Although I will almost always claim “the book was better,” I would be lying if I said I don’t get excited when I find out one of my favorite literary works is being adapted for film or television. While I love reading and enjoy being able to conjure my own images of characters and scenes, seeing them come to life and played out in a movie theater can be so rewarding. This year, so many films and TV series have been inspired by books. Of course, there are some heavy hitters that we all recognize: the series finale of “Game of Thrones,” the newest season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and the remake of “Pet Sematary.” However, there are lesser-known works that are getting adaptations of their own along with several classics that you may have yet to hear about. Here are just a few I recommend keeping an eye out for.
- “The Aftermath” release date: March 15, 2019
Based on the 2013 novel by Rhidian Brook
Set in Post-World War II Germany, a British colonel and his wife try to rebuild both their lives and their new home. However, they are faced with challenges when the colonel decides to share a home with a German widower and his daughter. They struggle to find a new sense of normalcy in the midst of high tensions and upheaval.
- “5 Feet Apart,” release date: March 15, 2019
Based on the book by Rachael Lippincott
Two teens, both diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, live life as dictated by the restrictions of their disease, meaning they must keep distance between them at all times. But when the emotional connection between them intensifies, they must make the decision whether or not to throw caution to the wind and grasp the attraction.
- “The Best of Enemies,” release date: April 5, 2019
Based on the book by Osha Gray Davidson
Inspired by the true story of a more than unlikely friendship, The Best of Enemies relays how a Ku Klux Klan leader befriends a civil rights activist in the midst of southern desegregation in 1971.
- “The Sun is Also a Star,” release date: May 17, 2019
Based on the book by Nicola Yoon
Jamaican-born Natasha and college-bound Daniel experience immediate chemistry as they spend one perfect day together with New York City as their backdrop. Although it seems fate has brought them together, fate will just as quickly tear them apart as Natasha and her family prepare for deportation.
- “Cats,” release date: Dec. 20, 2019
Based on the collection of poetry, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot.
So we are all familiar with Webber’s musical version but I think it is often forgotten that it was originally based on Eliot’s poems that were accompanied by illustrations. If you’re familiar with Eliot, you’ll definitely identify his eccentric writing style in the adaptations of Cats. Both the poems as well as the film adaptation tell the story of the Jellicles, a tribe of cats deciding which will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.
- “Little Women,” release date: Dec. 25, 2019
Based on the book by Louisa May Alcott
Okay, so this is probably the movie I am most excited for this year. “Little Women” is one of my all-time favorite novels and with such a heartwarming storyline, you can’t not fall in love! It follows the four March sisters and their struggles with romance, finding themselves, and what it means to be a family, all in the midst of the Civil War. With an amazing cast including Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, and Laura Dern, this is an adaptation that is going to be hard to wait for!
- “Catch-22,” first episode: May 17, 2019, Hulu
Based on the book by Joseph Heller
This classic tells the story of John Yossarian and the fictional 256th Squadron during World War II and their pleas of mental insanity in order to avoid combat flights and hopefully return home. But if they realize they’re mentally unstable does that mean they actually are? They find themselves in a catch-22–a phrase coined by Heller. Hulu’s adaptation is produced by and stars George Clooney alongside Kyle Chandler. A summer must watch!
- “Big Little Lies,” season 2: June 9, 2019, HBO
Based on the novel by Liane Moriarty
This is definitely a ‘do not miss!’ If you haven’t read the book or seen the show, stop what you’re doing and come pick up a copy! The story centers around a group of moms invested not only in their children’s lives but the lives of each other and everyone else in town. Although each woman has issues and trauma of their own, they collide when an instance of playground bullying gets out of hand. As the drama escalates, the mom’s point fingers at one another and what started as a dispute between children ends in murder. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgard, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz and the newest season includes Meryl Streep. Lies, drama, murder, and an all-star cast; what’s not to love?!
- “The Umbrella Academy,” first episode: Feb. 15, 2019, Netflix
Based on the comic book series created by Gerard Way
The unexplainable happens when 43 infants are born randomly to unconnected women, each showing no signs of pregnancy. An entrepreneur adopts the seven surviving children, each with extraordinary superpowers, and creates a team, The Umbrella Academy, that has the potential to save the world.
- “The Spanish Princess,” first episode: May 5, 2019, Starz
Based on the books “The Constant Princess” and “The King’s Curse” by Philippa Gregory
If you’re looking for you’re next great series, you may have found it! Gregory’s The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels focus on (fictionally) telling the tales of English royalty with an emphasis on the women’s involvement. While Starz has created series based on other novels from this series, each TV series has acted as a stand-alone, with a new cast for every series based on a new novel(s). The other previously produced novels from the series include “The White Queen” and “The White Princess.” This latest installment primarily focuses on the early life of Catherine of Aragon and her journey to English royalty in her marriages to Prince Arthur and his brother, Henry VIII.
- “The Underground Railroad,” late 2019, Amazon Video
Based on the novel by Colson Whitehead
Truly one of the best books I have read in years, Whitehead’s genre-bending of historical fiction and magical realism allows him to create a novel that transports the reader to an era of slavery, racism, and upheaval. Whitehead condenses multiple time periods to make the reader question when the story is taking place and reconstructs the idea of the Underground Railroad into a literal railway built deep into the Earth, intended to carry slaves to freedom. Although the story is fiction, Whitehead’s tremendous research aids him in crafting a world and characters that feel so real it’s as though you’re reading a piece of American history. Amazon has yet to set a release date for the show but when it airs, I’m sure it will be more than noteworthy.
Whether you’re a TV binger, a movie fanatic, or a book junky, 2019 has some book to screen adaptations that are worth a watch. However, if you’re like me, you’ll have to check out the books first and go into your viewing prepared! Browse the library’s catalog for these books and all your other favorites that are about to hit the big screen!