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Book Smart: Oscar Reads “The Reader”

Anyone can see the movie; only smarties read the book. This year all five nominees for Best Picture are stolen from based on literary sources. We’re giving you a cheat sheet to all of Hollywood’s hippest reads.

“The Reader,” by Bernard Schlink (1995) is a former Oprah-fave. Now it’s an Oscar-nommed movie starring Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet in her Golden Globe-winning role as a German streetcar conductor who has nasty secrets and a penchant for teenage boys. ON SCREEN

  • Directed by Stephen Daldry, with a screenplay by David Hare, the movie is told through flashbacks.
  • It’s most famous for the scene where Kate gets naked and deflowers the boy in a bathtub. Hot.
  • Then, because she can’t read, he reads classics of Western lit to her, also while naked. Also hot.
  • SPOILER ALERT! Unfortunately for them both, it turns out that she used to be a Nazi prison guard and gets tried for war crimes and goes to jail. Ralph Fiennes, former child love slave all grown up, sends her books on tape that he records himself. Still, weirdly hot.
  • ON PAGE

  • The book is pretty brief and alternates between storytelling and philosophical musing on the nature of guilt and responsibility.
  • Sequences like the reading-in-bed montage only occupy, like, a few sentences.
  • The book moves chronologically; instead of through flashbacks.
  • The book ends with the loverboy writing down his story; in the movie he tells his tale to his daughter (without all that stuff about the bathtub).
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