Nine times out of ten, when I watch a new movie or series, it’s an adaptation of a book I’ve read. I’m always curious to see how directors and actors translate a story to the screen. But, sometimes, it’s the other way around – I enjoy a movie or series and then realise that it’s based on a book, or that the book might be worth reading more than I thought. Here are ten books I read because I liked the movie.
Bridgerton by Julie Quinn
Okay, fine, I’ll cop to it: I’m a basic bitch. I binged the Bridgerton series on Netflix. Twice. And when I saw the book on sale (with the basic-bitch movie cover, no less!) for twelve bucks, I snapped it up. For those of you who have been living under a particularly large rock, this is a Regency romance series based on the series of books by Julia Quinn. The Duke And I is the first book in the series, focusing on the marital prospects of the eldest Bridgerton daughter, Daphne. The Netflix adaptation, a Shonda Rhimes masterpiece, was so good (and so horny, yewwww!), I couldn’t help but dive in to the original material. Read my full review of Bridgerton: The Duke And I here.
Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley
Thank You For Smoking (2005) is one of my favourite movies of all time. It follows Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), chief spokesperson for a major tobacco lobby, as he tries to convince the world that cigarettes won’t kill you (or, if they do, at least you’ll die with liberty). The thing is, I didn’t even realise it was a book, the 1994 novel Thank You For Smoking, until I spotted a copy for $4.99 in a remainder book shop while I was waiting for a train. I was disappointed to discover that the jokes and satire fell a bit flat on the page, where they truly sparkled on the screen. Still, it wasn’t a total waste of a fiver… Read my full review of Thank You For Smoking here.
The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
I didn’t read The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes just because of the BBC adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch… but it certainly didn’t hurt! The contemporary adaptation for screen puts Watson and Holmes in modern-day London, where the mysteries are high-tech versions of the original 19th century stories. Ironically, given Doyle’s economy of language and his very-short-yet-highly-complex Holmes installments, the episodes of Sherlock are loooong – usually at least 90 minutes. Still, they’re so gripping, that run-time just flies by! Read my full review of The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes here.
A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
For a while there, there was nothing worse than the workplace bore who chimed in on the morning-after Game Of Thrones chat, just to say that they already knew what happened because they read the books. Ugh! I wonder where they find their satisfaction now… Anyway, like most of the world, I first encountered George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series via the HBO adaptation. Given that I’m not typically a high fantasy reader, I think that was actually a good way to do it. The world is so vast and complex, I would’ve been completely lost without the existing visual reference points from the show. Read my full review of A Game Of Thrones here.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I actually really, really like the Hunger Games films. The first is obviously the best (isn’t it always?), but I’ve definitely comfort-binged them all back-to-back a couple of times. My impressions of the book, when I finally got around to reading it, were definitely coloured by the films – and, in an unexpected plot twist, I actually thought the films were better. Perhaps that’s because I’m getting old and I couldn’t stand the narration of sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen. The films have a subtlety that you just can’t get when the protagonist is spoon-feeding you her every supposition. Read my full review of The Hunger Games here.
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
I loved the movie Julie And Julia. I can’t remember how I came to watch it, but when I learned later that it was Nora Ephron’s final film before her passing, that totally tracked. The film has everything: Ephron! Meryl Streep! Stanley Tucci! A quirky protagonist with a non-romantic goal! Another quirky protagonist with an iconic accent! I actually wasn’t all that keen to read Julie Powell’s memoir, Julie And Julia, until I heard a review on the To Read List Podcast that piqued my interest. It was pretty good.. but not as good as the movie. Read my full review of Julie And Julia here.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Some people grew up with Little Women, the classic Louisa May Alcott “moral book for girls” about four sisters who fight their way out of poverty and patriarchal oppression to find their own paths in live. I grew up with the 1994 film version, starring Winona Ryder as Jo, Christian Bale as Laurie, Susan Sarandon as Marmee, and a very young Kirsten Dunst as Amy (my favourite… at the time). I know Greta Gerwig’s 2019 version gets all the love, but my heart belongs to my childhood favourite. It was very faithful to the book, to my pleasant surprise when I finally got around to reading it as an adult. Read my full review of Little Women here.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
I suppose, technically, I only watched The Other Boleyn Girl because I so loved the Horrible Histories books about the Tudors when I was a kid. Does that make this a book I read because I loved the movie because I loved a book? Whatever the case, in my humble opinion, the film adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s historical romance is horribly underrated. The book? Not so much. The story was far more fun when I could watch Eric Bana throw his weight around, as Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman competed viciously for his attentions. Read my full review of The Other Boleyn Girl here.
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The journey to reading The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was a long one, for me. See, in my memory, I’d actually mixed up the film adaptation (starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller) with the movie It’s Kind Of A Funny Story (starring Keir Gilchrist and Emma Roberts). In my defence, they’re both about kooky depressed kids who come-of-age while battling mental illness and social/family problems way beyond their ken. Still, it worked out well – I actually quite enjoyed the book, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting! Read my full review of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower here.
The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald
I don’t even remember how I ended up watching The Cry miniseries – I guess I saw a lot of ads for it in between news bulletins on the ABC? It was one of my best television-watching experiences in years (not that that’s saying much), and when I learned (literally years later!) that it was based on a book, The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald, I knew I had to read it. Of course, I already know the “shock twist” ending, but it’s such a brilliant story that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience it all over again anyway. Plus, knowing the ending gives me the chance to sniff out all the clues that Fitzgerald dropped along the way! Read my full review of The Cry here.
March 25, 2022 at 8:57 PM
I love reading the book AFTER the movie or series. So much more satisfying and rarely results in that feeling of disappointment that often comes from doing it the other way around. Also, I’m pretty much a basic bitch when it comes to tie in editions. I love them 😂
March 28, 2022 at 4:09 AM
I’m trying to think of any book I read just because I liked the film/tv version but I have drawn a blank. I think I am more inclined to read the book, then watch the film.
March 29, 2022 at 5:25 PM
I quite enjoyed this post. I’m pretty snobby when it comes to film adaptations of beloved books, but a couple books that I discovered BECAUSE of their film adaptations are The Help and the To All the Boys trilogy. I also watched A Walk to Remember years before I ever read the book, and I love all these books AND their corresponding adaptations.
It’s interesting that a podcast actually piqued your interest in Julie Powell’s memoir. Every review I’ve read of it said the movie is leaps and bounds better so I’ve never been interested in reading it.
And I just feel compelled to give a small shoutout to the 1949 adaptation of Little Women which will always be MY personal favorite and is almost forgotten now that we have the ’94 AND 2019 adaptations.
April 12, 2022 at 12:46 PM
I’ll have to check out the ’49 adaptation sometime Hannah – my heart belongs to the ’94 one, but I think that’s purely nostalgic. And speaking of nostalgia, I had a big old blast of it when you mentioned A Walk To Remember – I haven’t thought about that movie for YEARS! I remember watching it with friends as a teenager and all of us fighting over the tissues…
April 16, 2022 at 11:07 AM
Haha! I still break out A Walk to Remember when I need a good cry. Such a good movie for that. 😂
And my heart belongs to the ’49 version for the same reason: my childhood memories watching it with my grandmother are so close to my heart. 💛 (Plus, Peter Lawford might be my favorite Laurie ever.)