Great books adapted into great films - win a Silver Travel goody bag!

Date published: 22 Apr 20

38 people found this feature helpful

Silver Travel Book Club

Win a Silver Travel goody bag by letting us know about your own thoughts on book-to-film adaptations. More information below.

How are you coping with the current unprecedented and distressing times? Your own health, and that of family and friends, is obviously of paramount importance, but we also have to deal with self-isolation and social distancing. And not being able to travel!

We’ve already seen some interesting and useful articles from the Silver Travel Advisor team:

The team coping with isolation
Travel the World on Lockdown
Journeys in the Mind
Thoughts of a Lockdown
Welcome to Your Hotel at Home

TripFictionAnd of course you can always carry on travelling through the pages of a book. Our Silver Travel Book Club partner TripFiction exists to let you find books - novels, memoirs and travelogues - with a strong sense of place, allowing you to explore a destination through an author’s eyes. 

And building on an original article from TripFiction, the Silver Travel Advisor Team thought we’d share with you a few great films that have been successfully adapted from books. We hope these provide you with some opportunities to travel vicariously during lockdown, whether through page or screen.

Empire of the Sun by JG BallardEmpire of the Sun

Set in Shanghai
Book by J. G. Ballard
Film released in 1987

The classic, heart-rending story of a British boy’s four-year ordeal in a Japanese prison camp during the Second World War.

Based on J. G. Ballard’s own childhood, this is the extraordinary account of a boy’s life in Japanese-occupied wartime Shanghai – a mesmerising, hypnotically compelling novel of war, of starvation and survival, of internment camps and death marches. It blends searing honesty with an almost hallucinatory vision of a world thrown utterly out of joint.

Rooted as it is in the author’s own disturbing experience of war in our time, it is one of a handful of novels by which the twentieth century will be not only be remembered but judged.

Nominated for 6 Oscars. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Christian Bale, John Malkovich & Miranda Richardson.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Wendy Wu Tours for travel to Shanghai.

Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto ‘Che’ GuevaraThe Motorcycle Diaries

Set in South America
Book by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara
Film released in 2004

In January 1952, two young men from Buenos Aires set out to explore South America on a 500cc Norton. One of them was the twenty-three-year-old Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

Written eight years before the Cuban Revolution, these are the diaries of Che Guevara, full of disasters and discoveries, high drama and laddish improvisations. Touring through Argentina, Chile, Peru and Venezuela, his greatest concerns are where the next drink is coming from, where the next bed is to be found and who might be around to share it.

Within a decade Che Guevara would be a household name. His trip might have been the adventure of a lifetime – had his lifetime not turned into a much greater adventure.

Won 1 Oscar. Directed by Walter Salles. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal & Rodrigo de la Serna.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Sunvil and Jules Verne for travel to South America.

The Shipping News by Annie ProulxThe Shipping News

Set in Newfoundland
Book by Annie Proulx
Film released in 2001

Annie Proulx’s highly acclaimed, international bestseller and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Quoyle is a hapless, hopeless hack journalist living and working in New York. When his no-good wife is killed in a spectacular road accident, Quoyle heads for the land of his forefathers the remotest corner of far-flung Newfoundland. With ‘the aunt’ and his delinquent daughters – Bunny and Sunshine – in tow, Quoyle finds himself part of an unfolding, exhilarating Atlantic drama.

‘The Shipping News’ is an irresistible comedy of human life and possibility.

Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Starring Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore & Judy Dench.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Canadian Sky for travel to Newfoundland.

Atonement by Ian McEwanAtonement

Set in England and Dunkirk
Book by Ian McEwan
Film released in 2007

On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her too is Robbie Turner who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.

By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever, as Briony commits a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.

Won 1 Oscar. Directed by Joe Wright. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Keira Knightley & James McAvoy.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Shearings Battlefield Tours for travel in the UK and France.

High Fidelity by Nick HornbyHigh Fidelity

Set in London (book) and Chicago (film)
Book by Nick Hornby
Film released in 2000

Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups? Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn’t on it – even though she’s just become his latest ex. He’s got his life back, you see. He can just do what he wants when he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up the girls that are on his list, and generally behave as if Laura never mattered.

But Rob finds he can’t move on. He’s stuck in a really deep groove – and it’s called Laura. Soon, he’s asking himself some big questions: about love, about life – and about why we choose to share ours with the people we do.

Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Directed by Stephen Frears. Starring John Cusack, Jack Black & Iben Hjejle.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Frontier America for travel to the USA.

The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner

Set in Afghanistan and USA
Book by Khaled Hosseini
Film released in 2007

The Kite Runner of Khaled Hosseini’s deeply moving fiction debut is an illiterate Afghan boy with an uncanny instinct for predicting exactly where a downed kite will land. Growing up in the city of Kabul in the early 1970s, Hassan was narrator Amir’s closest friend even though the loyal 11-year-old with “a face like a Chinese doll” was the son of Amir’s father’s servant and a member of Afghanistan’s despised Hazara minority. But in 1975, on the day of Kabul’s annual kite-fighting tournament, something unspeakable happened between the two boys.

Narrated by Amir, a 40-year-old novelist living in California, The Kite Runner tells the gripping story of a boyhood friendship destroyed by jealousy, fear, and the kind of ruthless evil that transcends mere politics. Running parallel to this personal narrative of loss and redemption is the story of modern Afghanistan and of Amir’s equally guilt-ridden relationship with the war-torn city of his birth. The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner begins in the final days of King Zahir Shah’s 40-year reign and traces the country’s fall from a secluded oasis to a tank-strewn battlefield controlled by the Russians and then the trigger-happy Taliban. When Amir returns to Kabul to rescue Hassan’s orphaned child, the personal and the political get tangled together in a plot that is as suspenseful as it is taut with feeling.

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Khalid Abdalla, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada & Atossa Leoni.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Frontier America for travel to the USA.

Win a Silver Travel goody bag

Do you agree that these memorable books were adapted into equally compelling films? Which books have you enjoyed reading and which were subsequently adapted successfully on to the big screen? We’d love to hear from you. Please just leave a comment below, and the best entry will win a Silver Travel bag packed with treats!

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Other Members' Thoughts - 24 Comment(s)

  • SilverTravelEditor
    8 days ago
    Thanks, everyone, for sharing your favourite book-to-film adaptations.

    @Upstart - thanks, I love your Tale of Two Cities experience. Isn't it interesting how often one medium enhances our understanding and enjoyment of another?
    While we're still deprived of visits to the Big Screen, I - along with 30 million other BBC3 streamers - have become addicted to the small screen adaptation of Sally Rooney's 'Normal People'. And now along comes another riveting adaptation - this time, of 'Little Fires Everywhere', a book by Celeste Ng that I really enjoyed a couple of years ago. Produced by and starring Reese Witherspoon, and set in the sterile neighbourhood of Shaker Heights in Cleveland, Ohio. Until a couple of new arrivals really shake things up....
    But for now, please keep those favourite book-to-film ideas coming, to be in with a chance of winning a fab Silver Travel goody bag. Until 31st May!
  • Upstart
    9 days ago
    A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens was my school set book. Reading it was like wading through treacle. It was depressing, the sentences too long, and there were so many confusing characters.
    Halfway through term we had a rare treat: a film show. What was it to be? ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ Oh no!
    The film was a revelation. A dark and tragic story brought vividly to life. The violence and cruelty of the French Revolution was terrifying. When Dirk Bogarde, on the way to the guillotine, said the final words ‘It is a far, far better thing I do….’ I thought my heart would break.
    I re-read the book from the beginning, imagining the story being read to me by Dickens himself. I was hooked, a Dickens groupie. I’ve read his novels and watched films and TV adaptations with pleasure ever since.
    Literary Editor, I too inherited a full set of Dickens from my parents. They looked seriously daunting and I never plucked up courage to open any of them (neither did my parents, I suspect!).
  • susan_13
    15 days ago
    Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Both read in early college days, seen all the films but viewed Return of the King in Wellington Embassy theatre New Zealand( original cinema of the premier trilogy) was the best experience. As well as seeing the film we also visited many location sights and of course Hobbiton. I wonder what Tolkein would have made of that!
  • Ruth
    15 days ago
    Tom's Midnight Garden was a childhood favourite book adapted into a great film for children to enjoy. Also Goodnight Mr Tom. These would be great to watch with your grandchildren and discuss the differences between today's children's experiences and those from times past. Obviously after lockdown has ended and you can watch them together.
  • Dennis-Alexander
    18 days ago
    Barnaby Rudge is a Dickens novel that seldom is noticed. Apparently, it was his first but was delayed in being published. The subject matter is a little controversial. If you read it, you will need to take notes to keep track of the characters. I don't think it has ever been made into a film, but uf it was, it would probably run to several sequels to get the whole story told. I add this comment in case the editor has missed this one.
  • SilverTravelEditor
    18 days ago
    Thanks for all these interesting comments about favourite book-to-film adaptations.

    @ladyoflarkspur - thanks for the follow-up on your favourite screen version of Mutiny on The Bounty, and also for the astute observations on 1984, and its relevance today. I wonder how much 'Big Brotherness' we'll be comfortable with in an effort to beat this pandemic...?

    @Dennis-Alexander - I'm sure a lot of people have turned to their bookshelves for some classic old reads during lockdown. I inherited a full set of Dickens works from my parents. I'm tempted to get stuck into some of those....if only the print size wasn't so challenging for my fading, ageing eyes! But who can forget that brilliant 1968 screen version of 'Oliver' with Ron Moody as Fagin, Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes and angelic Mark Lester as young Oliver Twist?

    Please keep those favourite page-to-screen adaptations coming, to be in with a chance of winning a priceless Silver Travel goody bag.
  • SuzCG
    21 days ago
    My all time favourite - The Wizard of Oz!
  • ladyoflarkspur
    24 days ago
    The person that commented on "1984" as their favorite book and movie....I agree.What a book/movie!

    I am an English/Reading teacher and I assign that book once a year. It is astounding to me the parallels between that book and the lives we are living right now. The themes really dovetail into the current reality of our lives: poverty vs. wealth, the use of technology for invasive surveillance, to spread propaganda (and create and maintain the fear) , the destruction of our civil liberties, etc.

    In the book, there is descriptions of Big Brother's systematic attempts to destroy all previous books, stories, etc. but the movie doesn't really focus on that. I find that an important theme too.
  • Dinah
    24 days ago
    My favourite books that have been made into films are The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling. My granddaughter introduced me to these fabulous books and i love them and the films
  • JennieSilver
    25 days ago
    We love that play Dennis-Alexander! About 40 years I played Prof Higgins (at my all girls school) and loved every minute of it. Some outstanding lines and speeches. I'm off to look out the photos. I remember having my hair pinned up and trying to keep a top hat on with a hair net under it. What fun.
  • Dennis-Alexander
    25 days ago
    It must be Lockdownitis. I've started to read a lot of my old books. From the last century. I have just finished reading the play written by George Bernard Shaw-Pygmalion. It's amazing how short it is. If you fancy trying this often used story, then be sure to get the full annotated one published by Penguin. It has an epilogue where Shaw says what would happen to Eliza after the play ends. It also gives some educational stuff on phonetics. It surprising there is room for the story. Shaw had to fiddle with the ending by public demand. Can't imagine many authors doing that today. It was first published in 1924, so if you enjoy historical books, it certainly qualifies. As for film interpretation, they have been reasonable, whether musical or theatrical. They do not provide the same intense involvement in the story. Try reading some of the parts out loud!
  • you
    28 days ago
    My favourite book / film....1984. George Orwell [also Animal Farm ]... I wonder what his comments would be if he were around now......
  • Ozdevon
    28 days ago
    Holding the Man by Tommy Murphy. A thought provoking Australian book & 2016 movie about the Aids crisis.
  • ladyoflarkspur
    29 days ago
    What is my favorite version of The Mutiny on the Bounty? Probably the 1984 version, directed by Roger Donaldson and starring Anthony Hopkins as Bligh, and Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian. I like it best for several reasons: 1) it's visually beautiful. The cinematography was outstanding with gorgeous views of the ocean, island life, and even yes, 1700s Britain. 2) The acting was spot on; Hopkins portrayed Bligh perfectly. Over time, many historians and researchers have come to believe that Bligh was not the evil captain he was portrayed to be. In fact, he may have been (by the standards of the time), a reasonably good captain. He was actually not as brutal as many captains of the time were. He flogged less and gave other punishments for infractions, such as extra deck duty. An example of this is when 3 sailors deserted the ship, stole a small boat and sailed to a nearby island. When caught, Bligh did not hang them (as was common at the time); instead he flogged them and gave them extra duty. In some ways, he was much more compassionate and a better leader than he ever got credit for. And this is reflected in Hopkin's performance. Hopkin's Bligh is complicated. He's got high standards, he's utterly loyal to the British Crown, he's determined to reach his goal of delivering breadfruit to Jamaica. While Hopkin's Bligh is not needlessly cruel, he is a bit of a bully, criticizing and castigating his crew constantly. 3) The movie allowed the relationship between Fletcher Christian and his island lover to really develop into a love story. By the end of the movie, we fully understand why Fletcher is willing to sacrifice everything, and everyone, he's ever known, to stay with his lover. 4) I loved that the story is told in flashbacks, as Captain Bligh is giving testimony over the incident. As he gives testimony, you can see self-doubt and on his face that he starts to realize that he did play a role in the events, and perhaps inadvertently led to the mutiny through his bullying tactics.

    My only complaint about the movie is that it did not detail the amazing feat of survival as Bligh and his ragtag tiny crew spent over a month in an open, leaking boat, traveling over 3600 miles to West Timor. Bligh had to have been an outstanding sailor and leader of men to pull that off. But again, I don't know how a filmmaker could keep that part "engaging" to the viewer because so many days of open ocean would become boring.
  • SilverTravelEditor
    29 days ago
    Thanks everyone for the excellent feedback about your own favourite book-to-film adaptations. I guess a small benefit of the current terrible crisis is the extra time we've all had to read books, watch TV and films, and generally grant more time to some of life's little pleasures than might otherwise be the case during 'normal life'.

    @Modeballon - thanks for your wonderful South American story. I couldn't agree more that 'The Motorcycle Diaries' film portrays Che Guevara's early life so well, through the narrative but also through the visual evocation of those impoverished countries and people. And yes, how much his biochemist friend 'Mial' brings to the story! A delight from the opening scene to the last.

    @ladyoflarkspur - many thanks for your thoughtful comment, with those additional suggestions. I think there have been several film adaptations of 'The Mutiny on the Bounty'....which is your favourite? That has helped to remind me of another personal favourite (inspired by my old English teacher...what power you hold!) - 'The Caine Mutiny', written by Herman Wouk and adapted into a memorable film, starring Humphrey Bogart as the flawed Lieutenant Commander Queeg.

    @sallie - if we're extending book adaptations from large to small screen, thanks for mentioning 'The Thorn Birds', which caused quite a stir, I think? As is 'Normal People', a brilliant recent book from young Irish writer Sally Rooney, adapted into a TV series currently receiving rave reviews....and giving BBC3 a staggering 16.2 million streaming viewers in its first week on air. Has anyone read the book or been watching the TV adaptation?

    Please keep those fascinating page-to-screen thoughts coming - just let us have your thoughts on favourite screen adaptations of books, and the best entry will win a treat-filled Silver Travel bag. Now there's an incentive!
  • sallie
    29 days ago
    have seen most of these films and read two of them. pride and prejudice is still my favourite story. The best film is the black and white version.
    But, if you include television adaptations, The thorn birds was brilliant, one of those books I could not put down.
  • ladyoflarkspur
    29 days ago
    Ok, I did like those books very much. But there's two books that I am obsessed with and as a teacher, I assign them every year to my students. They are Frankenstein and The Mutiny on the Bounty. Both excellent books that have strong openings, developed characters, powerful narratives, descriptive scenes that place the reader in the moment, diverse characters that while flawed, still have much to offer as protagonists and we can learn from, and great endings. With both stories, I have students create maps, character studies, etc. and every single time I read both of them, I get something else from them! But in terms of movies, I believe that The Bounty pretty accurately reflects the story and gets most (not all) of the story factually and chronologically correct. Gosh, just typing this, I want to go back and read it again! :)
  • Modeballon
    30 days ago
    I have made my own journey through parts of South America as my very first independent travel adventure when I was 59. Visiting Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, using public transport of buses and occasional trains. I compiled a trip diary and photographic record on a website called The Galloping Grrandma for my family and friends to keep track of my travels. Later my daughter ( who lived in Bogota at the time) gave me the book The Motor Cycle Diaries because she thought I was brave trying this. I found when reading it that I had a similar motivation as "Che" Ernesto Guevara - I wanted to learn of the daily lives of the population, their trials and their joys, their hopes and their realities. He travelled and saw that a unity of people's aspirations, no matter the nation, no matter the origin, would give them their best chance of achievement. The trip that started out for him as a young man's need to identify himself became his quest to satisfy all South Americans' dreams. The book was concise and I was left wanting so much more, for him, for his dream and for his achievement of a future. The film provided that foe me. The additional "personalisation" of the man, his character and his motivation rounded out the legend that he became in life.In particular I admired the way his travel companion was shown to be full of zest for life, without being worn down by the cares as Che was. His memoir has been on my reading list for some time.
  • brimax
    about 1 month ago
    Surely the most successful books that were made into successful films were the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling ,perhaps because she was so heavily involved with the Film adaptions. My choice, however, would be Captain Corelli's Mandolin, A book I struggled with at first but became one of my favourites, I thoroughly enjoyed the film (I was in Cephalonia whilst it was being filmed) but found it missed the whole point of the book.
  • chrisvg3
    about 1 month ago
    Has to be " To Kill a Mockingbird". Great book made an excellent film
  • ClaireS
    about 1 month ago
    I am an avid book reader. I have well over 1,000 books.
    Sometimes films of books disappoint. One adaptation I think was done brilliantly was Misery, by Stephen King.
    I couldn't put the book down, it was so gripping and the film version was equally brilliant. With Kathy Bates as the maniac nurse. Brilliant.

    Also, any Agatha Christie works brilliantly. The way the productions recreate the clothes and scenery of the age is always brilliant.

    Lastly I love a Bond film. I have read most of the books. Like Agatha Christie they represent the time of writing. They are not often politically correct and the language is dated but they are still brilliant reads.
    I particularly love the different locations that the Bond movies are filmed in. Always make me to visit the destination, if I haven't done so already. And the last few have definitely show cased London brilliantly. Doing a lot for our tourism I am sure.
  • Helyn
    about 1 month ago
    The Princess Bride
    Best book and film - true love, fencing, pirates, giants, good and evil....
  • DRSask
    about 1 month ago
    The closest adaptation I've seen is Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby starring Mia Farrow. Not only was the dialogue word for word, the sets were meticulously as described in the book by Ira Levin.
  • Elgee
    about 1 month ago
    The Girl with the Pearl Earring was so close to the book - beautifully acted and shot. I hate when Directors change the story to make 'a happy ending'.