The question most people find themselves asking is this: “Should I read the book first before watching the movie?” This is a question that has been long debated. Some believe not reading a book the movie is based on does not have an effect on the viewing experience. Meanwhile, there are others that find that reading the novel only helps to enrich the movie experience even more. Regardless, these two pieces of media are magnificent on their own and can only be better once enjoyed together.
In the following list, in no particular order, there are titles which were originally novels but have also been translated onto the screen. They can be enjoyed by readers and nonreaders in any format.
The 9 Best Movies Based On Books
- Harry Potter series
- Crazy Rich Asians
- Little Women
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- Virgin Suicides
- Bones and All
- American Psycho
- Gerald’s Game
This classic novel by Roald Dahl has an equally wonderful movie adaptation. Though both mediums are whimsical in their own way, the movie is a great visual representation of Dahl’s vision. If you are not a reader, then the 1996 Matilda film is a great alternative to the book. It is an accurate depiction and is highly rated. Matilda is about a young girl with incredible intelligence and even magical powers living with an uncaring family. Once she is able to attend school, she forms a heartwarming bond with her teacher who helps her form the family she always wanted.
Harry Potter Series
Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon that has resulted in several movies, merchandise, and more. It started as a book series by J.K. Rowling about a boy who goes from living in an abusive household to a powerful wizard in a magical world. The books themselves are beautifully written and manage to immerse the reader into the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The immersion only improves with the movies, with everything described in the books coming to the silver screen. It is not hard to see why both the book series and the movie franchise have become so successful and still remain popular.
Crazy Rich Asians
This entry is one of the most lighthearted ones, offering an enjoyable read or watch. Crazy Rich Asians is a comedy and romance story originally written by Kevin Kwan. This is a series of 3 books, with the film of the same title being released in 2018, based on the first book published in 2013. The story centers on a female professor who goes with her boyfriend to Singapore to attend a family wedding. Once the professor, Rachel Chu, she begins to realize how, her boyfriend, Nick Young’s family is extremely wealthy and in some ways “crazy”. The main advantage of watching the movie over reading the novel is that the film shows how truly absurd and overly luxurious the family can be; the movie has a magnificent wedding scene, which is very imaginative and intricate. This premise sets the stage for a for a comedic and lighthearted adventure. It can be easily enjoyed both as a fun, engaging novel and/or an entertaining film.
The most recent Little Women film made in 2019 is one of the highest rated movies on this list. Surprisingly, this classic novel has had 6 other film adaptations, with the most recent being the most highly regarded. The classic story is about the 4 young March girls as they struggle transitioning into womanhood while trying to fit into societal expectations of femininity and even love; all the while, the girls are also experiencing poverty, the effects of the Civil War. Most of what occurs in the novel is portrayed in the film, the only change being that the Little Women book is written by one of the March sisters, Jo, instead of Louisa May Alcott. This is a beautiful twist to the original story because many of the events in the novel were inspired by Alcott’s own experiences. It is as if the viewer is taking a look into Alcott’s life and the creation of this classic story, making a much more personal and heartwarming viewing experience.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming of age drama and romance written by Stephen Chbosky. The story follows Charlie as he enters high school, feeling out of place. He is them approached by a pair of step siblings: The free spirited Sam and the extroverted Patrick. Together, they show Charlie true friendships, the beauty of first love, and even music. They, along with one of his teachers, also encourage Charlie to pursue his passion for writing. Though this story shows the small yet wonderful things of life, it also isn’t afraid to tackle gut-wrenching yet realistic topics. This iconic story has thankfully been adapted accurately with very minor changes on the big screen.
The Virgin Suicides was written in 1993 by Jeffrey Eugenides. The story follows a group of 5 sisters who all killed themselves within a year. The story is told through the perspective of a group of adult men who knew the girls when they were teenagers. In both the movie and the novel, there is a dark yet dreamy tone as the men try to uncover the illusions of their past and the 5 Lisbon girls. The movie is said to be an exact representation of the novel, remaining true to every word and event.
Bones and All
Bones and All by Camille DeAngelis is a young adult novel that has also recently received a movie adaptation. This is also a disturbing story, featuring a cannibalistic teen girl on her journey to meet her father after being abandoned by her mother. Despite its dark nature, the novel, at its core, is meant to be a romance between the girl, Lauren, and Lee, a boy she meets along the way. As for the comparison, both the novel and film are similar, but there are some notable story telling differences since DeAngelis encouraged the filmmaker to take creative liberties. This was done with full encouragement from her, as she was ecstatic for the new changes. Overall, the story is portrayed beautifully yet tragically as a disturbing love story with a dark ending.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is not for the faint of heart. This dark novel struggled with bans and censorship from 1995 to 2000, especially in Germany. American Psycho follows the story of a rich New Yorker as he lives his double life, hiding his murderous tendencies from his friends. The story is know for its graphic nature, containing themes of sadistic sex and extreme gore. While most of these themes are including in the film adaptation as well, released in 2000, the movies holds back much more than the original novel does; it tends to cut during violent scenes, leaving many of the horrors to the viewers’ imagination. Though it can be a horrific watch, American Psycho is highly regarded and considered a cult classic. Watch at your own discretion!
Now here’s an entry from one of the greatest writers of our time, Stephen King. His 1992 novel, Gerald’s Game, is about a couple’s trip gone wrong. In the middle of some foreplay, Jessie’s husband, Gerald, dies of a heart attack after handcuffing his wife to the bed. Jessie is left handcuffed in a cabin in the middle of the woods, with no signal and no one knowing her location. She is left to survive while she faces several dangers such as a hungry dog, dehydration, and the Moonlight Man, the main antagonist. Both the film and novel are very similar in the way they utilize flashbacks and Jessie’s thoughts to develop her character and the narrative. It can be viewed on Netflix and is highly rated by critics and audiences. This story is definitely one of the most disturbing ones on the list, but for those who can stomach it, it’s worth the watch.
These are our picks for the 9 best 9 movies based on books. How many of these have you watched? What other books adapotations should have made the list? let us know in the comments below!