By February 8, 2012 1 Comments Read More →

What are these new-fangled “talkies”?

For an upcoming column in Public Libraries, (look for it in your March/April issue!) I decided to showcase some movies that most people probably were not aware were books first.  To get some ideas, I polled my trusty, ever-so-smart-and-helpful Facebook friends, who came up with nearly 75 of their favorites.


Many of them are well-known, but I thought I’d share the list here.  Enjoy!

The Question:  Your favorite book made into a movie. The less obvious, the better (ie, no Harry Potter, etc). Go!

The replies:


Lord of the Rings – I actually like the movies a lot better. After that Starship Troopers.

The Age of Innocence!

I have a few: All the President’s Men, Sarah Plain and Tall, Julie and Julia/My Life in France.

Dune was the worst.


The Color Purple. Great music, too.

The Namesake

Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water For Chocolate)

The Good Earth

Enchanted April

In the Time of Butterflies. Loved the book quite some time ago and just rewatched the movie. Powerful.

The Outsiders, The Secret Life of Bees

Prince of Tides

Revolutionary Road was pretty good. The Third Man, and Mother Night.

Pride & Prejudice

Memoirs of a Geisha was a great movie. Oh and The Devil Wears Prada– I know I don’t sound very deep with that one

John Dies at the End by David Wong

The Lovely Bones (loved the book, the movie didn’t do it justice at all…)

Sense & Sensibility, He’s Just not that Into You, Jaws

Although it is rare for me to enjoy the film version more than the book, In Her Shoes the film was better than In Her Shoes the book.

The best movie adaptation of a novel hands down is To Kill a Mockingbird

Master and Commander. Well cast, gorgeous to look at, captured the adventure and language and intellectual spirit of the books.

All the King’s Men

I liked The Help, but it wasn’t as good as the book (acting was great, script needed some improvement).

Or, This is obvious but I think the scriptwriters did a great job with The Help and universally it seems those who loved the book also loved the movie.

Responded to with, I loved both the book and the movie version of The Help, but thought that the movie lacked some of the depth of the book (hence my comment about the script). I’m thrilled to pieces that it swept the female feature and ensemble categories at the SAG Awards.

 Remains of the Day. Forgot it was a book first. Fabulous movie.

Babette’s Feast

 M*A*S*H, or Six (3) Days of the Condor.

Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, two of the best adaptations of Stephen King stories-mostly they tend to fall flat.

Blade Runner (from the story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)

Jacob’s Ladder (adapted from An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge) was freaky cool

Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram made into Gods and Monsters.

Thumbsucker by Walter Kirn  

White Oleander

Naked Lunch


Smila’s Sense of Snow

The Princess Bride

Gone with the Wind

1993 version of The Secret Garden based on Frances Hogdson Burnett’s book.

Stephen King’s The Body made into Stand By Me.


Blindness, by Jose Saramago. Couldn’t bring myself to see it. (Sorry – pun fully intended.)

 The Commitments

No Country For Old Men

Mary Poppins

Oddly, Hotel New Hampshire

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I think they did a great job with that one. Conversely, I think one of the WORST movies from a book was The Other Boleyn Girl. So bad!.

I really liked Scrooged, but the best adaptation of A Christmas Carol was the made for tv movie with George C. Scott – would that count? Other people seemed to like The Polar Express, I found the movie just creepy.

Ordinary People. Great book, great movie. That’s rare.



About the Author:

Rebecca Vnuk is the editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach at Booklist. She is also the author of 3 reader’s-advisory nonfiction books: Read On…Women’s Fiction (2009), Women’s Fiction: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (2014), and Women’s Fiction Authors: A Research Guide (2009). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_RVnuk.

1 Comment on "What are these new-fangled “talkies”?"

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  1.' Lucy says:

    I know I’m late with this but had to offer up THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (starring & directed by Clint Eastwood) based on the book GONE TO TEXAS by Forrest Carter. The film is a very close (almost exact) adaptation of the book.

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