Hear Us Out: These 11 Essay Collections Would Make AMAZING TV Shows

by Kerri Jarema

It's absolutely no secret that 2018 has been a great year for book-to-screen adaptations — and there's so much more to come. Everything from rom-coms to short stories have been tapped for the screen this year, whether it's been in the form of traditional TV series, Netflix and Hulu originals, or big screen blockbusters. But while you might expect books like Judy Blume's YA classic Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. or Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep A Secret? to make perfect transitions from page to screen, you might not have a long list of essay collections you're hoping will do the same. But, thankfully TV execs in particular certainly seem to be warming up to the idea.

With the news that the New York Times' Modern Love a beloved column of essays all about the different kinds of love will be adapted at Amazon TV and Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things is in the works at HBO, it seems that the time is perfect for essay collections to have their moment in the small-screen spotlight. Below are 11 collections that would be perfect for television, whether online or on a traditional network. They're all timely, relatable, and entertaining... and would all be totally marathon worthy.

'Can't Help Myself: Lessons and Confessions From A Modern Advice Columnist' by Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein's essays about her experience as the author behind The Boston Globe's Love Letters column — confidently taking on the problems of thousands of readers even when her own life was decidedly uncertain — sounds like the perfect Netflix series to me.

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'We Are Never Meeting In Real Life' by Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby's most recent essay collection, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, explores everything from her complicated family, to her experiences with mental and physical health issues, and adopting a demon cat. If you don't think her hilarious-meets-poignant life sounds screen-worthy... well, you're wrong.

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'Places I Stopped On The Way Home' by Meg Fee

Nothing says "made for TV" like a book about life and love as a 20-something in New York City. Meg Fee's collection Places I Stopped On the Way Home is the ideal mix of hopeful and heart-wrenching, and it's perfect for fans of This Is Us.

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'American Like Me: Reflections On Life Between Cultures' by Various Authors

American Like Me, edited by America Ferrera, explores an array of experiences growing up both American and decidedly "other." If there's ever been a time that we needed to see more diverse faces on screen, telling stories of all the many unique ways that one can be American, its now.

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'One Day We'll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter' by Scaachi Koul

In her collection, Scaachi Koul not only delves into what it means to grow up as the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, she intertwines personal stories about gender dynamics, racial tensions, and ethnic stereotypes — and does it all in a way that will make you laugh out loud. Koul, and her hilarious parents, are characters we need on TV.

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'The Last Black Unicorn' by Tiffany Haddish

I would need more than two hands to count all the "fictional" shows based on the real lives of male comedians — think Ray Romano and Chris Rock — that have graced our TV screens. Tiffany Haddish's story should be among the next wave. Her personal essay collection follows her from her heartwrenching childhood through to her current career triumph, all made possible through laughter.

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'I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections' by Nora Ephron

In my opinion, we don't have nearly enough movies and TV shows like Netflix's Grace & Frankie, about vibrant women in their later years. Nora Ephron's I Remember Nothing, about her experiences with aging and reflecting on her life (published two years before she died of cancer) in ways both hilarious and heartfelt is tailor-made for a series adaptation.

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'So Much I Want To Tell You' by Anna Akana

Anna Akana's collection contains a wide-variety of stories, all relating to what she's learned as a 20-something woman, about everything from career to sex. And it's all written to her little sister, who committed suicide in 2007. Seeing a show with an Asian woman lead, just navigating the bumpiness of young adulthood, all formatted as letters to her late sister? I'm searching for tissues to cry in just imagining it.

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'How To Be A Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much' by Samatha Ellis

Samantha Ellis' essay collection is a retrospective look at all of the literary heroines she has loved since childhood. Can't you just imagine the series now? A 20-something whose life is in quarter-life crises turmoil turns to her favorite heroines to try to change things, implementing their lessons in her own life to results both heartfelt and disastrous? Call me, Hollywood.

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'The Year Of Yes' by Shonda Rhimes

Would I say yes to an on-screen adaptation of Shonda Rhimes's collection all about the year she attempted to say yes to every new opportunity that came her way in an effort to change her life? Um, yes, I would. This joyous, relatable, funny and totally life-altering experiment is exactly the sort of uplifting entertainment we could all use right now.

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'Well, That Escalated Quickly' by Franchesca Ramsey

Do we need a TV show all about a woman who goes viral on YouTube and then has to navigate all of the highs and lows of her newfound internet fame, complete with professional triumphs and cringe-worthy encounters with Twitter trolls? Yes, I think we do. Luckily, Franchesca Ramsey has written exactly that for us in her first collection Well, That Escalated Quickly.

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