32 Best Movies Based on Books 2019
Book lovers, be ready: Some of the biggest movies heading to the screen in 2019 will be literary adaptations, drawn from popular novels, classic works of non-fiction, and even online fanfiction. Start reading now to be prepared for when films like Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Little Women arrive in theaters.
A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron (January 11)
What’s it about? Cameron’s follow-up to A Dog’s Purpose, this family-friendly novel follows a cute pup named Bella who has to travel 400 miles to be reunited with her owner. Told from the perspective of the dog herself, this heart-wrenching tale has been popular with kids and adults alike. Expect the movie to be even more adorable.
Who’s going to be in it? Bryce Dallas Howard, Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos
If you like this, try: A Dog’s Purpose, Marley & Me, Old Yeller
The Rhythm Section by Mark Burnell (February 22)
What’s it about? This thriller follows a woman named Stephanie Patrick, who seeks revenge after she discovers that the plane crash that killed her family wasn’t an accident. In order to find out the truth she joins a covert spy operation and trains as an assassin. It’s not just about the action, though—Stephanie also rediscovers herself after the grief of losing her loved ones.
Who’s going to be in it? Blake Lively, Judd Law, Sterling K. Brown
If you like this, try: The Third Woman, Gemini, Red Sparrow
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (March 1)
What’s it about? The film adaptation, directed by Doug Liman, follows Patrick Ness’s YA story about a boy who abandons his home after learning a dark secret about its past. Set on an alien planet where inhabitants can hear each other’s thoughts, the fantastical story is action-packed and imaginative. It’s the first in a series, so if you like this one you can read more in the two subsequent books.
Who’s going to be in it? Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley
If you like this, try: The Ask and the Answer, The Next Together, A Monster Calls
The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook (March 19)
What’s it about? Set in Hamburg shortly after the end of World War II, The Aftermath follows Colonel Lewis Morgan and his wife Rachel as they are forced to share a house with a German widower and his daughter. Drama ensues, of course, and Rachel finds herself caught between the two men. It’s a work of historical fiction, but also a deeply compelling love story.
Who’s going to be in it? Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgärd, Jason Clarke
If you like this, try: A Gentleman in Moscow, After the Party, All the Light We Cannot See
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (March 22)
What’s it about? This comedic novel is narrated by 15-year-old Bee, whose mother, Bernadette Fox, goes missing right before a planned family trip to Antarctica. The novel is told through emails and memos, as well as Bee’s thoughts, so it will be interesting to see how the movie version, helmed by Richard Linklater, adapts the format. The story is ostensibly a mystery, although it’s also about family and connection.
Who’s going to be in it? Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, Billy Crudup, Judy Greer
If you like this, try: Little Fires Everywhere, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Leaving Time
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott (March 22)
What’s it about? Lippincott’s YA novel was adapted for the screen before even arriving in bookstores. Much like The Fault in Our Stars, the story follows a sick teen named Stella who is forced to remain six feet away from everything in order to prevent infections ahead of a lung transplant. Of course, she meets Will, another sick teen, and the pair fall in love, potentially putting Stella’s health at risk. Be ready for an emotional rollercoaster.
Who’s going to be in it? Cole Sprouse, Haley Lu Richardson, Claire Forlani
If you like this, try: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns
3 Seconds by Roslund & Hellström (March 22)
What’s it about? This crime novel, penned by Swedish duo Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström, has all the elements you’d expect of a Scandinavian noir thriller. The story switches between several characters, including a police detective, a criminal who has become a double agent, and a public prosecutor. It’s set in Stockholm, although the action shifts to Denmark and Poland. The film will be called The Informer, with the story moved to NYC and the characters changed up from the novel.
Who’s going to be in it? Rosamund Pike, Joel Kinnaman, Clive Owen
If you like this, try: Pen 33, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Bring Me Back
The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester (March 22)
What’s it about? Forester’s classic novel has previously been adapted for the screen, but this time it will arrive in the hands of Tom Hanks, who wrote and stars in a film version titled Greyhound. The book centers on U.S. Navy captain Commander Krause, who is caught in the events of World War II during the Battle of the Atlantic, grappling with insecurities and his past during the action at sea. It’s a great pick for history buffs.
Who’s going to be in it? Tom Hanks, Elisabeth Shue
If you like this, try: Catch-22, The Gun, Spitfire
The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud (March 29)
What’s it about? Be warned that this one is for horror buffs only. The terrifying story follows a man named Will, who finds a cell phone that begins to receive strange messages. He discovers horrific videos and images on the phone, and it all leads to a very grim conclusion. Ballingrud’s realistic style makes the effect all the more impactful.
Who’s going to be in it? Dakota Johnson, Armie Hammer, Zazie Beetz
If you like this, try: A House at the Bottom of a Lake, Hex, The Changeling
The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson (April 5)
What’s it about? This non-fiction work looks at Durham, North Carolina during the 1960s as race relations in the city become deeply strained. Davidson follows two people, one a white member of the KKK and one a black single mother, as they meet and deal with the town’s bigotry and power dynamics.
Who’s going to be in it? Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell
If you like this, try: Hidden Figures, Broken Heartland, Under Fire
Native Son by Richard Wright (April 6)
What’s it about? Bigger Thomas, a black man living in Chicago’s South Side in 1930s, becomes involved with a white woman’s death. Wright’s novel, released in 1940, tackles race and poverty and the systemic injustices of America during the era. It’s since become essential reading and the movie, which will premiere at Sundance, is likely to be just as impactful.
Who’s going to be in it? Nick Robinson, Ashton Sanders, KiKi Layne, Margaret Qualley
If you like this, try: Invisible Man, Their Eyes Were Watching God, If Beale Street Could Talk
Pet Sematary by Stephen King (April 5)
What’s it about? King’s horrifying novel about a cat that comes back to life with malicious intent was made into a film in 1989 and is getting a second adaptation now. The story focuses on Louis Creed and his family, who bury their recently deceased cat in an old pet cemetery after they move to Maine. When Louis’s son tragically dies, he is also buried in the haunted grounds—with malevolent results. Read this one with the lights on…
Who’s going to be in it? Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz
If you like this, try: Cujo, The Sun Dog, Little Girls
After by Anna Todd (April 12)
What’s it about? If you’re romance-ready, here’s one to look forward to. When Tessa arrives at college she meets a renegade named Hardin. Although Tessa has a boyfriend back home, she gets a little obsessed with Hardin. This is the first in a series of novels—the story began as One Direction fan fiction—so if you like the back and forth drama of this maybe couple you’ll be in for a long, emotional ride.
Who’s going to be in it? Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Selma Blair, Peter Gallagher
If you like this, try: After We Collided, After We Fell, The Distance Between Us
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (May 17)
What’s it about? Yoon is also the author of Everything, Everything, and this YA novel follows a similar storyline of a young couple whose romance may be doomed. It alternates between the perspectives of its two main characters, Natasha and Daniel, who fall in love in NYC right before Natasha’s family is set to be deported. The themes are poignant, especially in today’s political climate.
Who’s going to be in it? Charles Melton, Yara Shahidi, Gbenga Akinnagbe
If you like this, try: Turtles All the Way Down, Beautiful Broken Things, Holding Up the Universe
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (August 2)
What’s it about? This World War II novel about two sisters, each of whom finds a different way of surviving the war, is being adapted for the screen by Michelle MacLaren. Its 2018 release date has been pushed back, with no real news on the cast available, but the powerful, emotional tale is the sort you’ll want to read in one sitting, and it’s ideal for the big screen.
Who’s going to be in it? Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr
If you like this, try: The Great Alone, Firefly Lane, Oranges For Christmas
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (August 9)
What’s it about? The first of eight fantasy novels, Artemis Fowl has similar tones to Harry Potter, following a young boy who gets caught up in the magical world of fairies. In the first novel, Artemis, a criminal mastermind, is 12 and captures a fairy named Holly to restore his family’s wealth.
Who’s going to be in it? Judi Dench, Hong Chau, Ferdia Shaw, Josh Gad
If you like this, try: Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (August 9)
What’s it about? Based on the iconic book series, the film adaptation Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark follows a girl named Stella and her friends as they find a book of scary stories in a haunted house in their town. The catch: They soon realize the stories in the book are coming true.
Who’s going to be in it? Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush
If you like this, try: More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Scary Stories 3
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (August 9)
What’s it about? Told partially from the perspective of a very adorable dog, The Art of Racing in the Rain is about one special golden retriever who belongs to a race car driver (played by Milo Ventimiglia in the movie). The story follows the driver as he falls in love, starts a family, and eventually must confront illness and an intense legal battle. Did I mention it’s partially narrated by a very adorable dog?
Who’s going to be in it? Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Kevin Costner
If you like this, try: A Dog’s Purpose, Marley and Me
The Kitchen by Ollie Masters (August 9)
What’s it about? In The Kitchen, originally based off the comic book of the same name, three mob wives living in 1970s New York decide to take up criminal work in order to support themselves after their husbands are sent to prison.
Who’s going to be in it? Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss
If you like this, try: Snow Blind, Sons of Anarchy
The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion by Marcia and Thomas Mitchell (August 30)
What’s it about? This reported book about the trial of a British whistleblower has been turned into a film titled Official Secrets. It tells the story of Katharine Gun, who leaked information to the media about an illegal operation that was meant to influence the start of the Iraq war.
Who’s going to be in it? Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode
If you like this, try: Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, D-Day Girls
It by Stephen King (September 6)
What’s it about? Technically this film is the second half of King’s seminal novel, about an evil clown named Pennywise who terrorizes a group of children. It will recount the events 27 years after, as the grown-up Losers Club takes down the terrifying, shape-shifting Pennywise. The novel is over 1,000 pages, but you have plenty of time to tackle it before September.
Who’s going to be in it? Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, James McAvoy, Isaiah Mustafa
If you like this, try: Carrie, The Shining, Firestarter
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (October 4)
What’s it about? Anna is an agoraphobe in New York who spends her time watching her new neighbors through her windows. When she witnesses something she wasn’t supposed to see, she has to figure out what’s real and how to deal with it.
Who’s going to be in it? Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Wyatt Russell
If you like this, try: Last Time I Lied, The Girl on the Train, The Wife Between Us
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (October 11)
What’s it about? First published in 2013, Tartt’s acclaimed novel is about a teen boy named Theo Decker who is sent to live with a rich family after the death of his mother. As he grows up, Theo is haunted by the loss of his mom and can’t let go of a painting that reminds him of her. The painting eventually draws him in to the criminal underworld of New York.
Who’s going to be in it? Nicole Kidman, Ansel Elgort, Sarah Paulson
If you like this, try: The Secret History, A Little Life, Life After Life
Caging Skies by Christine Leunens (October 18)
What’s it about? Caging Skies, which will be transformed into a satirical film titled JoJo Rabbit this October, is about a young boy who’s part of the Hitler Youth in Europe (and, in the movie, whose imaginary friend appears in the form of Adolf Hitler). He then comes to finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.
Who’s going to be in it? Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi
If you like this, try: The Last Hundred Days
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (November 1)
What’s it about? This crime drama set in 1950s New York follows a private investigator who has Tourette’s syndrome as he tries to solve his friend and mentor’s murder.
Who’s going to be in it? Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis
If you like this, try: The Feral Detective, Chronic City
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (November 8)
What’s it about? As the sequel to King’s classic The Shining, Doctor Sleep takes place years in the future with an adult Dan Torrance. After meeting a young girl who has similar powers to his, he tries to protect her from an evil tribe. While the new film will be based on the book, it will also exist within the same universe as the original movie.
Who’s going to be in it? Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran
If you like this, try: The Shining, obviously
The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle (November 19)
What’s it about? An elderly English con man named Roy decides to steal the life savings of a woman named Betty, who may or may not be as innocent as she seems. The novel moves backwards in time, revealing new facets of Roy’s life throughout the chapters, all leading to a surprising conclusion. The upcoming film, directed by Bill Condon, has shifted some of the action, so the book won’t be a total spoiler.
Who’s going to be in it? Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Jim Carter
If you like this, try: A Traitor In the Family, The Couple Next Door, The Perfect Wife
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (December 6)
What’s it about? A Million Little Pieces will be based on the controversial book about a young man’s time spent in rehab, recovering from a drug and alcohol addiction. While it was originally billed as a memoir, it was later found out that the author fabricated parts of the book.
Who’s going to be in it? Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Bob Thorton
If you like this, try: My Friend Leonard, A Piece of Cake
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot (December 20)
What’s it about? The Broadway musical Cats is actually based on a collection of T.S. Eliot poems that centers on a tribe of cats called the Jellicles. The bizarre tale is essentially about which cat will ascend to the “Heaviside Layer” and begin a new life. The film version is an adaptation of the musical, but fans may want to check out the original source material as well.
Who’s going to be in it? Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba
If you like this, try: Puss in Boots, The Owl and the Pussycat, The Waste Land
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (December 25)
What’s it about? Four very different sisters are raised by their mother in Massachusetts as they come into womanhood and find their way in the world. The March sisters have become classic characters, appearing in several film and TV adaptations, but this forthcoming movie by Greta Gerwig is sure to capture the novel’s poignancy and wit.
Who’s going to be in it? Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern
If you like this, try: Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, A Little Princess
The Call of the Wild by Jack London (December 25)
What’s it about? You might have read this one in grade school. The Call of the Wild was originally published in 1903 and is about a sled dog named Buck, who is taken to work in Alaska’s freezing wilds. Buck learns about survival and dominance as he is forced to discard his domesticity and rely on instinct instead. Definitely recommended for dog lovers.
Who’s going to be in it? Harrison Ford, Karen Gillan, Dan Stevens, Omar Sy
If you like this, try: White Fang, The Jungle Book, The Last of the Mohicans
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (TBA)
What’s it about? Two teens, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, find themselves thrown together after they both plan to jump off the school bell tower at the same time. Drawn together in this intimate way, they start to help each other heal—but it’s not easy going. This is another book that will require a box of tissues on hand.
Who’s going to be in it? Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp
If you like this, try: Everything, Everything, Holding Up the Universe, The Hate U Give
Emily Zemler is a freelance writer based in London.
Madison is a staff writer at ELLE.com, covering news, politics, and culture.