Share this Page

Sherlock Holmes 01

americana

Two hundred and fourteen years ago today, on February 26th 1802, Victor Hugo was born.  To celebrate his birthday, I thought a list of my favorite musicals inspired by novels would be appropriate.  I’ll admit that there was a bit of a battle and some of my favorite musicals didn’t make my list.  But here are what I consider Broadway’s best interpretations of some fantastic books!

1LES MISERABLES
by Victor Hugo
(1862)

Victor Hugo’s masterpiece tells of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who overcomes much to become a community pillar only to discover how hard it can be to escape your past.  I am constantly amazed at how well the music and lyrics capture a very complicated story. And the upshot of watching the musical over reading the book is you don’t have to sludge through the 50 pages Hugo spends describing the Paris sewers.  That said, everyone should still read the unabridged version at least once in their lives because it really is just that good.

2WICKED
by Gregory Maguire
(1995)

I read WICKED by Gregory Maguire before there was a musical.  A while later a friend went to New York and returned raving about the amazing musical she had just seen called WICKED. I was very surprised.  My first question was “Did it end happily?” She said it did and I knew they had changed a lot while adapting that book for the stage.  I believe the book has some good parts and the concept itself is brilliant.  But I usually recommend people just enjoy the musical and leave the book on the shelf.  Does that make me a bad librarian?

3BIG RIVER (THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN)
by Mark Twain
(1884)

The sign of a great musical is one with music that doesn’t leave you.  It’s a musical where, days later, you are still humming its tunes and singing its lyrics. BIG RIVER does that to me.  Who doesn’t love a song about the virtues of hogs?  Or the “*&#  *$&% Government”? Or the desire to just fish or think about fishing all day long?  These songs just speak to my soul.  In all seriousness, I love the music in BIG RIVER.  It is fun and heartfelt.  Mark Twain probably deserves some of that credit for devising characters you just can’t help but love and a story that refuses to lose its relevance with age.

4PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
by Gaston Leroux
(1909)

No list of great musicals would be complete without THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  The musical does veer somewhat from the novel but not in ways that ever really bothered me.  The music is brilliant and the story has a little bit of something for everyone.  It has a little romance, a little adventure, a corpse hanging from the ceiling, and a deformed masked man obsessing over a pretty young girl.  Wonderful family entertainment!

5MAN OF LA MANCHA (DON QUIXOTE)
by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
(1605)

I am just realizing that I have never read DON QUIXOTE and I’ve always wanted to.  In fact, I just put the downloadable audio version on hold…there are two people ahead of me.  I hope they hurry up and finish it.  MAN OF LA MANCHA is one of the first musicals I ever saw, so there is a special place in my heart for that old man and his quest.  But, I really do need to read the book.  I’ll let you know which I like better.

interrupt

True confessions of Carla: I’m a compulsive multitasker. I know, I’ve read the research. Multitasking isn’t as productive as it can sometimes seem to be.  Our brains can’t actually focus on more than one thing at a time.  But I am determined to prove those researchers wrong!  I just can’t seem to help feeling lazy if I’m not doing at least three things at once.  Just this morning I was listening to an audiobook, brushing my teeth, massaging my foot which was sore from an earlier run, and staring at my closet trying to find something I didn’t hate to wear today.  I read while I blow dry my hair, I did my taxes while cooking dinner last night, and I’ve perfected the art of sleeping while watching basketball, football, or most movies. (That last one may not count as multitasking…)

My habit to stay busy and productive at all times, follows me to work.  There is just so much to do and it’s a challenge to fit everything in. This means that while I’m sitting at the Reference Desk, waiting for someone to ask me a question or require assistance, I’m always busy writing emails, ordering books, updating the website, writing blog posts, or several of a million other things that help keep our library running smoothly.  And I’m not alone.  All the librarians are busy doing lots of different tasks while manning our busy service desks.

However, our number one job is to help our patrons access our collections, services and programs.  While we may appear to be busy, we truly are anxious and excited to assist you.  So, we ask that you, please, interrupt us!  We’ve gone so far as to even post this sign at the desk, but I often worry that patrons don’t believe what it says.

I assure you, we are ready to be interrupted…unless of course we are helping someone else, then we’ll be with you as soon as possible.  Please, stop and say hi!  Ask for our help, we may look like we are doing important things, and we may be, but you are our top priority!  Let us help you!

booklists

In the children’s section, we have compiled several lists of various reading material to help encourage young readers to find books they will truly enjoy. These lists can help children explore and find stories about some of their favorite subjects as well as find similar topics that may interest them. 

We have hundreds of books on select “hot topic” lists featuring fairies, pirates, dinosaurs, princesses, horses, and more. Some of the lists are even categorized under themes, such as mystery, action and adventure, fantasy, and science fiction. These lists contain books for all reading levels, including picture books, easy readers, intermediate, and fiction. 

We also have lists of grade-appropriate books from preschool up to 6th grade. We guarantee young readers will find something that interests them and if not, then we will work together to find something that does. We even have read-alike lists for children who have already read some of our most popular books. Reading should be a great experience for everyone and we hope to help each child succeed in their quest for the perfect book. So come take a look at our selection of book lists, they are brightly colored and located on the pillars next to the librarian’s desk, you can’t miss them!

Provo Library Blog

Your daily stop for recommendations, reviews, and random facts about the Provo City Library. Look for new content every week day. 

Blog Contributors

Other Blogs

Library Staff Reviews 

Children's Book Reviews 

Archive