The 5 Best Book-to-Screen Adaptations This Year That You Need to Watch

From a coming-of-age memoir to a modern classic, these adaptations totally do justice to the books they're based on.

If, like me, you’re an avid bookworm with a penchant for a night spent with your nose in a book, but on occasion want to indulge in a more passive past-time, you’re in luck. While there’s really nothing better than a page-turning book, a close second is an accurate book-to-screen adaptation.

And while we all know that many-a book-to-screen adaptation has gotten it horrifyingly wrong (looking at you, The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveler’s Wife), when those Hollywood A-listers get it right, you’re in for a guaranteed good time.

And thus, without further ado, from a coming-of-age memoir set against the beating book heart of New York City, to a sprawling family saga widely considered a modern classic, here are the best book-to-screen adaptions this year that you simply have to watch.

RELATED: 20 Best Date Night Movies to Watch With Your Partner

1. My Salinger Year

An uplifting and poignant movie based on the memoir of the same name, My Salinger Year is about the year writer Joanna Rakoff spent finding her feet among the publishing elite in New York City.

When Joanna takes a job as assistant to the literary agent of the renowned, reclusive writer J.D. Salinger, shortly after finishing grad school, she soon finds herself answering Salinger’s fan mail, and getting personal advice from the man himself.

Starring Margaret Qualley as the young, aspiring writer, and Sigourney Weaver as Salinger’s esteemed agent, it’s the perfect Sunday night film that comes served with a heavy dose of books.

2. Shantaram

Based on the cult classic of the same name that was published in 2003 to critical acclaim, the newly released Apple TV series stars the rather easy-on-the-eyes Charlie Hunman as a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from Pentridge Prison and flees to India.

This long-awaited adaptation that follows a fallen man’s attempt to find himself and redemption does a great job of capturing the spirit of Gregory David Roberts’ much-loved book.

3. Pachinko

Based on the New York Times bestseller, Pachinko is sweeping saga that chronicles the hopes and dreams of a Korean immigrant family across four generations as they leave their homeland in an indomitable quest to survive and thrive. The show is bound to delight fans of Min Jin Lee’s much-loved book.

Beloved by readers and viewers around the world, the series is just as beautiful as the book on which it’s based. Both the scope and ambition in bringing to life such a complex and acclaimed novel is impressive, to say the least.

4. From Scratch

From Scratch starring Zoe Saldana is just about everywhere at the moment – and rightly so. Its dreamy Italian filming locations make it a must-watch for anyone with a penchant for far-flung destinations and food.

However, for the bookish among us, the story may sound familiar, and that’s because it’s based on the book of the same name by Tembi Locke.

A story set in the lush Sicilian countryside, where one woman discovers the healing powers of food, family, and unexpected grace in her darkest hours, Locke was heavily involved in the screen adaptation. It’s easy to see why From Scratch was one of Netflix’s most-watched shows mere days after its release.

5. The Underground Railroad

Available exclusively on Amazon Prime, The Underground Railroad is a historical drama series based on Colson Whitehead’s cult classic that generated the American author a legion of loyal fans around the world. And the TV adaptation does not disappoint.

Tough but essential viewing, the series won a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries. It stars Thuso Mbedu as Cora, who escapes a Georgia plantation and boards a train to embark on a harrowing trip as she seeks true freedom while being hunted by a notorious slave catcher.

Lucy Pearson
Lucy Pearson is a freelance writer, book blogger and host of The Bondi Literary Salon based in Bondi. Read more
Filed Under
 •  •  •