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So it seems like every time I turn around they're adapting another book to the silver screen. Just in the last week or so I read that they're making films of: Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, Stephenie Meyer's The Host, and (of all things) the Sweet Valley High series. I happen to love book-to-film adaptations, but I always walk into the theater with my heart in my throat, unsure of how well or badly it will come off. I mean, I somehow managed to sit through all of Blood and Chocolate, but there's two hours I'll never see again. On the other hand, there have been some truly breathtaking adaptations over the years. I was musing on some of the best and came up with a short list. I apologize for all the listiness lately and promise not to make a habit of it.
I kept this one to novels made into films, and not only that, but novels I have actually read myself. There are a whole host of adaptations I love from books I've never read, just as there are so many wonderful plays that have been adapted into excellent films (Hello, Zeffirelli and Branagh--I'm lookin' at you), but as for films based on actual books that I've read, here you go:
Some of them are faithful, some of them are not. Some of them are not my favorite book but the film is something special. Either way there's something about each one that strikes a chord with me and makes it so that I come back to them over and over again.
What are your favorite book to movie adaptations and what's the worst one you ever sat through?


  1. Without doubt the worst is The Seeker based on The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Ugh.

    I really love The Princess Bride movie, but I also read the book and loved it too. Well done. And basically a classic must-see movie.

  2. A movie of the Host? I'm sure it'll make money, since as well all know this is Stephenie Meyer's world. But how do you make a decent movie out of a book where 75% of the dialogue takes place inside the head of one person?

  3. Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth one) is my absolute favourite. I love most of the BBC adaptations.

    I agree about The seeker, did they ever ruin that book!

  4. THE REMAINS OF THE DAY and A ROOM WITH A VIEW are my favorites -- possibly because I saw the movie before I read the books, but then I loved the books too, even with the differences.

    I'm also a sucker for the Paltrow/Northam EMMA, because, well, Jeremy Northam just plain IS Mr. Knightley.

  5. Melissa, ugh. I specifically avoided that one because I heard it was so bad and that series is one of my most beloved. I saw the preview and had the devil of a time finding a resemblance. *sigh* I love The Princess Bride, but have never actually read the book! I really need to fix that.

    Vanessa, yeah, I'm not sure how they're gonna work around that. I loved the book, myself, but I'm not sure how well it's gonna translate to the screen.

    Alexa, ah, Pride & Prejudice. I do love it. In fact, I've enjoyed pretty much every adaptation of it in one way or another. I'm a fan of all the Austen adaptations, but I think S&S is my favorite. I think. ;)

  6. I love the Sense and Sensibility movie. I think most of the classic films are pretty accurate.

    I have to say Blood and Chocolate was pretty bad, even though I hadn't read the book I read a review of the book compared to the movie. They were pretty off base.

  7. There sure are a lot of book-to-movies these days. I love them long as it's somewhat like the book I love, then I'm good (if I'd read the book before). I don't mind with the Harry Potter series. I LOVE those books, but I LOVE the films too.

    The Outsiders is definitely great, and it's even more true to the book if you get the extended version they released like 20 years after. I love it, need to see it again...but I have the regular film and I'm obsessed.


  8. R.J., I love both those movies but haven't read either book. And we definitely agree on the merits of Northam as Knightley. I had a roommate in college who was obsessed with both of them and refused to settle for any guy who didn't measure up. It was....awkward. :)

    Haiku Amy, *shudder* it was So Bad. I mean, Hugh Dancy is easy to look at (and listen to), but even he didn't make up for it.

  9. I love the adaptation of "Cold Comfort Farm." Very close to the book and it captured the satire and fun the book.

  10. Hilarious - I JUST posted a review of Ruby and the Smoke, both the book and the movie. We must think alike!
    And thanks for the heads up...curious how they'd do the Host.

  11. Lauren, yeah, I agree on the Harry Potters. I've enjoyed each one. I NEED to see the extended version of The Outsiders. I love the original.

    rachel, isn't it hilarious? I watched it one afternoon with my brother-in-law (who hadn't read the book) and we both laughed all the way through.

    Raspberry, that's so funny! I love that series so much. Haven't seen the TV movie though. After reading your review I'm not sure I will. But I'm definitely going to write about the series for an upcoming Retro Fridays post.

  12. Currently I'm a little peeved about the new movie out "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs". Yes, this is of the children's book genre, but it was my favorite book as a kid and the movie is NOTHING like the book. I feel like they stole the title and ruined it. Bleh.

  13. I've never read The Shawshank Redemption but the movie is AMAZING! And I simply can't imagine the book being as good.

  14. I saw that seeker movie and realized half way through it was a book and boy did they butcher it. Oh well.
    The Outsiders, def one of the best.
    Gone with the Wind, but that's a gimmie
    P&P of course
    Can't think of many good adaptions. The movie people are just running out of ideas :) Great post.

  15. Carrie, I was wondering about that one. I saw the preview and was like, that wasn't how the book went, was it? *sad*

    Natasha, I've only read one King--IT--and it was fabulous. But I have yet to get up the courage to watch the movie. Tim Curry creeps me out (in a good way) at the best of times. As Pennywise I just don't know if I could take it. But that's a good point. What movies do we love so much we can't even imagine the book being as good?

    Jenny Girl, Gone With the Wind! Of course. I saw the movie so many times before I ever read the book and when I finally did I was surprised at how good it was. Don't know why but I was. Loved that book.

  16. Although I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan, I was pretty impressed with the first movie and how the things I saw on the screen were pretty much the same as how I'd seen them in my head.

    The worst adaptation I've seen is Howl's Moving Castle. I'll probably be bitter about that one until the day I die.

  17. I love love Cold Comfort Farm! I'm so happy you do too. Most people haven't heard of it.

    I also love the book and movie of Fried Green Tomatoes.

    Fun post!

  18. La Coccinelle, watching that first HP movie was magical for me. I thought it was great. And I haven't seen Howl's Moving Castle yet but I'm really sorry it didn't live up to expectations!

    Brodi, yay! Another CCF fan. It really does deserve more attention than it's gotten. Fried Green Tomatoes is another example of a movie I love but haven't read the book.

  19. Are they redoing the Sweet Valley high series again? I know there was a sitcom on the books awhile ago, but I hadn't heard of anything new.

  20. I don't know how I feel about the plans for a movie, but was anyone else obsessed with the Sweet Valley High series once upon a time? I'm not proud of most of my pre-teen reading choices, but it still brings back good memories.

  21. Jackie, they are. I was aware of the TV series but never saw any episodes. This film version is being written and produced by Diablo Cody (of Juno fame).

    Holly, lol. I was definitely a SVH reader. Picked up the new one each month with the new Nancy Drew casefiles istallment. I had quite a collection at one point but have now whittled it down to all but the most nostalgic. You know--THE PERFECT GIRL, ON THE RUN, DOUBLE JEOPARDY...a few essentials. ;)

  22. I love both versions of Pride & Prejudice. The BBC one is completely faithful (which I appreciate) and the Keira Knightley one is very romantic (which I also appreciate, lol). The movie version of Blood & Chocolate was COMPLETELY WRONG but I still enjoyed it. I try hard not to compare books and their movie counterparts because most of the time the reader's disappointed b/c the movie cuts out a special scene in the book or adds things that make no sense (again, Blood & Chocolate). So far I haven't come across crappy movie adaptions... hopefully I never will o__O;

  23. Completely forgot to say that I am SO excited about The Host being made into a movie. (It's the only Stephenie Meyer book I'll never make fun of...) I just hope they don't mess this book up, otherwise I'll be forever annoyed :/

    that's all xD

  24. Angie, you've never read The Princess Bride?!?!? Oh, you really must. I've loved the movie for forever, but the book has been right at the top of my list since the first time I read it over 10 years ago. And since William Goldman wrote both the book and the screenplay for the film, the adaptation is seamless.

    How about Where the Red Fern Grows? (the original film, not the new one with Dave Matthews.)

    Also, this is in the children's book genre, but I can't wait for Where the Wild Things Are to come out!

  25. pirate penguin, I'm with you on the P&Ps! I love the Keira Knightley one and I know a ton of people who look down their noses at it. What can I say? I really liked Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy. And finally a Jane who looked as Jane ought to look! I also loved THE HOST, too. Here's hoping.

    Allie, I know! I's awful. I really need to read it. As far as WHEN THE RED FERN GROWS goes, I've been scarred ever since reading it as a child and then seeing the original movie. I'm done with dog dying movies. I watched Old Yeller and was outraged someone would show that to a child. Where the Red Fern Grows just finished me off. Grrr.

    I can't wait to see Where the Wild Things Are! Every time I watch the trailer I get all choked up.

  26. I get so so so excited for movie adaptations of my favorite books...and then I get terrified that they're going to destroy what I love. My favorites are when the movie either follows the book well or is independently awesome (a la The Notebook).

    The one I really want? The Giver. One of my all-time favorites, and it's been set to be a movie for forever, so I'm just waiting for it to actually happen!

  27. I LOVE the newest version of Little Women and also the Anne of Green Gables movies.

    But Cheaper by the Dozen? BLECK!!

  28. I know there are a lot of Twilight fans who are going to disagree with me but I thought Twilight was the most boring movie. I had a very hard time sitting through the movie plus the fact that I don't think Robert Pattinson makes a good Edward. Maybe New Moon will be a better movie...

  29. Donna Gambale, I know how you feel. It's a storm of emotions. :) I didn't realize there were plans to make THE GIVER into a film. Wow. That would be something.

    Janssen, oh, I love that Little Women and I'm not exactly sure how I forgot to mention Anne, but oh my yes! BIG LOVE for the Anne movies.

    Donna, it's going to be very interesting to see how the New Moon movie differs from the Twilight one.

  30. What a great post. I hope you'll Tweet it, if you haven't already. If you have, I hope you'll Tweet it again. If you open it up, I bet you'll get many more. Either way, this is great. Thank you, peace and all good things for you in film, literature, and life.


  31. cannot believe no one has mentioned THE HOURS -- the one time when i felt the movie was better than the book!

  32. D.M. Solis, I have tweeted it a couple of times. Thanks for the recommendation! I really am loving all the comments.

    Jenn, I loved the movie of THE HOURS! What a performance by Nicole Kidman, I thought. I haven't read the book yet, though. Although I always love to hear of the rare instances where the movie trumps the book! :)

  33. I've learned that the only way I can truly love a movie based on a book is to see the movie first and then read the book- which isn't easy.

    And has its drawbacks because you have the image in your mind and can't use your own imagination for the character's face, etc.

    I insisted my kids read the Harry Potters and LOTR (we read them together) before seeing the movies just for that reason- I wanted them to imagine it their own way first. That's one of the best things about books! But man, that was a difficult thing to do.

    La Cocinelle- This is what I mean. See, I LOVE the movie of Howl's Moving Castle (i'm a huge Harao Mazuki fan). Because of the movie, I read the book and went- Oh, wow- different. So, now like the movie better. Same thing happened with Mary Poppins.

    As for P&P- A&E usually does a great job of sticking to the book- with more time than a movie, they can do that.

    And I too LOVED Cold Comfort Farm.


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