Ever since I was a child I have loved to read. I was the kid that always had a book in her backpack at school, and got in trouble for reading in class. While I have grown and don’t read as much as I used to the love continues and one of my favorite “genre’s” is books that were turned into movies. Whenever a movie comes out I like to see if it was a book first so I can read it without the image being “tainted” by the movie.
No shade towards movies that came from books, but to me there is nothing quite like reading something the way the author intended it, plus I’m not much of a movie person anyway. So here are a few of my favorite books that later became movies…and okay technically the last two were tv shows don’t hate me.
Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda- Becky Albertalli
This book is about a teen named Simon who is gay, but in the closet. He has a “boyfriend” that he flirts with via email, but who is also not “out” yet. The novel is told from Simon’s POV as he comes to terms with his own sexuality, navigates the perils of high school, and discovers the beauty that is teenage love.
I read this book literally in a day. It was so good I couldn’t put it down and I spent a whole day locked in my hotel room reading it. I wish I could say something profound about how “I too grew up a closeted gay in the south and I really resonated with Simon” but the truth is, while I was a closeted gay in the south, my experience was nothing like Simon’s.
BUT it was refreshing to read a teen romance that wasn’t cookie cutter “Straight-cis-hot-white-football-player-falls-for-the-straight-cis-white-nerdy-girl” troupe that most YA books are known for. It is an adorable story about young love (which I am a sucker for) and the pressures of high school as well as all the feelings that come with being closeted LGBTQ+. I wish I had read a book like this back when I was in high school.
The movie, which was renamed Love, Simon was on Netflix for a brief time, but can now be rented through Amazon or Youtube as well as streamed on Hulu if you have Cinnmax. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have heard great things.
The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Life of Bees follows a young white girl named Lilly, living in South Carolina in the 1960s. She leaves her abusive father behind and takes to the streets with her maid Rosaleen, an older black woman. They eventually end up living with the Boatwright sisters, where they make Black Madonna Honey and work as Beekeepers. Through living with the sisters, Lilly learns about life, death, growing up, and gains true insight to an entire class of people that, through her privilege, she never realized existed.
This is one of my favorites. I love reading period pieces and the 60s is a favorite time of mine to read about. It was such a controversial, yet progressive time in the United States, especially in the South. I think it is so important to remember our past; and stories like these really help keep that fresh in our minds. Our country was divided, people of color were being denied jobs, opportunities, and basic human rights. POC were fighting tooth and nail to get the rights that they deserved, the rights that they should have never had to fight for in the first place.
This book is just one example, and it comes from POV of a young white girl who has so much innocence about the world that she lives in. I think that since it comes from her POV it is easily relatable to many of us who grew up with similar white privilege, and possibly ignorance.
While I’m not racist, there was SO much about black history that I had no idea about; the capacity of racism, discrimination, and hate that these people experienced was never expressed in its full capacity when I was learning about it in school. That is why these types of narratives fascinate me, because in addition to being a good story they help remind me of the realities that many people faced. This fuels my desire to continue fighting for equality and human rights for every person of every race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation.
I have never seen the movie, but it has some of the greatest actors IMO (See: Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, and Sophie Okonedo) so it would definitely be worth checking out!
Before I Fall- Lauren Oliver
Before I Fall follows senior Samantha Kingston as she falls into the classic “Groundhog day” trope of reliving the same day over and over again; the day she is stuck reliving however, is the day that she dies. Sam must figure out how to stop the cycle from repeating itself, and hopefully save someone else in the process.
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I am a sucker for “groundhog day” loops and since the day is the day she dies, that just makes it even more interesting. Its got mystery, its got suspense, its got thriller vibes, and there is even a little romance thrown in to lighten the mood and make your heart flutter. It’s honestly such a cute YA novel, I don’t want to give too much away since I really want y’all to go read it!!
As far as the movie, I have never seen it. I’m honestly afraid this might be one of those times where the movie absolutely ruins the story for you, like City of Bones, or Avatar (not a book but still you know).
Water for Elephants- Sara Gruen
To anyone who has ever wanted to run away with the circus, this one’s for you! We follow a young man named Jacob, living in the 1930s as he leaves his normal life behind for one in the circus. Jacob had been just about to graduate from Veterinary school when he finds out his parents have been killed, leaving him with no home and massive debts. A spur of the moment decision lands him riding on a train in the middle of the night, a train which happens to belong to the Benzini Brother’s circus. Jacob is hired on to help train and care for all the animals. The great depression is hitting everyone hard, and circus life is no different, if not worse. There is fowl play, romance, betrayal, and worst of all one of the most tragic circus events in history.
****I first just want to say, that this was the movie that made me decide I loved Robert Pattinson as an actor. I don’t care if everyone just remembers him as the hot weird guy from those terrible vampire movies, I will always advocate for him!! If you have never seen him in anything other than Twilight, I highly suggest checking out some of his other works. Water for Elephants would be a great place to start!****
Now on to the book review. I actually saw the movie first before I read the book. It wasn’t until years after I watched the movie that a friend told me it was actually a book first and let me borrow her copy. I was instantly obsessed! I’ve always been a sucker for stories that romanticized the 20s and 30s, and if there was a circus involved… that was just the icing on the cake!
I would say the majority of this book is focused on either the forbidden romance, or the hardships the circus performers face in their day to day lives on the road. This story depicts the very real life of those who worked and lived with a traveling circus in the 30s.
In fact many facts throughout the book are real, and certain situations and instances really did happen! That is what I find most fascinating about this book; how it takes history and fiction and tangles them all together, it’s one of my favorite genres/styles of writing.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before- Jenny Han
P.S I Still Love You & Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Ah, Lara Jean, one of my absolute favorite fictional characters. Lara Jean is a dreamer and a lover, she is such a hopeless romantic that she writes letters to a boy anytime she has a crush on him or believes that she loves him. She keeps these letters in a hatbox in her room until one day her letters get sent out to all the boys, and she is left to deal with the aftermath of confessing her love to guys from all parts of her life. Part of which means creating an alliance with Peter Kavinski, the lacrosse star and heartthrob of her high school. The following two books are just as dreamy as her “alliance” with Peter continues in different ways.
I absolutely adore this series, I am a sucker for teen romance novels. I think the idea of love being so innocent and easy in High School is what I love most about these types of books. I actually saw the Netflix movie first and when I found out it was a book I went and bought it THAT day, and I was hooked. Within a week I had purchased the other two books in the trilogy. I will say that the second one wasn’t my favorite; without giving too much away I’ll just say it takes Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship into a place I didn’t enjoy, but it sort of made up for it in all the character development Lara Jean had.
The final book ends with the two of them going to college and I would LOVE to see a series on what that looks like for them, both individually and together. *sigh* maybe one day!
Both the movie and the books are 10/10!
The 5th Wave- Rick Yancey
The Infinite Sea & The Last Star
For all my friends out there that are sick of romance novels here is one for you! The 5th Wave is a book following a young girl named Cassie as she struggles to survive long enough to find and save her brother in this apocalyptic world she is living in. Aliens have invaded and wiped out the majority of humanity, she is a teenager who doesn’t know where her parents are and has a vague idea where her younger brother might be so she sets off, walking along stretches of highway and through the woods of Ohio to find him.
The following two books follow what happens after she reaches the place where her brother was as well as character arcs that were introduced in the previous book(s).
This is another one where I saw the movie first and just knew I had to read the book. I was actually on a date with my boyfriend at the time and as soon as the movie ended I made him take me to the nearest book store and purchased the book THAT DAY. I have always loved sci-fi and apocalyptic settings so I knew I would be hooked. I will say that after reading the book I was a little disappointed in how certain aspects were portrayed on screen, so if you don’t want that to be ruined for you I suggest watching the movie first and then being pleasantly surprised/delighted as you read.
The second and third book take a HUGE turn from the direction the first one was going in. I remember being shocked on multiple occasions and I really liked that it wasn’t a book that I was able to predict every single “plot twist” before it happened. Buuuuut I wasn’t really a fan of how the whole series ended as I felt it didn’t stay true to plots and characters that had already been well established.
If I Stay- Gayle Forman
Where She Went
Bringing back the great Chloë Grace Moretz (who portrays Cassie in The 5th Wave movie) as Mia Hall this time in the movie adaptation of If I Stay. Mia is a typical teenager who lives a pretty simple life with her parents, younger brother, and adorable boyfriend. Until one day a car crash threatens her entire life as she knows it. No longer is her biggest decision regarding her boyfriend’s up and coming band or her decision to move to New York to play Cello for Juliard. Now Mia must come face first with her own mortality and decide whether to stay on Earth and fight for her life, or let it all go. The bulk of this story is told through flashbacks as Mia remembers what her life was like before the crash, while she is currently unconscious, but mentally aware, in a hospital fighting for her life.
I fell in love with this book the second I picked it up. Honestly, when I first found out they were making it into a movie I was devastated, I was afraid they were going to ruin a book that, I felt, was my own little secret. Luckily, that couldn’t have been more true and I am in love with the work that was produced. The movie was very faithful to the book and the few changes that were made I believe only made for a better story, more suited for being told on screen vs on page. I’ve always loved books that explore mortality and asks the question “what happens next.” I really was on the edge of my seat for most of this book, falling in love with the characters and their story.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the second book titled Where She Went I did not like this book at all. I felt it was thrown together in a poor attempt to create an “after” for Mia’s story. It barely touches on the accident and mostly focus’s on her relationship with her boyfriend from the first book. The relationship however makes no sense in relation to the characters, where they are now, or what they went through. I finished the book feeling less satisfied with an ending to their stories than before I started.
The 100- Kass Morgan
The 100 Day 21 & The 100 Homecoming
Bringing back those post apocalyptic vibes, with just enough teenage rebellion (and some romance of course) to make it interesting. Generations after Earth faces a nuclear destruction, the survivors from Earth live in the stars on a Space Station orbiting the planet they left behind. Teenagers who have committed crimes against the government are sentenced to life in prison, that is until the government realizes their paradise in the stars is about to come to an end and they must find a way to reinhabit the earth. The 100 teenage prisoners are lucky enough to have been chosen to test the conditions on Earth and are sent
This is another one that I watched before I read it. The 100 TV show is one of my all time favorite shows. I actually watched the majority of the show before realizing it was a book. The show is very well done and the characters are pretty much spot on, but only stays true to the books up until around the second season. Much of the third book isn’t even touched on in the show. I do wish there were certain aspects of the book that were portrayed more/better in the show but I think overall the creative liberty took in making the show the success it is today was well.
Pretty Little Liars- Sara Shepard
Flawless, Perfect, & Unbelievable
I’m sure you have heard of the TV phenomenon that is Pretty Little Liars on Freeform; and if you haven’t then congratulations! I have a treat for you. In a quiet Pensilvania farm town, a young girl tragically goes missing over the summer. Her four closest friends drift apart as they each deal with the grief of their mutual loss in their own ways. That is until they all start to receive cryptic messages containing personal information, signed by the mysterious ‘A.’ Could ‘A’ stand for Ali, their missing friend? Is ‘A’ someone else they know? Or is it someone twisted trying to impersonate Ali? Whoever it is, they know personal details of all the girls lives, as well as secrets only Ali could have known. ‘A’ also seems to know the hand that each girl played in the disappearance of Ali. Unravel the mystery, romance, and drama that is the Pretty Little Liars.
I actually read this series long before it was ever a popular TV cult, or at least before I knew about it. The books shown in the photo above are actually “double features.” Each physical book contains two books from the series. There are about a dozen books total in the series and while I haven’t read all of them, I have read most of them and they are SO much better than the show! In fact by the end of the first season, the show has pretty much given up on all things related to the books.
The idea is the same: trying to figure out who ‘A’ is, teenage drama, etc. The mystery is so much more complex than the show even explores! If you’re a die hard fan of the show, you will love getting more content about our favorite characters. If you’ve never seen the show, but you love a good murder mystery with just enough teenage angst to keep things interesting, this one is for you.
And that concludes our list of 9 movies (and 2 TV shows) that you didn’t know were books first. Let me know in the comments what books you had never heard of! Are there more that I missed? I know there are, let me know which ones are worth reading. And I’ll see you all again next Sunday with another new blog post!
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