8 Books That Should Be Made into Movies
Film adaptations of books are hit or miss: When they’re good, they’re so good, but when they’re bad, they’re really disappointing. But for as many times as we’ve been scorned (sorry, The Great Gatsby), we’re still optimistic. As such, we’re putting out into the universe the following eight titles that deserve the movie treatment. Your move, Hollywood.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One of the most influential works of 20th-century fiction, García Márquez’s epic novel takes place over a century and concerns multiple generations of the Buendía family in the fictional Macondo. Unfortunately for us, García Márquez, who died in 2014, refused to sell the film rights to the book, so we’ll just have to imagine how great Javier Bardem would’ve be in the role of the patriarch José Arcadio Buendía.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Another work of magical realism, Zafón’s 2001 novel would be the perfect mystery film. Set in Barcelona after the Spanish civil war, it’s a story within a story about a young boy who acquires a rare book, thereby unlocking a door into one of the city’s darkest secrets, complete with murder and forbidden love. We couldn’t put the book down, and imagining the same plotline against the visual background of post-war Spain has us salivating.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Eggers was in his early 20s when his parents died within a year of one another, leaving him to take care of his younger brother, Toph, as if he were his own child. This fictionalized account of being thrust into the role of parent at such a young age is a powerful story about resilience and brotherly love—so yes, we cried. A film adaptation (perhaps starring Michael Cera and Jacob Tremblay as Dave and Toph) sure seems like awards season bait to us.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Smith is known for writing characters so fully realized that you swear you know them, making her novels ripe for adaptation. Our pick would be On Beauty, her 2005 novel about two feuding professors and their families living in a fictional college town outside of Boston. The book tackles black identity, body image, infidelity and class politics, and is an absolute delight to read. As for casting, there are a lot of roles to fill, but our nonnegotiable would be Oprah in the role of Kiki Belsey.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Wallace’s sweeping 1996 novel concerns addiction, recovery, film theory, family relationships, advertising, tennis and Quebec separatism. Basically, it’s a lot, and we’d be lying if we said that part of us didn’t want to see it on screen because we never actually finished it for a better understanding.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
This Pulitzer Prize-winning 2002 novel is loosely based on Eugenides's childhood and Greek heritage. Unlike the author, though, the books’ narrator, Calliope (or Cal), is intersex. Telling the story of the Stephanides family over many generations would certainly be a vast undertaking. Still, we think this partial coming-of-age story, partial epic family saga would be as successful as Eugenides's other book-to-movie adaptation, the Sofia Coppola-directed Virgin Suicides.
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Before their daughter starts college, Franny and Jim bring her, their other adult son and a few assorted friends and significant others for a two-week vacation in Mallorca. As tends to happen, secrets come to light and relationships are tested. It’s family dysfunction at its most entertaining (and with just enough heart). On top of a stunning setting, Franny and Jim are characters we would love to see on the big screen, preferably played by Meryl Streep and Dennis Quaid, of course.
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
A thinly-veiled portrait of Laura Bush, Sittenfeld’s 2008 novel is about Alice Lindgren, a Wisconsin-born former teacher who finds herself unwittingly thrust into the spotlight when her husband is elected president. As total suckers for politically-themed entertainment (whether House of Cards or Veep), we would obviously love to see this juicy story—which might make you consider the Bush legacy in a different light—as a movie. As for who should play Lindgren? We think Connie Britton would be pretty darn perfect.