Jen Discusses Books-To-Movies

I took my kids to see The Lorax this weekend and as I was sitting there I started to think about books that have been made into movies. The more I thought about it, the more books I came up with. Over the past decade there are been a lot of our beloved books made to fit the big screen. With the much anticipated release of The Hunger Books To MoviesGames movie, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the good and bad of books made into movies.

There are two camps when it comes to making books into movies: Those who say: no way, leave my book alone and in my imagination, and those who can’t wait to see the story come to life in high-def and Dolby surround sound. I am not sure where I fall because if done correctly a great book can make a great movie. But if done poorly….well we all have seen a couple of those, haven’t we?

However you define success, how much money the film grossed or how well it adapted to screen, I don’t think anyone would argue the Harry Potter series was a great success. Having read the books and watched all the movies I was very happy with how the movies turned out. Obviously you cannot put everything in a movie that was in the book but Harry Potter was one of the best adaptations that I have come across, at least in the first two. Financially, when all is said and done J.K. Rowling is said to have a net worth of $1 billion. That is pretty successful!

Whether you like the books or not, it is hard to argue the Twilight movies have been pretty successful. With four of the five movies released it has grossed over $2 billion. They make teenage girls (and some adults I know) everywhere squeal with joy and ecstasy. That is successful, right??

The DaVinci Code, as another example, most people who read the book first didn’t like the movie, does that make it a bomb? Or really did most people, in general, just not like it? This brings up other points:

  • Do you feel you’re more likely to enjoy a movie if you have not read the book first?
  • How often you have been inclined to read a book after you saw the movie version?
  • How often have have you been totally disappointed in a movie because you feel like it totally missed the tone or vibe of the book?

Possibly my favorite trilogy, Lord of the Rings, I went back and read the books AFTER watching the movies. Maybe that had a factor in me liking both the books and the movies equally. I don’t think the movies detracted from the enjoyment of the books or vice versa.

Here are other examples of books that were made into movies:
Some of these, depending on how you define success, did very well, others not as much.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice
Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
Shawshank Redemption (movie that follows the book closest of any I have read) by Stephen King
Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (nominated for 5 Academy awards) by Stieg Larsson
The Help by Kathyrn Stockett
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

So how do you feel?

  • Are there any books you’d like to see become movies?
  • Or books you NEVER want to see become movies?
  • Of this list, which do you consider a success or a miserable failure?


  1. says

    I LOVE the movie of A Walk to Remember! I haven’t read the book version.

    It always makes me break down in tears. But it’s soooo good.


  2. says

    Fun post Jen.

    The worst book to movies I’ve seen are The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Reader, which sucked because I LOVED both books so much. I mean the movies had potential to be great because they both had outstanding casts, but I still thought both flopped.

    I like book based movies. Often times, they make me want to read the book and I like comparing them. Other times, they leave me satisfied enough that I don’t feel like I have to read the book.

    • says

      Thanks! The more I thought about it, the more I realized there are a ton of books made into movies. I haven’t seen any of the ones you mentioned. I hate crying at the movies!

  3. Janna says

    I prefer to watch this kind of movies without reading the book first, because more often than not the movie can’t compete with the complexity of a book. And then I end up being disappointed in the movie.
    Although it works better for me to watch the movie before reading the book, I often skip the book altogether after I’ve seen the movie. Lol.

  4. Diane says

    I haven’t seen most of the movies you’ve listed or read the books either. I wouldn’t mind seeing a TV show based on the In Death series by JD Robb though.

  5. infinitieh says

    There are some that came out better – LOTR, for example. As much as I enjoyed the books, I could only read them by skipping all the songs and poetry.

    Many films from kids/YA books are okay, but didn’t find their audience – “Eragon” and “Percy Jackson”, for example. They were okay and I would have loved to see the sequels, but even I didn’t watch them in the theaters. I did see “The Golden Compass” in the theater and I though it was fun and should have had a sequel. Ditto for “Master and Commander”.

    Then you have films like “City of Ember” which was fine as a book but really showed the claustrophobic underground surroundings in the film. Ech.

    Frankly, I refuse to read any Nicholas Sparks let alone watch any of the movies. I don’t enjoy crying while watching a film and I insist on HEAs.

    • says

      I am with you on the Sparks films!

      I thought about Narnia after this was posted too. There are a lot of kids ones.

  6. says

    My m-i-l used to read Nicholas Sparks but finally stopped with at least one of the core couple died. I’ve never read him, though I can watch The Notebook every time it’s on tv.

    What drives me batty is when a character trait is prevelent in a book and the movie changes it: Novalee from Where The Heart Is, for example. In the book, she was afraid of the number 7 — bad things happen to her in relation to that number; in the move, it was changed to 5. Why not just leave it 7? That drove me crazy, and I proceeded to drive my husband crazy about it when we saw the movie.

    • says

      That would bug me too! Why bother making the book after the movie if they are going to change major parts?

  7. Tabs says

    For me, I’ve found that movie adaptations work for me if they’re able to hit the same emotional beats. The movie has to make me feel like I did when I read the book, or I won’t find it satisfying.

    I don’t need absolute fidelity and I usually don’t have strong opinions on what characters should look like physically.

    • says

      Good point. How many times have I seen the movie trailer and thought, “well that wasn’t how I pictured them in my head.”

  8. vivian baird says

    I don’t remember the author and never read the book but I liked the Bridget Jones’s diary movies. I heard the books were good to. I won’t name them all,but a lot of the paranormal romance novels I think should be made into movies. But the sex would have to be toned down. I think it would be interesting if they made Shelly Laureston’s shifters stories into movies. All the hitting, name calling and the wacky characters would be fun to watch on the big screen.

  9. says

    I usually hate movies when I have read the book. They leave so much out of it! The one I hated most: Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel, such a great book, such a bad movie.

    • says

      I can’t say that I hate them but they certainly do not live up to what the book was. Something about being able to create the book in your imagination. The big screen can never equal my crazy imagination!

  10. Cindi says

    I tried to read “P.S. I love you” but cried so hard during Ch. 1 that I had to quit – and told my therapist, who said it was my abandonment issues 😉 I finally did try the movie and it was wonderful (altho I cried again) but I never wanted to go back and read the book after that…I really wanted to go see “One for the Money” but didn’t after hearing it got such rotten reviews (I thought the casting was all wrong after seeing the previews). I think casting a movie after a sucessful book is always hard. I too would LOVE to see “In Death” in the movies or in a TV series but who could ever play Roarke?