

Have you ever searched high and low for inspiration, wondering if you’ll ever find it? This is true for me, especially during the past year.  I told my mother-in-law that in 2021 I hoped to write at least one blog per month as long as I could find something interesting to write about.  This is easier said than done, I’m finding. She has been incredibly supportive of my efforts here, and she suggested I write about lighthouses. My first thought was that would be interesting, but I don’t know what I would say about them.  Then, out of the blue, the light bulb went on (appropriate for a blog about lighthouses!). There were many lighthouses in the area surrounding the island where I grew up.  Except for the last 10 years of my life, I have lived within 10 miles of the Atlantic Ocean and have marveled at many lighthouses up and down the East Coast.  If you look on the shelves in my living room, you will see a lighthouse figurine, given to me by mother-in-law many years ago; and a lighthouse painted on a sea shell by one of my aunts (see picture in title box). So I decided, Yes! I can write this!

I checked out from my library American Lighthouses: A Comprehensive Guide by Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones (Old Saybrook, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 1998, ISBN 0-7627-0324-5) and enjoyed thumbing through its pages, reading about lighthouses I have been to and those I would like to visit.  One-quarter of the way through I ran across a section on the Statue of Liberty and was surprised.  Ok, why have I never thought of this as a lighthouse?  Have you? I guess I have always just thought of it as a monument.  “Dedicated in 1886 and commissioned as a harbor light that same year, the Statue of Liberty is probably the world’s most famous lighthouse.  The light in the bronze lady’s torch guided ships in and out of the harbor for many years and is still hailed as a guiding light by many landlubbers.” (p. 84) This, folks, is why I continue to read and learn!

Lights & Legends: Hamilton, Harlan

There’s a connection between the Statue of Liberty and Race Rock Light (1878), near where I grew up.  I recently added to my collection Lights & Legends: A Historical Guide to Lighthouses of Long Island Sound, Fishers Island Sound and Block Island Sound by Harlan Hamilton (Stamford, CT: Wescott Cove Publishing Company, 1987. ISBN: 0-918752-08-6).  One of the engineers of the base created for Lady Liberty was Francis Hopkinson Smith, who was also the engineer behind the construction of the Race Rock lighthouse.  The Race, a particularly dangerous area located off the western tip of Fishers Island, NY, was the site of a dozen or so shipwrecks in the early part of the 1800s.  In 1846, the wreckage of the steamship, Atlantic, claimed 45 lives. It was due to this catastrophe that the U.S. Congress funded a project to build a lighthouse at the Race Rock location.  Smith later went on to pen the novel, Caleb West, Master Diver (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1898) based on his experiences during the building of Race Point Light.  According to an article in The Daily Star newspaper, this novel was adapted into a silent film in 1920, under the title Deep Waters. (Fredricksburg, VA: Friday, October 7, 1921, Vol. XXVII, No. 83, p. 1).

A Death Long Overdue (A Lighthouse Library Mystery #7)

Another cause for the lightbulb to go off in my head – I just happened to be reading a cozy mystery at the time of my conversation with my mother-in-law.  A Death Overdue by Eva Gates (New York: Crooked Lane Books, 2020, ISBN: 978-1643854588), is the 7th book in the Lighthouse Library Mystery series.  The heroine and amateur sleuth, Lucy Richardson, is the assistant manager of the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library in Nags Head, NC.  (Real lighthouse, fictional library.)  I love this series and never tire of reading about the characters’ interactions, the book club meetings, and Lucy’s investigating adventures.  The eighth installment of the series, Deadly Ever After, is due to be released May 11, 2021 (ISBN: 978-1643855882).  If you’d like to know more about this series, click here: The Lighthouse Library Mysteies – Home (

Juliet Blackwell, another one of my favorite authors, writes the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series.  Book 7 in this series is A Ghostly Light (New York: Berkley, 2017, ISBN: 978-1101989357).  Mel Turner is hired to renovate a historic lighthouse in San Francisco Bay. When a dead man is found at the bottom of the lighthouse stairs, Mel sets out to find the killer. To learn more about Juliet Blackwell and her books, please click here: Author Juliet Blackwell.

If you’re a paranormal fan and a non-fiction lover, I recommend reading Lighthouse Ghosts: 13 Bona Fide Apparitions Standing Watch over America’s Shores by Norma Elizabeth and Bruce Roberts (Unknown: Crane Hill Publishers, 1999, ISBN: 978-1575870922.

Also, if you would like to read more about the shipwreck of the Atlantic, Eric Larsson wrote a book called The Captain, the Missionary, and the Bell: The Wreck of the Steamship Atlantic, (Murrells Inlet, SC: Covent Books, 2020, ISBN: 978-1646703777).

I hope you will enjoy these books and maybe get to visit your favorite lighthouse.  And I’ll leave you with this quote – “A good book is a lighthouse; a wise man is a lighthouse; conscience is a lighthouse; compassion is a lighthouse; science is a lighthouse! They all show us the true path! Keep them in your life and remain safe in the rocky and dark waters of life!” – Mehmet Murat Ildan


Literary destination: London, England

My favorite thrift shop has a large book section I love to browse because I never know what marvels I might stumble across there.  On one recent visit, I found this book by Anna Quindlen, Imagined London: A Tour of the World’s Greatest Fictional City (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2004, ISBN 9780792265610.)  I love reading.  I love London.  I love reading books set in London.  Brilliant find!  Some of the authors that inspired Quindlen’s London adventures discussed in this book are, Virginia Woolf, Margery Allingham, Nancy Mitford, John Mortimer, and of course, Charles Dickens.  If you’d like to find out more about Anna Guindlen and her books, please click here:  Anna Quindlen

We took a family trip to London in 2012 and one of the spots we visited in common with Quindlen was Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey.  Over 100 English authors/poets are buried or honored here, including Robert Browning, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, and William Shakespeare.  The first poet buried in Westminster Abbey was Geoffrey Chaucer in 1400!  When you visit here, you’ll notice the vaulted ceiling soaring above you, and you’ll be surrounded by beautiful archways, stained glass windows, and statues.  What an amazing way to pay tribute to your national treasures of literature.  Out of all the photos we took while we were there, I can’t find any from Poet’s Corner! If you’d like more information, and to see official photos of Poet’s Corner, please click here:  Poets’ Corner | Westminster Abbey (

While we were in London, I was hoping to see the “home” of Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street, an address that did not actually exist when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Holmes stories.  Now, that address belongs to the Sherlock Holmes Museum.  We were unable to make it there due to several road closures, so I guess I’ll have to plan another trip someday. Would you like to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum on your next trip to London?  Make sure to click here for more information:  Sherlock Holmes Museum – The official home of Sherlock Holmes (  Want to know more about the man behind it all?  You can find information about Doyle here:  Arthur Conan Doyle – Licensing – Official Website of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Family Estate (

My copy of the complete Holmes stories

If you’re planning on going to Baker Street when you visit London, and you’ll be traveling with children, you may want to visit Paddington Station while you’re in the general area.  Why?  Do you remember Paddington Bear?  In the 1950s, Michael Bond bought a stuffed bear for his wife, which they named Paddington since they lived near Paddington Station.  Bond began to write stories about this bear, and in 1958 A Bear Called Paddington was published.  A statue of the bear was commissioned by Bond and was unveiled in its new home in Paddington Station in February 2000.  If you’d like to find out more about Bond and his famous bear, click here:  Paddington

The first Paddington Bear book

If you’re continuing on your adventure with your children (or even without), south of Paddington Station is Kensington Garden.  While you’re strolling in the park and taking in the lovely views, you may come across the statue of Peter Pan, made famous by author JM Barrie.  Peter first made his appearance in the 1902 adult novel, The Little White Bird or Adventures in Kensington Garden.  Peter then made his way to Neverland in the 1904 play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.  The statue has had its home in the Garden since 1912.  If you’d like more information on Kensington Garden, please click here: The Peter Pan Statue – Kensington Gardens – The Royal Parks.  For more information on JM Barrie, you can click here: The Largest Archive & Database of Scottish writerJ M Barrie

Photo credit:

There is another stop I should mention.  Book lovers young and old would enjoy a visit to the British Library.  Not only does this magnificent structure maintain holdings of global historic and cultural significance, but it also contains a library of over 300,000 volumes.  That’s a lot of books!!  What’s even better?  You don’t have to wait until the end of the pandemic to visit – you can visit virtually!  Please click here for more information:  How to explore the British Museum from home – The British Museum Blog. And while you’re in the area, continue on to the British Library. You’ll find originals of the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in their holdings. To find out more about the British Library’s online exhibits and more, please click here: Online exhibitions – The British Library (

I hope you’ll find some points of interest here and will begin planning your own literary journey to London.

(Photo credit for picture of map in title box : London AZ Street Atlas)


Branch Out and Find Some Great Genealogy Reads

As a young girl, I had no concept of the world outside of my family and my community.  History, to me, was all about listening to family stories and looking at old family photos.  And I loved doing both.  (Yes, those are some of my real family photos in the title box.) As an adult, I took that love of family and world history, and did research in order to reconstruct the branches on my family tree.  I loved to watch the TV series Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.  It’s no wonder that this interest in family and history has spilled over into what I read.

I’m always looking for inspiration in writing the blogs for this website.  I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of Jacqueline Winspear’s This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing, which is due to be released November 2020 from Soho Press, Inc. (ISBN: 978-1-64129-269-6).  Winspear’s memoir details three generations of her family, starting with her grandparents during World War I and spanning through her early adulthood.   Some of the things her family members experienced influenced Winspear’s characters and events in her Maisie Dobbs series.  (Truly fantastic reads!)  I love that Winspear wrote: “We are, all of us, products of our family mythology.  Stories are not only passed down, but nestled in every cell.” (Page 6).  This, coupled with two other books that I read recently, served as inspiration for this month’s blog post.  If you’d like to know more about Jaqueline Winspear and her work, please visit

One of those recently read books is It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs (ISBN 978-1-4767-3449-1). This book was released by Simon & Schuster in November 2017.  It’s a funny and heartwarming telling of how and why Jacobs decided to host the world’s largest family reunion.  I’ve tried to plan events with just my siblings and it’s always quite the process!  I can’t imagine planning an event for several thousand people.  Jacobs also explores what “family” means to different people and learns more about himself in the process.  To find out more about A.J. Jacobs and his books, you can go to

The other of those recently read books is in the fiction category.  If you follow The Book Adventurer on Facebook, you will have seen my posts about Lineage Most Lethal by S.C. Perkins, released in July 2020 by Minatour Books (ISBN 978-1-250-75007-5).  This is Perkins’ second book in the Ancestry Detective Mystery series, which is set in Austin, Texas and features genealogist Lucy Lancaster.  In Lineage, Lucy is working on a presentation for her client when she encounters a man who gives her a Montblanc pen and tells her to “keep them safe”.  The man dies shortly after the encounter.  While trying to discover who this man is and unravel the mystery behind his cryptic message, Lucy discovers ties to her own family history.  Although the story take places in the present, the mystery involves some World War II intrigue, another of my favorite things to read about.  If you’re interested in Perkins’ series, you can visit her website –

After writing the information above, I got to thinking about some of the other books that I read that may not deal with genealogy per se, but that tie into the theme of family lineage.  A group of historical fiction books immediately popped into my head.  You may have seen one of my many Facebook posts about books by Beatriz Williams.  I’ve previously blogged about All the Ways We Said Goodbye, a book she co-wrote with Karen White and Lauren Willig.  (See Intrigue at the Hotel Ritz Paris from Feb 2020.)  I am a huge fan of her work and I own all of her books.  Her books take place during different time periods and in different settings, but they are interconnected because they all deal with members of the same family – the Schuylers.  In fact, Williams has created a family tree for these characters so that you’ll be able to see how they’re related and in which books you’ll find them. Most of her books can be read as stand alones, but I recommend starting with her first book, Overseas from Penguin Random House, May 2013, ISBN 978-0-425-26126-2. To find out more about Williams’ books and the Schulyer family tree, please go to


Cozy Mysteries: How to Have Fun with (Fictional) Murder

One December a few years ago, I was sitting in an examination room at my doctor’s office, waiting for my doctor.  While I was waiting, I was reading a Christmas themed cozy mystery.  My doctor entered the room, looked at my book and said, “A Christmas murder mystery?  Isn’t that a little morbid?”  I told her no, and it was actually a little bit funny.  She just looked at me incredulously for a few seconds before getting down to medical business.

What are cozy mysteries, and how does one have fun with them?  Cozy mysteries are a gentler form of the mystery genre.  Sort of like a PG movie, if you will.  They don’t contain graphic scenes of sex or violence, and usually don’t contain foul language.    They often are set in small towns and the protagonist becomes an amateur detective.  Often you will also find an element of humor in them, which is why so many of them have punny titles.  Please don’t misunderstand, though.  The basis of an exceptional cozy is still a great mystery and great writing.  In addition to an expertly spun tale, many authors add recipes or craft ideas to their books. Here are just a few examples of authors who have found a way to go beyond the story and connect with their readers on another level.

One author I admire for her writing skills as well as her sense of entertainment and fun is Ellie Alexander.  Alexander is currently writing The Bakeshop Mysteries (setting is self-explanatory) and the Sloan Krause Mysteries, which are set in a brew pub.  She always has amazing recipes at the end of her books.  Don’t just stop with reading Alexander’s books, though.  Be sure to check out her website –, and follow her on her Facebook page as she posts lots of videos with cooking and baking tips (my favorite humus recipe ever comes from Alexander; see below) and holds virtual chats with other authors.  Alexander is also collaborating with her fans and has written A Brunch with Death based on The Bakeshop Mysteries and is in a current collaboration with them based on The Sloan Krauss Mysteries.    Her latest release is Nothing Bundt Trouble, published in June 2020 by St. Martin’s Paperback, ISBN  978-1250214362).  Coming the end of September 2020 will be the release of Beyond a Reasonable Stout from Minatour, ISBN 978-1250766106.

I’ve written in my previous blog entry about author Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile Mysteries, and that I enjoy learning about bookbinding and restoration from her main character, Brooklyn Wainright.  Carlisle also writes The Fixer Upper Mysteries, a series that the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel has turned into movies starring Jewel.  Like many cozy authors, Carlisle lists recipes in the back of her books.  If you want more fun, visit her website’s “secret room” at  She has puzzles, recipes, crafts, and more.  Carlisle’s latest Bibliophile Mystery release was in June 2020 from Berkley is The Grim Reader, ISBN 978-0451491435.  Coming in December 2020 will be the release of Premeditated Mortar (Fixer Upper Mystery) from Penguin.

Another one of my favorite authors is Jenn McKinlay.  In a September 2, 2020 interview by 3TV’s Good Morning in Phoenix, AZ, McKinlay describes her mystery writing as “I Love Lucy/Agatha Christie mash ups”.  She writes several series in different genres, including the Library Lovers Mystery Series.  Lindsey Norris, the main character in these books, is Briar Creek’s library director.  A group meets every week at the library for “crafternoon”, which is a book club discussion with food and crafts.  At the end of each Library Lovers book, you’ll find the featured craft from that meeting, along with recipes for the foods described in the story. The newest book in this series, One for the Books, released September 2020 from Berkley (ISBN 978-0593101742).  McKinlay also wrote The Decoupage Mysteries, a three-book series under the pen name of Lucy Lawrence.  This older series, also published by Berkley, contains decoupage projects in the back of the book.  For more information about McKinlay’s books, go to her website

Daryl Wood Gerber (a/k/a Avery Ames) writes several mystery series as well.  Her latest release from Kensington in July 2020 is A Sprinkling of Murder, ISBN 978-1-4967-2634-6.  This book is a first in her new Fairy Garden Mystery series.  Recipes are included at the end of the book, but if you go to Gerber’s website, enter the Savor the Mystery Club section and you’ll find information on making your own fairy garden, recipes, puzzles, etc.  Although I haven’t started on my fairy garden yet, I recently added these items to my library.  (Ok, I gnome is not a fairy, but come on!  He’s reading a book! I couldn’t resist.) 

These are just a few examples of ways to go beyond the story and enjoy your cozy mystery.  If you haven’t explored this genre yet, I hope this post will inspire you to start your cozy mystery adventure.