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Culture

The 10 Book Adaptations We Can't Wait To Watch In 2020

By Paula Gallagher·· 9 min read
The 10 Book Adaptations We Can't Wait To Watch In 2020
Warner Bros.

The only way to know if the book is better than the movie is to read the book first!

1. Dune, by Frank Herbert

Dune was the first real sci-fi book I read, and it was a rewarding experience. So I’m super pumped for the movie!

The publisher's description sums up this award-winning, epic tale well: "Science fiction’s supreme masterpiece, Dune will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, it is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who will become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. Paul’s noble family is named stewards of Arrakis, whose sands are the only source of a powerful drug called “the spice.” After his family is brought down in a traitorous plot, Paul must go undercover to seek revenge, and to bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. 

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction."

You can buy the book here.

Expected to be in theaters December 18, 2020, the film stars Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and Rebecca Ferguson. Its long list of famous cast members also includes Jason Mamoa, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgård.

2. Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie.

This was the first Agatha Christie book I ever read and the one responsible for my addiction to Hercule Poirot. Death on the Nile follows the love triangle of poor Simon Doyle, heiress Linnet Ridgeway, and passionate Jacqueline de Bellefort as they play out the dangers of obsessive love in the exotic setting of Egypt. An impressively intricate plot, plus an array of colorful minor characters each with their own secrets, makes for one of Christie’s most memorable mysteries.

You can buy the book here.

Coming to theaters October 23, 2020, this classic story sees the return of Kenneth Branagh as the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Emma Mackey, and Letitia Wright also star.

3. Enola Holmes, a mystery series by Nancy Springer

I love Sherlock Holmes, and not the least for being perpetually great source material (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s Sherlock, anyone?). The new Netflix film is based on a young adult book series by Nancy Springer.

Book 1 looks like it supplies the material for the new film: "When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits. Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers — all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Amid all the mayhem, will Enola be able to decode the necessary clues and find her mother?"

You can buy the book here

Coming to Netflix on September 23, 2020, this Sherlockian spinoff stars Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, and Helena Bonham Carter. 

4. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier

This 1938 Gothic psychological thriller was first adapted for the screen by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940. If you liked Jane Eyre but want something a little more intense, give Rebecca a read. The publisher's description sounds promising:

"Last Night I Dreamt I went to Manderley Again..." With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. 

For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten — a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife — the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.

You can buy the book here.

Coming to Netflix on October 21, 2020, Rebecca stars Lily James and Armie Hammer.

5. The Pale Horse, by Agatha Christie

This is the creepiest Agatha Christie story I've ever read (and I've read almost all of them). In fact, I’ve only read it once because it spooked me for good. No need to reread for me!

So you can read the publisher’s description: "In this classic mystery, an elderly priest is murdered, quite possibly doomed by a woman’s deathbed confession and by the secrets kept safely locked behind closed doors of a mysterious local pub. 

When an elderly priest is murdered, the killer searches the victim so roughly that his already ragged cassock is torn in the process. What was the killer looking for? And what had a dying woman confided to the priest on her deathbed only hours earlier?

Mark Easterbrook and his sidekick Ginger Corrigan are determined to find out. Maybe the three women who run The Pale Horse public house, and who are rumored to practice the “Dark Arts,” can provide some answers?" 

You can buy the book here.

Available now on Amazon Prime, this two-episode rendition stars Rufus Sewell and Kaya Scodelario.

6. The Witches, by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s books are a childhood staple. Many have already been made into films, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and The BFG to name just a few. Now it’s time for The Witches to get its modern-day film rendition. 

The 1983 book tells the story of an orphaned boy who moves to England with his Norwegian grandmother. This grandmother tells him all about the real-life witches who hate children and want to rid the world of them. While on vacation at a resort, the boy accidentally ends up eavesdropping on a convention of witches where he overhears their secret plans to turn all children into mice. Unfortunately, he is discovered and turned into a mouse. However, his small size eventually leads to his being able to slip the witches a potion, turning them all into mice. The boy spends the remainder of his days as a mouse being lovingly cared for by his grandmother, and together they hunt witches around the world.

You can buy the book here.

Originally planned for an October 2020 release, COVID has pushed this film back to sometime in 2021. The movie stars Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, and Stanley Tucci.

7. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles

The back of the book has me sold on this heartwarming tale:

"In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. 

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. Army, the 10-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land."

You can buy the book here

Starring Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel, the movie is expected to be in theaters Christmas 2020.

8. Cruella, inspired by 101 Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith

Cruella is a live-action prequel to Disney’s animated 101 Dalmatians from 1996. The new movie will tell the origin story of Cruella de Vil, the villain in 101 Dalmatians

As a kid growing up, I never knew the animated movie was based on a book. And judging from the publisher’s description, Disney didn’t veer far: "When the Dearly's Dalmatians, Pongo and Missis, have their first litter of pups — 15 in all — everyone is delighted. But their joy is shortlived, for the pups are kidnapped! Scotland Yard is baffled, but the keenest canine minds are on the case — and on the trail of Cruella de Vil, the most fiendish person to ever covet a fur coat."

You can buy the book here.

Expected to be in theaters May 28, 2021, Cruella stars Emma Stone, Mark Strong, and Paul Walter Hauser. 

9. Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi

Pinocchio is one of those Disney movies you look back on as an adult and wonder who thought it was a good idea to make it for kids. But it might be better to read the original story as an adult.

In the 1883 book, the old wood-carver Geppetto decides to make a wonderful puppet that can dance and turn somersaults, but by chance, he chooses an unusual piece of wood — and the finished puppet talks and misbehaves like the liveliest child. But Pinocchio is brave and inquisitive as well as naughty, and after some hair-raising adventures, he earns his heart's desire. (Or so the back of the book promises.)

You can buy the book here

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, this animated retelling is expected to be darker than the 1940s Disney movie. Some big names attached to this film are Cate Blanchett, Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, and David Bradley. It’s expected to hit theaters sometime in 2021.

10. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

Fans of this book have been waiting years for the movie to reach completion and hit theaters.

Set in World War II, The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who each embark on their own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France. 

When a German captain requisitions Vianne Mauriac's home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne's younger sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious 18-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others. (Publisher’s description)

You can buy the book here.

The movie will star real-life sisters, Dakota and Elle Fanning. You can see the movie in theaters on December 22, 2021. 

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