Top Ten Books that Became Films

Today is my final Top Ten list, finishing off my top 100 books. Today’s choices, though, are not based upon the books but on the movies made from those books. I have chosen these movies not because the books were the best ever and not because the movie did a perfect job adapting the book. I chose these movies because they were good movies that happen to be based off books. (You might also notice that while my previous lists have been titled toward women writers, this one is not; it is half and half!)

A Beautiful Mind: The Life of a Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash by Sylvia Nasar
Book Synopsis: John Forbes Nash, Jr., a prodigy and legend by the age of 30, dazzled the mathematical world by solving a series of deep problems deemed “impossible” by other mathematicians. But at the height of his fame, Nash suffered a catastrophic mental breakdown and began a harrowing descent into insanity, resigning his post at MIT, slipping into a series of bizarre delusions, and eventually becoming a dreamy, ghostlike figure at Princeton, scrawling numerological messages on blackboards. He was all but forgotten by the outside world – until, remarkably, he emerged from his madness to win the Nobel Prize. A true drama, A Beautiful Mind is also a fascinating look at the extraordinary and fragile nature of genius.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Book Synopsis: Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

Different Seasons by Stephen King
This book is four novellas including the one that inspired Shawshank Redemption (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption) and Stand by Me (both great movies).

The Firm by John Grisham
Book Synopsis: You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch’s firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice — if he wants to live. 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
Book Synopsis: Mrs. Threadgoode’s tale of two high-spirited women of the 1930s, Idgie and Ruth, helps Evelyn, a 1980s woman in a sad slump of middle age, to begin to rejuvenate her own life.  

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Books Synopsis: In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele–Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles–as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. Kaysen’s memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a “parallel universe” set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery

Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Book Synopsis: They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club–and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades. A celebrated novel in the tradition of Alice Adams and Margaret Atwood from the bestselling author of The Kitchen God’s Wife.

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Book Synopsis: An epic depicting the Great War of the Ring, a struggle between good and evil in Middle-Earth, in which the tiny Hobbits play a key role.

Psycho by Robert Bloch
The basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic horror film of the same name, Bloch’s Psycho is the first in a series of books about Norman Bates.

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Book Synopsis: FBI Academy trainee Clarice Starling hopes that Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a criminally insane psychiatrist imprisoned in a Boston hospital, can lead her to the serial killer known only as Buffalo Bill.

I would probably add to this list if I were going beyond ten Jurassic Park by Michael Creighton, Jaws by Peter Benchley, the Harry Potters, and the Da Vinci Code (which is a horrible movie because Tom Hanks was really really not the right person for that role, but the book is excellent). Again, these choices were made based on the quality of the movies not the books. Many good books have been made into bad movies. Having said that, though, maybe you will enjoy a few of these!

Happy Reading.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Top Ten Books that Became Films

  1. Fried Green Tomatoes is one of the best book to movie adaptions in my opinion. I loved both versions and find myself watching Fried Green Tomatoes whenever I notice it on tv.

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