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Books to Read + Then Watch


Article by Maggie Chidester

Photography by Provided

One of my favorite things in the entire world is to read an amazing book and immediately watch the adaptation afterwards, whether it be a TV series or a film. The greatest news is when one of your beloved books from years ago has finally been optioned by a studio. You wait months for cast announcements and release dates, mark the date in your calendar, and plan an entire weekend around finally seeing your favorite characters be brought to life.

Right now, we all have a little extra time on our hands. It is the perfect time to finally get to that book your friend recommended to you ages ago. And when you turn that last page with a huge smile on your face and hug it to your chest, you don’t have to say goodbye yet. You can then pull up one of your trusted streaming services and experience the entire novel again on your big screen.

Here’s my favorite list of books and their adaptations:

Gone Girl, Sharp Objects and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is one of my favorite thriller authors. All three of her novels have exhilarating plot twists that keep you on the edge of your seat. And the adaptations, all three of them, are incredible. Gone Girl and Dark Places were turned into movies, while Sharp Objects was turned into an HBO limited series. Years later and I am still reciting Gone Girl’s “Cool Girl Monologue!” Gone Girl follows Nick and Amy, a seemingly happy couple turned dark when on their fifth anniversary, Amy goes missing. The book follows Amy's diary that shows Nick's escalating behavior, but is he really a killer? Dark Places follows Libby Day, who was 7 when her mother and two sisters were murdered. She testified to put her teenage brother Ben in prison as the killer. But now it's 25 years later and a secret society called The Kill Club drudges her old history up and tries to bring the real truth of that murderous night to light. Sharp Objects follows Camille, a reporter who has to return to her hometown to cover little girls being murdered and soon her own troubling upbringing gets intertwined. All three stories are bound to keep you incredibly entertained and also very grateful that you are not related to anyone in these novels.

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Gone Girl available to stream on: YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Hulu Live

Dark Places available to stream on: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Netflix

Sharp Objects available to stream on: YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

I love a quirky coming-of-age story. This book is about a high school boy named Greg. He's a senior and just wants to seamlessly blend into the background, but then Greg's mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg's entire life. This book is fiercely funny and heartbreaking at the same time, and the movie has a scene with Brian Eno's song "The Big Ship" that made me cry for a very long time.

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon Prime

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

When I was 18, I got my first tattoo and it was a quote from this book. "We accept the love we think we deserve." It resonated with me then, and it still sits with me now. This book is written in the format of letters. We do not know who these letters are addressed to, just that the writer Charlie needs an outlet to talk about his sadness and his trauma. The movie is an absolutely beautiful adaptation with an amazing cast and a perfect soundtrack. I watch it every time I need a good feels session.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower available to stream on Youtube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix

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The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Andrea Sachs, a small-town girl fresh out of college, lands the job "a million girls would die for"—the assistant to Miranda Priestly, the high-profile, fabulously successful editor of Runway magazine. Andrea begins to realize that the job a million girls would die for may just kill her as Miranda is a boss from the fiery depths of hell. And even if she survives, she has to decide whether or not the job is worth the price of her soul. This book is snobby, ridiculous, asinine, and completely entertaining. The book is also very different from the movie adaptation. The villain from the book, Miranda Priestly, is humanized to a different level than in the novel, and Meryl Streep plays the role incredibly well. I will watch anything with Stanley Tucci, and you should too.

The Devil Wears Prada available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon Prime

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This novel explores the smothering weight of keeping secrets, the nature of identity, and the ferociousness of motherhood. We have Mia and Elena, each matrons of their households and living incredibly different lives based on the choices they were given growing up. Mia is an artist and single mother who rents a house from Elena, a mom of four whose guiding value is that she follows the rules and always does what she thinks she is supposed to do. When a family who is close friends with Elena tries to adopt a Chinese-American baby whose mother left her at a fire station and is trying to get her back, all hell breaks loose and everyone in the town must take a side. Hulu optioned this book as a limited series, and it is mesmerizing. It takes place in the '90s, so the music is sensational and fills you with extreme nostalgia. The acting by Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington is exceptional, and the details put on full display on your screen are incredibly well-crafted.

Little Fires Everywhere available to stream on Hulu

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Shrill by Lindy West

Shrill is an uproarious memoir that is enraging, enlightening and hilarious. Society often demands women be small, quiet and compliant; Lindy boldly shares how to live in a big body and go from being invisible to living loud and defending the silenced. This book made me scream and made me cry, and Aidy Bryant from SNL was a phenomenal choice for the lead in the TV show on Hulu. There is a scene in Season 1 where Annie, the main character, is at a pool party and an Ariana Grande song is playing in the background and it is so beautiful that it brought me to tears.

Shrill available to stream on Hulu

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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a practice completely dedicated to defending the most desperate: the wrongly convicted, the poor and the marginalized. This book is one of the most heartbreaking I have ever read. One of Bryan's first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young black man who was sentenced to die for a murder he has maintained for years that he did not commit. This book will transform your understanding of what mercy entails and it was released as a movie last year with Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson. Make sure you have tissues, and hopefully it inspires you to take some action in your life.

Just Mercy available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon Prime

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Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

Call Me By Your Name is the entrancing story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. It is a book that makes you examine what true and total intimacy looks like—something people both search out with desire but run away from due to the utmost vulnerability it entails. It is one of the greatest love stories I've ever read, one that filled me with fascination but also filled me with fear because I can't imagine letting someone know me in such a way. The movie was a beautiful adaptation with a differing ending that really knocks your socks off.

Call Me By Your Name available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon Prime

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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This book is often hailed as one of the best horror books ever written, and I would agree. The show and the book are very different, and I would call it more of an inspired story versus an adaptation. But they are both fantastic on their own. The novel and the television show each tell a horror story about the same house, Hill House, and characters who are haunted by the ghosts of their past. I had never cried to a piece of art that fit into the genre of "horror" until I watched the Netflix series.

The Haunting of Hill House available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

While her family knew her as Henrietta Lacks, scientists today know her as HeLa. Henrietta's cells were taken from her without her knowledge and without ever being compensated for, and they became one of the most important tools in medicine that led to developing the polio vaccine, uncovered secrets of cancer, led to advances in IVF, and have been sold by the billions reaping immense profits for pharmaceutical companies and research scientists. But, her family never saw a dime and live without health insurance themselves. This is an incredible book that showed me the dark history of medical experimentation, the birth of bioethics, and that scientific discovery often has very real human consequences. The movie adaptation on HBO has Oprah in it! 'Nuf said.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks available to stream on Youtube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now

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