The 10 Best Book-to-TV Adaptations of 2017, Ranked

2017 was the year that television adaptations become at least as good as film adaptations. And why not? In many ways, TV is an ideal medium for bringing books to screen, for the episodic format enables us to to dig deep without throwing babies out with the bathwater. Many of the year’s strongest TV adaptations strayed from their source material in fascinating ways, and this was how it should be. A book worth its salt deserves a reincarnation that honors its essence as well as its new medium.

The cover of the book Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty

#10. “BIG LITTLE LIES”

It’s been confirmed that the HBO series based on Liane Moriarty’s best-seller has been picked up for a second season, and while not everyone is convinced there’s more story to tell, fans of the beachside psychological thriller are ecstatic. In addition to its central whodunnit, the HBO series spearheaded by Jean-Marc Vallée (“Wild”) investigates all kinds of excellent questions about female communities and competition–perhaps because stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman took an active hand in producing as well.

The cover of the book A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One

George R. R. Martin

#9. “GAME OF THRONES”

I can’t pretend that HBO’s megapopular adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy book series is my favorite cup of tea— the sexual politics leave something to be desired–but neither can I deny its spectacular wallop. This seventh season is as steeped in gorgeous, blood-stained wintry visuals as ever, and ties up some plot points admirably.

The cover of the book Mozart in the Jungle

Mozart in the Jungle

Blair Tindall

#8. “MOZART IN THE JUNGLE”

Fewer than ever are watching Amazon’s series about a fictional New York symphony, and that’s a shame. This improvement on Blair Tindall’s woe-is-me memoir stars Gael García Bernal in manic-pixie-dreamboy mode and offers a gimlet glimpse into classical music’s rarified pleasures and economic disparities. As a bonus, much of Season 3 takes place in Italy at its absolute swooniest.

The cover of the book I Love Dick

I Love Dick

Chris Kraus

#7. “I LOVE DICK”

Co-created by “Transparent” showrunner Jill Soloway, this outré Amazon series doesn’t just expand upon Chris Kraus’s experimental novel about disappointed creatives and obsessive love. It highlights the female gaze and desire in ways television has never seen before, with a optical splash that is an art installation unto itself.

The cover of the book Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

#6. “ANNE WITH AN E”

This post-modernist, PTSD-addled take on L.M. Montgomery’s beloved young adult classic is created by “Breaking Bad” writer Moira Walley-Beckett and matches its red-headed orphan’s “tragical, romantical” nature with windswept coastal landscapes and gritty backstories. Like our heroine, the bracing, smart Canadian import is more loveable than likeable, just what the 2017 doctor ordered.

The cover of the book Mindhunter

Mindhunter

John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker

#5. “MINDHUNTER”

This Netflix series based on John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s true crime book may be set in 1977, but it’s perfectly timed for this #metoo cultural moment. Created by David Fincher and starring Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany in a classic buddy-cop pairing, the show zooms in on the FBI’s discovery of serial killers just as women’s liberation was being mainstreamed. Sharp-toothed and soft-eyed, it forsakes the genre’s standard female objectification to place the full spectrum of sexism and male sexuality under a microscope.

The cover of the book Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Margaret Atwood

#4. “ALIAS GRACE”

Margaret Atwood’s books may not necessarily translate well to the big screen, but the feminist Canadian author is having her moment in terms of TV adaptations. Based on the true story of an Irish-born servant accused of killing her male employer and his housekeeper mistress, this one comes with stunning feminist credentials of its own: screenwriter Sarah Polley, director Mary Harron, and the unflinching Sarah Gadon in the titular role. Adapted from Atwood’s 1996 novel and set in 1840s Canada, it offers insight into the intersection of gender, sex, and class that still applies today. “Guilty until proven innocent,” indeed.

The cover of the book American Gods

American Gods

Neil Gaiman

#3. “AMERICAN GODS”

The long-anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaman’s 2001 novel finally hit STARZ this year, and lo! it was worth the wait. Part social commentary, part fantasy series, it’s set in a (slightly) alternative America in which slaves and refugees bring individual gods who take myriad, technologically savvy forms. Co-created by “Hannibal” showrunner Bryan Fuller (oh my!) and starring such character actor luminaries as Ian MacShane as Odin, it’s as psychedelic as it is psychological, and defies us to resist its lessons, let alone describe it coherently.

The cover of the book The Leftovers

The Leftovers

Tom Perrotta

#2. “THE LEFTOVERS”

Based on Tom Perrotta’s spare, philosophically interrogative novel in which two percent of the population has suddenly disappeared, this HBO series may be co-created by the author along with “Lost” showrunner Damon Lindelof, but it ventures into places never covered in the book. At times David Lynch-like, at times wryly comic, at times a mystery cop thriller, at times existentialist sci-fi, the brilliant show costars Regina King, Justin Theroux, Ann Dowd, and Amy Brenneman, and reimagines continents, decades, and worlds. This third and final season offers a looking glass we may never glimpse anywhere else.

The cover of the book The Handmaid's Tale (Movie Tie-in)

The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood

#1. “THE HANDMAID’S TALE”

Hulu’s most talked-about series updates Margaret Atwood’s beloved dystopian feminist novel without sacrificing any of its impact. As the book is written, Gilead, the uber-conservative religious nation that supplants the United States of America, is all-white. But making an all-white television show in this day and age, even to demonstrate extreme racism, would be deeply problematic; the last thing we need right now is the visual normalization of an Aryan nation. Instead, showrunner Bruce Miller’s “slightly futuristic,” racially integrated Greater Boston keeps its focus on the erosion of women’s rights – an issue that becomes more relevant by the day (not that racism does not). Produced by and starring Elisabeth Moss, this is 2017 television’s most powerful testament.

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16 Books to Read After You Binge Watch ‘Stranger Things’

StrangerThings

by Hayley, October 27, 2017, first appearing on Goodreads Blog

Grab your Eggo waffles because the second season of Stranger Things available on Netflix. The wildly popular supernatural series, which is equal parts charming and spooky, celebrates the pop culture of the 1980s and features a cast of lovable kid adventurers and otherworldly monsters.

If you abandon your reading to binge the new season, we won’t blame you (because we might be doing the same thing). But when you finish the final episode, your bookshelf will be waiting.

We asked you on Facebook and Twitter to share the books that Stranger Things fans would love. Check out the top answers below.

 

Meddling Kids
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Annihilation
Welcome to Night Vale
Weaveworld
The Girl with All the Gifts
House of Leaves
It
Paper Girls
NOS4A2
My Best Friend's Exorcism
The Door to December
Neverwhere
The Hike
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
The Talisman

Post-Binge Reads

Post-Binge

By Keith Rice and first appearing on  Signature Reads

The words “peak TV” get thrown around a lot, but the fact is we are in a period where television is daring, complex, and quite possibly at a creative zenith. Basic stations are catching up with the creativity of cable networks. Streaming services and premium networks continue to push the envelope ever further. Unfortunately, TV series do not operate on a perpetual schedule and there can sometimes be seemingly interminable waits between seasons. How should you fill your time between the premieres of your favorite series?

We’re glad you asked.

There is thankfully no shortage of literary analogues for the best television has to offer. To whet your appetite for a little literary exploration, we’ve taken a few of our favorite series and paired them with the books to read when you’re through binge-watching.