6 June 2019

10 Book To Television Adaptations We Haven't Read (Yet)



We almost always try to read the book first. If there's a movie coming out and we know we're interested in the book we will rush to finish it. But these TV series were so enjoyable that we're looking to pick up the book after the fact!

Meg and I watched this HBO series sometime last fall on one of her visits to Ontario and we were spooked. I think mostly because we both started this knowing absolutely nothing about the plot, so we had no idea what to expect. We were drawn to it because it's based on a Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) novel by the same name and was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild) who is one of my favourite directors- Canadian too! I didn't feel like I was super obsessed with this series while watching it, it was kind of slow and very dark, but I  have thought about it a LOT since, and I loved the ending (even though Meghan and I had to google to make sure what we thought happened actually happened). 

There are some really strong performances in it by Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, and Chris Messina who I love. Clarkson actually won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries for her work in this. It's scary in a psychological way, but the eeriness of it also speaks to Vallée's direction and how he perfectly captured the sadness of small midwestern towns like Wind Gap, Missouri. I've never even read Gone Girl, but Flynn's novels adapt so well to film and television that I am pretty intrigued now.




Showtime's Patrick Melrose is one of my favourite miniseries I've seen so far. There are only five episodes and each one is based off one of Edward St. Aubyrn's books. The books are considered to be loosely autobiographical which is horrifying given the difficult subject matter. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular character and we watch him suffer through an alcohol/drug dependency which is clearly a reaction to his traumatic childhood.

Cumberbatch performs so well in this series and I'd love to see how the character is portrayed on paper. The supporting cast (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving) are excellent as well and I'd be curious to see if I still react to them the same way. Normally I would be afraid to commit to a five-book series, but they are all roughly 300 pages which is pretty manageable. I can see myself slowly moving through these books and revisiting the matching episode after each one.

Y'ALL I am obsessed with Friday Night Lights. There are some shows I can watch again and again and this is one of them. I most recently re-watched the first few seasons with Scott and it is just as good now as the first time (although I usually stop when the series splits the town into two high schools, that was a poor writing choice and I prefer the first few seasons). It's about the high school football team in small town Dillon, Texas, and it really shows how football runs the communities there, and the way everyone's lives are impacted by the sport. You do not have to like football to love this show, I am a shining example. 

The show was loosely adapted from H. G. Bissinger's 1990 book Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream. Ugh I love a subtitle. The book also inspired the 1993 TV series Against the Grain, and the 2004 movie Friday Night Lights (which I never saw). In 2002 Sports Illustrated ranked this the 4th best book about sports, so between that praise and my passion for the series, I need to read it.

Peter Berg developed this series and it shows. If you've ever seen a Berg film (Lone SurvivorDeepwater Horizon) you know it's usually a very emotional depiction of a true event. He loves real footage and a good musical score, and these things are present in Friday Night Lights as well. You feel like you're at the high school football games when you watch and you get VERY invested in the characters. This show has also inspired my deep, unparalleled love for Taylor Kitsch who plays a wrong-side-of-the-tracks rebel named Tim Riggins in the show.

My first introduction to these books was from a friend in my undergrad who said they are really well written but that the covers are so cringy that you wouldn't think they are as well respected as they are. This is the only TV show on my list that I haven't watched yet but I plan on seeing it soon. This series is based off the first of the four Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante and they have already green lit a second season based off the follow up novel.

The series centers around two young girls and follows them through adulthood into old age. The books have been translated from Italian and have sold all over the world. There's even a documentary called Ferrante Fever that came out this year talking about them and the elusive author. Jonathan Franzen is briefly in the trailer raving about them so I think I will eventually get around to both watching and reading this story!

This would rank in my top five shows if I was ever gun-to-my-head forced to make a list. I love the characters, the scores, and I especially love the way the director captures the scenery in a way that suits the mood of the show (surprise, surprise, it's Jean-Marc Vallée again who I carried on about earlier when describing Sharp Objects, clearly I love him). It's a female-driven 'thriller' and includes themes of parenting, domestic violence, and friendship. I am also 99% certain that I have read this book, I think it was in a big bag from an ex's mom, but for whatever reason I barely remember it, so I need to read it again. 

Having not read anything I can remember by Liane Moriarty, I feel bad classifying her work into a genre, but if I had to make a surface level judgement call I would say they're chick-lit. It seems incredible to me that a chick-lit-ish book was adapted into such a deep, multifaceted, thought-inspiring show, but this just goes to show I judge things without truly knowing. I should likely read more Moriarty books as well, considering how much I love this story.


This show has an incredible cast (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, and Zoe Kravitz) and earned a whopping 4 Golden Globes and 8 Emmy's for it's first season. The second season starts THIS SUNDAY and you're going to need to watch. 




I watched this spy thriller with Ben for a couple of reasons: 1) we both love Park Chan-Wook's work and he directed every single episode and 2) the cast is amazing (Michael Shannon, Alexander Skarsgard) and Florence Pugh is both the star and Ben's celebrity crush. This is about an English actress named Charlie who is recruited by the Israeli government to infiltrate a Palestinian group they deem dangerous. The TV series is based off a book of the same name by famous spy novelist John le Carre.

We flew through all six episodes and I listened to a few podcasts that went over the series and the author of the book. Le Carre has had a pretty interesting life (and some of it is subtly referenced in the first episode) and is one of the most famous spy novelists of all time. I have never read any of his work but I think this would be a great one to dig into.

I haven't read a lot of Margaret Atwood's earlier work unless it was assigned to me in school, so I haven't read Alias Grace, the book from which the Netflix series by the same name was adapted. To be honest I may not have even been interested in watching the series if it wasn't Canadian and if The Handmaid's Tale wasn't so damn good. It's only six episodes so it's easy to get through, and it's a fictionalized account of a true Canadian story about two housekeepers who were convicted of killing another housekeeper and the homeowner. One of the convicted housekeepers was hung, while the other was given a life sentence. Grace Marks, who was given the life sentence, is the center of Alias Grace.

The events in the book are factual but the narrative involving Marks and the psychologist is fictionalized. I liked that the miniseries didn't drag on with insignificant details. Each episode was meaningful and necessary, which is something I don't take for granted after The Assassination of Gianni Versace. I also think this format really made me want to read the book, because there are so many things I felt could have been expanded, and I'm sure Atwood is more detailed in the book.



This is a super short 1967 novel by Australian writer Joan Lindsay that has already been adapted into a film (1975) and now a 6-episode miniseries starring Natalie Dormer on Prime. It's a period piece set in 1900 and centres around a group of female students who disappear while on a Valentine's Day class picnic. The TV series was so eery and I compulsively watched episode after episode (6 in total) because I wanted more to be revealed.

I will definitely be ordering this book online because I want to see if there are any more details about the disappearance and to see how they characterize the scary headmistress. It's also only 212 pages so I could easily finish it in two days.




This one is a bit of a weird addition to the list because the show itself isn't out yet, but I am determined to read the book first this time. This is another Liane Moriarty novel (Big Little Lies) and Blake Lively is already attached to the project as the lead. I'm sure unless Jean-Marc Vallée directs that it won't be near as good as Big Little Lies, but nothing else has really been announced. It's another female-driven thriller and I'm excited to have a runway to read it before watching the show.



I watched this HBO series for the first time with Ben (he had already seen the first two seasons) and we finished the final season together when it aired in April 2017. This would likely be in my top five TV shows of all time, and I'm positive it is in Ben's top three. The TV series is based off the book's premise (which is INCREDIBLE) but then extends beyond it, but I'd love to read the source material that inspired the show. The premise is that suddenly two per cent of the world's population disappears. No one knows why this happened and the people left behind have to reckon with it.

I can't stress enough how amazing this show is. It is so dark and depressing, but with small uplifting moments. The characters are all incredible (especially Nora Durst played by Carrie Coon) and I'd love to see how the Garvey family is sketched out in the book to compare with Justin Theroux's portrayal. I can't help but think the book would be great given that Tom Perrotta also wrote Little Children that was adapted into a movie directed by Todd Field (In the Bedroom) and starring Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson. Perrotta was nominated for an academy award for adapted screenplay along with Field.

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