7 New York Times Bestseller Book to Film Adaptations You Need to Watch

The New York Times Bestseller list is often seen as the indicator of a successful book, while also being a major step leading to greater success in the future. The list, released weekly, ranks the top-selling books according to the NYT. Landing a spot on the list leads to greater opportunities in public media. However, it’s believed that the NYT bestseller list has become obsolete, but even before then, it’s been believed that the list is skewed. The Observer has noticed possible problems in the private and secretive process the NYT uses to decide the picks on their list, for example, that it could be used for them to have a say in which books get credibility. The Observer even mentioned the pattern of NYT employees with books ranking higher on the list and maintaining a spot on the list longer than non-NYT employees.

Regardless, the New York Times bestseller books have and will likely always maintain their credibility and respect, which is what makes them one of the best in terms of investment for film adaptations. Book to film adaptations have always been widely popular and good investments for film studios since books usually already have a fanbase that can be pulled into theaters. But there will always be those, of course, who feel film adaptations of their favorite books never do the stories’ justice. Nonetheless, film adaptations maintain their popularity. So, we made a list of New York Times bestseller book-to-film adaptations you need to watch.


7/7 The Shining

Peregrine Productions

Based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name, The Shining stars Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd. The psychological horror, directed by Stanley Kubrick, was released in 1980, and is centered around Jack (Nicholson), a recovering alcoholic writer who accepts a job as a caretaker for the Overlook Hotel with his wife and son, Wendy and Danny. His son has psychic gifts called ‘the shining’ and as they get snowed-in at the hotel, Jack slowly starts to descend into madness. The film has heavily influenced pop culture, producing numerous parodies and influencing other filmmakers. Most notably, though, the most common scene from The Shining that is quoted is Nicholson’s line, “Here’s Johnny!” In 2018, the film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress.

Related: Upcoming Book to Screen Adaptations We’re Excited to See

6/7 The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Logan Lerman and Emma Watson in _The Perks of Being a Wallflower_
Summit Entertainment

The Perks of Being a Wallflower defined teen Tumblr culture of the early-2010s, with quotable lines and its imagery of adolescent mental illness. The book it was based on, of the same name, was released in 1999, and while it gained mixed reviews — some calling it a rip-off of The Catcher in The Ryen— the book still developed a cult following and eventually got its own movie in 2012. The film, starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller, follows Charlie, a clinically depressed teenage boy with a traumatizing past, starting his first year of high school, but because of his shy and timid personality, he has a hard time making friends until he befriends two seniors, Sam and her stepbrother Patrick, who take him in as their friend. There have been rumors that John Hughes, most famously known for writing and directing other coming-of-age movies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Buller’s Day Off, was originally going to adapt the book, but it never came to be. Regardless, The Perks of Being a Wallflower remains the perfect story for young teenagers who can relate to Charlie, giving them the reassurance that it is okay to be a wallflower.

5/7 The Hate U Give

20th Century Fox

The Hate U Give is a 2018 drama film following a teenage Black girl, Starr Carter, as she grieves the death of her childhood best friend after he was wrongfully by a police officer, and becomes the key witness to his death, having been in the car with him when he was pulled over. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russel Hornsby, KJ Apa, Sabrina Carpenter, and rapper Common. The film is an adaptation of a book with the same name by Angie Thomas, and it’s also her debut novel. The story was originally a short story she wrote after the police shooting of Oscar Grant, but she’d later go on to expand it into a novel. Naturally, the book has sparked controversy for trying to push understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement and has been removed from school libraries in Katy, Texas and some Washington country school districts (via Vulture). But it’s a film, and a book, that needs to be heard which is why it made our list of book to film adaptations you need to watch, especially during the times we’re in right now.

4/7 The Martian

Matt Damon as Dr.  Mark Watney
20th Century Fox

The Martian is a science fiction film based on a novel of the same name by Andy Weir. What makes this book-to-film adaptation more unique compared to others on this list is the fact the book was originally self-published on Weir’s blog after it was rejected multiple times by traditional publishing. He released the book a chapter at a time on his blog for free, which eventually led to a devoted fan base who requested he put the book on Amazon Kindle. Once done, the book topped the Amazon list of best-selling science-fiction titles. It was this that got Weir and his book attention to be traditionally published through Crown Publishing Group and debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in 2014. Besides being an inspiration to other aspiring writers the book is scientifically accurate because Weir, the son of a particle physicist and electrical engineer, did a lot of research when he began writing, wanting the book to be realistic as possible.

Related: 8 Best Romance Book to Film Adaptations, Ranked

3/7 Forrest Gump

Forrest (Tom Hanks) talks to nurse at park
Paramount Pictures

Probably one of Tom Hanks most famous roles in his entire career, Forrest Gump is an adaptation of a book with the same name by Winston Groom, which follows the titular character as he recounts stories from his life growing up in Alabama and fumbling his way into famous American moments in history, including the Vietnam War and Nixon’s Watergate scandal. That said, a lot was changed, or removed, from the book to make it easily consumable for film. Forrest Gump was released in 1994 and became the second highest-grossing film that year, earning over $670 million in the box office. It also won six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Film Editing. In 2011, the film was picked for preservation in the Library of Congress. It’s hard to imagine there’s a single person that hasn’t seen this movie, especially since there was even a Bollywood adaptation of the book as well, but if you haven’t, you have to give it a watch.

2/7 The Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs.
Orion Pictures

A film that has been quoted and parodied throughout TV and film media, The Silence of the Lambs is a psychological thriller that stars Anthony Hopkins as a psychiatrist turned cannibalistic serial killer and Jodie Foster as an FBI trainee. Based on a book with the same name, it follows Clarice Starling (Foster) as she tries to catch a serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill, who kills and skins young girls. She’s persuaded to enlist the help from Dr. Hannibal Lector (Hopkins) to catch the killer because Hannibal’s insight might be of some help. The character of Hannibal Lector is seen as one of the greatest film villains in history and has also become iconic in imagery, especially when he’s entirely restrained (as seen in the above picture). The film won the Big Five at the Academy Awards, making it the third movie in history to ever accomplish such a feat, and was also selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2011. The success of the film also sparked many sequels following the notorious Hannibal Lector.

1/7 The Godfather

Paramount Pictures

And finally, The Godfather, a film widely adored by film buffs everywhere. Even 50 years after its initial release, it is still seen as a cinematic masterpiece. Originally a book released in 1969, the story follows the Corleone family, one of the big five families of the Italian mafia, under Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and focuses on the transformation of his youngest son (Al Pacino) into a ruthless mafia boss . The American Film Institute ranked it the second-greatest film in American Cinema, only behind Citizen Kane. It also won Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 45th annual Academy Awards, but it’s most remembered by Brando’s boycotting of the awards and denial of his award by sending Native American activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, in his place to explain why he didn’t show to collect his award. The film was selected for preservation by the library of Congress in 1990 and is one movie that everyone should see at least once.

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