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On The Table Read, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, discover the most popular movies that have been adapted from books for the cinema screen.

Screenwriters and film studios find inspiration from various sources, including plays, songs, true stories, and even games. However, books continue to be the most common inspiration for cinema. Of the hundreds of movies based on books, here are the best, in no particular order.

Little Women

There have been several movies based on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and each one has been better than the previous. Greta Gerwig directed the most recent version in 2019, widely acclaimed critically and commercially. Adapted from an 1868 novel, it is the seventh and perhaps best attempt. The movie has several household names, including Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, and Emma Watson. Despite some changes, the story remains true about four young women coming of age in a radically changing world towards the end of the Civil War.

The Colour Purple

Besides being the queen of daytime TV, Oprah Winfrey is a brilliant actress who starred in the 1985 Stephen Speilberg book-based movie The Colour Purple. The heart-wrenching story of both formats takes inspiration from Alice Walker’s book of the same name, which celebrates black women’s strength and resilience. In addition to Winfrey, who portrays Sofia, Whoopi Goldberg plays Celie, the film’s protagonist/narrator, with Danny Glover representing her abusive husband. In case you enjoyed the book, you’ll love the movie.

The Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro, the Nobel Prize-winning British author, wrote The Remains of the Day in 1989. In the 1930s, the story follows James Stevens, played by Anthony Hopkins, as he serves as an English butler to the doltish Lord Darlington, played by James Fox. He overlooks Darlington’s Nazi sympathies and growing anti-Semitism and forgoes visiting his father on his deathbed so that he can serve. Stevens begins to regret his loyalty to his former employer twenty years after the passing of his employer when he attempts to reunite with Miss Kenton, Darlington’s head housekeeper.

a couple eating and drinking while watching a movie
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures tells the story of how the U.S. and Russia raced to launch the first man into space. Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, and Taraji P. Henson star in this 2016 movie about three Black women involved in the NASA space program in its early years. Their efforts made the launch of astronaut John Glenn into space possible. Anyone seeking a good time will enjoy this movie, as it’s a feel-good movie that promises to make you laugh, smile and maybe even cry.

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The Devil Wears Prada

According to rumours, Weisberger’s 2003 novel of the same name was inspired by her former boss, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who became the antagonist Miranda Priestley played by Meryl Streep. At the film premiere, Wintour, who was in the front row, told Barbara Walters it was “really entertaining.” Aside from Meryl Streep, the cast is full of beloved actors, including Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt. If you are a fashionista and have not yet seen this film, you should add it to your watch list.

The Godfather

Countless movies have made cinema history, but this gangster classic remains one of the greatest. It tells the story of a Mafia family in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s, based on the crime novel The Godfather by Mario Puzo. There were many aspects of the film that were ahead of its time. Movies like this became common in cinematic storytelling because they were among the first to use a disjointed narrative structure that relied heavily on flashbacks to tell stories.

The Shawshank Redemption

There has never been a movie that captures the exhilaration of freedom quite like Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Despite being quiet, clever, and mild-mannered, Andy Dufresne’s life is turned upside down following his imprisonment for being accused of murdering his wife and her lover. In prison, he becomes friends with an older man named Ellis “Red” Redding, who has spent most of his life behind bars. After forming a strong bond, the two men begin to plan their future lives outside of Shawshank State Prison.


In 1985, Pileggi published a nonfiction book called Wiseguy, which inspired the film Goodfellas. The film narrates the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill and his friends and family from 1955 to 1980, starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, and Paul Sorvino. Those who want to feel like they’re in an American movie like Goodfellas can play american roulette online and channel their inner Henry Hill.

Fight Club

Despite its reputation, Fight Club is a pretty good movie. Palahniuk’s 1996 novel came to the big screen by director David Fincher, who used every tool at his disposal to turn a book into a movie. The film was a success thanks to the stellar cast, including Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter and its unique script mixed with a big twist executed by top special effects geniuses. If you haven’t already, you should watch this cult classic.


There are few movies as terrifying as Room, which is based on a book of the same name. The story draws inspiration from Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel of the same name, which drew inspiration from Josef Fritzl’s real-life crimes. For those unaware, Fritzl held his daughter captive and subjected her to horrendous abuse over twenty years. She gave birth seven times over this period, with three of her children being held captive too. The movie shows all the horrific struggles she endures as well as her eventual escape.


You can’t beat the experience of watching a film adaptation of your favourite book. Sense and Sensibility, Forrest Gump and The Wizard of Oz, are some other books adapted into films. The abundance of great books on the market will inspire filmmakers for many years.

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