Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that today would have been Ian Fleming's 100th birthday. I could go to the effort of linking to all the articles from today...but I'll let the Rap Sheet do it for me. But be sure to check out today's "Bullets, Broads, Blackmail, and Bombs" column where Bruce discusses the Young James Bond series. I've already placed the audio of the first book on hold at the library.
In terms of the Fleming novels, I came to them late. I read Casino Royale about 12 years ago (1996) and it was strange. The torture scene (which made the movie) surprised me. It was my own myopic opinion that stuff so overt didn't happen in novels of the 1950s. I liked CR but read no further.
About four years ago, I discovered that Audible.com has almost (if not) all the Bond stories on audio. I blew through about four in a row. The most surprising ones were Moonraker (#3) and Diamonds are Forever (#4). For all of y'all who like intimate details of your favorite fictional characters, Moonraker is a good Bond book. (BTW, forget the movie. Just forget it when you read this novel.) The first third of the book has Bond battling Hugo Drax...in cards. You see Bond in his office, bored. You see Bond in his house, the clothes he wears for a night at a men's club, the food he eats. It's pretty interesting.
Diamonds are Forever is another book that you'll have to check your memories of the movie at the door. It's different in a travelogue sort of way. You see a side of Vegas in the late 50s that reminds you that that the city really was built in a desert.
From Russia With Love is very much like the movie. If you read Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac today (linked at the Rap Sheet), you'll see that Fleming wrote the book with the movie in mind. It's probably no wonder why FRWL makes many best-Bond film Top 3 lists.
I haven't read the next book in order (Dr. No) but I imagine I will after I plow through Sebastian Faulks new Bond pastiche, Devil May Care. I've got it on hold at the library. I'll review it later this summer.
Oh, and a last word about the novels: unless you are one who really likes 'clean' copies, go to used bookstores. The Fleming novels are always there.