I know. It’s hard to imagine that there are any left that haven’t been.
With the record-shattering adaptation of It – not to mention critically-acclaimed takes on Gerald’s Game, Mr. Mercedes, and 1922 – we are currently experiencing a Stephen King cinematic renaissance. Given all of the recent success, odds are that Hollywood will dig deeper into the master storyteller’s massive catalog.
Stephen King is nothing if not an incredibly productive writer, and there is plenty of adaptation fodder waiting in the ranks of all of those bestsellers. Here are a few of our favorite stories, primed for the move to screens large and small. Some have remained untouched by the hands of Hollywood, while others have been languished in the pits of developmental hell, but all of them are ready to make their cinematic debut.
The Long Walk is probably the best known of Stephen King’s “Bachman” books – books he wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. It’s a dystopian thriller set in an alternate timeline where the Germans appear to have won World War II. In the novel, teenage boys are forced to participate in a grueling walking marathon where the winner is the last person left alive and standing. It’s a taut and emotional thriller that would require a deft touch, but one that we’d still love to see adapted.
This O. Henry award-winner originally appeared in the New Yorker before being included in Everything’s Eventual. King cited Nathaniel Hawthorne as an inspiration for the story, which centers on an elderly man recalling an encounter he had as a boy with an enigmatic figure, who may have been the devil. It’s a slow-burn, haunting story with plenty of room to be expanded upon on the screen.
Insomnia is about as close any King novel can be to a cult classic among the author’s fans. The novel is an unsettling mix of sci-fi and horror, and features an elderly suffering from insomnia who begins to see otherworldy phenomena. At just shy of 800 pages, it could be tough to adapt to the big screen, but a mini-series would give the characters and the story plenty of room to breathe.
This is one of Stephen King’s better psychological thrillers. The story is built around nine-year-old Trisha McFarland who wanders away from her family during a hike along the Appalachian Trail. Lost, subjected to the elements, and fearful of a monster that could be real or imagined, Trisha turns to her admiration of Red Sox relief pitcher Tom Gordon for comfort.
While it’s true that Salem’s Lot has already been adapted twice – a well-regarded 1979 TV film and a forgettable 2004 version – the success of “It” 2017 proved there’s always room for another look at King’s works. This is one book that could really benefit from a mini-series adaptation. Despite its scant (at least for Stephen King) page count, the novel spends a fair amount of time fleshing out the town and occupants of Jerusalem’s Lot.
This Stephen King deep cut was originally published in Cavalier magazine – home to quite a few King stories – before eventually appearing in Night Shift, Stephen King’s first short story collection. The Boogeyman centers on a family falling prey to a titular sinister creature. While certainly on the shorter end in terms of length, there’s quite a bit of content that a skillful writer or director could flesh out on the screen. In the right hands, The Boogeyman has the potential to be a truly terrifying exercise in suspense and horror.
Domestic violence is a fairly common theme in much of Stephen King’s work. But in Rose Madder, King gives his writing a fascinating symbolic and mythological twist. The novel centers on a woman who escapes an abusive relationship and eventually finds herself caught in a bizarre fantasy world after purchasing a painting. With the right director at the helm, it could be a visual treat on the screen.
Stephen King’s short stories are some of his best work. The Gingerbread Girl is of my personal favorites, which appears in Just After Sunset. It begins with a fairly normal pedestrian woman dealing with the aftermath of a trauma, but when Stephen King throws a dangerous serial killer into the mix, it becomes a tightly written cat-and-mouse survival story.
Duma Key is one of the better novels to come out of the latter part of King’s career. The 2008 novel is an intricately plotted exploration of grief, secrets, and obsession. Like a lot of Stephen King novels, there is a touch of the autobiographical as the story’s protagonist is an artist recuperating from a near-fatal accident. Thankfully, Stephen King tends to be at his best when he injects a little of himself into the narrative.
By KEITH RICE, December 15, 2017, first appearing on Signature Reads
For the new and the forgetful, Dittos are the Moline Library Adult Services Department’s version of a read-alike.
For more information… see the Ditto below, you’ll get the idea.
Want more? There are plenty at the library!
“The Magicians” returns in 2019 for season four! In celebration of this great series, here’s our list of great books that “The Magicians” fans of might enjoy.
Obviously, reading the novels that spawned the series should be your first step. If you love one, you’re bound to love the other, and this is definitely a situation in which the two are different enough that they can be enjoyed based on their own merits.
Rivalries are a fact of life among the magicians of Brakebills, as they are in Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. In Regency England, magic is has become the province of armchair sorcerers and academic theoreticians. No one actually practices the art. No one, that is, but Gilbert Norrell: a reclusive magician who believes the time has come to bring the art to the aid of his country. His apprentice, Jonathan Strange, shows great promise in the mystic sciences, but seems to have very different ideas about how they are best applied.
There’s no way around reading The Chronicles of Narnia. C. S. Lewis’ great work of allegorical fiction was a big influence on author Lev Grossman’s land of Fillory. Comparing and contrasting Fillory and Narnia should be a fun exercise for any fan of “The Magicians”.
In Lev Grossman’s novels, you’re not likely to know that magic exists unless you’re invited to Brakebills. So why is magic in such short supply in the mundane world? That’s the question that sorcerer Zacharias Waythe sets on to answer in Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown. The search for an answer leads him to Prunella Gentlewoman, a — gasp — woman with immense power.
“The Magicians” is a great series, but would you really want to step into a world of magic? Say what you will about the mundane world, but at least there’s practically no chance you’ll be consumed by a giant or chopped into pieces by angry dog-men. These are serious possibilities for the hapless hero of Drew Magary’s novel The Hike, the story of a man who takes one wrong turn on what was supposed to be an ordinary walk through the woods.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot by John Callahan
Movie: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
When it comes out: July 13
What the book is about: In 1972, at the age of 21, John Callahan was involved in a car crash that severed his spine and made him a quadriplegic. A heavy drinker since the age of 12 (alcohol had played a role in his crash), the accident could have been the beginning of a downward spiral. Instead, it sparked a personal transformation. After extensive physical therapy, he was eventually able to grasp a pen in his right hand and make rudimentary drawings. By 1978, Callahan had sworn off drinking for good, and begun to draw cartoons. Over the next three decades, until his death in 2010, Callahan would become one of the nation’s most beloved—and at times polarizing—cartoonists.
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
Movie: The Wife
When it comes out: August 3
What the book is about: “The moment I decided to leave him, the moment I thought, enough, we were thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean, hurtling forward but giving the illusion of stillness and tranquility. Just like our marriage.” So opens Meg Wolitzer’s compelling and provocative novel The Wife, as Joan Castleman sits beside her husband on their flight to Helsinki. Joan’s husband, Joseph Castleman, is “one of those men who own the world…who has no idea how to take care of himself or anyone else, and who derives much of his style from the Dylan Thomas Handbook of Personal Hygiene and Etiquette.” He is also one of America’s preeminent novelists, about to receive a prestigious international award to honor his accomplishments, and Joan, who has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, has finally decided to stop.
Meg by Steve Alten
Movie: The Meg
When it comes out: August 10
What the book is about: On a top-secret dive into the Pacific Ocean’s deepest canyon, Jonas Taylor found himself face-to-face with the largest and most ferocious predator in the history of the animal kingdom. The sole survivor of the mission, Taylor is haunted by what he’s sure he saw but still can’t prove exists – Carcharodon megalodon, the massive mother of the great white shark. The average prehistoric Meg weighs in at twenty tons and could tear apart a Tyrannosaurus rex in seconds. Taylor spends years theorizing, lecturing, and writing about the possibility that Meg still feeds at the deepest levels of the sea. But it takes an old friend in need to get him to return to the water, and a hotshot female submarine pilot to dare him back into a high-tech miniature sub. Diving deeper than he ever has before, Taylor will face terror like he’s never imagined.
Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth
When it comes out: August 10
What the book is about: In 1978 the community of Colorado Springs, Colorado experienced a growth of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) membership. One man dared to challenge their effort and thwart attempts to take over the city, Police Detective Ron Stallworth. He launched an undercover investigation into the Klan, gained membership into the organization, briefly served as Duke’s bodyguard, and was eventually asked to be the leader of the Colorado Springs chapter. The irony of this investigation was that Stallworth is… A Black man. In the process he battled internal departmental politics to successfully pull off this “sting.” Black Klansman explains how he overcame these obstacles and accomplished this almost unbelievable unique achievement.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Movie: Crazy Rich Asians
When it comes out: August 15
What the book is about: When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry.
Three Seconds by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellström
Movie: Three Seconds
When it comes out: August 17
What the book is about: Piet Hoffman, a top secret operative for the Swedish police, is about to embark on his most dangerous assignment yet: after years spent infiltrating the Polish mafia, he’s become a key player in their attempt to take over amphetamine distribution inside Sweden’s prisons. To stop them from succeeding, he will have to go deep cover, posing as a prisoner inside the country’s most notorious jail. But when a botched drug deal involving Hoffman results in a murder, the investigation is assigned to the brilliant but haunted Detective Inspector Ewert Grens–a man who never gives up until he’s cracked the case. Grens’s determination to find the killer not only threatens to expose Hoffman’s true identity-it may reveal even bigger crimes involving the highest levels of power. And there are people who will do anything to stop him from discovering the truth.
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
Movie: The Little Mermaid
When it comes out: August 17
What the book is about: There was once a little mermaid that fell in love with a human… This beloved story has been told and retold (and reworked) time and again, but the original is the story of a young mermaid who is willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain the love of a prince and a human soul. A deal with a sea witch makes pursuing these dreams possible, but not without enduring a great deal of pain and, ultimately, heartache.
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Movie: Juliet, Naked
When it comes out: August 17
What the book is about: Annie loves Duncan — or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn’t. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life.
Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan
Movie: Down a Dark Hall
When it comes out: August 17
What the book is about: Why does the exclusive boarding school Blackwood have only four students? Kit walks the dark halls and feels a penetrating chill. What terror waits around the next corner?
Papillon by Henri Charrière
When it comes out: August 24
What the book is about: Henri Charrière, called “Papillon,” for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious prison, Devil’s Island, a place from which no one had ever escaped . . . until Papillon. His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
Movie: The Bookshop
When it comes out: August 24
What the book is about: In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop – the only bookshop – in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town’s less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors’ lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence’s warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn’t always a town that wants one.
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Movie: The Little Stranger
When it comes out: August 31
What the book is about: One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.
Death Wish by Brian Garfield
Movie: Death Wish
When it comes out: March 2
What the book is about: Paul Benjamin, a successful accountant in New York City, is enjoying a three-martini lunch when his home is broken into by a gang of drug addicts. For just a handful of money, they savagely beat Paul’s wife and daughter, leaving his wife dead and his daughter comatose. Grief-stricken and forced to reevaluate his views, Benjamin becomes disillusioned with society and plots his revenge on the perpetrators, whom the police are unable to bring to justice. Armed with a revolver and total disregard for his own safety, he sets out to even the score.
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Movie: Red Sparrow
When it comes out: March 2
What the book is about: In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Movie: A Wrinkle in Time
When it comes out: March 9
What the book is about: Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Movie: Love, Simon
When it comes out: March 16
What the book is about: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly & J. M. Ken Nimura (artist)
Movie: I Kill Giants
When it comes out: March 23
What the book is about: Barbara Thorson, a girl battling monsters both real and imagined, kicks butt, takes names, and faces her greatest fear in this bittersweet, coming-of-age story called “Best Indy Book of 2008” by IGN.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Movie: Ready Player One
When it comes out: March 29
What the book is about: In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
Movie: Lean on Pete
When it comes out: March 30
What the book is about: Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charley’s been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charley’s only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.
by LISA ROSMAN, December 19, 2017, first appearing on Signature Reads
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.
#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.
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.
#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.
I Love Dick
#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.
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.
John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.