The Hollywood Novel: Book to Film

Updated: May 2, 2024

Numerous movies have been based on novels. Some movies are part of LAPL's DVD collection, but more can found through our E-Media and Kanopy.

Book cover for 1984
Orwell, George, 1903-1950,
Call Number: Ed.m

Explore a grim, dystopian future with a government so in control of its people that it seeks to dictate how they think.  Written 70 years ago about an imagined 1984, the novel still provides warnings about social control and engineering techniques we have not yet avoided.

Book cover for Atonement: A Novel
Atonement: A Novel
McEwan, Ian.

In pre-War Britain, 13-year-old Briony witnesses a flirtatious moment between her older sister and a neighbor boy. Her misunderstanding of the situation brings about a crime that will change all their lives. The book follows that crime’s repercussions, and its effect on the lives of the main characters, through WW II and into the close of the twentieth century.

Black narcissus.
Godden, Rumer, 1907-1998.

An Anglican cloister set high in the Himalayas does not protect a group of nuns from confronting unresolved personal issues from their past. Instead the remote setting and culture accentuate inner turmoil and doubts. This book is available as e-media.

The movie received an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Cinematography.

Book cover for Bonjour Tristesse
Bonjour Tristesse
Sagan, Francoise, 1935-2004.
Call Number: Ed.b

This French coming-of-age story written in the 1950s was considered scandalous when it came out. With the author barely older than her teenage protagonist, the story ably explores emotional matters and life-changing experiences. Translated from French.

Breakfast at Tiffany's; a short novel and three stories.
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984.

Holly Golightly is always immaculately groomed, well-dressed and confident. What does she do to support her fashionable lifestyle? What's the big deal about Tiffany's?  In his novella, Truman Capote created a free spirited young woman with a sophisticated mystique.

Available on e-Media

Book cover for Brokeback mountain
Brokeback mountain
Proulx, Annie.

Set in the hills of Montana, two cowboys working as herders share a cabin, where a sexual relationship develops that evolves into a very deep friendship.

Book cover for Call Me By Your Name
Call Me By Your Name
Aciman, Andre,
Call Number: Ed.a

A coming-of-age story about an adolescent boy coming to terms with his sexuality. A six-week encounter, at the family's villa on the Italian Riviera, changes the lives of the adolescent and an adult guest.

Book cover for The color purple
The Color Purple
Walker, Alice
Call Number: Ed.f

Celie is a poor, black woman in 1930s American south whose relentless abuse by the men in her life threaten to make this story a tragedy. But tenacity, a momentous character evolution, and the kindness (and love) of women transform her into one of the greatest female characters in literature.

Book cover for Devil in a Blue Dress
Devil in a Blue Dress
Mosley, Walter
Call Number: M

Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins is a World War II veteran who falls into detective work after losing his factory job. In the first novel in Mosley's outstanding series, Easy traverses the streets of 1948 Los Angeles in search of a missing Frenchwoman. Other titles in the series (A Red Death, Little Scarlet, Blonde Faith) follow the detective through volatile periods in L.A. history, including the Red Scare, the Watts Riots, and the Vietnam War.

Book cover for Doctor Zhivago
Doctor Zhivago
Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich, 1890-1960.
Call Number: Ed.b
Although Pasternak was primarily known as a poet, his novel about the early days of the Soviet Union was suppressed in the USSR and denied publication. The novel was eventually smuggled out of the country by Isaiah Berlin and published to huge acclaim and sales all over the world, eventually spending six months on top of the New York Times bestseller list. Awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, Pasternak was forced by the Soviet government to decline the prize.

Book cover for Dr. No : 007, a James Bond novel
Dr. No : 007, a James Bond novel
Fleming, Ian, 1908-1964.
Call Number: M Ed.d

"The name is Bond, James Bond," and here is the first Bond movie, DVD, but not the first book, which was Casino Royale. There were fourteen books written by Ian Fleming, and the series was continued after his death by several authorized writers, all found under Ian Fleming; plus graphic novels and DVDs.


Book cover for East of Eden
East of Eden
Steinbeck, John, 1902-1968.
Call Number: Ed.g

Set in the Salinas Valley where the lives of two families, the Trasks and Hamiltons, are entangled in a web of complex relationships that affects generations in wounding and destructive ways.

Book cover for Empire of the Sun : a novel
Empire of the Sun : a novel
Ballard, J. G., 1930-2009.

Eleven-year-old Jim is torn from the comfort of his upper-class British family when Japan attacks allied warships in Shanghai on December 7, 1941. He is left to scavenge in a city left in ruins until being picked up and thrown into an internment camp with adults.

Book cover for A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms
Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961.
Call Number: Ed.g

Set within the context of World War I, the love story of Lieutenant Henry and nurse Catherine Barkley is thwarted by bad luck and bad timing.

Book cover for The feast of love
The feast of love
Baxter, Charles, 1947-

Charles Baxter's novel evokes magic about real people who are in love: some with the right person, some with the wrong person. His writing is beautifully profound about the longing, heartache, and unexpected gifts that love brings.

Gigi, and selected writings. By Colette. With a foreword by Elaine Marks.
Colette, 1873-1954.
Call Number: Ed.b

The novella is set in Paris, around 1899. Gigi is being trained and groomed to become a grand courtesan, following in the footsteps of several generations of female realitives. Worldly, wealthy and jaded Gaston Lachaille falls in love with her.

Book cover for Girl on the Train: A Novel
Girl on the Train: A Novel
Hawkins, Paula

Rachel, a young divorced woman, takes the train to work and back, each time passing the house where she once happily lived with her now ex-husband. From the train window, she often sees another couple a few doors down on their patio, and she imagines the wonderful marriage they must have. Through a series on surprising twists, Rachel learns the truth about the young couple, as well as about the marriage she once cherished. Reminiscent of Gone Girl, this novel (and film) will twist what you thought you knew.

Book cover for Gone girl : a novel
Gone girl : a novel
Flynn, Gillian, 1971-
Call Number: M
Flynn's psychological thriller about a husband who may or may not be responsible for his wife's disappearance has been drawing rave reviews, but be sure not to miss her other books. Sharp Objects in particular will raise goosebumps on even the hottest summer days.

Book cover for Gone With the Wind
Gone With the Wind
Mitchell, Margaret, 1900-1949.
Call Number: Ed.l

This epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and became one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time. Its vivid depiction of the American South during the Civil War created characters still part of conversation today.

Book cover for The good earth
The good earth
Buck, Pearl S. 1892-1973.
Call Number: Ed.b
This acclaimed, best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set in China before the 1949 revolution follows the life of a farmer named Wang Lung from the day of his marriage to a former slave named O-Lan. Aided by her industry and thrift, their life together is prosperous, yielding both monetary gain and children, until famine forces the family to leave their village to beg and work menial jobs in the south. Throughout this ordeal, Wang Lung has refused to sell his land, and chance fortune allows them to return to it and rebuild their wealth beyond anything they had imagined. A fascinating epic, filled with details of daily life and traditions.

Book cover for A high wind in Jamaica
A high wind in Jamaica
Hughes, Richard Arthur Warren, 1900-1976.
Call Number: Ed.a

In nineteenth century Jamaica, a shipload of British children are being sent home to school when their ship is highjacked by pirates. What happens is unexpected and belies the innocence of childhood.

Book cover for The light in the piazza, and other Italian tales
The light in the piazza, and other Italian tales
Spencer, Elizabeth, 1921-

A novella which first became a movie in 1962, then a very successful musical in 2005, is a story set during the 1950s about a wealthy woman and her mentally challenged adult daughter.  The mother and daughter spend a summer in Italy where the daughter Clara falls in love with an Italian man.

Book cover for Like water for chocolate : a novel in monthly installments, with recipes, romances, and home remedies
Like water for chocolate : a novel in monthly installments, with recipes, romances, and home remedies
Esquivel, Laura, 1950-

Thwarted love, magic, family traditions and recipes are part of this best-selling lovely novel set in turn of the century Mexico.  As the youngest daughter of tyrannical Mama Elena, Tita cannot marry before her older sisters do. Tita and Pedro are madly in love, but Mama Elena has another plan--for Pedro to marry Rosaura, and Tita is to prepare the wedding dinner.

Book cover for Lord of the flies : a novel
Lord of the flies : a novel
Golding, William, 1911-1993.
Call Number: Ed.c
This modern classic tackles the problem of bullying as a group of English schoolboys try to survive being stranded on an island.

Book cover for The love letter
The love letter
Schine, Cathleen.

An anonymous love letter shakes up a woman's orderly life in a small east coast seaside village. 

Book cover for The loved one : an Anglo-American tragedy
The loved one : an Anglo-American tragedy
Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966.
Call Number: Ed.c

In 1947 Evelyn Waugh took a trip to California to negotiate the screen rights to Brideshead Revisited. The negotiations proved unsuccessful, but Waugh did leave Southern California with the idea for this short satirical novel about what he saw as the absurdities of Hollywood and the gaudy tastelessness of Forest Lawn.

Book cover for The lover
The lover
Duras, Marguerite.
Call Number: Ed.c

Marguerite Duras' semi-autobiographical novel is about the love affair between an adolescent French colonial girl and an older Chinese businessman, set in French colonial Vietnam

Book cover for The member of the wedding
The member of the wedding
McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967.
Call Number: Ed.a

12-year-old Frankie Addams feels alienated and lost, and as she struggles with her own identity assumes the name of F. Jasmine. Set in a small southern town, in the 1940s, Frankie's only close relationships are with her 6-year-old cousin, John Henry, and her family's African-American housekeeper, Berenice.

Book cover for My brilliant career
My brilliant career
Franklin, Miles, 1879-1954.
Call Number: Ed.b

Miles Franklin's autobiographical novel is about her life as a young girl, growing up in the wilds of Australia's outback, all the while yearning for a life of art, music and literature.

Book cover for Now, voyager
Now, voyager
Prouty, Olive Higgins, 1882-1974.
Call Number: Ed.a

Charlotte Vale, scion of a wealthly family, suffers a nervous breakdown brought on by her domineering mother. After psychiatric treatment at a sanitorium, Charlotte goes on a long cruise and meets the love of her life, who is married. She also gains a strong sense of self-assurance and independence.  The film version has an iconic cigarette lighting scene.

Book cover for Our man in Havana
Our man in Havana
Greene, Graham, 1904-1991.
Call Number: Ed.a

A satirical view of British intelligence services, set in Cuba where a vacuum cleaner salesman turns spy, but only for financial reasons.

Book cover for Our souls at night
Our souls at night
Haruf, Kent.

Addie Moore asks Louis Waters, "I wonder if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me. ... And talk?" She then adds, "I am talking about getting through the night." Both of these senior citizens, who are neighbors in Holt Colorado, have lost their spouses. Kent Haruf's last novel elegantly speaks to the loneliness both people feel, and how they overcome it despite the mean-spirited disapproval of friends and relatives.

Book cover for Picnic at Hanging Rock
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Lindsay, Joan Weigall, Lady.
Call Number: M Ed.b

A haunting story, set in the 1900s, about a group of young women at an Australian girls' boarding school who vanish while on a picnic at Hanging Rock.

Book cover for Portrait of Jennie
Portrait of Jennie
Nathan, Robert, 1894-1985.

A haunting, ethereal story of timeless love. A talented young artist cannot find the right inspiration to make his work great, until he meets a young schoolgirl in Central Park. His portrait of her is the key to his success. 

Book cover for The postman = [Il postino]
The postman = [Il postino]
Skarmeta, Antonio.

Pablo Neruda's passionate love poetry is the catalyst for a modern love story.

Book cover for Rabbit-proof fence
Rabbit-proof fence
Pilkington, Doris, 1937-2014.

A 1931 Australian law ordered the round up of aboriginal children to be assimilated into remote white communities.  Based on the true story of three girls who escaped from their assigned towns and walked 1,500 miles to return to their own homes.

Book cover for Rebecca
Du Maurier, Daphne, 1907-1989.
Call Number: Ed.g

The haunting story of Rebecca, the first Mrs. Maxim de Winter, told by the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter, whose first name we never know.  Rebecca was stunningly beautiful and accomplished, so she was well-suited to be mistress of Manderley, a stately English home. There was something else about her that was menacing and deadly.

The river.
Godden, Rumer, 1907-1998.

The story is set in Bengal, India, during the 1940s, where Harriet's English family lives. She is a dreamy adolescent girl who loves to write and is highly susceptible to feelings of romantic love, while the immediate world grounds her reality.  There is also the beautiful Jean Renoir movie. The novel is available on e-Media.

Book cover for A Single Man
A Single Man
Isherwood, Christopher
Call Number: Ed.b

A single day in the life of George, a college English professor in 1960s Los Angeles, as he copes with the sudden death of his lover. George is wry, witty and, although cynical, ultimately positive as he seeks a way to connect with a life that is trying to leave him behind. 

The third man, and, The fallen idol.
Greene, Graham, 1904-1991.
Call Number: M Ed.a

This is a spectacular twofer:  one novel and a short story by Graham Greene, which became two films directed by Carol Reed.  The fallen idol has been overshadowed by the more famous Third man.

Book cover for To kill a mockingbird
To kill a mockingbird
Lee, Harper.
Call Number: Ed.h

The explosion of racial hate in an Alabama town is viewed by a little girl whose father defends a black man accused of rape.


Book cover for Travels with my aunt
Travels with my aunt
Greene, Graham, 1904-1991.
Call Number: Ed.c

At his mother's funeral, Henry Pulling, retired bank clerk, meets his eccentric Aunt Augusta for the first time. What follows is anything but somber and reverent, as Henry and his supposed aunt embark on a non-stop adventure.

Book cover for Widows
La Plante, Lynda,

After their husbands are killed in a failed robbery heist, three widows take control of their lives when thugs threaten the life of one of them. Filled with fear and gumption they plan to carry out a successful robbery.

Available on e-Media