Over the last few years, some of our favourite movies and TV shows have been based on novels. From The Haunting of Hill House to Game of Thrones; Little Women to The Sun is Always a Star, there’s been no shortage of brilliant books making the leap to the screen.
And thanks to release schedules being changed around due to the pandemic, there’s going to be even more adaptations landing next year.
Here are 11 books to read before watching the movie or TV show adaptations in 2021.
1. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Lara Jean Song Covey and Peter Kavinsky are back in the third instalment of the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series.
Lara Jean’s determined to have the best senior year that a girl can have. Things between her and Peter are going great; her dad is getting remarried to their next door neighbour, Ms. Rothschild; and her sister Margot is coming in time for the wedding.
But change is starting to loom on the horizon and, while Lara Jean is keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, it’s impossible to ignore the big life decisions that are headed her way. Where is she going to go for college? And what does it all mean for her relationship with Peter?
It hasn’t been long since she watched her sister Margot face the same problems. And now Lara Jean’s the one who will be graduating, heading for college and leaving her family — and maybe even the boy she loves — behind.
Where to watch? The third instalment in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series is due to be released on Netflix next year — most likely around Valentine’s Day, similar to the previous film’s release.
2. Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
The origin story of John Clark, one of the recurring characters in the Jack Ryan universe, is headed for the screen next year — and so now’s the perfect time to dive right into the book.
Set during the Vietnam War, it introduces Clark as former Navy SEAL John Kelly. After going on a path of vengeance to try and solve his wife’s murder, he finds himself inside a much larger conspiracy.
Where to watch? The film’s release has been delayed a few times due to the Covid-19 pandemic — and it’s currently scheduled to be released in early 2021, most likely on Amazon Prime.
3. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
The period drama is guaranteed to be your next TV obsession when it lands on-screen next year — but in the meantime, you should definitely check out this classic.
Longing for love, obsessed with weddings and the mysteries of sex, Linda, her sisters and her cousin Fanny are on the hunt for the ideal lover.
But finding the perfect match is much harder than any of the sisters had ever dreamed. First, Linda is courted by a Tory MP — but then she becomes entangled with a handsome-but-humourless communist, before risking it all on a chance at the head-over-heels kind of love.
Where to watch? The BBC One drama, which is currently in production, stars Lily James and Andrew Scott. It is set to hit screens in 2021.
4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Fans of historical fiction will definitely want to read Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale before it arrives on the big screen next year.
Set in France in 1939 in the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France — but they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent.
When a German captain requisitions Vianne’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 sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can — head-over-heels, completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
Where to watch? The film stars real-life siblings Dakota and Elle Fanning, and it’s currently scheduled to be released in December 2021.
5. Gone for Good by Harlan Coben
If you loved Netflix’s The Stranger or The Woods, we’ve got some good news: there’s another Harlan Coben adaptation bound for the streaming service.
When he was a boy, Will Klein’s older brother, Ken, was his hero. But that changed one summer’s night when, in the Kleins’ wealthy neighbourhood, a young woman — someone who Will had once loved — was found brutally murdered in her family’s basement. And the prime suspect is Ken.
The evidence against him was incredibly overwhelming, leading Ken to simply vanish. And since they never heard from him again, the Kleins were sure he was gone for good.
More than a decade later, Will has found the proof that Ken is alive. But that’s only the first in a series of truths he was to face about his brother, as well as himself, as a violent mystery unravels around him.
Where to watch? No exact release date has been confirmed for the French original series; however it has been announced it will debut on Netflix next year.
6. The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz
Found in a Roman antique store at the turn of the millennium, The Reincarnationist Papers offers a glimpse into the Cognomina, a secret society of people who possess total recall of their past lives.
Evan Michaels struggles with being different, and with having the complete memories of two other people who lived sequentially before him. He fights loneliness and believes his ‘condition’ is unique until he meets Poppy. She understands his struggle — she’s got the same ‘condition’, except for the fact that she remembers back seven consecutive lives.
But there is something else she must share with Evan: she is a member of a secret society of others like them. In effect, they are near immortals —compiling experiences and skills over lifetimes into near superhuman abilities that they have used to drive history toward their own agenda on a longer timeline. Through Poppy, Evan is invited into the Cognomina but he must decide if he can face their tests before entering this new mysterious society as their equal.
Where to watch? The sci-fi thriller Infinite, which is based on Maikranz’s novel, stars Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O’Brien, Sophie Cookson, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film was originally meant to hit cinemas this summer, but was pushed to May 2021.
7. Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith
A psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the first page (and is sure to bring plenty of drama to the big screen).
Vic and Melinda Van Allen’s loveless marriage is only held together by a precarious arrangement. One where, to avoid the messiness of divorce, Melinda’s allowed to take any number of lovers — just as long as she doesn’t desert her family.
Eventually, Vic finds he can’t suppress his jealousy any longer. He tries to win Melinda back by asserting himself through a tall tale of murder — which then starts to come true…
Where to watch? The film — starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas — is currently scheduled to hit cinemas in August 2021.
8. The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
If you loved Me Before You and Head Full of Honey, we’ve got some good news: there’s another Jojo Moyes novel headed for the screen next year.
In 1960, Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital — and she can’t remember anything. Not the tragic accident that caused her to end up there, nor her husband. She can’t even remember who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life. That is, until she finds a passionate letter from someone asking her to leave her husband, signed ‘B’.
In 2003, a journalist named Ellie finds the same mysterious letter, lying forgotten in a pile in her newspaper’s archives. She becomes fascinated by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career.
She realises that maybe if these lovers had their happy ending, she might be able to find one to her own love life, too. Her search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.
Where to watch? The film — which stars Felicity Jones, Shailene Woodley, Callum Turner and Joe Alwyn — is set to arrive on Netflix next year.
9. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The first book in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy is bound for the big screen in the new year — so now’s the perfect time to get started on the series.
Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, he can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks.
And he’s just a month away from becoming a man. But in the middle of the chaos, he knows that the town is hiding something from him. It’s something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too.
With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she and why wasn’t she killed by the germ, just like all the females on New World?
Where to watch? The film adaptation, Chaos Walking, stars Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, Cynthia Erivo and David Oyelowo. It’s currently scheduled to be released in January 2021.
10. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
The next obsession for fans of Big Little Lies is (almost) here.
Nine Perfect Strangers follows nine Australians, all from different walks of life, as they attend an expensive 10-day ‘Mind and Body Total Transformation Retreat’ at a remote place called Tranquillum House.
Run by a mysterious Russian woman named Masha, it soon becomes clear that there’s more to the retreat than what meets the eye.
Where to watch? The Hulu series stars Nicole Kidman, Regina Hall, Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Samara Weaving and Manny Jacinto. It is expected to debut in 2021.
11. Cherry by Nico Walker
Loosely based on his own life, Walker’s Cherry has been adapted into a film that will be available in the next year. In the meantime, though, why not check out the novel?
A young man meets a woman named Emily, and the two of them share a passion for Ecstasy and Edward Albee — and quickly fall head-over-heels in love. But when Emily has to move home to Elba, New York, he flunks out of college and decides to join the Army. Keen to keep their relationship alive, they get married before he ships off to Iraq.
But as an Army medic, he isn’t prepared for the grim reality that awaits him. His fellow soldiers smoke; they huff computer duster; they take painkillers; they watch porn. And many of them die.
He and Emily try to make their long-distance marriage work. But when he returns from Iraq, his PTSD is profound, and the drugs on the street have changed. Soon, the two of them are hooked on heroin. They attempt a normal life, but with their money drying up, he turns to the one thing he thinks he could be really good at–robbing banks.
Where to watch? Apple TV+ acquired the film — which stars Tom Holland, Jack Raynor and Ciara Bravo — last month and it’s expected to debut on the streaming service in early 2021.
You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
Calling all fans of Netflix’s You: Joe Goldberg is back.
This time around, he’s done with cities, done with love and done with all of the posers. He’s ready to embrace a simpler life, moving to a cosy island in the Pacific Northwest where he’s just able to relax.
There, he gets a job at the local library. After all, he does know a thing or two about books. And that’s where he meets Mary Kay DiMarco. He’s determined not to meddle, or to obsess — he wants to win Mary Kay over the old fashioned way, providing a listening ear and a helping hand. That way, they’ll both heal and start their happily ever after together.
But there’s a problem. She’s got a life of her own already: she’s a mum, she’s a friend and she’s just…well, she’s busy. And true love can only work if they’re both willing to make room for it. Joe’s ready, and he’s hoping that with his support and encouragement, Mary Kay will make room for him.
Where to watch? Season three of You was initially paused because of the pandemic, but it’s due to resume filming this autumn. The show is expected to premiere on Netflix in 2021.
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