5 Books You’ll Want to Read Before Watching the Adaptation

This is a long debated topic among readers: read the book or watch the adaptation first? Some people are firm believers in book first (or for some, book only), while others like to see the story come to life before they read the novel. No matter which side you support, there are a few books that you’ll want to read before watching the show or movie version. Here are the five novels we think you should dive into before seeing how they’re interpreted on the screen.


1. The Goldfinch

Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch has received plenty of rave reviews, so it was only a matter of time before the book was adapted. In the novel, Tartt tells the story of Theo Decker, a young boy whose mother is killed in an accident that he survives. The novel’s title comes from a painting that reminds Theo of the mother he lost. Reviews and readers praised Tartt’s writing style, the vibrant characters, and the “humming plot.”



Since the book is almost 800 pages, it makes sense that any adaptation would be lacking. The 2018 movie stars Ansel Elgort (of Baby Driver and the upcoming West Side Story reboot) as adult Theo, and it clocks in around two and a half hours. Watching the movie alone wouldn’t give you a sense of Tartt’s incredible novel. If you must watch the movie (which reviewers might suggest you didn’t), make sure you read the book first.

Buy on Amazon Buy on Bookshop Watch on Amazon


2. Bridget Jones’s Diary

There’s no denying that Bridget Jones’s Diary is a classic movie. In fact, you may have already seen the film and had no idea it was based on a book. The 2001 film, starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant, is based on Helen Fielding’s 1996 novel. Working Title Films acquired the film rights in 1997 and spent two years searching for the right actress to play Bridget; at one point, they were considering Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) for the role. The movie became a romantic comedy smash and two sequels were made.



Whether you’ve already seen the movie or have yet to check it out, it’s time to pick up the book that started it all. The book is praised for its humor and heart, so if you’re looking for a fun and funny read this summer, this is the one for you.

Buy on Bookshop Buy on Amazon Watch on Amazon


3. The Man in the High Castle

Amazon Prime’s The Man in the High Castle finished its fourth and final season last fall and received positive reviews for the majority of its run. Critics praised the performances of the cast, the gorgeous visuals, and exciting premise. The show is based on Phillip K. Dick’s 1962 novel of the same name. Both the book and the show tell the story of what might have happened in America if the Axis Powers (particularly Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany) had won World War II. If speculative fiction intrigues you, read the novel. You’ll then have four amazing seasons on Amazon Prime to check out and compare to the book.



Buy on Bookshop Buy on Amazon Watch on Amazon


4. Good Omens

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch has long been a cult favorite. Both fantastic writers, the two came together in 1990 to write this novel. Gaiman and Pratchett passed floppy disks back and forth, so it really was a different time. Nevertheless, they produced a hilarious and clever novel about angels, demons, and Armageddon. The authors spent years thinking about adapting the book into a series but couldn’t seem to find the right people to make it happen. After Pratchett’s death in 2015, Gaiman initially abandoned the idea. However, a posthumous letter from Pratchett encouraging Gaiman to continue with the pursuit changed his mind.



Gaiman himself wrote the Good Omens adaptation, which makes it particularly excellent. In fact, the book and the series are so similar that we’re comfortable saying you could read the book and watch the show in whatever order you like. Just don’t skip either, especially since David Tennant (Barty Crouch, Jr.) is spectacular as Crowley.

Buy on Bookshop Buy on Amazon Watch on Amazon


5. The Aeronauts

Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander) stars in the movie version of The Aeronauts. The film is based on the real-life pursuits of James Glaisher, a 19th-century aeronaut. While the true story is outlined in Glaisher’s 1871 Travels in the Air, the film also took inspiration from Richard Holmes’s Falling Upward: How We Took to the Air.



Before watching the movie, you may want to read both of these books and also learn more about the historical figures who inspired Felicity Jones’s fictional character, Amelia. Glaisher’s real-life partner Henry Coxwell, as well as Sophie Blanchard (the first professional balloonist) and aeronaut Margaret Graham, were the inspiration for Amelia. Learning more about these historical figures before watching the movie, which is described as a thrilling adventure, will make you appreciate the film even more.

Buy on Bookshop Buy on Amazon Watch on Amazon


Whether you’re planning to dive into the book or movie, you can’t go wrong with these excellent choices. Which book will you be picking up first?

Gretchen Roesch

I once knew every word to the "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" movie. Now I use my Ravenclaw brain power to manage the MuggleNet News Team, write articles, and podcast about "Harry Potter". Outside of the site, I'm a long-distance runner, social worker, and baker. I hope to one day pay off my student loans.

Welcome to MuggleNet!


Would you like to join our mailing list?