Share 7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

Leora Bernstein, when asked her favorite genres, tends to name all of them, but she’ll try to pare it down here. Currently, she’s on a psychological thriller kick, but she’s also been known to blast through memoirs, narrative non-fiction (particularly current events), dystopia/post-apocalyptic fiction, coming-of-age novels, and (of course) anything theater related. Her favorite kinds of books invoke the kind of conversation you only see after a particularly controversial episode of Sunday night must-see TV, with fantastic world-building and a political/philosophical undertone. She works in sales, as the National Accounts Manager for Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram Entertainment selling the adult list.

Netflix hit You, is my guilty pleasure show of the year. I will, without shame, admit that I binge-watched the entire season in less than a day and am now ravenous for more. But what people might not realize is that it’s based on a book, and that book is . . . well, very different. Not better or worse, but it’s definitely a different experience to read it (which I highly recommend you do—this book is vastly underrated).

Look, we know that all movies and TV shows take liberties, if only because there isn’t enough time (or there’s way, way too much time) to stay true to your favorite characters, but these shows and movies (and one play!) have left a lot on the cutting room floor.


The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The book inspired a million conversations on wealth disparity, and the most recent film adaptation. starring Leonardo DiCaprio, inspired a million parties with faux fur, cigarette holders, and bright-red lipstick (and I’d like to give a big WELCOME BACK to attractive Leo in a smashing 1920s tux, we are quite happy to see you again). But no matter which you pick, you’re in for a world filled with glitz, glamour, and a dead guy in a pool at the end (I’d say spoiler alert, but I feel like the statute of limitations has passed on GATSBY).

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some consider it “the great American novel.” The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his powerful love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan is an exquisitely crafted tale that has been essential reading since it was published.

Read the full review here.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

A Boozy Reading List: 5 Books as Classic Cocktails

By Maddie Ehrenreich | June 24, 2019

7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

By Leora Bernstein | May 22, 2019

8 Scandalous Books About Cons, Scammers, and Frauds

By Carrie Cabral | April 19, 2019

17 Amazing Books Featured in the “Fahrenheit 451” Movie

By Sarah Jane Abbott | July 19, 2018

Party Planning Tips from the Scenes of Your Favorite Novels

By Sarah Woodruff | July 2, 2018

The Mother-Load: 14 Books Our Moms Love and Recommend

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 8, 2018

Close

Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card

There was definitely a kid in both movies, and that kid was fighting aliens. But that’s about where the similarities ended. In the 2013 movie, featuring a pre–Sex Education Asa Butterfield, Ender was a 13-year-old battle master who, very quickly, figured out the rules and aced the tests to achieve maximum success and total popularity. In the book, he was more of a nerd who constantly got bullied until he accidentally proved himself. But the upside is, then he spends the rest of his life regretting that decision, so let’s hope that movie Ender is a little happier at the end of the day.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

By Leora Bernstein | May 22, 2019

Win or Lose, You’ll Love These 10 Books About Games

By Erin Madison | November 6, 2017

Close

Younger
by Pamela Redmond Satran

This book is just as fun as the TV Land show with Hillary Duff—maybe without as many of the generational spats, but with just as much of the steamy romance. It’s the rare instance when you can’t decide which is better—book or TV show—but YOUNGER is a blast no matter which format you choose. Sure, Liza isn’t exactly how she appears on the page, and there’s no strange Swedish author who takes his editor out for candy in the middle of the day, but Josh and Charles are spot on. And that’s all that really matters, right?

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Younger
Pamela Redmond Satran

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

By Leora Bernstein | May 22, 2019

Close

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

I’m referring to the stage-play adaptation, not the movie, but an adaptation is an adaptation, right? I saw the play—twice—because I am a giant Aaron Sorkin fan, and also because TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is the kind of classic that you want to see portrayed. You want to meet Atticus Finch and watch Scout grow up, rebelling every step of the way. And you still get that in the play. But you really . . . don’t get anything else. Boo Radley exists in name alone until the last ten minutes. But the trial is something special, and I personally think that, while it doesn’t really follow the plot, it stays true to the meaning of Harper Lee’s masterpiece. But it really doesn’t follow the plot. Like, at all.

Read the full review of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

Wendy’s Fictional Dinner Party Guest: Atticus Finch

Perhaps it’s a cliché to want to have dinner with Atticus Finch—lawyer, father, all-around good man. Atticus is known for his conscience, grace, compassion, and morality. I suspect that his words would be full of insight and wisdom, and challenge me to sit straighter in my chair.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Mister Rogers TBR: 10 Books You’d Find in the Neighborhood Today

By Carrie Cabral | November 18, 2019

William Kent Krueger Shares His 10 Favorite Coming-of-Age Tales

By William Kent Krueger | September 25, 2019

7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

By Leora Bernstein | May 22, 2019

9 Groundbreaking Women in Fiction

By Carrie Cabral | March 21, 2019

The Best Designer Classics for Your Bookshelf

By Julianna Haubner | November 5, 2018

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

Close

Mozart in the Jungle
by Blair Tindall

Bet you didn’t know this popular Amazon series (now in its fourth season!) was a book, huh? That’s because they took a memoir, plucked the main character out, and threw the rest out the window. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—the book, as good as it is, is a lot more about the technical ins and outs of making it as a career musician, and the TV show has a kind of gushing passion for art that the book doesn’t try to portray. But when you get to the third episode and you start realizing this is a lot more Amadeus than it is The Art of Violin, just know: the book is very different.

Read the full review of MOZART IN THE JUNGLE.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Mozart in the Jungle
Blair Tindall

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

By Leora Bernstein | May 22, 2019

Mozart in the Jungle: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music

By Leora Bernstein | August 3, 2015

Close

World War Z
by Max Brooks

Well . . . they both have zombies? The big difference is that the zombies are super slow in the book—there is one very funny part about how it’s easy to escape if you just speed walk for a couple minutes. But, honestly, the only thing World War Z kept when it became a big-budget Brad Pitt movie was the name. If you’re looking for the oral history of various citizens from all over the world recalling how they dealt with the zombie uprising, you’re gonna have to pick up the book. Then again, if you want to watch Brad Pitt commandeer a helicopter while CGI zombies chase after him (and a bonus shot of zombies scaling 35-foot-high walls), this movie is right up your alley.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

Under the Dome
by Stephen King

This tome is pretty classic Stephen King: strange circumstances in a world filled with quirky, ultrarealistic characters. And to that point, the show does a pretty good job of coloring within the lines. But the adaptation is so incredibly different that King himself wrote a letter to “the miffed fans.” He also says something in this letter that I think is really important when you talk about adaptations: “It’s best to think of that novel and what you’re seeing week-to-week . . . as a case of fraternal twins. Both started in the same creative womb, but you will be able to tell them apart. Or, if you’re of a sci-fi bent, think of them as alternate versions of the same reality.”

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Under the Dome
Stephen King

King's novel UNDER THE DOME was the basis of the 2013 television series. On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Tensions inside the dome rise as resources dwindle and power struggles arise. Can the residents of Chester's Mill band together to survive, or are they doomed to destroy one another?

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

By Leora Bernstein | May 22, 2019

14 Long Novels for Long Winter Nights

By Sarah Jane Abbott | February 19, 2018

9 Novels to Cure Your Post-Jurassic World Entertainment Slump

By Sarah Jane Abbott | July 23, 2015

17 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Stephen King Books

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 16, 2014

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create an Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.