World Book Day: Top Book to Film Adaptations

As today is World Book Day, it’s a great chance for us to look at some of the best book adaptations made recently into films, as well as successful classics and what to watch out for in 2021!

Best Recent Book Adaptations

Hillbilly Elegy

J.D. Vance's 'Hillbilly Elegy' provides a window into the pain and anger of  Trump's America - Los Angeles Times
Image credit: Los Angeles Times

Based on the bestselling 2016 memoir by J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy is a captivating portrayal of a current Yale Law student who must return home to Ohio for a family emergency, risking his chances of his dream job in the city. The factual nature of this film, as we follow three generations of an Appalachian (residents who reside in the mountains of southern New York through to Alabama in the United States) family, produces an especially compelling and beautiful narrative exploring the modern American Dream. Featuring Amy Adams (Enchanted and Leap Year), don’t expect a dry eye as you watch this inspiring true story.

Favourite quote from the book: “Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends, and family.” – J. D. Vance

The Devil All the Time

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Prepare for some shocking scenes as you delve into the dark secrets of a corrupt community in the psychological American thriller The Devil All the Time – based on Donald Ray Pollock’s novel. This film not only features the author himself as the narrator throughout, but also an array of impressive actors such as Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson and Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise in It). Set in post-World War II Southern Ohio and West Virginia, meet characters including a predatory preacher, a husband-and-wife serial killer team and a war veteran suffering with trauma. This is not one to be missed!

All time Classics

The Notebook

The Notebook 10th Anniversary: Bad Movie Ryan Gosling Rachel McAdams | Time
Image credit: Time Magazine

Do I even need to say anything else? In my opinion, The Notebook is still one of the best epic love stories ever produced. Released in 2004, the film is based on the 1996 novel by Nicholas Sparks. This American romantic drama features Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a young couple who fall passionately in love in the 1940s. Their story is told through an elderly man reading aloud from a faded notebook to a woman in a nursing home. Make sure you have a cosy blanket and a full pack of tissues, for this sentimental love story will have you in tears.

Fact: The Notebook is actually based on the true story of Sparks’ then wife Cathy Cotes’ grandparents who were together for over 60 years.


Image credit: Mental Floss

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo, this is the true story of a manhunt to find a serial killer operating in Northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It will have you tormented, just as the investigators were and still are by the killer’s ciphers and letters. This unsolved murder investigation thriller is based on the non-fiction book Zodiac by Robert Graysmith, a political cartoonist who became obsessed with the case and attempting to decipher the letters written by the killer. The perfect true crime adaptation.

Fact: A Police sketch of the suspected unidentified murderer and one of the coded letters written by the killer to the press which was finally deciphered in 2020. Read about it here.

Fight Club

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A film adaptation praised by the original writer, Chuck Palahniuk, himself, Fight Club is a must-see stylistic critique of our consumerist and modern society with Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter and Jared Leto. The unnamed narrator is a victim of capitalism, discontented with his job and makes an unexpected alliance with soap salesman Tyler Durden. They form a “fight club”, an alternative method of therapy for similarly thinking men who feel cheated by their mundane existence and want to let go of repressed rage. With Covid-19 giving us the time to take a closer look at how we’re living our lives, this is a great time to catch up with this classic critique of society.

Favourite quote from the film: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s**t we don’t need.”

The Hunger Games

Image credit: Daily Express

With a global pandemic stretching across the world, we can’t help feeling like we’re in somewhat a dystopian nightmare, with endless restrictions to our everyday lives so why not indulge in the totalitarian fictional town of Panem with the trilogy The Hunger Games. Based on the novels written by Suzanne Collins, this provocative piece will help assure you our lives aren’t as restricted as they could be! Watch out for the three-finger salute, a symbol for democracy and resistance adopted across South-East Asia in many protests including the recent Myanmar protests. Read more here.

Coming Soon

Take a look at the trailers for these upcoming films we can look forward to in 2021. If you like the look of any and can’t wait for the release date, why not give them a read first!

The Best of Enemies

Coming to Netflix this Friday – based on the book The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson – the true story of the rivalry between civil rights activist Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis looks to be a new activism and racial relations sensation.

The Mauritanian

With an impressive cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Jodie Foster, Shailene Woodley and Tahar Rahim, examine the American justice system as you watch Mohamedou Ould Salahi’s fight for freedom after being detained without charge for 14 years. Based on the memoir Guantánamo Diary.


A sci-fi adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, with an all-star cast such as Timothée Chalamet and Jason Momoa.  

So, if you are thinking of a way to celebrate World Book Day 2021, this is the perfect excuse to hit the books!

By Yasmin Turner

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