You know the saying, “never judge a book by its cover?” Well, I’m going to shake it up a bit and throw this one out to you: how about never judge a book by its movie adaptation. For most people, the book is almost always better than the movie—typically you prefer to read a book before seeing the story in its movie form and that’s usually the case for most movie goers. But, every so often you stumble upon some hidden gems in the entertainment world that don’t totally screw up its literary counterpart. They’re just as good, if not better, than the book it’s based off of. Now, I’m not saying that every single movie on this list knocked it out of the park, because, ya know, my interests and likes might not align with yours. But I can safely say that these are definitely worth a read, and then a watch. Hollywood is really into adapting literary fiction, graphic novels and non-fiction books these days—so we HAVE to help steer you in the WRITE direction. See what I did there?
Here are the 6 book-to-movie adaptations I actually think did a pretty great job going from page to screen:
How to Be Single, Liz Tuccillo (Atria, 2008)
From the co-author of He’s Just Not That Into You, our first book-to-movie pick follows Julie, a single thirty-something living in New York City. She’s a book publisher living the daily grind who finds herself planning this extravagant “single ladies” night out after her friend is dumped by her husband. Talk about a tough break. This adventure leads Julie on a journey of travel and self-discovery. Now, the logistics of the book varies a bit from the movie—but it is definitely worth a read to get you pumped for this over-the-top comedy. Both versions of this story are worthy of a mention, and added bonus: the film adaptation stars some stellar ladies, Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann and will likely leave you feeling spectacular about ditching your bae at the beginning of the summer.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander/J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury, 2009)
Move over Harry Potter, there’s a new (or should I say old) lad in the wonderful world of Hogwarts. If you’re a fan of the creatures found in the Wizarding World, well, this movie is going to be for you. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is one of Harry Potter’s featured textbooks at Hogwarts and follows the adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards. So this story takes place 70 years before Harry Potter even gets his hands on this book at school, and if the trailer is even a tiny fraction of the awesome we expect to see when it’s released in theaters, then man, we’re in for a magical ride! Did I mention Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell star in the movie? SCORE!
The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling (Airmont Classics, 1966)
We all know the story: an orphan boy named Mowgli is raised by a pack of wolves in the jungle. He befriends a bear named Baloo and a black panther named Bagheera, and to say it’s a well-known story is a tad bit of an understatement. Where live-action and CGI is concerned, you might anticipate a story of this magnitude falling flat, but this Disney release was not only widely anticipated, it also brought to life on the big screen that classic tale we all grew up reading. Starring the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Bill Murray and Neel Sethi… this tall tale is sure to deliver no matter which format you choose to consume it on!
Me Before You, Jojo Moyes (Pamela Dorman Books, 2012)
Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and Hunger Games actor Sam Claflin come together in this gut-wrenching adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. It follows the story of Will Traynor, a world traveler who loves extreme sports and taking risks. An accident leaves him a quadriplegic, and a moody one at that. When Louisa loses her job at a tea shop, she takes a temporary position assisting this bossy man in a wheelchair. From hate to friendship to possibly something more—this is a real tearjerker for any hopeless romantic in both the book and entertainment world.
The BFG, Roald Dahl (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982)
I don’t know about you, but The BFG was one of my favorite books as a kid. We read it in school, and I thought, “Man, this is awesome!” And now it’s been made into a movie? Double awesome. The story of the BFG, or Big Friendly Giant for all you noobs, takes place in London and tells the imaginative story of a young girl named Sophie and a Giant who brings her into a miraculous (and dangerous) placed called Giant Country. Steven Spielberg is the film’s producer and director, and boy did Disney not cut any corners with this adaptation.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: And a Thousand Cocktails, Mike and Dave Stangle (Gallery Books, 2015)
Probably right up there with the hilarity of How to Be Single, this story of two dudes using Craigslist to solicit dates to their cousin’s wedding (we’ve all been there, amiright?) and the outrageous ad that went viral should be on everyone’s must read/watch lists. The pitch might have been perfect (I made a bad pun) and filled with humor, but Anna Kendrick’s character might not be what these two bros set out to find. If you’re not convinced yet, the movie also stars (shirtless!) Zac Efron, Adam DeVine and Aubrey Plaza.