Goodreads Blog

12 Book Adaptations Readers Love

Posted by Hayley on July 19, 2017


Not all book adaptations are created equal. As readers, we've learned to deal with some seriously misguided disappointments, the kind of flops that give the books they're based on a bad name. ("Don't judge the book by its movie!" we beg our friends as we push our copy into their hesitant hands.)

But gems do exist, and the thrill of seeing a beloved book adapted faithfully is intoxicating. Every medium of storytelling brings something different to the table—and while we're obviously partial to books—we're also big fans of both the small screen and the big screen.

This month we asked you on Facebook and Twitter to tell us your absolute favorite book-to-film or book-to-TV adaptation. Your top answers are below!


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Pride and Prejudice (1995 TV mini-series)
based on Jane Austen's timeless romance





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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001 movie)
based on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy series





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Anne of Green Gables (1985 TV mini-series)
based on L.M. Montgomery's beloved children's series





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The Godfather (1972 movie)
based on Mario Puzo's crime family classic





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The Handmaid's Tale (2017 TV series)
based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian thriller





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To Kill a Mockingbird (1962 movie)
based on Harper Lee's powerful coming-of-age tale





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Holes (2003 movie)
based on Louis Sachar's unforgettable children's book





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Game of Thrones (2011-present TV show)
based on George R.R. Martin's groundbreaking fantasy series





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North & South (2004 TV mini-series)
based on Elizabeth Gaskell's moving historical romance





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Princess Bride (1987 movie)
based on William Goldman's treasured fantasy adventure





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Gone with the Wind (1939 movie)
based on Margaret Mitchell's sweeping historical epic





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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001 movie)
based on J.K. Rowling's magical series






What's your favorite television show or movie based on a book? Share it with us in the comments! And check out our guide to beloved adaptations here.



(Top image credit: Game of Thrones)

Comments (showing 1-50 of 183) (183 new)


message 1: by Joy (new)

Joy Ingram sarah waters fingersmith and sarah waters tipping the velvet


message 2: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Draganov the exorcist is top


message 3: by Sydney (new)

Sydney The 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. That movie was amazing!!!!!!!!!


message 4: by Kieron (new)

Kieron The Shawshank Redemption - Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption A Story from Different Seasons by Stephen King


message 5: by slavka (last edited Jul 27, 2017 08:28AM) (new)

slavka Outlander - perfect adaption, Venice en hiver


message 6: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Anyone know what the picture at the top is from? (Just wondering if that's David Johansen aka Buster Poindexter.)


message 7: by Izzy (new)

Izzy J.S. wrote: "Anyone know what the picture at the top is from? (Just wondering if that's David Johansen aka Buster Poindexter.)"

J.S, It's from Game of Thrones


message 8: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Roxby I hated Gone With the Wind.... Margaret Mitchell had no idea what the hell a plot was or how to resolve one.

Get all the way tot he end and what resolution do you get?

"Well, fiddle-dee-dee...tomorrow is another day!"


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim C What about "Jaws"? How this doesn't make the list especially during Shark Week?


message 10: by Kinga (last edited Jul 27, 2017 08:49AM) (new)

Kinga Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen (dir,: Ang Lee, 1995) - this is how an adaption should be made.

No Country for Old Men
Cormac McCarthy (dir.: Coen brothers, 2007)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Ken Kesey (dir.: Milos Forman, 1975)

Rebecca
Daphne du Maurier (dir.: Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) - the movie was actually so much better than the book...!

UPDATE: remembered some more!

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Marjane Satrapi (dir.: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, 2007)

And how could I forget one of my all time fav movies?!
The Children of Men
P.D. James (dir.: Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

I am sure there are much more but these jumped in my mind right away/these are the ones based on widely known authors' works.


message 11: by Samuel (new)

Samuel Saint-Denis-Lisée J.S. wrote: "Anyone know what the picture at the top is from? (Just wondering if that's David Johansen aka Buster Poindexter.)"
No, it's Peter Dinklage aka Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.


message 12: by Alissa (new)

Alissa The Neverending Story. This is one of the exceptionally rare cases where the movie was better than the book.


message 13: by Alissa (new)

Alissa Also The Watcher in the Woods (late 70s? early 80s?). The book was awful, but the movie was awesome! A key part of my childhood!


message 14: by Brian (new)

Brian Catch 22


message 15: by Shell (new)

Shell Hunt Kinga wrote: "Sense and Sensibility
Sense and Sensibility/Jane Austen (dir,: Ang Lee, 1995) - this is how an adaption should be made.

No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men/Corm..."


I second No Country for Old Men! Favorite adaptation for me.


message 16: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Thank you Izzy and Samuel. I guess that shows how 'out of the loop' I am that I don't know Game of Thrones. (What can I say? I'm a reader...)


message 17: by Megan (new)

Megan Janes The Color Purple - this is one of those cases where the book is great and so is the movie. Neither one takes from the other.


message 18: by Elyse (new)

Elyse slavka wrote: "Outlander - perfect adaption"

Agreed, it's great!


message 19: by Brina (new)

Brina Of this list, The Godfather was my favorite. I just read it and watched all three movies. It has been the highlight of my summer.


message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol Missing OUTLANDER!


message 21: by Elyse (new)

Elyse J.S. wrote: "Thank you Izzy and Samuel. I guess that shows how 'out of the loop' I am that I don't know Game of Thrones. (What can I say? I'm a reader...)"

Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin. You mustn't read fantasy! ;)


message 22: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Elyse wrote: "Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ic... You mustn't read fantasy!"

Nope, just LOTR and Harry Potter (if that qualifies).


message 23: by Bichlien (new)

Bichlien Truong I liked the Hunger Games adaptation.


message 24: by Yannik (new)

Yannik Even though I like the Harry Potter films (mainly because of the casting), But if I compare the books with the films, its like comparing apples and oranges.
When I watch the films it feels like they're missing something.


message 25: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Kresal The Disney 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea which perfectly captures the spirit of Verne's book. The Martian as well.


message 26: by Kinga (new)

Kinga Kieron wrote: "The Shawshank Redemption - Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption A Story from Different Seasons by Stephen King"

Second that!


message 27: by Elizabeth (last edited Jul 27, 2017 09:08AM) (new)

Elizabeth Barter Henry V (1989?) with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson,possibly my favourite adaption of a Shakespeare play.It was because of this movie I also liked LOTR.
I might add 'Pride and Prejudice'(1995) and 'Jane Eyre'(1983)


message 28: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I love The Handmaid's Tale! Others would be The Hunger Games, The Magicians, Outlander, Stardust, A Series of Unfortunate Events (the Netflix version), Thirteen Reasons Why.

And, admittedly, Shadowhunters. It doesn't follow the books perfectly, the acting can be weak, but I just can't help but love it. I'm re-reading the books now, and I'm realizing just how many elements from the books they managed to put in the TV series, even if they have been twisted around a bit to fit the TV arcs.


message 29: by Alanah (new)

Alanah Sydney wrote: "The 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. That movie was amazing!!!!!!!!!"

I agree!!


message 30: by Jackie (new)

Jackie I'm surprised to see Holes on this list. I remember liking the book as a kid, but then being very disappointed in the movie. Most kids movies aren't very good though so maybe it's a matter of expectations.


message 31: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Meghan wrote: "I love The Handmaid's Tale! Others would be The Hunger Games, The Magicians, Outlander, Stardust, A Series of Unfortunate Events (the Netflix version), Thirteen Reasons Why.

And, admittedly, Shad..."


At least Shadowhunters is better than the Lily Collins movie!


message 32: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Elyse wrote: "At least Shadowhunters is better than the Lily Collins movie! "

No arguments from me, there!


message 33: by Eleanor (new)

Eleanor Sydney wrote: "The 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. That movie was amazing!!!!!!!!!"

I agree!


message 34: by Katie (new)

Katie Suratt Sydney wrote: "The 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. That movie was amazing!!!!!!!!!"

It was visually and creatively amazing, but it didn't follow the book as faithfully as the '95 version did.


message 35: by Eleanor (new)

Eleanor Kinga wrote: "Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen (dir,: Ang Lee, 1995) - this is how an adaption should be made.

No Country for Old Men
Cormac McCarthy (dir.: Coen brothers, 2007)

[boo..."


I agree...Sense and Sensibility, No Country for Old Men, and The Children of Men all great adaptations. I haven't seen the others.


message 36: by Marta (new)

Marta These are all great choices! I would also add Casino Royale, I recently read the book and I wish I had not. The movie was so much better! I guess that is more of a "movie was way better" category, because the above choices are all excellent books as well.


message 37: by Tomas (new)

Tomas K. The Time Machine is something I liked.


message 38: by Hannah (new)

Hannah V The Book Thief (2013)

Emma (2009)

Little Dorrit (2008)

Bleak House (2005)

Great book to movie/mini series adaptations!


Jamie (The Kansan Reader) They're missing The Outsiders.


message 40: by Amy (new)

Amy Joy wrote: "sarah waters fingersmith and sarah waters tipping the velvet"

Fingersmith was excellent. Wasn't a massive fan of Tipping the Velvet though.


message 41: by Beige (new)

Beige Joy wrote: "sarah waters fingersmith and sarah waters tipping the velvet"

Yes!!


message 42: by Reading Faerie (new)

Reading Faerie Jane Eyre, Rebecca, The Great Gastby, The Wizard of Oz, The Birds, Twilight--to name a few. ; )


message 43: by Beige (new)

Beige Megan wrote: "The Color Purple - this is one of those cases where the book is great and so is the movie. Neither one takes from the other."

Totally agree. That movie!!! I seriously sob uncontrollably every time I see it.


message 44: by Beige (new)

Beige Blade runner. I thought the movie was better than the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Same with Under The Skin


message 45: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse Awakenings. RIP Oliver Sacks. He was a brilliant man, but his writing could sometimes make one wish he were less brilliant and more clear. It's one of the few cases where the movie improved on the book.

The Book Thief.
The Maltese Falcon.
And if TV Movies count, The Thorn Birds.


message 46: by Sofia (new)

Sofia The Wuthering Heights miniseries with Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley was pretty decent!


message 47: by Ulla (new)

Ulla movie: Dances with Wolves Dances with Wolves
TV series: Little House on the Prairie - based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder


message 48: by Mads (new)

Mads Alexander wrote: "the exorcist is top"
Agreed!


message 49: by Ulla (new)

Ulla Tomas wrote: "The Time Machine is something I liked."

The 1960 movie is great! That from 2002 not so much.


message 50: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Spencer The adaptation of HolesHoles has always been one of my favorites. From what I remember, they really only cut out the fact that Stanley's character started out pudgy. The rest was included and it was amazing.


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