Everything I Never Told You
Centering around a Chinese American family in 1970’s small-town Ohio, Everything I Never Told You is an examination of grief, the devastating power of family secrets, and long-simmering dysfunction. While the story rests atop a clever thriller, the emotional core is a precise and heart-wrenching view into a fracturing family.
The Witch Elm
While best known for her Dublin Murder Squad series (also well-worth an adaptation), The Witch Elm may be Tana French’s best, most intricately woven novel. Her bleak, spellbinding power is in full force in this tale of a man named Toby whose life takes a violent and unexpected turn. While recuperating and caring for his dying Uncle, a skull found in the trunk of an old elm tree leaves Toby questioning everything he thought he knew about his life.
Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir is a fascinating and remarkably candid look into the life of the former First Lady. From her relatively humble middle-class childhood to her early law career and courtship with Barack Obama, to her time in the White House, Becoming is an inspiring and intimate memoir that all but demands an adaptation.
What do you get when you combine a disgraced Miami-detective-turned-health-inspector, a severed arm, a one-armed killer, a voodoo witch, and an ill-tempered monkey who may know Johnny Depp? You get an absurd Floridian mystery as only Carl Hiaasen could imagine. It’s honestly a bit of a shame that Hiaasen’s brand of absurdist, southern-fried crime has yet to see a series treatment. There’s no better time than the present, though.
44 Scotland Street
Alexander McCall Smith
This slice of life series from the extraordinarily prodigious pen of Alexander McCall Smith is an endearing and oft-humorous chronicle of the author’s beloved Edinburgh centered around a particularly precocious six-year-old named Bertie. Filled with McCall Smith’s brand of gentle satire, dry humor, and piercing insight, it’s a fascinating and delightful series. And given that McCall Smith seems to produce a new book every other day or so, there’s plenty to work with.
His Perfect Wife
If you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of His Perfect Wife (originally titled Exhibit Alexandra) by Natasha Bell. It’s an unrelenting thriller centered around the disappearance of a seemingly devoted wife and mother, Alexandra Southwood. In his search for her, her husband Marc will uncover truths and answers to questions he never wanted to ask. It’s a dark and twisting journey tailor-made for adaptation.
Y is for Yesterday
The late Sue Grafton created one of the greatest contemporary mystery series with her Kinsey Milhone novels (also known to fans as the Alphabet Mysteries). And while she sadly was not able to complete her murderous alphabet, she left behind one of our all-time favorite literary detectives and a host of tightly-woven, edge-of-your-seat thrillers that we (and her legions of fans) would love to see get a proper adaptation.
The Beast of Barcroft
Bill Schweigart’s Fatal Folklore Trilogy is the perfect framework for the sort of “monster-of-the-week” procedural for fans of shows like “The X-Files,” “Grimm,” and “Fringe.” With a down-on-his-luck protagonist who’s suddenly caught up in an unexpected world of nightmarish creatures lurking in the shadows of our own, The Beast of Barcroft is just a fun, page-turning thriller with a healthy dose of horror to carry readers through.
The Museum of Innocence
The Museum of Innocence is classic Orhan Pamuk–it is at once a stirring romance, a piercing view into obsession and human nature, and kaleidoscopic portrait of the struggle between modernity and tradition. The novel centers around a man named Kemal whose desperate love for a woman who may be out of his reach is chronicled through his eccentric collection of objects that represent not only his own lovelorn journey, but the society that he struggles against.
Robert Jackson Bennett
Robert Jackson Bennett’s particular brand of speculative fiction lands between urban fantasy and New Weird–he weaves complex, occasionally horrifying tales of dead gods and lost magic against a backdrop of bizarre, labyrinthine cities. His latest, Foundryside, imagines an industrialized world where the line between magic and technology is indelibly blurred and a secret war that threatens reality itself is waging in the shadows.
Her Royal Spyness
Set against the backdrop of 1930s England, the A Royal Spyness Series follows Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, the flat-broke-34th-in-line-for-the-throne noblewoman with a penchant for landing in the middle of murder mysteries. Oh, and she also happens to be a spy for the Crown. It’s a delightful bit of old-fashioned whodunnit–“Murder She Wrote” by way of “Downtown Abbey”.
The Invisible Library
Time travel, literary-minded humor, shadowy organizations, a brilliant heroine, and one of the all-time great fictional libraries–really, what more could you ask for? Irene is a spy and investigator for the mysterious Library. Her job? Travel throughout the multiverse collecting important works of fiction as if the fabric of reality itself depended on it (and it does). The Invisible Library is a time/dimensional hopping romp just begging for an adaptation.
The Lies of Locke Lamora
With HBO’s “Game of Thrones” coming to an end, there’s an opening for a morally-murky piece of engaging fantasy and Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series could be just the ticket. It’s a suspenseful crime caper set against the dark and seedy underbelly of an island city called Camorr. With its eclectic cast of brigands, thieves, and conmen, it’s a difficult series to put down and we imagine an adaptation would equally difficult to turn off.
Haruki Murakami is a perennial Nobel/Pulitzer contender for a reason—his novels are fantastical exercises in the ways prose can explore the intricacies and mundanity of human nature. 1Q84 is a surrealist dystopia, an epic love story, a kaleidoscopic view of a failing society, and a chronicle of all the ways seemingly small, innocuous decisions can impact our lives. Murakami is a notoriously difficult writer to adapt, but we’d love to see Netflix give this one a try.
The vast landscape of streaming entertainment services has created a virtual playground for high-quality literary adaptations. Unfettered by the constraints of traditional TV networks—and often the budget considerations of Hollywood studios—streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu have gifted readers with remarkably brilliant adaptations like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “House of Cards,” and “The Haunting of Hill House.” It’s a great time to be a book-minded binge-watcher. Here are a few novels and series we’d love to see Netflix pick up in 2019.