8 Novels That Should Be Miniseries Circa Yesterday

Dear Important Television People,

I have an urgent request that you need to see taken care of ASAP. I love watching movie versions of my favorite books, as long as it's not a remake of Brideshead Revisited in which they think they write better dialogue than Evelyn Waugh (they don't). Or, when they put the title of an American classic on what is essentially a two-hour screensaver (I'm looking at you, Baz Luhrmann). Or, the worst sin of all, when they change the plot. There is NO attack by random native Americans in The Scarlett Letter. Willy Wonka has NO father (or if he does, Roald Dahl didn't care about him and neither do I). Maybe Hollywood thought they could get away with the 8,000 little details the Harry Potter movie franchise changed. Au contraire! And NO.I guess this is when someone starts explaining to me how books have different narrative structures than films and visual storytelling, blah, blah, blah. I get it, I do. But there is a better way and that way is in your grasp — the miniseries! Think about it. They have chapters like books do. They sustain the action for a long period of time like books do. They're awesome like books are awesome. You know I'm right.

So, Channel Executives: help a girl out. Please make the following into big-budget, big-star serials that I can Netflix binge on, obsess over, and adore.



To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The movie was almost perfect, except there was so much they had to cut. With a miniseries you could have Aunt Alexandra and Christmas with the Finches. You could have more time with Ms. Maudie and the morphodite, Calpurnia and the trip to her church. You could have drinking Coca-Cola outside the courthouse. I want all those things.

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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Again, good movie... too many cuts. I want ALL THE DETAILS.

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The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea by Mary Renault

If you don't know this book, go read it — especially if you loved The Hunger Games, because Suzanne Collins... gently lifted the entire premise from Mary Renault. Its twisty-turny plot is rife with adventure, intrigue, and Ancient world spectacle. It's begging to be a TV series. PLEASE!

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Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow

Doctorow is our Dickens. Dickens gets miniseries. He gets a whole bunch of them. Why should the British have all the fun?

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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This book is a computer animation geek's dream. This could be the most beautiful miniseries ever made.

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Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Neverhome is about a woman who dresses up as a man to fight in the civil war. When I was reading I kept wishing I could see her — how did she pass? What were all those small things she changed to become a man? We women deserve a civil war story where we don't have to wear frigging hoop skirts. And Jennifer Lawrence would be great at this. Just sayin'.

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The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This one I see as the moody British mystery series that culminates with a suspension-filled trial. A classic whodunnit with, okay, maybe a little less breaks to talk about the existence of god? But how cool would it be to have Ian McKellen or Charles Dance play Satan? Very uncool cool.

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A Widow For One Year by John Irving

They made a movie of the beginning of this book called The Door in the Floor that was truly lovely. But man I wanted the next 47 chapters... there are men who love chickens, transvestite prostitutes in display windows, squash-yielding novelists and a book-nerd, ex-cop house husband. It's John Irving. How is one movie enough?

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

There are a million movies of Jane Eyre (literally, I counted). Here is the one thing they all miss: Jane Eyre is really funny. Hollywood hears the word "gothic" and immediately breaks out the fog machine and the LONG pauses. They're wrong. Jane and Mr. Rochester fall in love because they are two sad people who can make each other laugh. Do a miniseries and get it right.

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Ulysses by James Joyce

This one is so I don't have to read it and can pretend I did.

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The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer

It's the first ever miniseries, really. They just didn't have TVs then. We do now!

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Images: keirstenmarie, Jose Sa, Hadi Zaher, Yohann de Castro, Jerry Worster, Chris Beckett, Tom Gill, jurek d., LivyAnn, poppet with a camera, Robert/flickr,