8 must-read books that will become movies in 2020
From Sally Rooney's 'Normal People' to the Timothée Chalamet-starring sci-fi 'Dune.'
From Sally Rooney’s beloved off-beat romance Normal People getting a miniseries on Hulu, to HBO’s star-studded interpretation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel Americanah, 2020 will be an exciting year for book-to-TV adaptations. Many of which will be available on our favorite streaming services. To prepare for the upcoming big and small screen debuts, we’re highlighting eight books that are, indeed, worthy of all the hype.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adapting this 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel has been years in the making. It follows the epic love story of two Nigerian teenagers, Ifemelu and Obinze, as they leave home to pursue an education in the west. While Ifemelu goes to America, Obinze ends up undocumented in London, and they’re forced to grapple with what it means to be black and alone for the first time in their lives. Adichie’s entrancing storytelling gives a voice to the Nigerian experience while tackling important questions of race, culture, and what it means to belong. HBO is adapting the novel into a 10-episode limited series starring Lupita Nyong'o and Uzo Aduba, set to premiere later this year.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
The BBC has already dropped a steamy trailer for its adaptation of Rooney’s 2019 bestseller, which follows the tumultuous relationship of Connell and Marianne as they navigate high school and then college in Ireland. You’ll want to read the novel for Rooney’s writing — dubbed a modern day Jane Austen by fans and critics alike, her style is quick-witted and explorative. The way she creates tension by what’s left unsaid is enormously frustrating and wildly addicting, and will have you rapturously flipping pages late into the night to find out what happens next. The limited TV series will consist of 12 half-hour episodes, and will premiere on Hulu this spring.
The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion
Didion’s intriguing 1996 suspense novel follows Elena McMahon, a woman who quits her job as a reporter covering the 1984 presidential election to care for her elderly father. In a shocking turn of events, she finds herself at the center of an international conspiracy as she inherits his position as an arms dealer for the US Government in Central America. The plot is intricate but fast-paced, and Didion’s classic style tells the vivid, timely story of what happens when powerful men lie and our world isn’t what we’ve always been told it was. The Netflix original film adaptation doesn’t have a release date yet, but it does star Anne Hathaway as Elena, plus Ben Affleck and Willem Dafoe in supporting roles.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
When enigmatic Mia Warren arrives in postcard-perfect Shaker Heights, Ohio, with her teenage daughter Pearl and rents a house from the neighboring Madeline Richardson, their families’ lives become irrevocably intertwined. Pearl is drawn to the Richardsons’ affluence, their appearance of perfection; meanwhile, all four Richardson children are drawn to Mia and Pearl. But Madeline suspects Mia is hiding something, and she’s determined to use all her resources to find out what it is. Told through alternating points-of-view and packed with surprises, Celeste Ng’s second novel is gripping, expansive, and impossible to put down. Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington teamed up to produce and star in this eight-episode adaptation for Hulu, set to premiere March 18.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Another HBO project set to air late 2020 is an adaptation of Mandel’s gorgeous 2015 novel about a troupe of actors dedicated to keeping art alive after a flu pandemic destroyed civilization as we know it. Part post-apocalyptic drama, part literary masterpiece, the story weaves through time and several different points-of-view to create a lush portrait of humanity laid bare, and it’s as addicting as it is compelling. You’ll be amazed by Mandel’s mastery of structure, but mostly, you’ll be sucked in by one of the most unique stories you’ll ever read.
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
If you liked Gone Girl, you’re going to love reading about Anna Fox, a former child psychologist and agoraphobic who has confined herself to her own home for almost a year. After witnessing something shocking through a neighbor’s window, she starts to question everything she knows, including her own sanity. The rights to this psychological thriller sparked a seven-figure bidding war among publishers and an instant movie deal from USA, and the hype did not disappoint. The film adaptation hits theaters May 15 and stars Amy Adams as Anna.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Fans of Game of Thrones should check out Herbert’s epic galaxy quest, which also happens to be one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time. On the desert planet Arrakis, water is so scarce that people have to wear suits to recycle their own moisture. The only thing of value there is a spice capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness, and it’s coveted across the entire universe. A young boy named Paul is the heir to a noble family tasked with ruling this planet, and when they’re betrayed, he sets out on a journey to restore order that puts him on a path toward his greater destiny. If that’s not enough to convince you, consider that the film adaptation, which is expected in theaters December 18th, will star The King Timothée Chalamet as Paul
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
In case you hadn’t heard, Moriarty, who also wrote the HBO-adapted novel Big Little Lies, wrote another addicting, off-beat thriller. This one tells the story of Masha, the director of a resort who’s currently operating a 10-day retreat for stressed-out city dwellers. The nine strangers in attendance are trying to convert to healthier lifestyles, and while Masha is attentive and caring, she has a surprise in store that none of the guests will see coming. Hulu is adapting the novel into a limited series expected at the end of the year, and it’s basically a Big Little Lies reunion. Nicole Kidman, who will executive produce and star as Masha, is once again teaming up with showrunner David E. Kelley and executive producer Bruna Papandrea.