8 Books We Think Should Be Movies and TV Shows

Willow reads a book in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

From time to time, I rediscover my love of reading and undergo the same ritual. Step One: Realize that I’m filling my spare time (once spent mindlessly scrolling) by reading, just like when I was a horse-obsessed kid. Step Two: Think to myself, “Why don’t I do this more often? Ahh, because it’s hard to find books and the publishing industry is a sewer. BREAK.” And finally, step three: I realize I need more of this book and I’m puzzled as to why apparently no one else talks about it. I want to live in this book. I want to marry this book. I want to see each character stretched from the floor to the ceiling in front of me and enjoy the shapes of them come to life.

Obviously, unless the book is a fantasy bestseller or a YA media adaptation calling card, most people aren’t talking about books these days. At least not as much as I would like them to be. The books demand a more introspective kind of engagement that fanatical artists and the like rarely take advantage of, leaving us with only one avenue of mitigating adaptations: the screen.

All this to say that there are so many good books out there that would very good on television and the big screen. Here are 8 of those books that I would love to see in front of us one day. Come on movie execs give me a solid and just do this! And call me if you need help doing it! That’s how it works, right?

The idiot

(Penguin)

*pinches the bridge of her nose* Okay, so, here’s the thing. This is sometimes a frustrating book to read. The main character, Selin, is absolutely brilliant, but it’s no exaggeration to consider her romantically inept, and like many young women at some point (I’m raising my hand), her romantic attention is wasted on a guy she hasn’t earned.

But unlike Normal peoplethat featured characters that sometimes felt flat and totally focused on your relationship, The idiot features a leading lady whose account of the ins and outs of her daily life is utterly charming and captivating. She has a way of setting up little vignettes with the most detailed styles, and I found this to be a very quick read, not because it was poorly written, but because it literally flew by like a really good movie. I can see him filling a similar niche as Baumbach Frances has: the one of the young woman navigating absurdities with her own absurd perspective. AKA, the kind of movie that’s right up my alley.

Sharks in the time of the saviors

Shark in front of a colorful background
(Macmillan)

similar to The idiotI often thought of my time with Sharks in the time of the saviors less like a reading experience, and more like mentally recording a really good movie. It unfolds like a beautifully directed saga, and while the events of the story are tragic, they are presented in a way that is deeply personal, expertly detailed, and so utterly captivating that it left me feeling empty when it ended.

Hawaiian narratives are rarely presented from the perspective of native Hawaiians, making this story an even more worthy candidate for a film adaptation. And even apart from that, the story is simply magical, the kind of tale that makes you believe that there is still magic in this world. Such optimism, born of pain and suffering, is the kind of narrative I think we should see more of in the media.

the secret story

The snob in me was so upset when people suddenly talking about donna tart the goldfinch when they landed a cast of America’s Favorite White Boys to star in their film adaptation. Yet here I am, considering how absolutely walnuts an adaptation of the secret story would.

I haven’t seen the film adaptation of the goldfinch so I can’t speak to how faithfully it represented the source material, but I can’t see a bad way that the secret story could be adapted. It’s a suspenseful drama, full of intrigue, “dark academia” origins, murder, sex, drugs and all on an Ivy League campus, oh my gosh. Yes, there were times when the plot was a bit over the top and I found myself saying, “Wow, this is so stupid,” but what’s the point of consuming content if we don’t get a little cheesy once in a while? At the very least, I think it’s inevitable that the cast of this film will be very, very attractive.

lincoln in the bard

Cover of Lincoln in the Bard by George Saunders
(Penguin)

In general, I tend to take a negative view of American history, so I don’t find stories that incorporate American history into their narrative very interesting. But lincoln in the bard It’s the kind of story that transcends all of that. It’s weird, it’s mystical, and it pays homage to a bloody and brutal history in a nuanced and incredibly moving way.

Also, bro, there are hella ghosts. Most of the cast are ghosts. The ghosts are helping a new ghost move on to the next life, and it’s funny, heartbreaking, and just generally beautiful to behold. I can only imagine how a talented creative director would make this happen on screen, from Laika’s stop-motion creations to insightful humor produced by Taika Waititi.

The once and future king

Once upon a time, I randomly decided to read a compilation of Arthurian stories in high school, and have been a huge nerd of all things Arthurian ever since. The result is that I am the only person I know who loved the green knight a lot, i saw it three times. And now all I can think of is, We need more of these faithful and artistic adaptations that aren’t full of the silly, overly masculine nonsense that other adaptations are obsessed with!

What better book adaptation to work with, then, than The once and future king? With the exception of her rather superficial description of her women (TH White had a complicated relationship with gender and sexuality), TOAFK is perhaps the funniest, most innovative and loving interpretation of the Arthurian canon to date. It brings a much-needed touch of humanity to its characters and was written as an anti-war narrative, which colored its portrayals of “courage” in a much more gripping way. And honestly, that’s the kind of narrative we need on screen these days: triumph without the glorification of violence.

And the bisexual Lancelot, of course. What, didn’t I mention that? Well, it’s one thing. Read the book. Speaking of Lancelot, he is described as having an “unconventionally handsome face”, so… I always thought Adam Driver would fill that role quite well!

the new me

Cover of the book The New Me, close-up of a woman's face with a fly on it
(Penguin)

There is something horrible about what we accept as worldly. You get up and go to a job that doesn’t value you, pretend you like it, go home, eat, sleep, repeat. In case you have plans, you go ahead and put on a face like the trends of the day mean something to you.

halle butler of the new me captures the horrors of normal life under late capitalism in a disturbing, jarring and incredibly gripping way. I could easily see the creepy way Millie relates to life being recreated in a way like Lashwhere everything feels tense and very hurt, and you’re just waiting for someone to finally snap.

once upon a river

Sometimes I think people get a little carried away by his descriptions of “magical realism”, but in the case of once upon a river, I really felt like I was reading a modern folk/fairy tale. It’s a strange but utterly beautiful story of a town that discovers a dead girl floating down a river… and then, miraculously, comes back to life.

The mystery of it all, the divergent factions, the unique moral dilemmas that arise…ahh, it’s such a gripping read, and could easily become a film adaptation! the likes of the essex snake come to mind (though noticeably less boring and fluffy, although that’s just my opinion). Of all the books on this list, this was the one that made me feel the most bummed out when I finished it, because I wanted it to go on and on. A perfect book to turn into a movie or show, right?

the scorpio races

So I’m going to end this on a somewhat hypocritical note. I don’t really like YA as a genre. I think that, in general, YA can be trite and perpetuate harmful stereotypes and expectations for young readers, related to race, sexuality, etc, etc.

THAT SAID…the scorpio races it kicks butt, and it always has kicked butt, and i never understood why, out of ALL the books ALREADY out there, this remarkably not bad one was never greenlit for a movie or show. It’s been about a decade since I first read it, and I still think about it sometimes and wish there weren’t more. It follows a remote island where, from time to time, killer horses come out of the ocean. And if you manage to tame one and win a race with it, you get a lot of money. But it is killer horses, you Murder. Horses.

How sick would that be to watch???? Teenagers having sex are over, Hollywood perverts. It’s Killer Horse time.

(Featured Image: MacMillan/Fox)

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