In the past few years, there have been numerous hit movies and television shows being released on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and even into cinemas that were inspired by books. Ranging from teen romance hits to action-packed thrillers, there are so many of these popular movies that have a story right off the shelf. If you’re looking for something new to read or want to compare the text to the screen, check out the list and reviews we put together of books to read based on recent popular movies and TV shows.
But be warned! There are spoilers. If you've never seen one of these adaptations before, some important details may be revealed. Read with caution!
Author: Caroline Kepnes
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
One of the most talked about Netflix series this year, You actually debuted as a Lifetime series. It wasn’t until Netflix got a hold of it that the show really took off. There’s no better character for Penn Badgley to play than a native New Yorker falling in love with an unreachable blonde. However, unlike Dan and his ultimately unharmful stalker-ish ways, Joe is the definition of both creepy and dangerous.
The series does a nice job portraying Joe’s creepiness with a voice-over, narration style of filming. However, the book - being written from Joe’s perspective - gives the reader the true entry into his mind and thought process. The reader gets the back-and-forth struggle of Joe trying to prove to himself that what he’s doing isn’t creepy or wrong, but almost necessary for the people around him. Following along with this thought process, the reader faces the same struggle, torn between excusing some of his behavior and seeing through his deception.
The show does add some characters, such as his neighbors, giving Joe a more sympathetic and humanized look. Kim’s character and personality are also quite different from how she is portrayed in the show. In my opinion, these characters and story-line decisions truly helped viewers view Joe as more than a psychopathic stalker, but the book still does a very good job of blurring that lines at times. The show does a good job of pacing and leaving the viewer wanting more and clicking “play next episode," but the book is a true page-turner, making it impossible to put down.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult Romance
A hit movie on Netflix this past summer, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before captured the hearts of everyone - not just romance fans. Lara Jean Covey became a quick fan favorite with her quirky, yet confident attitude. Peter Kavinsky had viewers falling for his undeniable charm. The movie was heartfelt, endearing, and was one of the best book-to-screen adaptations we’ve seen in a while - but, in the end, the book still comes out on top.
In the book, Kavinsky comes across as a less “unrealistic” boy. The movie does a great job honing in on his charm, but sometimes you’re just sitting there thinking…” that would never happen today.” The book has more conflicts and goes into much more depth about Kavinsky’s still present relationship with his ex. Reading about the small fights and Lara Jean’s realistic doubts and insecurities gives the story a little more realness to it and makes it more relatable when thinking about your own personal relationships.
Overall the movie does a fantastic job of adapting the book into a motion picture. There are some areas lacking, just like any movie. Pick up a copy of the book and see for yourself. And for some extra bonus points, the book is part of a trilogy - taking Lara Jean all the way up to college. There’s so much more to read!
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
An eight-part mini-series on HBO, the television show is another very well done adaptation of the book. With an award-winning cast, the characters are portrayed almost exactly as you would imagine while reading. This story moves slowly, but the pace is not a problem with the eerie scenes, personal internal and external battles of characters and the constant wonder of who did it?
The story was changed a little for the show. Some of Camille’s childhood traumas are looked-over, taking away from some of her character development. Other parts are dramatized more, giving the reader a possibly different perspective of who she is and what she has gone through. The way the show was shot did highlight certain words on Camille’s body, but the way the words hover over everything she thinks and does is almost impossible to show on camera. The first-person perspective of the book gives the reader the full effect of what the carvings meant to her and affected her.
The ending is the same, mostly, but the show took a different direction with it then the book had laid out. The double-murder was a huge, no-one-saw-it-coming moment that made the ending of the book really weigh on the reader. The show cuts this emotion short by giving this grand “ah-uh” moment only a tiny clip in the mid-credits scenes. The reasoning behind Amma’s behavior and actions were left unanswered in the show, while the book had done such a wonderful job explaining how these murders were possible and why they took place. To get the full weight of the story, I highly suggest picking up a copy.
Call Me by Your Name
Author: André Aciman
Genre: Coming of Age, Romantic Drama
Call Me by Your Name first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film then opened in limited release, screening at only a handful of theaters throughout the US. As the film’s popularity skyrocketed, it soon went into a wide release. The screenplay was adapted closely from the original novel, where the director and actors truly did an exceptional job of portraying the text.
The main difference between the book and the movie is the room for interpretation. Since the movie is acted with a lot of silence, many of the scenes are not clear-cut and viewers are left wondering exactly what everything means. The actors play off this in such an amazing way, giving viewers the taste of unsureness Elio has throughout the novel towards his crush. While this is beautiful to watch, the book gives more insight into how Elio was feeling during the confusion of his attraction and the unsure nature of Oliver’s actions. After watching the movie and seeing these feelings play out, the book further deepens the cycles of self-doubt, longing, over-thinking, and confusion that come along with any crush. This may be one of the few movies to watch before reading.
After viewing, you’ll want to crack open this short novel and get true insights into what Elio was feeling and thinking during his time with Oliver. It may be a quick read, but every page is filled with the deep thoughts and passion Elio feels towards his housemate. I highly suggest turning on the movie’s soundtrack while curling up with this novel.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Author: Daniel Handler, under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Gothic Fiction
A hit three-season Netflix series, these books aren’t new. Many people watching the show were driven there from their nostalgic childhood memories. For those of you who never got around to reading this 13 part series, don’t worry, it’s not too late to start. Yes, they’re technically classified as children’s novels – but they have mature and dark undertones. Both children and adults alike have enjoyed these books. The reading level might be easier than what you’ve had to read for college courses, but they are truly worth the time.
The show had to make some changes, but overall what you watched in the episodes matches what you’re going to read pretty well. The books also have drawings throughout the chapters, giving you some of the same visual effects, but keeping the same eeriness and creepiness of the books. The dark pencil sketches truly add to the gothic themes, making them seem more like a story you’d study in English class than something you would find in the children’s section at the bookstore.
In a way, the show sheds more hope and happiness throughout the series, which feels like a slight injustice to the original books. Some of the episodes also take out key elements of mystery, suspense, and creepiness that are created in the chapter-books, which is really what the overall story is about. The same humor with spelling out vocabulary words for viewers and the narrator begging you not to keep watching are present throughout the book, making it a one-of-a-kind reading experience. If you have some free time, definitely check out these books. 13 books may be a big investment, but most libraries carry the series.
Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Domestic Fiction, Romantic Comedy
Crazy Rich Asians has been the highest grossing romantic comedy in the past 10 years, showing just how great of a story this movie was. With an amazing cast, lavish visuals and sets, the movie was a fun adaptation from the novel of the same name. However, there are some key elements of the book missing from the box office version that will be worth your time to check out.
In the book, we meet Nick’s dad, who isn’t present at all in the movie. The movie version makes his dad out to be focused only on his business and not very present. In the book, he’s laid-back, retired, and seems to be a little more on Rachel’s side than most of the other characters. Another huge difference is the amount of wealth the Young family has is much more of a secret in the book. As you’re reading, you’re trying to figure out exactly how this family is so rich and why no one seems to know how they are. In the movie, everyone – and I mean everyone, knows the just who the Youngs are.
Another difference that is important to Rachel’s and Nick’s relationship struggles is the role of Nick’s Ex. Amanda Ling plays a much more threatening role in the book than the movie. The movie just kind of throws her in the mix at the bachelorette party, where things seem to really take a turn for Rachel. However, in the book, Amanda actually lives in New York and has been meeting up with her ex, unknowingly to Rachel. She actually moves to New York to try and win Nick back.
Let us know you’re favorite adaptions, any we missed, or any on the list you are particularly excited to check out. Remember – these are very recent adaptations and we haven't had time to read or watch everything! If you’re looking for some other titles, let us know and maybe we’ll do a part two! Happy Reading!
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