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Favorite reads reimagined for the screen: Upcoming film and TV adaptations

Posted on October 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Underwood

Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix (even Facebook Watch) are churning out as many originals and adaptations as they can buy, produce, and film—all to try to win the fierce video streaming competition. This is fantastic for book nerds because these streaming giants are looking to novels and nonfiction for good source material!

Movie production companies have always known that film adaptations of books bring an already established fanbase to the theater. So Hollywood continues to cash in on the book-to-film phenomenon. So readers have more and more opportunities to see the characters and stories they love on theater screens and smaller screens at home or on the go.

I’ve put together a list of upcoming book-to-screen projects. You can choose how you wish to use it—learn about the upcoming good shows and movies to watch, read the books before their screen counterparts are released (resulting disappointment or excitement free of charge), or casually spoil the ending of movies and TV series for your friends (or frienemies)!


Looking for Alaska (mini-series) on Hulu
Airs October 18, 2019

Based on Looking for Alaska by John Green

Miles “Pudge” Halter is a new student at a boarding school with a great passion for the final words of dying people. As he makes friends and immerses himself into his new boarding school, he can’t help falling in love with knowledgeable cool girl Alaska. But he soon discovers that her life isn’t as perfect as he thought.

I remember back in high school getting extremely invested in Alaska and Miles’s story. Several friends claimed this was their absolute favorite book! It’s a fabulous YA read and John Green’s books tend to translate well to screen—I’m sure it will be a fantastic series!

Watchmen (series) on HBO
Airs October 20, 2019

Based on Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins

“Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel while attempting to break new ground of its own.” (from IMDb)

The early 2000s were a hotbed of experimental superhero movies (Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, etc.) with the original Watchmen film being one of the absolute standouts. With the way animation has developed over the past 10 years and the release of hit-after-hit superhero movies from both Marvel and DC, this television remake of this fan favorite is bound to be enjoyable!

Motherless Brooklyn (film)
Releases November 1, 2019

Based on Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

“Set against the backdrop of 1950s New York, Motherless Brooklyn follows Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, as he ventures to solve his friend’s murder. Armed only with a few clues and the powerful engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of the whole city in the balance.” (from IMDb)

Motherless Brooklyn is a novel I regret not finishing because the imagery from the bits I did read are still fresh in my mind even a few years later. I’m excited for a movie version of this novel because it will motivate me to go back and finish what I started!

Earthquake Bird (film) on Netflix
Releases November 1, 2019

Based on The Earthquake Bird by Susanna Jones

Set in 1989 Tokyo, Lucy Fly, a young female expat, is suspected of murder when her friend Lily goes missing in the wake of a tumultuous love triangle involving Lily, Lucy, and Teiji, a handsome local photographer. (from Dark Horizons: Notable Films of 2019)

It looks like Earthquake Bird is setting up to be in the realm of Girl on the Train or Gone Girl with an unreliable narrator who may or may not have blood on her hands. Readers have compared Jones’ writing style to Patricia Highsmith’s (Carol, The Talented Mr. Ripley). The Earthquake Bird has a noir atmosphere and an unsettling main character. It looks like the perfect murder mystery to sink into before it releases in November.

Doctor Sleep (film)
Releases November 8, 2019

Based on Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

“Struggling with alcoholism, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. His hope for a peaceful existence soon becomes shattered when he meets Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a teen who shares his extrasensory gift of the “shine.” Together, they form an unlikely alliance to battle the True Knot, a cult whose members try to feed off the shine of innocents to become immortal.” (from Geek Girl Authority)

After Carrie brought Stephen King into the film world back in 1976, film adaptations of King’s work have saturated every decade since. The Shining is one of my favorites of King’s novels and movies, and I was hesitant to read a sequel published so long after the original novel; however, with so many awesome Stephen King adaptations coming out right now, I think I’ll find the motivation to read this novel before it’s released!

The Good Liar (film)
Releases November 15, 2019

Based on The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

“Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty opens her life and home to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life.” (from IMDb)

Ian McKellan and Helen Mirren—Do I need to say more? I suppose I do because, when reading this summary, my romantic little heart (and maybe yours too) immediately said, “And then they fell in love!” But this story seems to be a mystery with deft twists and turns that leave your mind spinning. I am putting the novel on hold as I write this!

The Irishman (film)
Releases November 27, 2019

Based on I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt

Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Joe Pesci), now an old man, looks back on his life as a hitman for the Bufalino Crime family. He looks most closely at his involvement in the disappearance of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, who also happened to be his longtime friend.

“I heard you paint houses” was the first thing Jimmy Hoffa ever said to Frank Sheeran (paint, in this charming phrase, is blood). So how is it that Hoffa is dead and Sheeran is one of two non-Italians on a list of the top 26 mob figures? Written like a murder mystery, this engaging work of true crime pulls you into the Italian Mob and all of the moral qualms that accompany it.

Cats (film)
Releases December 20, 2019

Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

“[Cats] tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make the “Jellicle choice,” deciding which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.” This film stars Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, James Corden, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, Jason Derulo, and more!

Growing up in Las Vegas gave me access to a lot of really neat cultural phenomena—one in particular was the Broadway play Cats. There is a photo of me, my sister, and my dad, all looking at the camera with wrinkled noses and raised eyebrows. We left during intermission to eat brownies and didn’t go back. I would like to think that I’ve gained more cultural awareness since being a 9-year-old, but I’m pretty sure I made the exact same face when I saw the movie trailer for the first time. Regardless of my past experiences, I know somebody who adored Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (she even owned mugs with cat illustrations from the book on them!), and Cats is one of the longest-running musicals of all time, so I’m sure it’s worth checking out!

Little Women (film)
Releases December 25, 2019

Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“Little Women explores the lives of the March sisters in 1860s New England, in the aftermath of the American Civil War. According to one of its producers, the new adaptation focuses more on the sisters’ young adult lives, particularly after Meg, Jo, and Amy leave their family home.” (from Wikipedia)

Louisa May Alcott ranks up there with all of the coolest female authors—while being an active supporter of abolishing slavery as a nurse in the Civil War, she was exposed to chemicals that made her suffer constant headaches and lose her ability to use her right hand so she trained herself to write with her left in order to continue supporting her entire family. That should be reason enough to read her books. As for the movie, Saorise Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep are all starring in this perfect winter-time movie.


These are currently without official release dates (at the time of writing), though they are rumored to drop before the end of the year.

Rachel Underwood

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