Beyond Bestsellers: Film Adaptations

by Grant P.

As one of your film bloggers, I have yet to experience the joy and honored duty of taking you along the joyous path that is Beyond Bestsellers. Whether this was due to my perceived lack of ability to provide content on books or perhaps a refusal to volunteer on my part is immaterial. For this lovely month of July, our Beyond Bestseller theme is … FILM? That is right, my pleas were heard, and instead of coming up with an obscure genre of books to read, I have a much simpler task for you all. Watch a movie, or better yet, many movies! To appease the blog overlords, I have agreed to keep to the general theme of books, we will be only talking about movies that were adapted from books, novellas, novelettes or short stories.

I have tried at least to avoid some of the most obvious examples of films turned into books, but if you have only seen Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, To Kill A Mockingbird, or The Great Gatsby, boy do I have wonderful news for you!

“If you liked the movie, you should read the book” is something that we perhaps all get joy from saying to someone who might not have been aware that their beloved movie was based on a book. But, you know what?  Sometimes … THE MOVIE IS BETTER. Whether it is because the book was too long (and singing makes everything better), or maybe it was not fully realized, perhaps the ending was lame, or our imaginations were limited. However, a movie does not have to be better than the book to be a worthwhile experience. A film is just another medium through with to experience a story. Well now that I have said that movies can be better than books I expect all of my blog writing privileges to be revoked.


Looking to revisit some classic films or perhaps see something that you always thought you should have watched? Classics adaptations have everything from mafia crime to noir crime. Want to feel good about the state of the world and your fellow humans, or feel terrible? Although I didn’t include To Kill a Mockingbird in the lists, I couldn’t resist the urge to include an adaptations of one of Dill’s stories.

Perhaps you are looking for newer films, not the dusty classics above. Can I interest you in some new classics? If you like period pieces there are always great film adaptations for that. Maybe a combination of drug abuse and the Scottish highlands piques your interest. Maybe you didn’t click the link about and don’t believe me that even Chuck Palahniuk himself thinks the movie version of Fight Club is better than the book. Or maybe you do agree that singing makes everything better. Aca cuse me, did I include Pitch Perfect in a list of new classics, yes I did.

The greatest advantage of the horror novel over the horror film is the ability to close the book, skim the lines, shut the thing and hide in the shower (unless you are reading Psycho) . With movies though, you are stuck watching, and even if you shut your eyes, you are still going to hear the terror. I guess you can always pause the movie (if you are watching at home), but eventually you are going to have to hit play again. Also, the jump scare is a little easier to see coming when you are reading … BOO! See, not as dramatic. Explore the world of horror adaptations.


While reading is an important part of child development, popcorn grease can stain books. Many family films have been adapted from books (and I am not even including the many fables). So, if you like dogs, robots, or twins, there is plenty for you and the family. I read a fair amount of science fiction, but I have yet to conjure in my mind some of the amazing scenescapes that have been captured/created by certain films. Maybe that is because I lack the imagination, but I love science fiction adaptations.

Sometimes you have no idea that a movie was based on a book. And if you already knew these films were based on a book, please see the first paragraph of this blog post. But the greatest action movie of all time is based on a book, as are two classic high school comedies, and the best movie about a pig (perhaps second best).

Still have no idea what to watch? Just take this quiz.

Or just pick from these selections.

If you have any favorite adapted film to share, please show them off in a list. Make sure the title starts with “Beyond Bestsellers: Film Adaptations” followed by your own title. Otherwise, we might not be able to find it.

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14 responses to “Beyond Bestsellers: Film Adaptations”

  1. Ann gibson says:

    My favorite book to film adaptation is the short story written by Rudyard Kipling, directed by John Huston, staring Michael Caine and Sean Connery called, “The Man Who Would Be King”. It’s no surprise it won the academy award for best book to film adaptation as well as best screenplay. Caine and Connery give outstanding performances and the scenery is both expansive and intimate at times. The story is so engrossing and compelling that when the final scene is revealed you feel totally spent. It is a drama, an adventure, a buddy film, but with a speckling of humor. I’ve watched this movie more times than I can count, I can recite some of the lines along with the actors! Give it a watch, you won’t be sorry.
    My second favorite book to film adaptation is Tom Clancy’s “Hunt for Red October”. It stars Sean Connery, as a Russian Submarine Captain. The acting is superb from not only Connery but Scott Glenn and Alec Baldwin. The tight confines of a submarine bring focus to the drama and keep you tense and jittery with anticipation and dread. I loved the book, but the movie puts you in the middle of the super tense situation. The final scene is calm, appropriate and gives you a chance to catch your breath.

    • Grant Perrigo says:

      Those are great adaptations. I believe there is a new Jack Ryan show coming out (the protagonist from the Hunt for Red October). This itiration stars John Krasinski who is the fifth actor in the role after Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine.

    • Jackie P. says:

      Now I really want to watch The Man Who Would Be King! Thanks Ann!

  2. donna wartes says:

    quiz options were not me in most of the choices given; likewise film adaptations you show are of no interest. My husband forwarded this to me from his email.

    • Grant Perrigo says:

      I am sorry that you didn’t find any films of interest in our lists. Is there a genre of films that you are interested in? I am sure there are some great book to film adaptations that we could find for you.

    • Jackie P. says:

      Donna, what are your favorite adaptations? I’d love to know!

  3. Jim McCluskey says:

    I saw The Thing starring Kurt Russell and directed by John Carpenter at the Aurora Drive-In in 1982. That fim has so many jump scares, jeez. The Aurora closed in 1982, so it was probably one of the last films shown there.

  4. Alez says:

    Took the quiz and got Family, but I’ve seen everything on that list! In fact, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Princess Bride are probably the two titles I most often go “have you read the book?” to folks who express their love.

    I have reluctantly become a fan of film adaptions. I’ve just learned I have to find the right ones, generally ones that take the spirit of the book and transform it into something spectacular on screen. Or ones that dive into the meta of a the tale and take it to new heights, such as with the Nicholas Cage film Adaptation. I’m curious to see what comes out of the lists this month!

  5. David M says:

    “The Haunting” (Julie Harris, Claire Bloom version) scared me so much that next time it was on TV, I watched it with my brother and we both ran from the room when it was over. Still can’t watch it without goosebumps — and better than the book!

  6. Emily Z says:

    Yay, I got the horror list, which is the right list for me! I need to knuckle down and watch or re-watch most of these. I do remember watching Psycho with my parents when I was a kid. Well, half of it. I tapped out after a while because I was about 8. Maybe I should give it another go now that I’ve finally overcome my fear of closed shower curtains.

    I think some of my favorite movies are fairly unfaithful adaptations of books. The movie Annihilation was not an accurate depiction of its source material in most ways, but it was still a wonderful science fiction horror film in its own right. Return to Oz also took a lot of creative license, combining characters and stories from different books. But, it ultimately felt like a smarter, more sophisticated take on the world of Oz than it’s musical, technicolor predecessor. In general, I like it when the movie is at least a little different from the book. If I wanted to experience the book exactly as it was written I could just read it again :p

    • Grant Perrigo says:

      Annihilation is my favorite movie so far this year. I saw it in the theater by myself (first time since the first Lord of the Rings movie.)

  7. Lindsey A. says:

    I was pretty surprised to find out a couple years ago that Who Framed Roger Rabbit was based on a book from 1981!

  8. Isaac says:

    A movie I really liked that was adapted from a book I also loved (even though the movie had almost nothing to do with the book) was Starship Troopers. The stories in the book and the film couldn’t be more different, yet I really liked each of them. The movie is total popcorn with a pinch of philosophical salting, while the book is philosophical prime rib with an over layer of action gristle.

    Alternatively, while I could never get myself to like the Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter series, I enjoyed the 2012 film adaptation. Then of course there are the somewhat confusing Conan books, film adaptations and novelizations. Conan the Barbarian being a collection of older short stories by Robert Howard released 1954, then a movie released in 1982, then a novelization of the movie, the a rebooted movie in 2011. The two films are loose amalgamations of several Conan stories, none of which were from the original “Conan the Barbarian” book release (which was itself a re-release). And that’s not even getting to ‘Conan the Destroyer’, whose material was taken from earlier Howard stories with a bit of H.P. Lovecraft material added in. Not to mention it had a novelization that was better than the movie, written by Robert Jordan of all people.

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