From the Page to the Screen
The holiday season is a busy time for movie releases, and this December is no exception. Whenever a bestselling book hits the screen, the debate starts again—Is it better to read the book first or watch the movie? Here’s our hot take: if both book and movie have merit, enjoy them in whatever sequence you prefer!
Watching a great book translated to the screen can take the story to new heights, dismissing subplots that would slow things down and amping up the action for the visual medium. Conversely, if you loved the movie, reading the book lets you explore the world further and take a deep dive into the minds of the characters.
Read It & Watch It
Here are some great books that have been recently adapted into film. Watch it if you’ve read it, read it if you’ve watched it. Do both in whatever order you please.
Please note that we will add the new theatrically released movies to BPL's collection when they become available. Unfortunately, we can only acquire movies or TV series offered on paid streaming services that are also available on DVD or BluRay.
Leave the World Behind
If you like a twisty and suspenseful story where dire circumstances throw unlikely people together, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam is for you. Two families, strangers to each other, are forced together on a long weekend that goes terribly wrong in a rural part of Long Island when a sudden power blackout sweeps New York City, isolating them from civilization. The Netflix streaming adaptation of Alam’s provocative thriller premieres on December 7 with a stellar cast that includes Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali, and Kevin Bacon, and is produced by Barak and Michelle Obama.
Read Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
For those looking for a dark and gripping tale of obsession, check out Ottessa Moshfegh’s noir fiction novel, Eileen. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2016, this is a story about a lonely young woman working in a boys' detention facility outside Boston in the early 1960s who becomes captivated by a new and mysterious counsellor and is pulled into a very strange crime. Moshfegh also co-wrote the screenplay and co-produced the movie, so it will be interesting to see how the page adapts to the screen. The film—starring Thomasin McKenzie, Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland, and Anne Hathaway—releases on December 8.
Read Eileen: A Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh
Watch Eileen movie trailer
The Lightning Thief
Hitting the Disney+ streaming channel on December 20 is the television adaptation of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, follows the adventures of twelve-year-old Percy Jackson, who finds out he is a demigod, the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and a mortal woman. His mother sends him to a summer camp for demigods, where he and his new friends set out on a quest to prevent a war between the gods.
Read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Boys in the Boat
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for hopeful, heart-warming, beat-the-odds stories—and The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is a winner. The book follows the trials and triumphs of the overmatched but determined American crew that defeated the elite German team rowing for Adolph Hitler during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Director George Clooney adapted Brown’s 2013 Depression-era biography novel for the big screen, which stars Joel Edgerton and Callum Turner and releases on December 25.
Read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
The Color Purple
Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and critically acclaimed novel follows the lives of two sisters—Nettie, a missionary in Africa, and Celie, a southern woman married to a man she hates—as revealed in a series of letters exchanged over thirty years. Lauded as a literary masterpiece, Walker’s 1982 novel inspired an Academy Award-nominated film starring Oprah Winfrey and directed by Steven Spielberg, and a Tony-nominated Broadway musical. The 2023 movie—also produced by Winfrey and Spielberg—is a film adaptation of the 2005 stage musical and is set for release on December 25.
Read The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Watch the 2007 movie
So what’s your take?
Will you only see the movie once you read the book? Or will you watch the movie first to decide if you want to spend more time with the characters?
While many diehard readers argue that movie versions often “ruin” books, we think there is room for both mediums, especially when you can borrow them from the library!