12 Books You Should Read Before They Come To Screen This Year
If you were as captivated by HBO’s recently concluded mini-series, Big Little Lies (based on the bestselling novel of the same name, written by Liane Moriarty) as I was, then you’re probably just itching for that next book-to-screen adaptation you’re guaranteed to obsess over. The good news (for readers and viewers alike) is that there are tons of great books being made into films and television series this year — and between the silver screen, your television screen, and whatever screen you stream your favorite web series on, you’re bound to catch plenty of them.
While that alone gives book-lovers everywhere something to look forward to this year, the even better news is that 2017's round up of book-to-screen adaptations definitely offers a little something for everybody: graphic novel and comic book fans, lovers of fantasy and sci-fi, readers of historical fiction and drama, folks who can’t read enough YA novels, and plenty of provocative plot-lines aimed at taking on current politics and issues of social concern. Alongside Margaret Atwood and Dave Eggers we’ll see Neil Gaiman and Gillian Flynn, a little Jonathan Franzen, some Nicola Yoon, and much more.
Here are 12 books you should read before they come to screen this year.
1. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood
Premiering as a 10-episode mini-series on Hulu on Wednesday, April 26, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a futuristic, dystopian novel set in a country run by a radical and repressive government that promotes and instills extreme repression of women. Offred (played by Elisabeth Moss) is a concubine in the house of the “Commander” — but she remembers her life before the repressive regime took over. Other series stars include Alexis Bledel, Joseph Fiennes, and Samira Wiley. (Side note: the novel is also the May/June pick for Emma Watson's book club, Our Shared Shelf.)
2. ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot
Premiering as a film on HBO on Saturday, April 22 (and currently available on HBO On Demand) Rebecca Skloot’s nonfiction title The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells the story of one of the most important and transforming medical discoveries in history: HeLa cells. HeLa cells proved vital in developing the polio vaccine, cancer research, virus research, the lasting effects of the atom bomb, the development of in vitro fertilization, cloning, gene mapping, and more — and they came from a woman who never gave permission for her cells to be used, and who would never know the difference she made in medical history. The film stars Oprah Winfrey, Rose Byrne, and many others.
3. ‘Everything, Everything’ by Nicola Yoon
Starring Nick Robinson and Amandla Stenberg, and premiering on May 19, Everything, Everything is the film adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s YA novel by the same name. The novel (and the film) tell the story of 17-year-old Madeline, a girl so allergic to the world that she has never left her house — until Olly moves in next door, that is, and Madeline finally discovers something, or rather someone, who she’s willing to risk stepping outside for. Everything, Everything is all about the risks we take to fall in love, especially the first time.
4. ‘The Glass Castle’ by Jeannette Walls
I am super excited about this one — Jeannette Walls has been essential to my bookshelves since her memoir, The Glass Castle, was published over 10 years ago. Now being adapted for film, The Glass Castle — starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Woody Harrelson, Max Greenfield and others — tells the story of the author's unbelievable childhood: her bohemian upbringing, her parents’ irresponsibility, their personal failings and violence, their unpredictable parenting, their stubbornness, and their wholly imperfect beauty. It’s a story filled with characters you will simultaneously love and hate, and one that tests the limits of forgiveness, survival, and resilience. The Glass Castle is set for release via Lionsgate this year.
5. ‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers
Premiering on Friday, April 28 and starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, the film adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel, The Circle, takes readers (and viewers) behind the scenes of one of the world’s most powerful internet companies, where secrets, privacy, and “unplugging” are not only things of the past, they’re considered suspect. It’s 1984 for the Facebook age.
6. ‘The Breadwinner’ by Deborah Ellis
The first book in feminist and anti-war activist author Deborah Ellis’s YA trilogy, The Breadwinner, is coming to screen, courtesy of some help from actress Angelina Jolie, who signed on as the film's executive producer — and is set to release sometime this fall. Breadwinner tells the story of 11-year-old Parvana, a girl living under Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, who disguises herself as a boy in order to help financially support her family after her father’s school is bombed and he is arrested.
7. ‘American Gods’ by Neil Gaiman
Premiering on Sunday, April 30, this upcoming Starz series features actors Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber, Kristin Chenoweth, and Crispin Glover; and is based on the award-winning fantasy novel, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. The plot introduces readers to a recently released ex-convict named Shadow who returns to his hometown to discover that life is nothing as he left it. There he meets a mysterious man named Wednesday, and who turns out to know more about Shadow’s life and past, as Shadow struggles to put together the missing pieces of his life.
8. ‘Sharp Objects’ by Gillian Flynn
If you loved seeing Gone Girl on screen, then you’ll be thrilled to know that author Gillian Flynn’s 2006 novel, Sharp Objects, is being adapted into an eight-episode series airing on HBO later this year. Starring Amy Adams as journalist Camille Preake, Sharp Objects follows Preake as she returns to her hometown after a brief stay in a psychiatric hospital, to report on the murder to two pre-teen girls — a crime that starts to become eerily familiar to her.
9. ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio
Another YA title coming to screen is R.J. Palacio’s book Wonder, the story of facially-deformed 5th grader Auggie Pullman, who hasn’t been able to attend mainstream school until now — and who readers and viewers alike will absolutely fall in love with as he learns to navigate school and peers for the first time. The film stars Room actor Jacob Tremblay as Auggie, with Julia Roberts cast as the young boy’s mother, and is scheduled to land in theaters on November 17.
10. ‘#GIRLBOSS’ by Sophia Amoruso
#GIRLBOSS is the biography of Nasty Gal brand founder, CEO, and creative director Sophia Amoruso — and the entire season is available now, on Netflix. Played by actress Britt Robertson, Amoruso spends her teens and 20s somewhat unmoored — hitchhiking, committing petty thefts, and dumpster diving, until her idea for her eBay brand changes her life.
11. 'Alias Grace' by Margaret Atwood
Another Atwood title rumored to be coming to screen this year, this time via Netflix, is the novel Alias Grace. Alias Grace centers around the real-life 1843 conviction of a woman named Grace Marks, who has been accused of involvement in the murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Kinnear’s housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery — murders Marks claimed to have no memory of.
12. 'Purity' by Jonathan Franzen
The controversial novel by Jonathan Franzen, Purity, is scheduled to premiere as a Showtime series later this year. Purity takes readers into into the life of fringe-anarchist Pip Tyler, who is struggling with student debt, her relationship with her mother, her vague and mysterious past, and the unsustainable idealism of her youth.