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Clickbait List Alert! 20 Best Movies Adapted from Novels

December 8, 2020
This novel is on almost every book list.

I know! I know I should have known better! Clicking on an internet list is like making eye contact with a kiosk salesperson at the mall; you just don’t do it.

But I did, so it’s too late. A weekly entertainment site posted a list of 20 of the Best Book Adaptations of All Time. I should have known not to read it. The title said “… OF ALL TIME.” Nothing good comes from a title like that.

According to that recent clickbait list, here are the best book-to-movie adaptations OF ALL TIME!!!!


  1. Emma by Jane Austen
  2. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Lincoln the movie)
  3. Room by Emma Donaghue
  4. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  6. I, Tina by Tina Turner (What’s Love Got To Do with It? the movie)
  7. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  8. Little Women by Louise May Alcott (‘m not sure which movie version was the best)
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (and Truman Capote)
  10. Le Transperencig… whatever (Snowpiercer the movie)
  11. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
  12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarre
  13. Poldark by Winston Graham
  14. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  15. Outlander by Dians Gabaldon
  16. The Mazerunner by James Dashner
  17. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  18. Normal People by Sally Rooney
  19. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  20. Atonement by Ian McEwan

Read the list and the reasoning behind each choice (if you care) at 20 of the best book adaptations of all time.


At first, I thought this list was devised to get people arguing. The list creator makes some obviously bad choices, such as over-representing recent books and movies, which causes readers (suckers like me) to react. Making a good list would be counter-productive because nobody would respond to a good list.

A better list (in my opinion) would include classics such as The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum, The Godfather by Mario Puzo, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, or The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley. But a good list probably doesn’t start much conversation.

Then again, maybe the list was to promote book sales for authors that the weekly entertainment site writer likes (or is tied to). The weekly entertainment site can’t make much/any money from increased sales of The Wizard of Oz. But it can maybe give The Princess Diaries a slight boost, and then the entertainment site can promote that author’s new novel, get a couple high profile interviews, and maybe even receive a little incentive (kickback) from the book publishers.

I’m not making any accusations. I’m just wondering. Maybe it’s a possibility. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe the creators of this list simply have limited historical perspective. Maybe….

AAAaaaarrrrgh! This is what I get for clicking on an internet list!

  1. I would add to your to your better list The Graduate, The Princess Bride, Apocalypse Now, Field of Dreams, and Forrest Gump, which gets a lot of grief from some people, but is much better than the ridiculous book on which it’s based (which features a runaway gorilla).

  2. In each case I’ve either only read the book or only seen the movie (or neither), so I can’t comment… except for one: The Color Purple. I was so relieved to see it on this list. The movie is excellent. For many years after it first came out it was my favorite movie. After many viewings I decided to read the book. I was very surprised to find that it wasn’t was good. Then again, maybe when you love a movie so much, the book will have a hard time competing. Maybe, had I read the book first, I’d feel differently. Guess I’ll never know. The good news is that if I want to experience The Color Purple again, seeing the movie is a lot faster than reading the book!

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