These days, it's inevitable that the latest best-selling novel will quickly be adapted into a highly anticipated new TV show, streaming series, or movie. It makes sense, considering that two of the greatest challenges facing producers are finding quality scripts and working within a budget; by licensing existing properties, they are guaranteed a structurally sound story that only has to be adapted for a new format. Stories derived from popular novels also have the added benefits of a built-in fan base and a pre-existing social media presence. But it's not just bestsellers, trending novels, and viral hits that producers are looking to license and adapt; they are also turning lesser-known, out-of-print, public domain, or foreign novels into new content.
Licensing "pre-sold" works has become so common, in fact, that as much as 50% of all theatrical movies are now adaptations. Meanwhile, consumer appetite for new home-viewing content has resulted in a "book adaptation boom" across all networks and streaming services. You would have to be living under a rock to miss that HBO's Game of Thrones was adapted from George R.R. Martin's novels because the author took center stage in much of the news coverage of the series, but there are many other popular TV shows you didn't know were based on books because they are obscure or their authors have passed. Likewise, it's common knowledge that The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movie franchises sprang from popular book series, but there are many, many more movies you didn't know were books first.
To help you discover the literary origins of some of your favorite shows and movies, we've compiled this eye-opening list. It may even help you if you're feeling down about how few books you've read lately. There's no need to join an online book club or buy a Kindle to be in the know because you've probably already "read" all of these novels on screen!