One of my favorite books of the year was published a decade ago. It's not surprising that I missed it then; I was still in college, reading what was assigned and little else. So I can't tell you what the initial reception for Call Me by Your Name (Picador paperback, $17) was, just that André Aciman's seminal novel found me exactly when I needed it. Better late than never.

Luca Guadagnino's film adaptation hits U.S. theaters on November 24. I was lucky enough to catch a screening in June. It's an exquisite depiction of Aciman's moving Italian romance between 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old visiting grad student Oliver. In lush northern meadows, sultry Roman alleys and Elio's elegant family villa, the two carefully tangle themselves into a splendid summer affair. It's not always obvious how either feels. Oliver can be brash and fulsome; Elio aloof and critical. Most notably he fixates on Oliver's brusque American excuse for a proper goodbye: Later!

I read the novel within a month of seeing the film, and will attest to the brilliance of both. Aciman crafts his narrative around recollection and nostalgia, a young man sifting through emotion and memories after the fact. One moment blurs into the next as Elio seeks to make sense of his feelings for Oliver and the fleeting nature of their relationship. Guadagnino pulls a much more linear story from this poignant tumult, residing fully in each smoldering moment. Timothée Chalamet embodies Elio's sophomoric ambivalence to such a marvelous degree it made me ache. Armie Hammer plays Oliver with a dashing vivacity that has ruined me for other men.

There's often debate as to whether one should read a book before seeing the movie. This time, it doesn't matter. But do both--whether you gulp them down in quick succession like I did, or you choose to save one for later. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Powered by: Xtenit