20+ Best Books Made into Great Movies

books made into movies

It’s no secret that the best movies were often novels first. From The Shawshank Redemption to Harry Potter, our favorite stories, from fantasy, horror, to classic and romance exist both on the page and on the screen.

Many would argue that most books are a cut above their film adaptations, but it’s always fun seeing your favorite stories and characters come to life on screen.

To help you in your quest of finding the perfect novel to read – and just so you can compare them to their film adaptations – we’ve created the ultimate list of the best books that were made into movies. Sit back and take some notes!

1. The Fault In Our Stars

Book: 4.2/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 7.7/10 (IMDb)

In this heart-wrenching story by John Green, adapted for the big screen in 2014, two teenagers diagnosed with cancer fall in love and enjoy their last moments together by embarking on an adventure that changes both of their lives. Prepare the tissues, you’ll need a bunch of them.

2. The Help

Book: 4.4/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8.1/10 (IMDb)

This inspiring and moving novel by Kathryn Stockett was brought to the big screen in 2011 and starred none other than the fabulous Emma Stone. Set in 1960s Mississippi, a young white woman makes the controversial decision of interviewing black women who have been housekeepers for white families their whole lives. An educational and warm story that’s hard to forget.

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3. The Notebook

Book: 4.1/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 7.8/10 (IMDb)

There are countless romance books that are movies, but none quite compare to The Notebook – both on and off screen. In this novel by Nicholas Sparks, adapted in 2004 with the unforgettable Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, two young people divided by class and social norms fall in love and spend their lives trying to be with one another. A star-crossed romance that might seem familiar, but will make your heart explode regardless.

4. The Godfather

Book: 4.3/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 9.2/10 (IMDb)

You obviously know the movie, but did you know there was a book first? The Godfather was initially a crime novel written by Mario Puzo and published in 1969. Like the film, we’re introduced to a fictional mafia family, more precisely to the character of Vito Corleone and his merciless corner of New York. This is a story in which family comes first – no matter how much blood has to be spilled. The Godfather is something to read when you need a few thrills…or a hundred!

5. The Harry Potter Saga

Book: 4.4/5 (Goodreads) The Philosopher’s Stone
Movie: 7.6/10 (IMDb) The Philosopher’s Stone

Another unforgettable saga, the Harry Potter books are a must-read, whether you’re twelve or sixty-five. Both on screen and on print, J.K. Rowling’s masterful and magical series is one of the most popular for a reason. In this page-turning book saga, a boy discovers he’s a wizard and joins a school of witchcraft where he’s faced with an unhealthy amount of magical threats… and a prophecy that will change the course of wizarding history.

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6. The Lord of the Rings Saga

Book: 4.3/5 (Goodreads) The Fellowship of the Ring
Movie: 8.8/10 (IMDb) The Fellowship of the Ring

J.R.R. Tolkien’s incredible saga is a delight for those who like intricate, fantasy novels. Delve into the formidable story of a hobbit tasked to save civilization from chaos by carrying a powerful ring to the place where it was forged and destroying it. A classic adventure movie of the genre, you’re promised to find everything great about fantasy in this epic story – dwarves, elves, magic, friendship and mind-blowing battles that are just as amazing on paper.

7. The James Bond Saga

Book: 3.7/5 (Goodreads) Casino Royale
Movie: 8.0/10 (IMDb)

This one may come as a surprise. Indeed, 007 once – and originally – came from a book – a whole lot of them, that is. Ian Fleming, the author of the 12 Bond books, invented the British spy in 1953. His first novel, Casino Royale is everything a Bond fan could want and more – on paper, he’s just as charming as any James Bond actor and he undergoes missions and drives lavish cars like those we see in his movies. If you’re into spies and secret agents, this read is for you!

8. Forrest Gump

Book: 4/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8.8/10 (IMDb)

If you remember Tom Hanks in the lead role of the tear-jerking 1994 movie, then you’ll want to read the book it was adapted from. Winston Groom’s 1986 novel explores the life of a man enduring some of the greatest events in American History, while experiencing milestones in his own existence, from the Vietnam War to his enduring love for a childhood friend. A must-read!

9. Call Me by Your Name

Book: 4.2/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 7.9/10 (IMDb)

Before it was nominated at the Academy Awards and won Best Adapted Screenplay, Call Me By Your Name was a poignant novel by André Aciman. Pick up this book and indulge yourself in a story of a precocious American-Italian young man who falls for an older American visitor during a hot summer in Italy. It’s a love story for the ages…

10. The Hunger Games Saga

Book: 4.3/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 7.2/10 (IMDb)

Jennifer Lawrence played the unforgettable Katniss Everdeen for the big screen from 2012 to 2014, and the character was just as incredible in Suzanne Collins’ eponymous saga. In this action story, teens are pitted against one another in a deadly game organized by a despotic dystopia. The Hunger Games is a dark tale with a powerful message of unity and love.

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11. Fifty Shades of Grey Saga

Book: 3.6/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 4.1/10 (IMDb)

Some may argue that both the movie and book version of this saga aren’t worth a read or a watch, but that hasn’t stopped them from being one of the most popular of all time. The steamy movies carried by Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were initially a best-selling and equally sexy book saga by E. L. James. Published in 2011, Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of a shy college senior who falls for a seductive businessman and develops a manipulative sexual relationship with him – let’s just say this one’s not for the faint of hearts.

12. The Shawshank Redemption

Book: 4.5/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 9.3/10 (IMDb)

You probably remember the captivating story of Andy Dufresne as told in the 1994 movie. But if you haven’t had enough of the peculiar world of the Shawshank prison where inmates create their own tiny world with the help of hope and comradery, you’ll be glad to learn that it was a novel by Stephen King first. Now, get to reading!

13. The Shining

Book: 4.2/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8.4/10 (IMDb)

Stephen King’s spooky story about a writer’s family settling into a haunted hotel was brought to the screen by Stanley Kubrick in 1980. If you thought Jack Nicholson was terrifying, wait until you read the novel. This book is for those who fancy a fright that’s probably more immersive than the movie.

14. Little Women

Book: 4/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 7.9/10 (IMDb)

Louisa May Alcott’s novel is such a classic, it’s been adapted for the screen so many times, we’ve lost count. This story follows four young women dealing with their father’s absence during the Civil War, and it’s an all-round gripping and emotional tale. Greta Gerwig recently immortalized the story for the big screen with Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet – a movie so good, it will make you want to devour Alcott’s book if you haven’t already.

15. Fight Club

Book: 4.1/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8.8/10 (IMDb)

We bet you didn’t know this movie was based on a book! Brad Pitt and Edward Norton were impossible to forget in David Fincher’s incredible thriller back in 1999. A gloomy guy joins an underground fight club on the advice of an aloof stranger named Tyler Durden, only for things to turn complex and bizarre from there onward. If you want more of these strange and chaotic characters, pick up the 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk, which is just as gripping.

16. It

Book: 4.2/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 7.3/10 (IMDb)

Once again, Stephen King makes us shudder, this time with a creepy, carnivorous clown. Pennywise comes back every 27 years to a small American town terrifying and torturing a group of brave, fearless teenagers. Those who have seen the film may notice the slight change – although the recent movies were set in the 1980s, King’s book takes place in the late 1950s.

17. Life of Pi

Book: 3.9/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 7.9/10 (IMDb)

There are several books made into movies, but not all of them deserve a read and a watch. Life of Pi certainly does. This book was written by Yann Martel and follows the journey of a young man who finds himself lost at sea with a hyena and a tiger. If you found the movie stunning, you’ll definitely appreciate the novel for its beautiful, slightly unreliable narrator and the strange world it depicts.

18. Bridget Jones’s Diary

Book: 3.7/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 6.7/10 (IMDb)

This loosely-adapted, modern version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is the perfect narrative by a fictional, yet very relatable thirty-something woman. Delve into Bridget Jones’s diary and bury yourself in her hilarious romantic fantasies about her boss and more. If you loved Renee Zelwegger and Colin Firth’s movie for all its brilliant humor and romantic tropes, you’ll devour the novel by Helen Fielding.

19. The Exorcist

Book: 4.1/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8/10 (IMDb)

You’ve likely seen the creepy, classic movie, but did you know this film was a book first? Just like in the 1973 masterpiece that terrorized generations, the book tells the story of a 12 year-old girl who finds herself possessed, leading her family to call two priests to exorcise her. Get ready for sleepless nights and jump-scares in a book so enticing, you’ll finish it within days.

20. Slumdog Millionaire

Book: 3.9/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8/10 (IMDb)

Danny Boyle’s 2008 Oscar-winning film was adapted from the novel with a different title, Q&A by Vikas Swarup in 2005. This is a moving story of a man who is arrested for cheating “Who Wants To Be A Billionaire?”. Likely to go to jail, his only way to escape it is by telling the story of his life and explaining how and when he learned the answers. Q&A is a spectacular read and perfect for those who want to lose themselves in a story of humor and suspense.

21. 12 Years a Slave

Book: 4.1/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8.1/10 (IMDb)

This harrowing, captivating memoir written in 1853 recounts how Solomon Northup, a free black man was kidnapped and sold a slave in Washington D.C. 12 Years a Slave was adapted for the big screen in 2013 with a stellar cast consisting of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt and many others. An important work for anyone interested in American history.

22. The Da Vinci Code

Book: 3.8/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 6.6./10 (IMDb)

Dan Brown’s 2003 novel is a book that art lovers will devour in one sitting. Robert Langdon, a character that Tom Hanks immortalized for the big screen in 2006, explores the myth of the Holy Grail after the murder of a Louvre curator sets him on an incredible and dangerous quest across Europe. A must-read for fans of treasure hunts and mysteries.

23. Jurassic Park

Book: 4/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8.1/10 (IMDb)

Yes, the story about dinosaurs being genetically brought back to life on a remote island was a novel first, and a sensational one at that! If seeing dinosaurs is not enough and you crave it in the written word, Michael Crichton’s 1990 book will take you right back to Spielberg’s fascinating universe where human beings are no longer on top of the food chain.

24. Jaws

Book: 3.9/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 8/10 (IMDb)

Who doesn’t remember the terrifying shark of Jaws? The legendary Steven Spielberg thriller was adapted from the 1974 novel of the same name, written by Peter Benchley. Just like the mega-blockbuster, Jaws tells the petrifying story of a gigantic great white shark killing the beach-goers of a small American town. Avoid reading this one on the beach – you’ll think twice before going for a swim.

25. Legally Blonde

Book: 3.6/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 6.3/10 (IMDb)

Reese Witherspoon marked a whole generation by playing clever and glamorous, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. The eponymous novel also follows the story of a young woman going to Harvard to prove to her ex-boyfriend that she is far more intelligent than he thinks. A delicious summer read that will make you want to dream big!

26. The Twilight Saga

Book: 3.5/5 (Goodreads)
Movie: 5.2/10 (IMDb)

You can’t escape Twilight. The best-selling saga was obviously a hit before the movies, and Stephenie Meyer’s story about a normal teenager falling in love with a seductive and broody vampire is still as exciting over a decade later as it was in 2008. A teen romance intertwined in a fantasy story that every youngster wishes was real.

There have been many book to movie adaptations over the years, but only a handful will withstand the test of time like these ones have. Of course, the list will probably grow even bigger in the years to come, and we can’t wait to discover what Hollywood has in store.

Can you think of any other books that became movies? Let us know in the comments what other great titles we’ve missed!


Tale Teller

  • Maria Supplisson

    Maria is a screenwriting student at the London Film Academy with a Bachelors' degree in English & Creative Writing, blogger and storytelling-obsessed, from literature to TV shows, movies to documentaries. During her time at the London Film Academy, Maria wrote two short films that were produced by the school, one of which was showcased at the BFI for graduation, and she is now working on multiple projects from a short film to a play, while also translating articles from English to French about film, series, and celebrities for a London-based entertainment news agency. Unhealthily addicted to Game of Thrones lore.

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