Books to Read in 2019 Before They Hit the Big/Little Screen

Featured image for 2019 Book Adaptations article

There comes an exciting time in every reader’s life when one of their favorite books gets turned into another medium, like a TV show or a movie (or comic book, or play, or podcast … you know what I mean). When the adaptation is good, you get the indescribable joy of seeing your favorite characters and storylines brought to life. Think of the Harry Potter franchise, for example, before Fantastic Beasts. And when the adaptation is bad, you get the righteous fandom rage as seen by readers who hated the Percy Jackson film series, a justifiably angry group that even includes the author of the books himself.

Regardless of the final product, the months leading up to the premiere of a book adaptation is a wonderful period of anticipation for longtime fans. And for new readers, this period can also be the perfect time to catch up on all the books being adapted. Luckily, Bookmarked has the scoop on the best books to check out this year before they hit the big and little screens near you.

Cover for Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

The story: In this 2012 dramedy, Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence, creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

The adaptation: This movie comes out on March 22, and Cate Blanchett stars as the titular Bernadette in all her regal, mysterious glory. Check out the official trailer here if you want to see how well Blanchett pulls off the brunette suburban mom look (and spoiler alert, she does it well).

Time to Read: You only have about three weeks; talk about a quick turnaround. Hit up the bookstore ASAP for this one!

Cover for Pet Semetary

Pet Semetary by Stephen King

The story: When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Despite Ludlow’s tranquillity, an undercurrent of danger exists. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing, as is evidenced by the makeshift graveyard in the nearby woods where generations of children have buried their beloved pets.

Then there are the warnings to Louis, both real and from the depths of his nightmares, that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard where another burial ground lures with seductive promises and ungodly temptations. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there, one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful.

As Louis is about to discover for himself sometimes, dead is better…

The adaptation: The 2019 adaptation is the second time this horrifying tale of the animalistic undead has graced the big screen. The first film adaptation came in 1989, and then the directors even tried to create a franchise out of it with the release of an ill-advised sequel in 1992. Thankfully, the second film adaptation looks like it will bring glory back to this classic King tale on April 5.

Time to Read: If your school didn’t make you read Pet Sematary already, fear not. You have about a month to get acquainted with these creepy critters. And if you’ve already read the novel, a month is also just enough time to reread it! So everyone wins.

Cover for The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The story: In this 2006 young adult novel, there are three key protagonists:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The adaptation: I can’t believe we’re getting a Riverdale/Grown-ish crossover special in 2019! In the official trailer for this adaptation, Charles Melton and Yara Shahidi’s worlds collide just as everything else in their lives is falling apart. And if you think this love story won’t bring you to tears just as much as it will melt your heart, you’re in for a wild ride on May 17.

Time to Read: You have just over two months for this one, so mark it down at the top of your summer reading list!

Good Omens book cover

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

The story: According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except, a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…

The adaptation: Two literary giants tackled the apocalypse together, and the result was one of the most incredible—and hilarious—novels of 1990. Amazon has been hyping this limited series up since last year’s San Diego Comic Con, where a teaser trailer proved that the May 31 adaptation will be as nutty and epic as the novel deserves.

Time to Read: You have a solid three months to sink your teeth into this one. Thank God for small miracles!

Cover for Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The story: Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius-and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories; these fairies are armed and dangerous. Artemis thinks he has them right where he wants them, but then they stop playing by the rules.

The adaptation: The coolest kid series this side of Ender’s Game is finally leaping off the page and onto the big screen! A little late considering it’s been nearly two decades since the first installment of this series was published, but I suppose I can’t be too bitter about it. After all, Kenneth Branagh is directing this adaptation, and the official trailer alone is an absolute delight for the kid in all of us. And speaking of kids, a new generation will finally get the chance to experience this adventure for the first time on August 9, which is the most exciting part of this long wait.

Time to Read: You have all summer to catch up on the first book in the series. Actually, why not read the whole series while you’re at it? You won’t be disappointed.

Cover for the Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The story: Theo Decker was 13 years old when his mother was killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Previously abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antique store where he works. He is alienated and in love, and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. A circle that seems somehow connected to one tangible piece of hope from that terrible day in the museum that Theo keeps in his pocket, a painting of a tiny bird chained to its perch: the titular Goldfinch.

The adaptation: This lush bildungsroman was born in 2013, and personally I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Blame the magic that is Donna Tartt’s lyrical writing style, as well as the recent news that Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort will lead this movie along with the likes of Nicole Kidman and Sarah Paulson. October 11 can’t get here soon enough!

Time to Read: You’ll have all spring and summer to enjoy this story, and trust me when I say you’re gonna need it. While totally brilliant, this book is incredibly long.

Paige Allen

Paige Allen

Adult-in-training by day, queer geek of color by night.