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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Books to Film: December Releases

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell

The Disaster ArtistThe Disaster Artist_filmMovie: The Disaster Artist
When it comes out: December 1 (Limited); December 8 (Expanded)
What the book is about: In 2003, an independent film called The Room—written, produced, directed, and starring a very rich social misfit of indeterminate age and origin named Tommy Wiseau—made its disastrous debut in Los Angeles. Described by one reviewer as “like getting stabbed in the head,” the $6 million film earned a grand total of $1,800 at the box office and closed after two weeks. Now in its tenth anniversary year, The Room is an international phenomenon to rival The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Thousands of fans wait in line for hours to attend screenings complete with costumes, audience rituals, merchandising, and thousands of plastic spoons, but readers need not have seen The Room to appreciate its costar Greg Sestero’s account of how Tommy Wiseau defied every law of artistry, business, and interpersonal relationships to achieve the dream only he could love.

The Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson

Tribes of Palos VerdesTribes of Palos Verdes_filmMovie: The Tribes of Palos Verdes
When it comes out: December 1
What the book is about: Medina Mason is a defiant, awkward newcomer to the affluent beach community of Palos Verdes, California. As her parents’ marriage disintegrates and her beloved brother falls prey to the temptations of drugs and the lunacy of their mother, Medina surfs to survive, finding a bitter solace in the rough comfort of the waves. This is the moving story of growing up “different,” of the love between siblings, and of one girl’s power to save herself.

The November Criminals by Sam Munson

November CriminalsNovember Criminals_filmMovie: The November Criminals
When it comes out: December 8
What the book is about: For a high school senior, Addison Schacht has a lot of preoccupations. Like getting into college. Selling drugs to his classmates. His complicated relationship with his best friend (NOT his girlfriend) Digger. And he’s just added another to the list: the murder of his classmate Kevin Broadus, and his own absurd, obsessive plan to investigate the death. When presented with an essay question on his application to the University of Chicago—What are your best and worst qualities?—Addison finds himself provoked into giving his final, unapologetic say about all of the above and more.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf & Robert Lawson

FerdinandFerdinand_film.jpgMovie: Ferdinand
When it comes out: December 15
What the book is about: All the other bulls would run and jump and butt their heads together. But Ferdinand would rather sit and smell the flowers. And he does just that, until the day a bumblebee and some men from the Madrid bullfights give gentle Ferdinand a chance to be the most ferocious star of the corrida—and the most unexpected comic hero.

Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom

Mollys GameMollys Game_filmMovie: Molly’s Game
When it comes out: December 25
What the book is about: In Molly’s Game, Molly Bloom takes the reader through her adventures running an exclusive high-stakes private poker game. Her clients ranged from iconic stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck to politicians and financial titans so powerful they moved markets and changed the course of history. With rich detail, Molly describes a world that until now has been shrouded in glamour, privilege, and secrecy, one where she fearlessly took on the Russian and Italian mobs—until she met the one adversary she could not outsmart, even though she had justice on her side: the United States government.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool by Peter Turner

Films Stars Don'tFilms Stars Don't_filmMovie: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool 
When it comes out: December 29
What the book is about: On 29 September 1981, Peter Turner received a phone call that would change his life. His former lover, Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame, had collapsed in a Lancaster hotel and was refusing medical attention. He had no choice but to take her into his chaotic and often eccentric family’s home in Liverpool. Turner had first set eyes on Grahame when he was a young actor, living in London. Best known for her portrayal of irresistible femme fatales in films such as The Big HeatOklahoma and The Bad and the Beautiful, for which she won an Oscar, Grahame electrified audiences with her steely expressions and heavy lidded eyes and the heroines she bought to life were often dark and dangerous. Turner and Grahame became firm friends and remained so ever after their love affair had ended. And it was to him she turned in her final hour of need.

 

Picking your next book can be hard, right?

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We know what it’s like. You finally finish that 18 book mystery series, or binge watching your most-recent favorite TV show, or listening to the entire library of your favorite musical artist’s recorded work (even the later, experimental stuff with the weird theremin sounds constantly in the background), and then it’s like… Now what?

Well, now us.

Introducing Library Concierge!  Follow the link and your very own librarian will work tirelessly to find you books, movies, TV series and/or music that you will love… or like… or, at least, not hate. After you fill out a form. We know – there is always a catch. But it is totally worth it!

 

 

DITTOS – Like read-alikes, only better!

“Why are they better?” you ask.

Well, partly because some of them, like this one, don’t just have suggestions for what else you might like to read, but what you might like to watch or listen to as well.

But mostly they’re better because Becca made them.Big Little Lies Shelf End Ditto