Great book, bad movie? Let’s hope not. Novels are a constant, renewable source of stories for Hollywood, with all-ready-built brand appeal—from the juvenile franchises (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Narnia) to the mass-appeal ( Da Vinci Code, the Bourne etceteras). Not that there are always bad movies made from books. It turns out that good plots and an epic story translate well from page to screen. But the attempt to create this kind by making midsize movies from literary novels has been an ugly business. Remember John Grisham’s The Firm?
I am sometimes hesitant about reading them before they get the big-screen treatment. If you like being able to say the book was better (isn't it always?), then here are some novels to dive into. Click through and see which books you need to add to your shelf — before they get to the theater.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
What it's about: Two generations of brothers with very different natures come of age in the Salinas Valley, CA. Who's starring: Jennifer Lawrence will play Cathy, the cold mother of the two boys. Gary Ross will direct.
What it's about: Set in 17th-century Japan, the book follows the story of Jesuits who are trying to bring Christianity into Japan. Who's starring: Andrew Garfield is playing Father Rodrigues in the film, which is being directed by Martin Scorsese. Adam Driver also has a supporting role.
What it's about: The aptly named film takes on the true life story of the biggest bank robbery in American history, masterminded by George Leslie. Who's starring: Jeremy Renner is attached to star as George.
What it's about: The dramedy follows three Brown University graduates in an examination of their lives after 9/11. Who's starring: Jeff Bridges will play Thwaite, and Lake Bell will direct the adaptation.
What it's about: A 5-year-old boy grows up in a small shed, which becomes the only world he knows because his mother hides the truth — they're being held captive. Who's starring: Brie Larson is starring as Ma, the mother.
What it's about: War photographer Lynsey Addario recounts her exploits in wartime and battle-ridden places like Afghanistan. Who's starring: Jennifer Lawrence will play Lynsey, and Steven Spielberg will direct.
What it's about: The recently released book tells the story of Jake, a man who seeks out the love of his life when her husband passes away, only to find that the widow at the funeral isn't actually her. Who's starring: Hugh Jackman will star in the film adaptation.
What it's about: A rich man spends an ungodly amount of money on one bottle of wine — only to suspect that he's been duped. Who's starring: Matthew McConaughey will star.
What it's about: A young slave nicknamed "Onion" joins forces with an abolitionist who travels around the country for the cause. Who's starring: Liev Schreiber is playing the abolitionist, with Jaden Smith as Onion.
What it's about: In this mystery, a woman thinks she may know something about a crime involving a couple she sees on her train commute every day. Who's starring: Emily Blunt is starring, and The Help's Tate Taylor is directing.
What it's about: The magical series follows two magicians who compete in a mysterious circus that runs from nightfall to dawn. Who's starring: There hasn't been any casting news yet, but Jane Eyre writer Moira Buffini will pen the script.
What it's about: Set in the Prohibition era of the '20s, the novel tells the story of a Boston thief who finds success as a rum runner. Who's starring: Ben Affleck is writing, directing, and starring in the film, marking his second time adapting one of the author's books — his directorial debut came with the adaptation of Lehane's Gone Baby Gone. Zoe Saldana and Sienna Miller are costarring.
What it's about: This bestseller argues that the most common relationship problems can be attributed to fundamental personality differences between guys and girls. Who's starring: Reese Witherspoon is set to headline the film.
What it's about: A young boy, Jack, has to grow up fast and rescue his kidnapped sister from bandits in turn-of-the-century Texas. Who's starring: Peter Dinklage will star as the bounty hunter who assists Jack.
Watch for Part 2 next with more books going to film!!!