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5 Famous Books That Should NOT Be Made Into Movies

August 28, 2019

Everybody knows that a bunch of great novels have been turned into great movies.  Sometimes, moviegoers don’t even realize their favorite movie was based on a book.  For example, some movie critics don’t know that The Godfather was a bestselling novel written by Mario Puzo before it became a great movie.

There are already a bunch of lists that show famous books that have been turned into great movies.  But what about the neglected famous books?

Not every famous book would make a good movie.  A lot of great books haven’t translated to the silver (or pocket) screen very well.  The recent movie version of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline Engle was pretty bad (and I like the book).   Despite several attempts, I’ve never seen an interesting version of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I’m not suggesting that these books should never have been turned into movies.  I’m just saying the above movies would be tough to do.

Below, however, are some books that should NEVER be turned into movies:

1.  A Million Easy Pieces by James Frey

Yes, it’s too late.  I know A Million Easy Pieces is already being made into a movie, but it still shouldn’t happen.  Maybe it can still be stopped.  The book was originally promoted as a memoir, and then it turned out to be a lie.  Maybe A Million Easy Pieces works as fiction.  I don’t know, and I don’t care because I’m not going to read it.

Lying about a memoir is a sneaky writer trick, and I don’t want to reward bad behavior by reading his sneaky memoir book or watching the movie based on his sneaky book.  I know that Hollywood rewards bad behavior all the time, but I don’t have to participate in that, and I won’t.

2.  The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

For a long time, nobody made The Catcher in the Rye into a movie.  I never wanted a movie version because even when I was a teenager, I thought Holden Caulfield was a whiner.  Before Holden Caulfield, fictional kids could have flaws but they tried to do the right thing.  Tom Sawyer wasn’t perfect, but he protected Becky and he saved an innocent man from being convicted.

What did Holden do?  He said “damn” and “hell” a lot.  Anybody can do that.   The world is full of Holden Caulfields, so we don’t need a movie.

Author J.D. Salinger didn’t want a Catcher in the Rye movie either but for reasons that are different than mine.  I think there are a couple recent attempts to do it, but I had to search to find them, so they don’t count for much.  If we went this long without a big budget The Catcher in the Rye movie, we don’t really need one, and it shouldn’t happen.

3.  A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Since The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is being made into a movie, I figured other recent Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners would be next.  I liked portions of A Visit from the Goon Squad, but what makes it unique as a book (point of view and tense changes) might make it suck as a movie.  The story is okay.  I like to see authors experiment a little bit.  I’m not sure the story is compelling enough for a movie.  I think HBO has/had the rights to it, but I haven’t heard about or seen any finished product.

If the book had literal goons, then it might make a great movie.

4.  Becoming by Michelle Obama

Yes, it’s one of the bestselling books of all time in the United States.  Yes, movie makers can’t resist books that make ton of money, so somebody is going to make a movie.  And the movie will probably suck.

Despite its sales, Becoming wasn’t that great of a memoir.  Michelle Obama has led an interesting life, but she didn’t make herself sound very interesting.  She made herself sound almost two-dimensional in a rock star life.  If Becoming becomes a movie and it sucks, critics will hesitate to say so because they won’t want to be called haters or right-wing extremists.  The support of her movie will be political, just like much of the support for her book.

But politicians and Hollywood creators can’t resist money, so somebody will try to make a movie out of it.

5.  The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring by George R.R. Martin

Since Game of Thrones season 8 was embarrassingly bad, fans want the last few seasons to be redone in a way that matches the high quality of seasons 1-4.  To that I say, “Pffffft!”

Game of Thrones is done.  I don’t mean “done” like “dead to me” or anything like that.  I just mean that the television/cinematic version is completed and, like it or not, a remake version wouldn’t work.

Face it, matching the quality of seasons 1-4 would be nearly impossible.  I think you can even stop watching at the end of season 4 and be satisfied.  At the end of season 4, several story-lines have been resolved, some stupid story-lines haven’t been introduced yet, and several popular characters who die later in poorly-written ways are still alive.

Even though I believe A Dream of Spring is just a dream, George R.R. Martin might still finish his A Song of Ice and Fire series (I’m somewhat doubtful), but it shouldn’t be redone again, either as a movie or as a television series.


What do you think?  What books do you think should NEVER be turned into movies (or any type of show for television or streaming services)?

One Comment
  1. Madam Mim permalink

    Hahaha literally read this list like “yep”… Not an easy one to think of answers for though!

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