Last week, in our regular You’re the Guide section of this newsletter here, we asked you to recommend books that would make excellent film or TV adaptations. The response has been massive: it turns out that for all the books that have been adapted into lousy movies or shows, there are just as many, if not more, great books begging to be (hopefully) adapted into great movies or emissions.
So we’ve decided to dedicate this week’s newsletter to an exceptional selection of your recommendations, as well as a few picks from our culture editors. War epics, period antics, supernatural chillers: there are some great suggestions here that really should come up any second – but even if they don’t, our list should hopefully -the, serve as a useful guide for interesting new reading.
I would like to see a film version of Ponzi scheme: the real story of a financier Legend by Mitchell Zuckoff. It tells the story of Charles Ponzi, who arrived in the United States as a penniless Italian immigrant in the 1920s, and then invented the Ponzi scheme, becoming the toast of greedy high society for his turn. . It would be a great “charming sociopath” role for an actor like Jason Sudeikis. – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian film critic
Maggie Shipstead’s enormous and magnificent novel great circle – about the life of an aviator and the Hollywood star who plays her in a biopic – was my favorite book of the last year. It’s part western, part war epic, part adventure story, part Hollywood satire, and so much more. It would take a mega-budget to do it justice, but if they can make something as weird and wonderful as Station Eleven into a TV series, then there’s no reason it can’t be done. – Rebecca Nicholson, Guardian TV screenwriter
A bit of a niche choice, but I absolutely loved the book Looks like the Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto-Hindman, who was part of a fake orchestra that fooled audiences across America with their overly perfect recitals, which were actually a CD recording. I think this “classic Milli Vanilli” story could be an amazing mini-series – and Maude Apatow looks a bit like Jessica when you think about it… – Hannah J Davies, Associate Editor, Newsletters
The banking work developed at the heart of The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray means it’s already a book with a built-in cinematic feel. Add to that the physical comedy of the thieves completely botching it, and you’ve got the kind of goofy criminal hugs just begging to air on Sunday night prime time. – Alexi Duggins, deputy television editor and editor of the Hear Here newsletter
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer is a moving and complex book that combines history and magical realism. It tackles slavery in a lively way, and would lend itself perfectly to the screen. – Nimo Omer, Deputy Editor, First Edition Newsletter
We’ve never had a definitive Kurt Cobain biopic – all the more infuriating considering the source material is already here. heavier than the sky, the famous biography of Charles R Cross, vividly charts the Nirvana frontman’s progression from shy child to reluctant rock god. Anton Corbijn, director of the band’s iconic Heart Shaped Box video and Ian Curtis biopic Control would be the perfect choice to direct. – Alex Mistlin, Culture Editor, Guardian Saturday
The wide, the first by Caleb Azumah Nelson, is one of the best books I have read in the past two years. The Anglo-Ghanaian novelist is both a photographer and a writer, so it’s no surprise that the slim volume already has a cinematic flair, bringing to life the hazy London summer in which it’s set. The slow-moving love story between two young black artists is just begging to become an award-winning independent film – someone please snatch the rights?! – Lucy Knight, Books Editor
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Elman. A thousand pages made up of just eight sentences: this is truly the Mission: Impossible of screen adaptations, a winding narrative so incredibly dense it would take more episodes than Grey’s Anatomy to even scratch the surface. – Ammar Kalia, guardian of culture writer
Joe Abercrombie First law the books are just waiting to be adapted for television. Grittier and much, much funnier than Game Of Thrones, it eschews dragons and only hints at magic, preferring instead to focus on character and, you know, cohesive plots and themes. Sandy Nelson
I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The shadow of the wind and its subsequent sequels and prequels. I’m convinced they would make wonderfully rich epics, but if I’m not mistaken the author, who is since deceased, made it clear that he never intended this to happen, which I can to understand. But stay… Simon Marczycha
anything by Georgette Heyer! I love costume dramas and his Regency romances are beautiful, witty and so enjoyable. Bernadette Stott
I always thought that a series based on the life of the novelist Frances Burney could be awesome. She wrote a bestselling novel at 26 and became a celebrity. she served for five years in the court of King George III as mistress of wardrobe to his queen, living in Windsor, and her journals describe her psychotic episodes first hand; she was a member of the London bluestockings and a favorite of Dr. Samuel Johnson; she had a mastectomy without anesthesia for cancer or an abscess; she married a dashing French émigré general after the French Revolution; she was living in Paris when Napoleon returned from Elba, fleeing the city to portray the Battle of Waterloo. Her father was a famous musician and music historian, she heard and met the great singers and musicians of the time. What more ? Donna Bergen
I’ve always wanted to see a version of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon turned into a TV series – it seemed ripe for the Coen brothers to do so, maybe there’s been a bit too many counterfactual shows lately – The Plot Against America for one but I still think it would make a great show. Derek O’Neill
The secret story by Donna Tartt. I loved this book when I was an impressionable college student. I think a film adaptation was mooted in the 90s but it would be perfect for a television adaptation, maybe in six parts on Apple or HBO. It has 80s/90s nostalgic vibes, which are all the rage, and a classic “outsider” trying to fit in with the cool kids story that jumps back and forth. I imagine if it was on Netflix it would turn into a parody of Cruel Intentions, or just a boring slog if it was on Amazon. Tupon Bhowmik
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver – all of her books are fabulous but this is her best, IMHO. It’s probably too long to make a really good movie, but it would be a great epic. Valerie Mitchell
The book I would like to see adapted is A little life by Hanya Yanagihara. I think it screams film adaptation given that it’s so intertwined by the weird but endearing mix of characters and the friendship between them. It is an incredibly powerful and moving study of sexual abuse, as well as the pernicious suffering the act causes and the difficult road to recovery. Jason Wasiak
I only thought yesterday that Matt Wesolowski Six stories a book series about a podcaster revisiting old crime mystery would be fantastic as a TV series. Each book is told from six different points of view – six people involved in the crime in question. Each story has a supernatural bent (possession, changelings, haunted woods, cult-style murders) and they can be downright terrifying, but they’re still very clever and satisfying. Rachel Lowe
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