Do we love books? Yes, of course, obviously! We’re obsessed with them. But that doesn’t mean we’re not just as obsessed with so many of the great movies and television shows being released today, especially when they’re adaptations that do right by books we’ve read and loved. We had so much fun pulling together our previous two lists of book-to-screen adaptations we couldn't stop talking about (Part One and Part Two), so we thought: who doesn't love a good trilogy?
Below, we’ve pulled together 10 of our favorite recent adaptations and the books they’re adapted from. Read (watch) on!
Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter is a masterpiece that manages to be emotionally honest, emotionally difficult, claustrophobic, beautiful, and exacting. This movie, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut, somehow manages to be the same. Oliva Colman? Incredible. Jessie Buckley? A revelation. Dakota Johnson? Predictably great. Paul Mescal? A fun bonus. This adaptation gets it right, which means: come prepared to really feel your feelings, no matter how comfortable it gets. — Kelsey F.
I feel like I don't need to sell anyone on Pride and Prejudice, or even Pride and Prejudice film adaptions.Fire Island is a very faithful take — the camera lingers on a copy of the book during the intro, which gives you enough time to appreciate Noah's (our Elizabeth counterpart) literary taste (Gay Bar and The Bell Jar, among others). But Fire Island manages to make these familiar beats feel fresh with an incredibly charismatic cast, not-overly-winky modern updates, and a lot of scenes of vibrant parties and long slow summer days. Watch this if you love love, chosen families, and pretending you're on a real-deal vacation for a little bit. — Michelle C.
Oh, this movie. This movie! Drive My Car is such a delicious, lovely, beautiful, sorrowful, careful, quiet, serene adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story (between Drive My Car and Burning (another incredible film), maybe adapting Murakami short stories is the new Marvel Universe (we can only dream)). It’s saying a lot that after seeing this movie, a three-hour masterpiece, I dove into the rest of director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s work, including his five-hour movie, Happy Hour. I wish I could live in the world of Drive My Car, a world where storytelling is particular and private, valued and variable. Such a wonderful movie. I’m grateful for it. — Kelsey F.
I have a confession. I’ve had a copy of Pachinko on my bookshelf since early 2018 and only managed to get to it this year. (Booksellers, they’re just like you!) It was the first book I read this year and it fully ruined me for all other books for a good two months.
Just in time, too. This March, Apple TV+ took on the gargantuan task of adapting Min Jin Lee’s epic, multigenerational saga into not just one — but hopefully one of four — seasons of television. The show is absolutely gorgeous to look at and Minha Kim and Oscar winner Youn Yuh-jung lift the quiet tenacity and love of heroine Sunja (at younger and older stages of her life respectively) off the page with the help of a stellar supporting cast. Some pacing changes with the 1980s plotline may alienate some book purists, but this is just an excellent reminder to read the book as well. Get ready to cry, fall in questionable love with Lee Minho, and join me in eager anticipation of season two. — Sarah R.
I was surprised by Marcel the Shell with Shoes On! It didn't feel like the world was clamoring for a full-length feature film based on the decade-old video shorts about a precocious talking shell, and I watched it a little out of curiosity for what this artifact this would even be (and because Little Weirds gave me a lot of trust in Jenny Slate). It turns out: It's a sweet, quiet, fully-realized story about family, friendship, community, loneliness, and learning how big the world can be when you're very small. I was not expecting to laugh as much as I did, I was not expected to cry at all, and I want everyone to experience the sweet, pensive joy that is Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. — Michelle C.
I loved this book when it came out — I remember listening to it as I drove around the city, taking the long way home just so I could get to the next chapter — so I was highly skeptical when I found out they were adapting this. Would they really be able to nail the gritty, dark, mind-bending, travel-bending, complex plot? But I shouldn’t have worried. This show turned out just as fun and bleak and strange as the book. I loved it. And, of course, Elisabeth Moss did not disappoint. — Kelsey F.
Hey. The kids are alright. This webcomic, turned graphic novel, turned Netflix show fully took over the world this spring and of course it did. It’s one big hug of a show that (and I don’t know how they did this) somehow feels like having a crush like you back. It’s also proof that you don’t need to add grit or world-ending stakes to your teen shows to make them extremely watchable. Give us young love! Let the friends be friends! Let the kids be unapologetically themselves! Let Olivia Coleman be our mom! — Sarah R.
Kids on bikes, 1980s vibes, mysterious Sci-Fi happenings. No, not that one... Paper Girls came first. Four girls delivering the paper in a Cleveland suburb in the late 80s find themselves in the crossfire between warring factions of time travelers — genuinely what’s not to love. It’s got time shenanigans, nostalgia, a quartet of young actors absolutely KILLING IT, and most importantly a narrative that still manages to make the friendship between its young protagonists the center of story. Also, this is wild, but I’m looking at the first trade volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s masterful comic right now and seriously the show’s casting and production design is unreal — I can’t wait to see more from this team. — Sarah R.
I was lucky enough to see Emily St. John Mandel at Powell’s on Burnside in conversation with Omar El Akkad for the release of her latest novel, Sea of Tranquility (absolutely incredible, loved it so much, couldn’t recommend it more). It was a great talk — she’s one of my favorite working authors, so I knew I’d enjoy it, but when she mentioned that she’s currently working with Patrick Somerville, the creator and showrunner for the Station Eleven adaptation, on adaptations of The Glass Hotel and Sea of Tranquility, I literally (literally!) couldn’t have been more excited. Station Eleven was easily my favorite TV show of the year; Emily St. John Mandel’s work is consistently exciting and thrilling; I can’t wait to read more of her and then watch more of her, and hope she and Somerville continue what’s clearly already been a very fruitful partnership. — Kelsey F.
“How on earth are they going to pull this off.” I said to my roommate when this show was announced.
“How on earth are they going to pull this off!” I said to my coworkers, frantically waving the iconic pages of Preludes and Nocturnes.
“NEAT!” I said to practically everyone when some very cool casting news was announced. (“But, how on earth are they going to pull this off.”)
“Oh.” I said to myself (crying) when the first clips of “The Sound of Her Wings” started circulating on Twitter”
“Oh!” I said to nobody in particular when I came out of the “good show” fugue state that had me blazing through six episodes in one sitting.
Readers, they somehow pulled it off. Is it perfect? Of course not! No adaptation is going to fully satisfy thousands of readers, each with up to three decades of personal attachment to a series. And yet, Neil Gaiman, well-versed in so many different mediums, understands that stories can flit from page to screen to radioplay and beyond, both gaining and losing things in the process. With the author himself in the co-creator chair, Netflix’s Sandman manages to capture some of the dreaming that has made Sandman so beloved for so long. — Sarah R.
Man, what a trip this movie is! I knew I was going to love it before I went in — I am a sucker for all things Guillermo del Toro — and I was not disappointed. This is Bradley Cooper doing what Bradley Cooper should be doing: being attractive in a vaguely threatening, pretty unnerving way. And man, if this cast isn’t stacked: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Toni Collette. It is a spooky, thrilling ride that nails the sleazy underbelly of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel. — Kelsey F.