When a book becomes a movie



I couldn’t decide for the longest time was whether I loved the concept of turning books into movies and television series. My first ventures into watching movies based on much loved books had been disappointing at best. After I watched several book adaptions I began to notice a pattern of emotional highs and lows that seemed to accompany the experience.



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Stage 1: Excitement – When you first see that a much loved book is going to be made into a movie or television series you feel a sort of euphoria that the characters you know so well will become a more intimate part of your life. You imagine which actor will play which role, and in most cases, you discuss the topic with fellow readers. Your mood at this point can best be described as optimistic.



Stage 2: Anger and Disbelief  – when you first view a movie adapted from a much loved book you will inevitably find that the producers have decided in their infinite wisdom to change a few facts. At times they change so many facts that you can barely recognize the similarity to the book you have read and loved. You find yourself saying things such as, “That character isn’t even in the book” or “In the book that character looked and acted totally different.”  At this point your mood can best be described as irate.


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Stage 3: Mourning – If you are able to continue with the series or movie after the stage of anger and disbelief, you will experience a sort of mourning. During this stage you will no longer fight every decision the director has taken, but you will feel a sense of loss that the movie that you hoped for is nothing more than a pipe dream and the big orange cat you have come to know and love isn’t big or orange at all. (Really, with all the cats in the world they couldn’t find an orange one?)


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Stage 4: Acceptance – If you’ve made it this far you will find that you have accepted the choices that the directors have made, and while you still not be thrilled with them, you can begin to accept them. You no longer feel the need to curse at the television. You find that you are beginning to watch the program for what it is, a loose and watered down version of the book for sure, but a movie or series that you know you would have enjoyed had you not first read the book.


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Stage 5: Enjoyment – If you make it this far you will find that you can actually begin to enjoy the movie or series free of expectation. At this point it becomes its own entity. You no longer compare it to the book because you know it is not the book. It can not nor ever will be the same as the book but it is still pretty awesome on its own merit.


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So there you have it, the 5 stages of media transition. Comment below about a book adaption that you either loved or hated and be entered to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.


111 thoughts on “When a book becomes a movie

  1. Lisa Wine says:

    I did all of these stages with True Blood. I loved the Sookie Stackhouse books and was excited for the HBO series and finally loved the series and miss it now that it has ended. But it was hard to see the changes from the books.

  2. Peggy says:

    I loved reading your thoughts on this, Kathi. I’ve often been disappointed with the differences in movie versions of books I’ve read. It really hit home when two of my granddaughters asked me to read the Twilight books and watch the movies with them. They were SO excited when they heard that there would be movies based on the books! The differences were dramatic and both girls crushed that the two versions could be so different … even after all this time; they still talk about it and haven’t made it past the Anger and Disbelief stage. The same thing happened with the Hunger Games, but at least they were somewhat prepared for the differences that time.

  3. Penny Marks says:

    Have loved both Twilight and The Hunger Games. I really liked how they adapted Twilight. Not much changed from book to movie. And come on, who couldn’t picture Robert Pattenson as Edward:) So far I have liked Book to screen of Hunger Games. I am hoping they change up the last part of Mockingjay part two because I struggled with this book. I think this will be the only time I will say this, Please change this book ending! Great blog again Kathi:)

  4. Darcy Weber says:

    The worst adaptation, by far, is Tess Gerritsons (?) Rizzoli & Isles. I’ve watched a fourth of a season and quit because it was so backwards and different than the books. I love those characters, in the books, but what they did too them on TV is wrong. Of course, my first foray into TV adaptation was Little House on The Prairie….the books were totally different than the show. People and places were put in that had never been there.

  5. candace knight says:

    I do not watch any book adaption until I read the book. I did like the Harry Potter movies and also The Lord of the Rings movies.

  6. Have to go with Joanne Fluke’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. Characters were not as described in the books. Hannah is not a blonde, nor is she thin and perky. Hannah never had a brand new van. Even Moishe the cat was different. Norman is chubby, Mike is not a snotty, sarcastic, well, probably can’t write the word I’d like to. Looks were changed. Personalities were changed. Even the town name was changed! I hated the movie because I so loved the book. A few nights later I decided to watch the movie as being just that. Nothing more than a movie. Pretend it’s not based on a book series I love. As a stand-alone movie, it was acceptable. Not great; the acting was still below par, and the story to unbeievable. But passable.

  7. Wendy Elder says:

    I have to agree with you on Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. I was so disappointed. They changed so much and left others out. I’m not sure I’ll watch the next one. Maybe just to see if they make any adjustments.

  8. Joyce C Moser says:

    I adore the movies such as Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. I admit, I’d read this book so long ago I can’t remember specific details. But I’ve followed JoAnn Fluke’s series since it is of the cozy genre, and enjoyed them all. With so many violent and graphic shows with terrible language on TV, I am pleased to watch anything that does not glorify those things. I am a cozy in every sense of the word woman for sure.

  9. Ruth Nixon says:

    I too didn’t like Rizzol and Isles and read the books instead of watching but I’m enjoying PBS Poldack and will not rush to read the books.I love the books to film on Pbs because everyone fits the part and they are not picked for looks alone.

  10. alice says:

    I actually have a t-shirt that says “The book was better” and I usually find that to be true. My rule has always been that I couldn’t watch the movie until I had read the book, but I think it just guarantees me the disbelief stage. Maybe it is a good thing that my TBR pile is so big that I broke my rule and watched the first Hunger Games movie and enjoyed it. I now have to decide whether to try to fit the books into my reading time. Fortunately from the size of the unread pile (make that unread shelves) I may forget what the movies were about by the time I get around to reading them. It is also entirely possible that I spend too much time stressing this stuff!

  11. I don’t like to see the movie after I’ve read the book. they change too many things and it’s kind of disquieting. Rizzoli and Isles are on TV and they are nothing like the books. You really feel like it’s two different stories (which it is but supposed to be based on the book). Justified was kind of the same. I’d rather read the book and do my own pictures as I’m reading.

  12. Years and years ago, I read “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo and loved it. Then, I watched the movie and I have to say, in my opinion, the screenwriters and producers did an excellent job. Obviously, that’s not always the case.

  13. Liette Bougie says:

    Strangely enough, for me, it is sometimes the opposite. I remember buying The Name of the Rose (by Umberto Eco – in French – years ago) and couldn’t get into the book, mainly because of the Latin bits. Then, I watched the miniseries that was made out of it and as soon as it was over, I grabbed my book and read it – and this time, the Latin didn’t bother me at all. I watched Pillar of the Earth before I read the book and read the sequel before I watched it. Go figure! I watched a few épisodes of Game of Thrones before I hopped over to the bookstore and grabbed all the books that were published at the time.

  14. Jane Barber says:

    I have always been disappointed when the books I have read and loved have been turned into movies. I now never watch the movie if I have read the book! I was terrified when the Pern novels by Anne McCaffery were being considered for a movie, however she retained the right to cancel production if they did not follow what she wrote. They did not and she canceled. Thank goodness!

  15. Judy Weaver says:

    I agree with Debbie about Cedar Cove. Books were better, but do love the show. I think the Help did pretty good following the book. I’ve watched that movie several times.

  16. Most of the time, when I have read a book, then seen the movie based on it, I have gone through these stages, and sometimes not made it all the way through the movie. There have been a couple of movies that I thought were wonderfully done and followed the book(s) closely enough to make me happy. The Harry Potter movies were fabulous in my opinion, and though there were some changes, nothing made me furious at all. I just loved them. I thought the first of the Divergent movies was well done also, though there were a couple changes from the book that irritated me, overall, I loved it. I haven’t seen the others yet, if they have come out.

  17. Movies adapted from books don’t have the ability to develop the characters so I just take them for the face value they are. Some movies are good but others just miss the boat. I am more of a book lover over a movie watcher.

  18. Denise says:

    I did every stage with James Patterson’s Along Came A Spider! I imagined Alex Cross as being someone just like Morgan Freeman that played him! I LIVE MORGAN FREEMAN! So that was a pleasure. I finally accepted the movie the way it was and walked away loving the movie as well as the book. I think i have read all but the last 10 of his books! I will watch more! Zoo by James Patterson on the other hand doesnt look as exciting to me in book format OR movie,but i may just have to give it a try because I love James Patterson!

  19. Barbara Hawk says:

    My biggest book to movie pet peeve is The Bourne movies. They took the name Bourne and amnesia, and that was it. The books were so much different and I love the books. Have re- read them many times.

  20. Kathleen Costa says:

    When I read a book, I always create an Oscar winning movie in my head, selecting my actors, putting ‘me’ 😸 in as the main character, and envisioning the perfect location…all by using the author’s guide, the book, but I have been a victim of Hollywood’s revisions often going through the same steps you’ve described. Best example? A Good Year by Peter Mayle. Russell Crowe? Well, not the vision I had, but let’s see. The worst part was changing the entire story. Where was the intrigue? The black market wine auction? I am now prepared to view the book and “inspired by” movie as two different entities. I try to enjoy both, but always end up liking the book better.

  21. Actually its a recent TV series. Zoo by James Patterson. Honestly the show is better then the book but seems to leave out characters and details that seemingly seem important to me to be in the TV show. Oh well. True Blood was an other series that was disappointing for me.

  22. Nancy Wolter says:

    I love Cedar Cove. The books are usually better than a made for tv movie, though CC is wonderful. Love the series!

  23. peggy clayton says:

    I have commented about Cedar Cove for so long as i just love it. There are alot of Hallmark movies that came from a book and Hallmark does an excellent job matching the character from the book to an actor. I really would love to be on the set if they were doing my book or even someones elses book as i would think they work closely with the author ..

    • I love the Hallmark channel and generally they do a good job with their movies. I did have a problem with Cedar Cove when I first saw it but I had just read the series and it was fresh in my mind. I love the television show now however. The scenery alone is enough to make me watch it.

  24. guillianne says:

    The cedar cove books…I read them all and when I first started watching the series I was a little disappointed but the more I watched I feel in love with it..I watched the first aurora regarding movie and I’m a little undecided but I’m sure the next will catch me…I just live watching characters come to life

  25. Marilyn Watson says:

    I hated the casting of Hamish MacBeth from the M.C. Beaton books. He was not red headed, or lounged around. In the series he was smug and arrogant and totally different…and I loved the Beaton Series. I both want and dread the Agatha Raisin series they are filming even as we speak.

  26. Debby Kimmel says:

    I have struggled with the watch or read or just do one, many times. Hubby still goes nuts every time he watches a Percy Jackson movie (for me it was the Harry Potter stories with my kids) because he can only see what is supposed to be there and isn’t. I have come to the conclusion that, for me, if possible I will watch the movie First because I always find that I Love the books so much more and then get so much more info filled into the story. If I have already read the book(s) then I try hard to enjoy the movie an then go back and re-read the book(s). Perhaps the best thing is when I can tell myself that they are two very Similar stories and just compare where I like or dislike the differences. Of course in the books we always get to put folks we know into the characters when its a really great story as wel can’t do in the movies, lol 😉

  27. mtrver says:

    Most often I either read the book or watch the movie because the divergences between the two are so apparent. But, having said that. I did see the DaVinci Code and loved it so much that I had to read it! Loved it even though I could see the differences. Where I made my mistake was in reading the following book. It was okay, but it didn’t have the same impact for me. That one I would not watch if it became a movie.

  28. Betty Hall says:

    I love the Cedar Grove books. It come on TV & I happened to walk by and immediately knew it was an adaptation! It was based loosely on the book but I enjoyed it none the less. Love your books and your blog! Reading one now!

  29. The earlier attempts with the Lord of the Rings trilogy were a disappointment. I remember they tried to make it like a cartoon and it made the story rather bleak and frightening. This would have been in the late 70’s/early 80’s and was during the time they advertised “Frodo lives”. I am not usually scared by movies, but this was truly atrocious and I remember going with my parents and brother and walking out during the movie because it was gruesome. The later attempts have been much better.

  30. Catherine Bogert says:

    I loved the adaptation of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I knew before watching that the entire book (very large) would not make it into the series. However, the director and writer of the screenplay did a fabulous job! Since I knew the entire story it felt like I knew a fabulous secret no one else knew. Great blog Kathie!

  31. Elaine N Robinson says:

    One of my favorite books is Life of Pi. I was impressed with the movie, I thought the adaptation brought the book to life. The scenes of the tiger in the boat were spectacular and made me see the book visually. When I read the book, my thoughts were, this is a book that does not translate to the screen but the movie surprised me.
    I agree with the stage about the movie adaptation becoming its own entity, so true of many movies, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, great movies but so different from the books in my opinion.

  32. Michelle Fidler says:

    The Harry Potter books are good adaptations. I watched the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder movie. The characters and the cat, Moishe, do look different but I think the plot wasn’t changed too much from the book. I will watch future movies in the series. I love the books. They always change things in Agatha Christie movies and even in the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series. I like watching the characters come alive and speak in a movie.

    There are lots of movies that I’d watch where I wouldn’t be interested in the book. Plus, I don’t like books written in the present tense like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Fifty Shades of Gray so I would just watch them, not read them.

  33. servedogmom says:

    I love this discussion and find your thoughts are pretty accurate. I’ve missed several I wanted to see since uverse eliminated Hallmark. For most movies it truly depends on the character casting and how true the script is to the actual book/story. It can go both ways. I, against most popular opinion, did not like the Harry Potter books but tolerated the movies. Loved Gone with the Wind (book, movie and stage play). Generally, my first love is books and I will select a well written mystery book over a movie any day.

  34. Taryn Lee says:

    I love books and I love movies but I’ve never been a big fan of books being made into movies. When I read a book I have pictures in my head of how I see the characters, the location, etc. I’m always disappointed when a movie doesn’t live up to the images I see.

  35. Janet says:

    So true! I enjoy movies based on books I’ve never read, but I’m often disappointed when I’ve read the book. I guess it’s all in your perspective. One of my coworkers and I were complaining about the actresses chosen for a TV series based on a series of books we both had read. We just didn’t see that they fit the book’s characters. Another coworker watched the series and then read the books and she said she thought the actresses were perfect because she could just see them as she read the books. I did just purchase an embroidery pattern which states “The Book Was Better” in beautiful embellished script.

  36. Barbara Tobey says:

    Marley the movie left me with the thought they should have gotten rid of the dog due to its destructive ways. By that, I mean found it a better home situation. After reading the book, I could understand why they tolerated the dog’s behavior. I teared up at the theater only because a man sitting near me was crying at the end of the movie. The book had me shedding many tears.

  37. Linda May says:

    I wish books & movies would both stick to the same stories, but with a movie they only have so many hours to get it all in & with a book they can make it as long as they want. Thanks for this terrific GIVEAWAY.

  38. I’m going back some years but one of the few movies that I thought followed the book was ” Rebecca !” (Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca)As you can guess it still is one of my favorites! I believe that Cedar Cove is coming around after seeing the two hour special last Saturday night! Hallmark must have been paying attention to a lot of people last season saying that they were not happy with the way things ended! Maybe Debbie got on their case???

  39. I’m very easily entertained with a movie & accepting of a wide range of changes. Two I didn’t like we’re Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher (already mentioned) as JR was supposed to be solo big & Kathleen Turner as VI Warshawski as she’s supposed to be chunky with frazzled frizzy hair.

  40. Della Williamson says:

    Over the years I have watched several. Forgotten the names. But usually disappointed. There was one in the 70’s that was close to the book, just a few wrong impressions. The only one that was close to the book. Haven’t seen it in years, but I will recognize it when I see it. There was one in the early 80’s that had NO resemblance to the book they claimed it came from. Many of the adaptations are so it will fit the screen better, they think, and usually they really shouldn’t. The book has to describe the scene the movie just shows it. So that is one thing. Have a friend in the movie industry and even the scripts (especially the first few depending on the show) do not match the final screen version because what is on paper often will not actually work on the screen. So I imagine that is the way it is with the books. But still it is disappointing.

  41. Kelly Braun says:

    I loved the Harry Potter series… in both forms. The mivies did miss a lot but they were still a decent representation ☺

  42. One good example of a bad movie made from a book is Menu for Murder based on Murder at the PTA Luncheon by Valerie Wolzien. Julia Duffy played the main character and she was absolutely nothing like the character in the book. The location was changed to LA area from Connecticut and the characters were irritatingly ditzy rather than the believable ones from the story. Valerie wrote 16 books in the Susan Henshaw series. Luckily, nobody decided to make this book series into a TV movie series.

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