Did you know that many of your favorite films likely have their roots in literature? While the film industry seems to generate big-screen hits out of thin air, much of its success is owed to best-selling authors and their original storytelling. So, to get even more out of your movie-watching experience, we recommend checking out the book versions of these eight movies you may not have known were inspired by books first!
1. Beautiful Boy (2018)
Based On: Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff
Beautiful Boy is a heartbreaking story about a father and his teenage son who is suffering from an addiction to methamphetamine and numerous other drugs. The movie, released in October 2018, is based on a real-life father-son pair, David and Nic Sheff, bringing to life the memoirs each wrote about their experiences and struggles. David’s memoir is named Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction and is a depiction of parental love and the grief of a father’s trying to understand his son’s spiraling addiction. The movie also draws on Nic’s memoir, Tweak, which tells his personal perspective of addiction.
2. Boy Erased (2018)
Based On: Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrad Conley
Based on a true story, this movie about a boy’s coming out in a conservative Arkansas town is an adaptation of Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased: A Memoir. Like Jared in the film, Garrard Conley was raised in a fundamentalist family and pressured into conversion therapy after coming out as gay while in college. He wrote his memoir to bring to light the harmful nature of conversion therapy and the inhumane practices involved.
3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
This film is an adaptation of the charming historical novel of the same name that librarian Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows wrote in 2008. The film is very true to the original novel’s plotline, following protagonist Juliet Ashton’s journey as a young writer during World War II. She decides to travel to Guernsey Island after receiving a letter about a secret literary society that was established there during the German occupation. A major aspect of the novel that could not be replicated on screen is that it is told in an epistolary fashion through Juliet’s beautifully written letters.
4. The Hate U Give (2018)
This timely movie is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Angie Thomas. Thomas created the character of Starr, a sixteen-year-old black girl who is struggling to balance two very different lives. Starr has grown up in a low-income, predominantly black neighborhood, but she attends a mostly white college-prep school. When her unarmed friend is shot by police in her neighborhood, she is called to activism as the only witness to the crime.
5. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
This new television web series has brought Shirley Jackson’s gothic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House to life in a terrifying way. Many may not realize that the frightening Hill House and its unfortunate guests were originally created by Jackson in 1959. Although some of the original character’s names—such as Eleanor, Theodora, and Luke—are used in the television show, they are considerably different characters than the ones from the book. Instead of featuring siblings who grew up in Hill House, the original plotline of Jackson’s novel is about four strangers who come to the famously haunted Hill House to help scientist Dr. Montague find evidence of supernatural forces.
Bonus: Other, Older Book Adaptations You Should Watch (or Re-Watch)
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Although this high school chick flick set in Seattle may seem like the furthest thing from a Shakespeare play, it is actually based on The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. If you’ve read the play, you’ll notice the similarity in names and almost identical plotline, as Petruchio must “tame” the unruly Katharina so that his master Lucentio can marry the beautiful Bianca.
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Bridget Jones’s Diary is a modernized take on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. Although Pride and Prejudice is focused on the societal pressures surrounding marriage and financial stability that women faced in Victorian England, 21st-century Bridget Jones also faces pressure from her mother and the people around her to marry before it’s “too late.” There are many parallels between the two storylines—the drama and romance between Bridget and Mark Darcy closely resemble the tumultuous courtship between Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.
She’s The Man (2006)
Did you know that this sporty romance movie is also inspired by one of Shakespeare’s comedies? In Twelfth Night, Viola disguises herself as a man named Cesario after she and her twin brother, Sebastian, are shipwrecked. As Cesario, she works for the Duke of the town by helping him woo the object of his affection, Olivia. However, Olivia falls in love with disguised Viola and Viola falls in love with the Duke, who is quite confused by his own affections for his “male” servant. Sound familiar?