Today I’m talking about a few of my favorite books that have been made into movies. I actually tend to love movies that are based on books – being based on a book gives a movie a lot of depth and a lot of story to work with. Of course, as much as I like movies based on books, I almost always like the book better! In fact, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a movie I actually liked better than the book it was based on… How about you? Let me know in the comments! Read on for 9 fantastic books that are better than the movie:
All of the books I’m recommending today are available as audiobooks from Audible. I love audiobooks! I’m able to listen to them while I’m folding laundry or running errands or even watching my kids play at the park (seriously, listening to an audiobook is so much easier to do than reading a book while you’re keeping an eye on your kids!). Plus hearing a story often makes it come alive in a different way than reading does. I get all my audiobooks from Audible, because they have a premium selection their subscription plans are really affordable. Click here to start your Audible trial and receive your first audiobook free!
9 books that have been made into movies
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A few years ago a friend of mine who was working full time and raising a large family said: I never have time to read, but I have a vacation coming up. If I’m going to read one book this year what should it be? I replied with no hesitation: The Help. I didn’t live through the Civil Rights Movement, so I have no first hand experience with what life was like – for black people or white people – during that time. This book gave me a taste of history while being absolutely entertaining. Skeeter, a white woman who has just returned home after graduating from college, finds herself wanting to hear and record the stories of “the help”, the black women who clean the homes and raise the children of Skeeter’s friends. However, it’s extremely risky for the black women to share their stories, and Skeeter soon realizes it’s risky for her to be collecting them. Another really great book that’s even better than the movie.
2. Room by Emma Donoghue
The premise of this book was a little off-putting to me at first: we learn quickly that we are hearing the story of a young boy and his mother, both of whom live in a single room where they are being held captive by a man who kidnapped the mother years ago. I generally stay away from books that I think will heavily feature abuse so I almost didn’t read this one. However, the book is told from the perspective of the 5-year-old boy Jack, and it focuses heavily on his relationship with his Ma, who, along with Room, is his entire world. Jack alludes to visits from Ma’s captor, but the visits are only describes through Jack’s innocent understanding so even though the situation in the book is truly horrible, the overall feel of the book isn’t horrible at all. In some ways it’s actually lovely as we see the lengths Jack’s Ma goes to in her attempts to raise and love him despite their circumstances. That’s not to say it isn’t at times sad and hard to read, but I also found it profoundly worthwhile.
3. Austenland by Shannon Hale
This book is just plain fun. Jane Hayes is a modern young woman living in New York, but she has a problem: no man she meets can compete with the Mr. Darcy of her dreams, and so she feels doomed to stay single forever. Then her wealthy great-aunt passes away and bequeaths her an all-expenses paid trip to Pembroke Park, a modern day Austenland for wealthy tourists who want to step into the world of Pride & Prejudice. If you’ve ever dreamed yourself into one of Jane Austen’s novels, you’ll enjoy this book, which comes complete with romance, misunderstandings, more romance, and uncomfortable period clothing. It’s a light, funny read. As for the movie, it’s hilarious! It’s more a spoof than a serious take on the book (which is fitting since the book is a bit of a spoof itself) and I cried because I was laughing so hard watching it – so give it a try as well!
4. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Liesel lives with foster parents just outside of Munich in 1939. Her brother is dead and her mom probably is, too. She works hard at school, trying to catch up with the kids her age, and hard after school, picking up and delivering the washing her foster mother does to put meager meals on the table. And occasionally she steals books, when the opportunity arises. One day she arrives home to discover a man asleep in her bed, a man that will be hidden in the basement, a man she can never, ever tell anyone about. One of the things I liked best about this book, which spans the years of World War II, is that it deals with the lives of ordinary German citizens. It’s easy to assume that all Germans were Nazis (and therefore monsters), but many of them were just as trapped as the citizens of the nation the Nazis conquered. This is a young adult book that’s well worth a read as an adult.
5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark needs a job. Badly. So badly that she agrees to work as a caretake to Will Traynor, a man who is wheelchair bound after an accident and who treats Louisa with nothing but contempt, seemingly hellbent on convincing her to quit. When Louisa neither quits nor tip-toes around Will like everyone else does, they become friends, and maybe even something more. But things get difficult as Will is continually unable to reconcile himself to the life he has now.
Since I’m nice (and because you probably know this already), I’ll just tell you right now that you’re going to cry during both the book and the movie. But it’s worth it. I found the movie pretty enjoyable, but this story is a little too big to be told in the time constraints of a movie, so if you’ve already seen the movie, be sure to read the book as well! (And if you haven’t read or watched, read first!)
6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The six-hour BBC version of P&P is one of my favorite things to watch, but the book is still better! There’s just nothing that can quite compare to Jane Austen’s words and wit, although I’ve enjoyed almost all of the screen adaptations of her novels. If you’ve been watching these movies but haven’t read the books yet, it’s time to pick one up! I’ve mentioned before that Persuasion is actually my favorite, but Pride and Prejudice is a very close second. It’s just so much fun to transport yourself to another world where all you have to worry about is Lizzy’s romance, while still reading something intelligent. I love P&P so much that I’ve written a whole post on my favorite sequels, retellings, and spinoff novels!
(In case you’re wondering, the Kiera Knightly version isn’t quite as good as the longer BBC version, but it’s definitely worth a watch! Feel free to argue with me about which one’s better in the comments 😉
7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My son had to choose three books to read this summer in preparation for ninth grade honors English, and Little Women was one of the ones he picked. Watching him read this book took me back to the first time I read it so many years ago and reminded me what a great book it is! Four sisters live with their beloved mother while their father is away fighting the American Civil War. Meg is the oldest who seems to do everything right, Jo is the aspiring writer who can quite find her place in the world, Beth is the kind one that everyone loves, and Meg is the baby who will surprise them all as she grows up. And then there’s Laurie, the boy next door. The book introduces us to these characters as girls, and follows them through the years that turn them into women. My son said he loved it because it’s so different from many of the other books he’s read: it’s much more about the characters and less about the action. And yes, it’s much better than the movie! There’s just too much story to try to cram it all into a 2-hour adaptation (although I have high hopes for the mini-series that will be coming to PBS!).
8. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
This is one of my favorite books! Seventeen-year-old Cassandra lives in a castle: a ramshackle, tumbledown castle with hardly any furniture and not enough food. Cassandra’s father, a once-famous writer, now spends most of his time reading mystery novels and doing crossword puzzles, and generally not earning any money at all. Things are looking dire indeed when two handsome (and very wealthy!) brothers move in next door. Cassandra’s older sister is determined to marry one of them to save her family from poverty, while Cassandra’s little brother dreams up a scheme to convince their father to start writing again. All the while Cassandra chronicles it all in her journal for us to enjoy. This book has just about everything I love: set in England, period piece (1930’s), quirky, likeable characters, great writing, and an interesting storyline.
As for the movie…well I’ve never actually watched it because it’s rated R, which means there must be some pretty dramatic departures from the book. I’m not a big fan of R-rated material being inserted into a story that works perfectly fine without it, so I gave this movie a pass.
9. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
This is another absolutely charming book set in 1930’s England. Miss Pettigrew is on the verge of destitution, having lost another nanny position, when the employment agency sends her to the wrong place. Instead of interviewing to be a governness, Miss Pettigrew becomes the personal assistant to flightly Delysia LaFloss, a nightclub singer. The next 24 hours are filled with thrilling events that Miss Pettigrew (a vicar’s daughter) never dreamed of experiencing. The best part of the book is Miss Pettigrew’s inner commentary on all of the happenings. Fun and refreshing! The movie is also a fun watch, but varies from the storyline and just isn’t as good. Content note: this book was written in 1938 and does contain some offensive racial slurs.
Let me know what you’ve been reading or listening to in the comments, and be sure to visit Audible to download your first audiobook absolutely free!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.