21 Great Books with Just-As-Great Movie Versions

The other day I saw the movie Revolutionary Road. It was amazing. Depressing and gut-wrenching as possible, but amazing nonetheless.

The movie was based on a Richard Yates novel of the same name — I was surprised I'd never really heard of this book. When I got home, I asked on Twitter to see what people thought. If it was half as good as the movie, I'm sure the book was quite Flashlight Worthy.

Well, apparently the book is a truly great one. And that go me thinking. Usually the movie just isn't as good as the book but sometimes, well sometimes the movie is every bit as good. So what great book/great movie combos are out there?

I asked on Twitter and was flooded with replies. 228 individual replies covering 47 titles — below are the 21 titles mentioned at least 3 times. If you've saw and loved the movie, then don't hesitate to read the book. And if you read and loved the book, well, I suppose it's ok to put down whatever you're reading to watch a great movie now and then. :)


A Clockwork Orange

by Anthony Burgess

Jules says:

This book is intense, violent, and graphic. It's also a fascinating commentary on society, and an exploration of freedom and consequences. I've re-read it several times, and always get something new out of it. I will say that I have to take occasional breaks from the intensity when reading it.

This book also appears on Books Narrated By Killers


Cold Mountain

by Charles Frazier

Melissa Daniel says:

Ah... love! Sometimes a girl needs to curl up with a good book- one with passion, friendship, hope, adventure, and of course, two lovers who are separated by a great distance. Don’t watch the movie, read the book instead!

This book also appears on A Working Mom's Survival Guide


Different Seasons

by Stephen King

This book, a collection of four novellas, is here because it includes a piece titled "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption". Yep, THAT Shawshank Redemption. Did you even know it was a Stephen King story?


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

I was quite surprised that this book was only mentioned once. Honestly, I think it's a more valid choice than 90% of what's here.


Fight Club

by Chuck Palahniuk

One of two titles to be mention the most (6 times). If the book is half as good as the movie, it's a must-read for everyone. (Which means, I suppose, that I need to add this to the ever-growing pile by my bed.)


The Godfather

by Mario Puzo

Cary Branscum says:

If you liked the movie, you'll love this book. It's like having the characters bigger than life, expanding into Puzo's creation of character, and explanations of what's really going on in this tale set in the brutal world of organized crime. The secret of the Godfather? It's a story of a family, a desperate family from desperate times, who claw their way to the American Dream, only to find the past is not easily escaped. Leave the gun, take the canoli.

This book also appears on 9 Wicked Beach Reads about Friend-Fatales


High Fidelity

by Nick Hornby

I was a little surprised this title made the list. While I loved the book, I understood the movie to be not up to snuff. Maybe though that was just the objection of purists at the setting being moved from London to Chicago?


Into the Wild

by Jon Krakauer

I was pleased to see this show up. Not only did I love the book, but I thought the movie was pitch-perfect in the way it captured the lyrical quality of the settings.


Little Children

by Tom Perrotta

Personally? I thought this book was a bit lackluster. And I didn't love the movie either. But hey, that's just me. ;)


The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Really, it was just "The Lord of the Rings" that was mentioned. But what the heck, I threw "The Hobbit" in for free.


Mystic River

by Dennis Lehane

Bert Savarese from Long Beach, MS says:

I read the book first, then found out it was going to be made into a movie. I was anxious about it — could a movie possibly be as good as the book? Could it capture the intricate emotions of the characters on film? Would it be true to the book or would I walk out of the theater disappointed, with a slight distaste in my mouth? So when it came to the theater, I had mixed feelings about going to see it. Finally I gave in: I wanted to know the answer to my questions. I felt as though there was a push/pull about seeing it on film but I wanted to see if they succeeded in painting the book on film. And, guess what? It followed the book almost exactly. So much so that the film seemed to fit right over the words I'd read: powerful, filled with tension, capturing the emotions of *each* character perfectly. I relived the story as if it was the first time I heard the words, felt the emotions, dreaded knowing what I knew. It was great! Read the book first, letting the story etch itself in your memory. After, see the movie and relive it as if you had never read the book! A double whammy!!


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

by Chuck Palahniuk, illustrated by Chuck Palahniuk

Lois says:

The first time I read this book, I wasn't completely convinced of its genius. But upon a second reading (it's part of my teaching curriculum) I've seen just how fantastic a story teller Kesey actually is. McMurphy's madness and sanity are best detailed through the voice of Chief Bromden and sadly, the movie never takes advantage of this detail.


Out of Africa

by Isak Dinesen

Will Howarth says:

A memoir of seventeen years spent coffee-farming the cool, wet slopes above Nairobi. Written from her home in Denmark, Dinesen broods without apology on the beautiful, doomed dream of a colonial Africa.


Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Tsveta Borissova says:

This is a classic that has and will last through time. Any woman with a romantic soul has searched for her Mr. Darcy! Once you read it, it stays with you and there is nothing you can do but read the rest of Austen's books...


Sense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen

Tessa from England says:

Although the Ang Lee film was possibly the richest and most faithful adaptation of an Austen novel — and an excellent film — the book still has so much more to offer. Inevitably, a film is short and focuses on the romances in the plot line. The novel is much much broader than this — Jane Austen dissects the social strictures of her time with a keen and amused eye; characters are far more developed; the story unfolds at a more measured and richer pace. Most of all, you hear Jane Austen's writing voice. Witty, incisive, intelligent, wry. An astonishing observer of people, motivations, emotions and consequences. From her we learn that circumstances might have changed in 200 years, but people haven't.


The Shining

by Stephen King

Stephen King is in good company. He and Jane Austen were the only two authors to make the list twice.


The Silence of the Lambs

by Thomas Harris

Stacie Taylor from Mobile, Alabama says:

Mind-melding with characters isn't unusual for most readers, but Silence of the Lambs takes the experience to an entirely different level. You will seamlessly enter the mind of one of the most famous psychopathic characters in literature and vascillate between sympathizing with a killer and joining the BAU in the chase.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by W. W. Denslow

Kim Laird from Lansing, MI says:

I still adore the Wizard of Oz and have read it many times. It is very different from the movie in some crucial ways. It is a little old-fashioned in writing, but who can resist a little girl against the world, who learns to find herself? Lovely bits of imagination from the Cowardly Lion, brave Toto, and the flying monkeys.


Revolutionary Road

by Richard Yates

And finally, the book that served as the genesis of this entire list.

This book also appears on The Best Novels About WASPs


The Remains of the Day

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Peter from Flashlight Worthy HQ says:

This is a bonus 22nd book. It wasn't mentioned at all but it's one of my favorite novels of all time, and it's a rare case where watching the movie makes the excellent book even better, and vice-versa.

outlawradio from Brooklyn, NY says:

I first read this in a seminar on good judgment, after having enjoyed the movie years before. Ishiguro writes masterfully in the first person as a man who can best be described as a butler down to his very soul. His justifications and self-delusions about his own — and others' — failings are brilliantly observed. For those who see the movie, Anthony Hopkins is heart-breakingly perfect in the role.


Gone with the Wind

by Margaret Mitchell

And yet another bonus book - #23.

Amazingly, this all-time classic book/movie combo only came up once or twice during the brainstorming session. Follow the "3 or more mentions" rule, I left it off the list.

Oh boy, was that a mistake! As soon as the list was published I was inundated with emails asking, insisting, demanding I add the book.

Ok, I give in. Here it is. :)


The Outsiders

by S. E. Hinton

But wait, another bonus book! I also received numerous emails suggesting this book. Yes, it was a great book. Yes, it was a great movie. But what amazes me most (and this has nothing to do with books) is the way the movie starred so many well-known actors before they were well-known: Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez & Sofia Coppola. Whoever ran the casting of that movie is a genius!


To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Jane Wylen says:

This is a wonderful story of quiet bravery in the face of bitter hatred. A subplot about the hero's young daughter and a friend provides a wonderful counterpoint to the main story.