The dog days of summer are here! For many of us, this means it’s time to stay inside and binge watch some TV. But did you know some of the best of those great TV shows you love are actually adaptations of books? It’s true!
Everything from epic fantasies (Game of Thrones) to historical romances with a science fiction twist (Outlander) to dystopian social commentary (The Handmaid’s Tale) to modern Western mysteries (Longmire) to supernatural comic books (Preacher and American Gods) are adapted for television now.
And if you think the adaptation craze on television is going to be ending anytime soon, well, think again.
Below are some books to start reading now, so when the television adaptations they are based on hit DVDs or the screen soon, you’ll be ready.
Special thanks to Mary-Esther for giving me some excellent suggestions for shows highlighted in this post!
As always, follow this link to our online library catalog to learn more about these items.
If you like stories of domestic drama:
Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (2014)
Set in Australia, this book follows 3 very different mothers whose seemingly perfect lives start to unravel amidst murderous scandal at their children’s school. The story has its moments of humor but also delves into difficult topics like bullying, adultery, and domestic abuse. Earlier this year, it was adapted into an acclaimed HBO miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, among others. It is coming to DVD this month, so enjoy the book and the series at the same time!
Recommended for those who enjoy Jojo Moyes.
If you enjoy mysteries:
Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling (2013)
Following the success of the Harry Potter series, author J.K. Rowling used a pen name to release her next series, a decidedly non-magical mystery series about a British private investigator named Cormoran Strike. (I bet that was a fun name to have in grade school.) In this first entry of the series, Strike investigates a model’s alleged suicide. Later this month, a TV series–Cormoran Strike–will debut on the BBC. No word yet on when it could migrate to America, but you can get a head start on reading all the books beforehand!
Recommended for those who enjoy Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series.
Caleb Carr’s The Alienist (1994)
If you prefer your mysteries more historical and/or American, consider Caleb Carr’s The Alienist. Set in 1890s New York, it follows a psychologist and a journalist who join forces to hunt down a serial killer. At the time, psychologists were called alienists (which is a much more fun title, if you ask me–I think it would look great on a business card), and the book deals a lot with the historical side of the investigation. That includes new-fangled ways to solve crime (like fingerprinting) and the social issues of the day.
This series is coming to TNT as an “event series” on a yet-to-be-announced date. I don’t really know what “event series” means, but my research leads me to believe it is fancy marketing double-speak for “miniseries that we might or might not renew if people watch it.”
Anyway, it will star Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning, but I must admit, the casting that got my attention was Brian Geraghty as New York City police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt. Geraghty played one of my absolute favorite creepily unhinged Prohibition agents on Boardwalk Empire, a show full of creepily unhinged Prohibition agents, so I’m intrigued by what his take on Roosevelt will look like.
Recommended for those who enjoy Anne Perry.
If you love Westerns:
Philipp Meyer’s The Son (2013)
Philipp Meyer presents readers with an epic family drama set against the backdrop of Texas history. He focuses on three members of the McCullough family. There is patriarch Eli, born in the Republic of Texas, captured by Comanches at 13, and eventual cattle baron and oil tycoon. There is also his son Peter and Peter’s granddaughter, Jeannie, who both deal with their own set of problems.
Earlier this year, a miniseries adaptation of the book ran on AMC, starring Pierce Brosnan as Eli. No word yet on when it will come to DVD, but if you enjoyed it when it was on or would like to be ready for the DVD release, you can check the book out now.
Recommended for those who enjoy Paulette Jiles.
If you prefer domestic comedies (and don’t mind waiting awhile for the television adaptation):
Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different (2016)
Eleanor Flood has decided that today will be the day that the famous cartoonist is her “best self.” Complications ensue when she realizes that her son is trying to weasel his way into her business, that her husband may be cheating on her, and that a former coworker is on the verge of releasing a memoir that will reveal one of Eleanor’s family secrets. That sounds like a depressing day. But in the hands of Maria Semple, a one-time writer for Arrested Development, it’s an engaging comedy.
This book is currently in development with HBO, so don’t expect it anytime soon. But you can definitely go ahead and read the book in preparation for the show!
Recommended for those who enjoyed Jami Attenberg’s All Grown Up.
Nathan Hill’s The Nix (2016)
Another comedic novel that takes on a storyline that could very easily be a drama, The Nix is about Samuel Anderson. He’s an English professor, though he’d rather hide in his office and play online games rather than actually teach. He gets jolted out of his little fantasy world when the mother who abandoned him in childhood makes national news after throwing rocks at a famous politician. Samuel then embarks on a journey to figure out who his mother is and, of course, learn more about himself in the process.
This is another show that is in development, so you have plenty of time to read the book. In fact, from what I can find online, it is going to be a television movie and they do have some cast members attached, most famously Meryl Streep as the mother, but so far, there is nothing concrete on a network or a date for it to air.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Tawni O’Dell’s Sister Mine.
What’s your favorite television adaptation of a book? What book/series would you like to see made into a television show? What book/series do you hope never gets adapted? Tell us in the comments!