25 Must-Watch Book-to-Movie Adaptions

Few things are as exciting for an author and their readers as the news that a favorite story is coming out in theaters. Book-to-movie adaptations reach a much broader audience, bringing people together over a shared love of fictional places, characters, conflicts, and romances.

We’ve put together a list of our decidedly must-watch book-to-movie adaptations and the ones you should keep on your radar for 2023.

20 Best Book-to-Movie Adaptations of All Time

Here’s our list of the 20 best book-to-movie adaptations of all time based on book and ticket sales and their lasting impact. Consider it a checklist of sorts–have you read these books and seen these movies? Which ones do you have left to read or see?

1 | The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, first published in 1954-1955, takes readers on a quest through the realm of Middle-earth as a diverse camaraderie battles against malevolent forces. 

The film adaptation, released from 2001 to 2003, brought Tolkien’s fantasy world to life, instantly captivating audiences worldwide.

2 | Pride and Prejudice

Written by Jane Austen and published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is one of the classics that explores courtship and societal expectations in Regency-era England as heroine Elizabeth Bennet navigates love and marriage. 

The iconic 2005 adaptation skillfully captures the wit, charm, and romantic tension of the novel, translating it to the big screen.

3 | The Godfather

The Godfather by Mario Puzo was originally published in 1969 and delved into the world of organized crime and the loyalty, betrayal, and violence that come with it.

The film adaptation followed in 1972, masterfully bringing Puzo’s narrative to life.

Image of The Godfather trilogy standing on a table in a bookstore.

4 | Schindler’s List

Thomas Keneally’s historical novel Schindler’s List, published in 1982, recounts the true story of German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved over a thousand Jewish lives during the Holocaust. 

The film adaptation, released in 1993, powerfully portrays the horrors of the Holocaust and Schindler’s impact.

5 | The Shawshank Redemption

Stephen King’s novel, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, published in 1982, serves as the inspiration for the 1994 film adaptation, which tells the moving story of a man wrongfully convicted of murder and his unyielding determination to find hope and redemption within the confines of prison.

6 | One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Exploring the oppressive confines of a mental institution and the rebellion one patient led against a tyrannical nurse, the 1962 book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey inspired the 1975 film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson.

7 | The Princess Bride

Released as a book in 1973 and a movie in 1987, The Princess Bride by William Goldman takes readers–and viewers–on a whimsical journey filled with swashbuckling adventure, unforgettable characters, and classic romance.

The Princess Bride is notorious for some of the most famous movie and book quotes.

8 | The Color Purple

The Color Purple follows the journey of Celie, a resilient African American woman navigating oppression in the early 20th century. Alice Walker has sold millions of copies of this 1982 novel that hit the big screen just three years later in 1985.

9 | Room

Published in 2010 and adapted to film in 2015, Room by Emma Donaghue tells the haunting story of a young boy and his mother living in captivity and planning their heroic escape.

10 | The Silence of the Lambs

Thomas Harris’ chilling psychological thriller, The Silence of the Lambs, published in 1988, follows an FBI trainee as she works with cannibal Hannibal Lecter to catch another deranged killer. The movie followed in 1991.

11 | Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott tells the story of the March sisters as they navigate love and loss in Civil War-era New England. It’s been adapted into several films, but the most recent is Greta Gerwig’s adaptation, released in 2019.

12 | Atonement

Ian McEwan’s novel, Atonement, published in 2001, is brought to life in the 2007 film of the same name and weaves a compelling tale of love, betrayal, and the reverberating consequences of a lie.

13 | Forrest Gump

Published in 1986, Forrest Gump by Winston Groom takes audiences on a journey through the extraordinary life of kind-hearted, simple-minded Forrest Gump. The book became a movie in 1994 and grossed over $677 million worldwide.

Image of a still from Forest Gump of Tom Hanks sitting with a box of chocolates.

14 | The Exorcist

Published in 1971 and released in theaters in 1973, The Exorcist follows the terrifying demon possession and subsequent exorcism of a young girl.

15 | Jurassic Park

You might be surprised to learn that Jurassic Park was a novel before it was a movie. Written by Michael Crichton and published in 1990, Jurassic Park illustrated what it might be like to live with resurrected dinosaurs in our modern world. The first movie was released in 1993.

16 | Sense & Sensability

As she does best, Jane Austen explores societal expectations for women in Regency England in Sense and Sensibility. This classic was published in 1811 and brought to the screen by Ang Lee over a century later, in 1995.

17 | Dune

The science fiction novel, Dune, explores life on another planet and the complexities that come with it. Frank Herbert authored the novel, released in 1965, and Denis Villeneuve directed the film adaptation, released in 2021.

18 | The Green Mile

Published in 1996 and brought to film in 1999, Stephen King’s The Green Mile tells the story of a gentle death row inmate with miraculous healing powers. If you’re a fan, there’s no shortage of Stephen King books that have been turned into movies.

19 | Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, first printed in 1958, captures the complex world of Holly Golightly and her unconventional relationship with a struggling writer. Blake Edwards’ film by the same name was released in 1961, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a film class that doesn’t include it.

20 | No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men, written by Cormac McCarthy in 2005 and released in theaters in 2007, depicts a tense cat-and-mouse pursuit as a hitman, hunter, and sheriff pursue stolen drug money. No matter which genres you prefer, these works of fiction are undeniably iconic.

5 Best Book-to-Movie Adaptations in 2023

There are some big book-to-movie adaptations scheduled for 2023, including:

  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – The prequel to The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is scheduled for release in November 2023.
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – Released in April, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, has received high ratings on IMDb, Fandango, and Rotten Tomatoes. This one is a good book for teens and preteens if they like to read.
  • Red, White & Royal Blue – Based on the 2019 romance book by Casey McQuiston, Red, White, & Royal Blue is scheduled to come out in August.
  • A Haunting in Venice – Scheduled for release in September, this highly anticipated movie is based on the book Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie.
  • OppenheimerOppenheimer, based on the book American Prometheus by Kai Bird, is scheduled to open in theaters on July 21st.

Read the Books & Enhance Your Cinematic Experience

See some of your favorite movies on the list? Read the books and enhance your understanding of the author’s original intentions, enriching the story and your own cinematic experience. Find these beloved books and movies–as well as some of the best books of the year that are sure to be adapted–for less on Alibris for less. Our book marketplace features thousands of independent sellers offering new and used copies at competitive prices.

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