Reader’s Advisory: Fiction

At the Movies and Between the Pages: Books and Stories That Became Films

Did you love that movie? How exciting was it? Did you know it was a book first? It is a cliche that the book is always better than the movie. Why not find out for yourself with these reads that inspired Hollywood to take the printed word and put it on the silver screen.

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Dumas’ classic tale of wrongful imprisonment and revenge has fascinated readers for generations. It has also been popular in Hollywood and has made it to the screen multiple times with the most recent version as an amped up action film in 2002.
  • Misery by Stephen King. Meet Annie Wilkes. She seems like a good samaritan, but Paul Sheldon learns that she is something much more than just his biggest fan. King’s work, both horror and non, is very popular in Hollywood and Misery is just one of the better examples. The Tommyknockers? That was made into a movie in 1993. Carrie was a book in 1974 and a movie in 1976. The Shining was a controversial movie choice when it was made in 1980, but has now become one of the best loved thrillers of all time. Even his short stories have become movies – The Body (movie fans call it Stand by Me), Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (aka The Shawshank Redemption) and Apt Pupil are all from the short story collection Different Seasons. King has a lot of works, so it won’t be hard to make the book-movie connection.
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman made his name in graphic novels, specifically the well regarded Sandman series, but he has since moved into short stories and novels as well. Stardust is a a fantasy tale of what if faeries were just on the other side of a small English town. Flying pirate ships and fairy hunting witches are just a few of the folks you’ll meet in Stormhold.
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Better known to cinephiles as Blade Runner, this tale has long been considered one of the best examples of cyberpunk. Replicants are loose in Los Angeles, trying to avoid the end of their short lives, and Deckard has to find them and terminate them. If you like the crazy world Dick has created, check out his works that have become movies, like The Minority ReportA Scanner Darkly, or The Adjustment Team, which recently was released as the film The Adjustment Bureau.
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Follow the trials, tribulations, and successes of Celie, an African American woman in the segregated South of the early 20th century. Walker’s story is a heartbreaking and joyful tale that is a read that will suck you in. The movie version was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This is a tale, not just of a post apocalyptic future, but of a father and son and the hope that lives inside them. The stark landscapes from the film starring Viggo Mortensen feel even emptier in the text version.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This frequently school assigned tale of the need for justice in the segregated South was also an Academy Award nominated film, thanks to Gregory Peck’s Academy Award winning performance. Though a part of many a school’s curriculum, it was worth a leisure read as well.
  • Scott Pilgrim (graphic novel series) by Bryan Lee O’Malley. O’Malley’s tale of a misfit Scott Pilgrim and his relationship with Ramona Flowers and his friends wasn’t completed before filming on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World wrapped. Rip through this highly addictive short graphic novel series laced with references to punk rock, video games, and kung-fu fighting ex-boyfriends.

Want to dig even more into the background of your favorite films? Mid-Continent Public Library has a great Based on the Book page, including both the movie and book title as well as the book’s author. The book shelf sharing website Goodreads also has an extensive list of popular books that have become movies.

See you at the movies…and then at the library!