The Top Ten Books I Want Adapted for Film
We all know the book is always better than the movie, but there are some books that I definitely want to be brought to the screen, whether that’s a movie or a television series. Here are ten books that I loved that I am dying to see be made into film.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
What Goodreads Says: From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: We have had a slew of great World War II novels the last few years, but I think of all those books, All the Light We Cannot See is the one that needs a film adaptation. Weaving Marie-Laure's story with Werner's would make for a beautiful movie. Also, I would love to see how a movie would address Marie-Laure's blindness.
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
What Goodreads Says: Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman. It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy - an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood. Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: A female graphic novelist returns to small-town Alabama to take care of her aging grandmother? Sign me up. Add in the great side characters and scandal in a small town, and that already sounds like my new favorite movie. Side note: I need to see Batman and Leia’s interactions immediately.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
What Goodreads Says: Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: I would love to see a miniseries about Roy and Celestial’s relationship. I think seeing Roy and Celestial’s early relationship, then ultimately their separation while Roy is in prison, could allow for some Emmy-worthy performances. I can just imagine the voice-overs for all the letters. Maybe Oprah can make it happen since she chose An American Marriage as an Oprah Book Club pick.
Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
What Goodreads Says: A gorgeously written, fiercely compelling glimpse into the passionate, political world of professional ballet and its magnetic hold over two generations. Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a ballerina whose life has been shaped by her relationship with the world-famous dancer Arslan Ruskov, whom she helps defect from the Soviet Union to the United States. While Arslan's career takes off in New York, Joan's slowly declines, ending when she becomes pregnant and decides to marry her longtime admirer, a PhD student named Jacob. As the years pass, Joan settles into her new life in California, teaching dance and watching her son, Harry, become a ballet prodigy himself. But when Harry's success brings him into close contact with Arslan, explosive secrets are revealed that shatter the delicate balance Joan has struck between her past and present. In graceful, inimitable prose, Shipstead draws us into an extraordinary world, and the lives of her vivid and tempestuous characters.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: One of my favorite movies is Center Stage. There is something so intriguing about ballet and the dedication ballet dancers have. The relationships in Astonish Me would make for some killer primetime television.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
What Goodreads Says: Two misfits. One extraordinary love. Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor. Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park. Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: This is one of the first books I remember reading after I graduated from college where I felt everything the characters were feeling. Eleanor and Park are incredibly real and flawed characters, and their love story deserves a big adaptation.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
What Goodreads Says: This version of the Bennet family and Mr. Darcy is one that you have and haven't met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master's degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won't discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane's fortieth birthday fast approaches. Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip's friend, neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: I have repeatedly sung Curtis Sittenfeld’s praises for Eligible. I am a huge fan of both the BBC Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice and the Keira Knightley version, but I think we all need a miniseries of a modern take on Pride and Prejudice. We could see clips of Bingley on the reality show, Kitty and Lydia's CrossFit workouts, and then the explosive sexual tension between Liz and Darcy. Someone make this happen for me.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
What Goodreads Says: Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last - inexorably - into evil.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: Even though a lot of The Secret History is Richard’s inner thoughts, I think this could translate really well to film. If they can make The Goldfinch into a movie, then we absolutely need one for The Secret History. I am dying to see the Hampden College setting, as well as Francis' country home, come to life on the screen.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
What Goodreads Says: An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains - this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: This would make the next great HBO miniseries. Station Eleven is not my typical kind of book, but I absolutely loved this and would love to see the Traveling Symphony brought to the screen. Shakespeare and a worldwide pandemic? What's not to love?
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
What Goodreads Says: Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help? It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her step-monster and her pretentious teenage son. In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: It would sort of be like You’ve Got Mail, but set in high school and without the whole "putting each other out of business" drama. This would be a delightful teen movie, but would also address some heavier issues, like grief and new families. Also, I am here for all the band scenes.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
What Goodreads Says: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
Why I Want a Film Adaptation: Hello Mindy Kaling, I’m looking at you to adapt this. An arranged marriage between two kids, one who is all for it and the other is mortified; I mean how could that not be rom-com gold?! How swoon-worthy would a movie-Rishi be? And how badass would a movie-Dimple be? I desperately need this in my life.
And my bonus pick is Jane Austen's Persuasion. I have not found a good adaptation of Persuasion (sorry Sally Hawkins), so I think it's time the BBC decided to make another go at one.
I am sure at some point some of these will be adapted into screenplays, and while I’ll always love the books more, I can’t help but want to see them made into movies. Until then though, I can tide myself over with the Little Fires Everywhere miniseries!
What books would you like to see made into movies?