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5 Book-to-Screen Adaptations on My Summer Watch List (Updated, with 5 More Adaptations!)


Image of a backyard movie screen and text 5 Book-to-Screen Adaptations on My Summer Watch List

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)


I'm updating this list from two years ago because I'm always adding to my "to watch" list (it's nearly as long as my TBR!). I've clarified which of the original adaptations I have and haven't watched, and then I've added some new adaptations. New content is marked with an asterisk.


 

Last week, we released our episode about the movie adaptation of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Libro.fm | Bookshop.org) (you can listen here). In that same vein, I thought I'd share some other adaptations I'm looking forward to watching this summer!


*Annihilation

Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, which starts with Annihilation (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), will soon be a quadrology—that makes me even more eager to watch the film adaptation from 2018. This incredibly surreal speculative series, which blends science and fantasy in a compelling-but-uncomfortable, incredibly atmosopheric series, centers on the mysterious Area X that draws in an array of scientists with its promise and its threat. (This adaptation is available on AppleTV.)


Shining Girls

I read Lauren Beukes's The Shining Girls (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) back in 2015, so some of the details are fuzzy. But I was captivated by the compelling novel, centered on a time traveling serial killer and the potential victim who vows to stop him. When I saw that Elisabeth Moss would be starring in this eight-episode adaptation (you can watch on AppleTV), I knew I'd have to watch: I'm all-in on anything with Moss, and I think she'll be perfect in the starring role.


*I watched Shining Girls and loved it! As expected, Elisabeth Moss was excellent, and the way the adaptation dealt with the jumbled timelines was effective onscreen (I was worried that might be a problem).


*3 Body Problem

I read Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) back in 2018, and I'll be honest: while I enjoyed it, there were many, many parts that I didn't fully understand. I've heard that the adaptation (available on Netflix) simplifies the physics for the common reader/watcher (definitely me!), and, given the showrunners' pedigree (they're behind Game of Thrones), I'm quite excited to revisit this story and to gain some clarification. I hope.


The Essex Serpent

This is another book I read a while back (in 2017, before I started writing regular reviews), so again . . . there's some fuzziness. But Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) was a five-star read for me, and I remember being blown away by the way the novel illuminated the tenuous line between science and myth and evoked its 19th-century setting. Also, this six-episode AppleTV adaptation has two more actors I love: Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston.


*I still need to watch this!


*Shōgun

I read James Clavell's epic novel Shogun (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) back in high school and watched the 1980 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain (star of The Thornbirds, which I also loved but have not revisited—I have a feeling that one will not have aged well). I've heard that the new adaptation (available on Hulu) is much, much better and offers a more carefully considered account of its story of British colonialism in feudal Japan. Every pop culture source I trust has raved about this one, so this is high on my list for summer.


Conversations with Friends

I adored the adaptation of Normal People (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), so I'm hoping for big things from the Hulu adaptation of Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). (This one has 12 episodes.) Here's my review from 2020:


I absolutely LOVED Sally Rooney's Normal People (and the television adaptation only made me love it more), so I went in to Conversations with Friends with SUPER-high expectations. I wouldn't say that I loved Rooney's debut more than Normal People, but it definitely reinforced my opinion about the author's talent. We see the stories through the eyes of Frances, an intelligent and talented young writer in Dublin. She performs poetry with her best friend, Bobbi (also her former lover), and their relationship is one of the strong hearts of the book. At one of their performances, they meet a couple, a photographer and her husband, Nick, and the four become embroiled in a tangled relationship with sex and dependence at the center. Rooney confronts here the difficulty with communicating who we are and how we feel to other people, how to do so honestly and clearly, and how to deal with the disconnect we so often feel between others' reactions to us and what we meant. I found it to be a deeply moving book.


*This one is still on my list.


*Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light

Wolf Hall adapted Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) and Bring Up the Bodies (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm); the new series will cover book 3, The Mirror and the Light (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). This trilogy takes on, with great historical detail and amazing humor, the life of Thomas Cromwell in the court of King Henry VIII. I can't fully convey just how much fun this series is, despite the pervasive sense of dread. Mark Rylance embodies Cromwell, and the fantastic Damian Lewis portrays Henry in all of his petulance and arrogance and selfishness. I can't wait to see the story wrap up on screen and to revisit these characters. (You can watch these on Hoopla or on PBS, which I access via Amazon Prime.)


The Summer I Turned Pretty

I know that so many of us are fans of the adaptations of Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), and so I'm guessing that we're all excited about the seven-episode, Amazon Prime adaptation. While I didn't love The Summer I Turned Pretty (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) books quite as much as the other trilogy (and I haven't read it since 2010), I remember being so happy with the depth of the character development in the books. (Here's a link to the boxed set: Bookshop.org.)


*I did watch The Summer I Turned Pretty. Is it as good as the To All the Boys adaptations? No. But the casting is strong, and I still found it to be compelling. Ashley and I reviewed the pilot episode together over on Patreon if you want to hear a deeper conversation.


*A Gentleman in Moscow

I've been on quite an Amor Towles run—I have only Table for Two (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) left to read—and though I love all of his work, A Gentleman in Moscow (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) remains my favorite. Since I'm also a Ewan McGregor fan, I'm eager to watch this series adaptation, available on Amazon Prime. If it's good, I imagine it will be one that I don't want to stop watching, so I do plan to wait until school is out for summer to start.


Fire Island

So, I had NO idea, until I listened to this episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, that Fire Island is based on Pride and Prejudice (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). That makes me extremely happy. The Hulu film features Bowen Yang, one of my favorites from Saturday Night Live, along with Conrad Ricamora (from How to Get Away with Murder!). I'm SO looking forward to this new adaptation to add to my #readausten22 slate.


*I L-O-V-E-D this! Fire Island was a fresh and unexpected Austen adaptation that considered the classic novel through an entirely new lens. (Just be aware: it is extremely open door.) This is one of my favorite Austen retellings.


To wrap things up, just a reminder: if you're interested in our reviews of some other adaptations—including Passing, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Heartstopper, and If Beale Street Could Talk —consider supporting us on Patreon!


(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)


Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.


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