What Book Should Be Made Into a Movie?

“The book was better,” is an idea that readers have embraced for decades, but that old adage might need a rewrite. When done well, films can maintain the artistic vision of the original book to become smash successes.

Whether in fear or anticipation, book lovers await the day when the novels they’ve read finally hit the big screen.

“The book was better,” is an idea that readers have embraced for decades, but a new era of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games – which have made just as big a splash in film as they did in the book world – have proven that the old adage might need a rewrite. When done well, films can maintain the artistic vision of the original book to become smash successes.

But what books have been left behind by the silver screen?

I believe I speak for Oprah Book Club followers and myself when I say that Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is a worthy candidate for a movie adaptation, and screenwriters are missing an opportunity to transform this bestseller to blockbuster.

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Movie adaptations that fail fall into common pitfalls: they often bungle the original story lines (The Scarlet Letter), retool the story for the present day (Gulliver’s Travels), and sometimes, actors fail to convey characters the way the imagination can (I’ll toss out the controversial Twilight here.)

But books that translate successfully into film do so for one reason: they maintain the integrity of the story.

Out of all the novels I’ve read recently, Freedom possesses one of the most captivating narratives set in contemporary America. The details are so vivid, the characterizations so rich, that reading the book itself almost played out as a movie in my head.

It was so easy to visualize the Midwestern setting and the relationships between a modern nuclear family in a way that lends itself perfectly cinematic interpretation.

Part of what makes Freedom such a wonderful novel is its poignant realism, digging into multi-generational issues that give the book, and I imagine a movie version, mass appeal.

Like any great family saga, it traces the lives from past to present, from parent to child, and taps into universal family fissures and heartbreaking cultural truisms that resonate with the audience in a way great books have a tendency to do. And unlike most of Franzen’s other works, this one actually leaves you feeling hopeful—and who doesn’t love a movie with a happy ending?

But aside from the melodrama and literary voracity of Freedom, all things considered, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would be pretty good, too.

What book would you like to see translated into a film?

About Kira Walton

Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

  • Eric Peterson

    Nearly anything by Christopher Moore

  • Kodiak_Kid

    When I think of books to movies, I think of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Gregory Peck. I realize that it is too difficult to take a good book and make it into a good movie that follows the book without leaving out too much of the detail which makes it a good story.

    I would love to see Wayward Son by Tom Pollack made into film.

  • Mary Poundstone Miller

    “The Age of Miracles” by Karen Thompson Walker.

  • horomnizon

    I just read The Good Lord Bird by James McBride…it would make a really good movie if the Old Man is cast well.

  • sandy

    Carl Hiaason’s books — great comedies.

  • Andrea

    The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi.

  • Sayyed Zahir Shah

    I have watched many movies based on novels but no one of them was as good as the book it was based on. So, I like books and not their movie versions.

  • Sandi Kallas

    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

  • lily-belle

    “HIERO’S JOURNEY” by Sterling E. Lanier.
    With CGI being what it is, this book to movie translation could be almost seamless!! (Provided that the studios didn’t allow the incredible original story to be “focus grouped” to death!)

  • anyanwubutler

    I’d like to see some movies based on Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga that can start with Shards of Honor/ Cordelia’s Honor or The Warrior’s Apprentice/ Young Miles.
    Also, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Parable of the Sower and Wild Seed would make very good movies.
    From this year, Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

  • Gr8chefmb

    As a general rule, I don’t like movies made based on books I have read; they are usually disappointing, especially if it is an American film production company. A great example of this type of travesty would be ‘Tai-Pan’ from the mid-1980s. Suffice it to say I was beyond anger regarding that movie. That being said, UK production companies and certain American directors – Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard – have faithfully made great movies based books. I would love to see if ‘The Alchemist,’ ‘The Saffron Kitchen,’ and any of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series could be made into movies.

  • Amy M

    This is a grim thought, but I can easily imagine a well-cast “Year of Magical Thinking” as a deeply effective film.

    More conventionally, there are a handful of genre-ish fiction writers I admire in part for the filmic way their novels unspool:

    Stephen Carter’s “Emperor of Ocean Park” and “New England White”
    Scott Turow’s books – including, and maybe especially ‘One L’. Greg Iles, Jonathon Kellerman, Jennifer Weiner.

    OH! The crazy-charming Chet and Bernie books by Spencer Quinn and the hilariously crazy-crazy Rex series by Eric Garcia.

    I think I could go on for a bit yet, if I let myself. But I won’t.

  • JoyceL

    “Prayers for the Stolen”, by Jennifer Clement, wasn’t a book I would normally looked at twice, but it kept me up late until I could finish it. It opens the eyes to the sorts of things that go on in Mexico, and how the drug lords are so barbaric and powerful there. It’s unbelieveable that the UN hasn’t declared a state of emergency & requested troops fo go in and clean up where criminals have taken over, and treat people with brutal violence.
    This book made me look more into the problems that are prevalent in many parts of Mexico run by drug lords…scarey.
    Sometimes we need a good story to wake us up.
    This is one of them.

  • Bobbie Jo Dawson

    If it was done well, I would love to see Stephen Kings ‘Dark Tower’ series made into a TV mini series..It would be great as a movie but Im afraid waiting years inbetween #1, #2, etc would drive me crazy so I vote mini series

  • Brendan

    The book 1916 authored by Morgan Llywelyn if not already made into a movie should be for sure! Given Ireland is soon to celebrate its 100th anniversary as an independent State this book has indeed done great service in describing the valiant struggle these barve men and women carried out in their efforts to bring freedom to the Irish people.Amazingly accurate account of the many details which comprised the events leading to the Easter Monday uprising!Should definately become a movie!!

  • Rose Evans

    Run To Earth by SF Mazhar

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