Prefer reading to watching TV?
Or maybe you love them both, but you need something to tide you over while you wait for the next season of your favorite show.
Stories continue to inspire Hollywood on the big screen, but they’re also the source of many famous TV programs. Note that not all of these shows on currently running on Netflix, but it’s become the biggest library of TV series.
For more, check out these books that inspired popular TV shows:
Everyone knows that the hit TV show Game of Thrones is based on George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novels. There are five fantasy novels out, and Martin is currently at work on the sixth, The Winds of Winter.
The books cover the battle for control of Westeros, and even readers who don’t think they like fantasy have fallen into this dramatic saga. But the TV show diverges from the novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire, in some pretty major ways. (Without spoiling either one, let’s just say certain characters are alive in one, and dead in the other.)
The BBC hit Call the Midwife was inspired by Jennifer Worth’s memoirs of working as a midwife in London’s East End in the fifties. The first season is directly inspired by the challenges of her job, with familiar characters from her memoirs.
By the current season, the TV show has long passed Worth’s memoirs and is now an independent story about the mothers, midwives, nuns, and newborns of Poplar. If you can’t wait for season 8 to make it to the US, check out Call the Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse, and Farewell to the East End.
The real-life nurse Jenny eventually left midwifery for end-of-life care, and wrote the fourth memoir, In The Midst of Life, about this stage of her career. Her fourth book has the same no-nonsense style and sharp observations, but with far fewer adorable babies.
Liane Moriarty’s novel Big Little Lies is full of snark and secrets. If you enjoy the way one small event at school drop-off sets so many others into motion — and you like the dark secrets simmering in a quiet, suburban town, you’ll also like The Husband’s Secret by the same author.
There’s a second of the TV show in the works, but it’ll need to depart pretty significantly from the book since the first season ended at the conclusion of the novel.
For more page-turning revelations, Pretty Little Liars, now an entire series by Sara Shepard, begins with the mysterious A, who seems to know everyone’s darkest secrets.
The books take readers through endless lies, blackmail, twists, and reversals. Pretty much everyone in Rosewood has something to hide. Because the high-school friends (or frenemies…) at the heart of the story are developed, readers will easily find a favorite character and be pulled into the drama.
Stephen King and J.J. Abrams
Castle Rock, on Hulu, is inspired by the work of horror novelist Stephen King. The TV show isn’t directly based on one novel, although there are elements found in his work. Dedicated King readers may find the TV show feels more than a pastiche than an addition to the King library.
That’s because it retreads King’s familiar themes of secrets in a silent Maine town, isolation, the moral ambiguity of prison guards, and dark supernatural others. (Conversely, if you enjoyed Castle Rock, you’ll like pretty much any Stephen King novel.)
Stephanie Danler’s coming-of-age novel Sweetbitter is about young Tess’ first year in New York. Tess grabs restaurant life with both hands, discovering gourmet tastes, fine wines, emotional encounters with her coworkers, and drama with customers.
There’s a romantic entanglement with unique complications, but it’s the scenes of backwater and kitchen life that really sparkle. The book inspired a Starz TV show, with the same name.
Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl novels inspired the TV series, and it may be a rare time when the TV version is even better than the books. Yeah, the books have Manhattan snobbery, high fashion, backstabbing…
And of course, the secretive Gossip Girl blog, creating a frothy, gossipy read, but the TV show has a bit more character development. In the show, Blaire and Serena have a complicated friendship, while in the books, I had no idea why B and S even spoke to each other.
There’s also a Korean-style graphic novel version of the Gossip Girl storyline (with all-new outfits to enjoy).
It’s not a TV show yet, but Kristin Simmons’ YA pageturner The Deceivers has all the makings of a television version. Double-crossings and surprises abound in this story about a secret academy for teens with talents for theft and deception.
What else are you reading that would be perfect for TV?