‘Ready Player One’ isn’t the only must-read book turning into a movie

From moving memoirs to brutal novellas and virtual nostalgia-fests, Hollywood has plundered plots from so many books.
From moving memoirs to brutal novellas and virtual nostalgia-fests, Hollywood has plundered plots from so many books.

Image: Riverhead books/vintage/crown publishing

Contrary to how it may seem, 2018 in Hollywood is not just about sequels, prequels, reboots, and returns to the same cinematic universes. There are a ton of original stories being made into films that have already proved themselves as successful or acclaimed books. Studios love that safety net, after all.

From brutal thrillers to whimsical sci-fi, the slate this year is diverse — and it almost always pays to imagine the world and characters in your head before seeing them through the eyes of a director or cinematographer.

We’ve rounded up a bunch of books that serve as the starting point for movies that just hit cinemas, are coming soon, or are slated for release in the near future. They’re listed chronologically by movie release date.

Looking back to a few films from recent months, too, there are opportunities for a great read. Call Me By Your Name, Mashable’s Proma Khosla argues, is actually better read after seeing the movie. And while Red Sparrow might have only mustered a 48% Rotten Tomato score from indifferent critics and fans, the novel has been hailed as a “terrific.’

Monster, meanwhile, was unveiled at this year’s Sundance and the 2004 novel of the same name takes an innovative approach, with the protagonist — a teenager in juvenile detention — writing a screenplay of his own life. And of course Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda has been adored on paper and celluloid.

Here are nine more to sink your teeth into.

Madeleine L'Engle's 'A Wrinkle In Time'.

The classic ’60s sci-fi story just got the big screen treatment from director Ava DuVernay, and her  interpretation of its mystical world and mind-bending plot departs from L’Engle’s text in many ways. Reading the original is a perfect way to see how ideas evolve as they make the leap from page to screen. Becoming Madeleine, which chronicles L’Engle’s efforts to get her work published, will also ring true to many writers.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Opinion is divided on Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the YA hit, but all signs point to it being a BIG affair chock full of ’80s references. The book is a quick read and while its plot and characterization don’t quite get a high score, it’s a hugely fun and reference-packed realm to while away a few hours that will leave you pining for whichever games filled your own youth.

You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames.

Lynne ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ Ramsay jumped on board to direct Joaquin Phoenix in the movie version of this dark, dark novella, which features a score from Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood and won awards galore at Cannes. The book itself is 97 pages of Taken-esque violence and retribution that keeps the action tight but finds time to dive into the protagonist’s twisted, broken psyche.

The ’70s gothic horror novel claims to be for readers aged eight and up, but there’s some seriously creepy stuff going on in the titular residence. Jack Black and Cate Blanchett are set to star in the movie version, which hits cinemas this fall and is directed by Hostel ‘s Eli Roth. Steal a copy from a young person near you.

Wes Anderson alumni and Lady Bird star Lucas Hedges takes on the role of the boy in question in the movie based on this moving memoir from Garrard Conley. Focussing on his time in gay conversion therapy in Arkansas, as well as his efforts to balance sexuality, family, and religion, the book is a must-read. MashReads spoke to Conley last year.

Where'd You Go Bernadette cover.

Set in Seattle and brilliantly skewering both the tech community and helicopter parents that inhabit that city, Maria Semple’s devilish satire takes the form of emails, notes, and fragmented narratives. It’s a smart modern epistolary approach that is getting the Richard Linklater treatment this year.

We Have Always Lived In The Castle cover.

There are few first person narrators quite like young Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood. At once naive and all-knowing — and entirely unreliable — she allows the incredibly dark narrative to unfold in her own rambling way. How this claustrophobic and terrifying mystery translates to the screen will be fascinating to see. 

The Black Hand by Stephen Talty

The Black Hand by Stephen Talty

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Remember Captain Phillips? That Tom Hanks movie was based on a book co-written by Stephan Talty. With Black Hand  he turned his, um, hand to a novelization of the 1909 killing of NYPD cop and organized crime fighter Joseph Petrosino. Paramount Pictures picked the story up with Leonardo DiCaprio slated to star.

Bel Canto

An opera singer trapped in a hostage crisis in a South American country is the unlikely premise for this captivating story, which won numerous awards on its release in 2001, including the PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction. Julianne Moore and Christoper Lambert are involved in the remake which is reportedly in post production.

Keep up with all the latest book news, reviews and discussion at MashReads.

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