Friday Book Chats: Movies That Were Better Than Their Book

This week’s book chat topic was inspired by a conversation I had with Joni (koehlerjoni) about movies that were actually better than the book they were based on. You can probably think of several movies off the top of your head that didn’t do justice to the books they were based on, but have you ever had the opposite experience? These are a few examples of movies that (in my opinion)  were much better than the books they were based on. As usual, there’s a list of currently on sale Kindle books at the end of this post.

Juie and Julia Julie and Julia, Julie Powell. I love cooking and food-related books and movies, and I thought this movie was charming, weaving together the lives of the iconic cookbook author Julia Child and 30-year-old New Yorker, Julie Powell as Julie attempts to cook her way through every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.  In the movie both Julia Child and Julie Powell are quirky and endearing and make you want to be their best friend. I was disappointed when I actually read Julie and Julia and found that the Julie Powell who wrote the book was much cruder and much less charming than the character portrayed by Amy Adams. Her writing itself is decent, but I just found her tone and some of her humor off-putting. This was much more enjoyable as a movie.

MV5BMTM2MTI5NzA3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODExNTc0OA@@._V1_SX214_AL_Silver Linings PlaybookMatthew Quick. Let me preface this by saying that this is one of my favorite movies and if you haven’t seen it, you should. It wasn’t that I thought the book version of this was bad at all. I actually thought it was really good. I just found the movie more satisfying in some ways. I felt like the way the movie approached and dealt with Pat’s relationship with his dad was thoughtful and complex and there was more symmetry and cohesiveness to. Also, the ending to the book is much different than the movie (though it’s not a total downer or anything) and I happened to love the ending of the movie. From reading the book I have to say that I think Bradley Cooper really nailed the character of Pat. He does a great job in this movie.

Gone girlGone Girl, Gillian Flynn. I’ve already talked about this a few times, but to boil it down, this worked much better as a movie for me because it was a straightforward psychological thriller that was meant to be watched as a well-made piece of trashy entertainment without trying to be insightful or reflective. The movie is really well made – great acting, great suspense-building, etc., though of course every bit as disturbing as the book.



Wicked-posterWickedGregory Maguire I know this isn’t technically a movie, it’s a musical, but it is so very much better than the book which is kind of weird and even a little kinky in some bits. The musical, besides having the obvious advantage of the awesome songs, has so many satisfying connections that tie bits of this story into the story of the Wizard of Oz. I assumed these were all connections made in the book and was surprised to find that some of them had been added by the writers who did the adaptation. The musical took all the best parts of the book and made it something magical.


The_Devil_Wears_Prada_main_onesheetThe Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger. This is one of my feel-good go-to movies. I love Meryl Streep in it. I love the clothes in it. It’s fun. In the book the main character is much less sympathetic and she doesn’t take the high road in the end the way she does in the film which kind of ruins it. I’m in no way trying to argue that this is a great piece of cinema, I’m just saying, the movie is a better and more fun story than the book.

What movies did you like better than their books?

Kindle Books On Sale

*As of February 23rd. I use the US Amazon site. Prices may vary on other sites.

New on sale this week:

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer, Micha Boyett ($3.03) One of my best books of 2014 and one of my favorite spiritual memoirs.

Girl Meets GodLauren Winner ($1.99) I actually haven’t read this one yet, but I did buy it. I read Winner’s more recent book Still (see below) just this month and am now curious to read this book, her first, which tells the story of her conversion from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity.

Looking for AlaskaJohn Green ($2.80) This is the author who wrote The Fault in Our Stars. I’m just finishing this book now and have enjoyed it. It’s a coming of age story that, like Green’s other books, deals with the usual sex, booze, and rebellion parts of adolescence, but also grief, loss and the greater meaning of life.

Paper TownsJohn Green ($3.99) I haven’t read this one, but wanted to include it for John Green fans who might like to pick it up.


Still on sale from last week:

Me Before YouJoJo Moyes ($2.99) Ambitionless twenty-six year old Louise loses her job and takes a temporary position as a caretaker for a 35 year old quadripalegic who challenges her to live life on a grander scale. This is a quick read, but not a particularly light one.  Be warned that you’ll need Kleenex.

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd ($3.99). There’s a reason this book is so popular. It’s great.

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green ($2.99) So good, but read with tissues.

The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd ($3.99) This was on many “best of the year” lists for 2014.

Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell ($4.99) Just finished this a few days ago. One of my new favorite young adult novels. So sweet.

Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty ($3.99) Wrote about this here. Really love all of her books.

Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty ($2.99)

Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss ($4.99) I’ve already talked about this like 7 times, but if you need a refresher, read the blurb on this post.

The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss ($5.99) See above.

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern ($4.99) I adore this book.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you use a link to make a purchase a small percentage of your purchase will go towards supporting this site. This does not affect the price of the items in any way. 


  1. I have to say that I LOVED Gone Girl – the book! I read it in like two days. I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’m totally with you on Wicked. I slogged through the book and made it to the end. It was very deep and thought-provoking, but it wasn’t particularly entertaining. Call me shallow, but I love how the musical brings a fun, light feel to balance some of the darker meanings and social commentary.


    1. If you loved the book then you’ll love the movie. It’s really very well done and pretty close to the book. It’s fairly graphic though (just be warned). I felt the same way about Wicked. The whole time I was reading the book I was like, “Yeah, this is interesting and all, but where are the songs?” 🙂


  2. Hunger Games. Although I thought the first book was good, Jennifer Lawrence added so much depth to the Katniss character. Especially in the scene after Rue’s death, she really gave Katniss a dimension she was lacking on the printed page.


    1. I actually contemplated putting that one on my list. I also enjoyed the movie more than the book, BUT I will say that the book is told in the first person and we spend a lot of it inside Katniss’ head, so when I watched the movie, I already understood how she thought and what her motivations were for her actions. My husband, who didn’t read the books, found her irritating and inexplicably surly in the movie because he didn’t have that understanding that came from her inner monologue in the book. So, it’s tough to say if I would have thought the movie was better if I hadn’t read the book first. I agree though that Jennifer Lawrence is pretty awesome. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw the movie first so I was already endeared to the characters and wanted to like the book, but in this case, the movie version of Andi is just a much more likeable and sympathetic person. And of course, Meryl Streep is just fantastic – so much more fun to watch.


    1. That’s a great one! I actually read the book after seeing the movie, which I think made the book better because I imagined it all in Renee Zellweger’s voice. She really made Bridget charming and endearing, so without her I can see the book being a flop.


    1. I never saw Twilight, but I did read the first book and found it distractingly poorly written, so I could imagine it might be more enjoyable as a movie without the distraction of the really bad prose. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Regarding the book, I know how you feel. I only read it with the thought that it must be good to have inspired a movie that was well thought out. Turned out it was all wishful thinking on my part. 🙂


  3. This is a bit funny because, except for Gone Girl, I’ve only seen the movies and not read the books on your list. I don’t think I’m going to read them either. Gone Girl as a book I found ok, but nothing more. Maybe I should give the movie a go.


    1. Well then you are not missing anything.:) Except for Silver Linings Playbook because that really is a good book, I just liked it even better as a movie. The movie version of Gone Girl is just like the book plot-wise, it’s a trashy thriller, haha, but it’s very, very well made and well acted, etc. Fairly graphic though, just as a warning.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved the Divergent movie but didn’t like the book at all. They changed some details in the movie that I thought worked much better than how they were written in the book.

    I’ll have to check out the books and movies on your list!


    1. I thought the movie turned out really well too. My husband saw it with me – not having read the book and he said, “I liked it way more than I thought I would,” which is high praise coming from him because he is a very critical movie watcher. 🙂 I enjoyed both – not sure that I felt strongly about one over the other. I did not really like the 3rd book in the series, so when they get to that movie I’ll be interested to see if they make it better.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I find it eerie that people liked Gone Girl the book. Although I have yet to see the movie but I wager it would be better than the book since it ia directed by David Fincher. I did not find writing style alluring a fathom and the book seemed too slow!
    BTW what do you think about The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, The Fault In Our Stars!?


    1. The story of the movie is the same as the book – so it’s disturbing in the way that the actual story is disturbing – but it’s really, really well done. The thing about Gone Girl is that I hated every single one of the characters. So while it gave me the adrenaline rush of a thriller, I didn’t deeply care what happened to the characters because I thought they were all awful people. I’ve never seen or read the Godfather, though that’s a classic one for people to say the movie is infinitely better than the book. I love the movie of the Shawshank Redemption, but I’ve never read it. And I loved both the book and movie of The Fault in Our Stars equally.


  6. I love the movie Julie & Julia but have hear mixed things about the book based on real Julie.

    Just picked up Girl Meets God. Love your list of things that are on sale!

    What did you think of Looking for Alaska? I loved the way the book was organized with the chapters counting down to some unknown event. I found myself feeling very impressed John Green’s brain after reading it but I didn’t enjoy the experience or fall in love with the characters the same way I did with The Fault in Out Stars. That book is dazzling. And I haven’t seen the movie because I love the book so much I might hate it if it’s not done well. Have you seen it?


    1. Yeah, I hate to say it, but I didn’t like the real Julie. She’s always making fun of her husband and complaining about how he’s the only person she’s ever slept with and wishing she could have one night stands like her single friends and dumb stuff like that. Also she talks a lot more about her job in the book and you know, in the movie, her job is hard because she has to hear all these really sad stories and they really affect her – in the book she’s like, “and then the dumb people told me the dumb story about how all their kids died and I was so bored.” So, yeah, hate to say it this way, but just didn’t like her as a person.

      I’m glad you’re getting use out of the list. I love finding sales! And I am just finishing Looking for Alaska today but I think it’s really good, but I agree that I was much more attached to the Fault in Our Stars. I cried so much reading that book. And I thought the movie was great actually. I’m not that picky about every little detail being exactly the same as the book as long as the characters and the feel of the movie is on point for me and in this case, everyone was just the way I imagined them. So I guess it depends on how you imagined the characters, but for me they were great. I ugly-cried watching it.


      1. Oh wow! Real Julie sounds awful! Love movie Julie. I’d like to be her friend, and she inspires me to try to recipes.

        Oh yeah I can imagine myself ugly crying during it. I love the characters so much that I didn’t want them to be different or maybe feel flat. I might have to give it a try.

        Have you read and watched The Hunger Games? I feel like Katniss, without getting inside of her brain like in the book feels a bit flat. I still liked the movie because I could fill in all the extra information, but it just didn’t translate quite as well as some movies. I still really enjoyed it though.


      2. I also wanted to be her friend, haha. And I just wrote a reply to someone else about Hunger Games so I’m just gonna copy it here, but it’s basically what you said. 🙂

        I’m undecided on whether the Hunger Games was better as a movie or a book. I really liked the visualization of the movie – it brought to life the things I’d imagined. But, since so much of the book takes place in Katniss’ head with her as a first person narrator, if you watch the movie by itself you don’t fully understand her feelings and motivations. So, if this makes sense, I think the movie is better ONLY if you’ve already read the book and can fill in those things. My hubby saw the movie without reading the book and liked it overall, but really didn’t get Katniss because to him she was just really surly and angry for the whole movie and as a viewer only he didn’t fully understand the situation or what she was thinking about at various times.


  7. I’m so glad you decided to continue our conversation with this great blog post. I would have added the Hunger Games, especially Catching Fire, which I thought was a really good movie. These movies seemed to have more momentum than the books. Also, because they are YA books, maybe I read them too fast and glossed over some of the beautifully detailed features of the world that I could see visually in the movie. I also thought that Haymitch’s character in the movie was more well rounded in the movie than the book.
    I thought Cold Mountain was much, much better as a movie than a book. It took me a long, long, time to read the book, and the end felt so dissatisfying and anticlimactic. In the movie, the resolution was much more understandable.
    Now that I’ve earned my nerd card for the day, I need to go find something quite mindless to do.


    1. I’m glad you inspired this post. 🙂 I’m undecided on whether the Hunger Games was better as a movie or a book. I really liked the visualization of the movie – it brought to life the things I’d imagined. But, since so much of the book takes place in Katniss’ head with her as a first person narrator, if you watch the movie by itself you don’t fully understand her feelings and motivations. So, if this makes sense, I think the movie is better ONLY if you’ve already read the book and can fill in those things. My hubby saw the movie without reading the book and liked it overall, but really didn’t get Katniss because to him she was just really surly and angry for the whole movie and as a viewer only he didn’t fully understand the situation or what she was thinking about at various times.

      I confess that I never finished reading Cold Mountain despite having picked it up 3 times, so that doesn’t surprise me. 🙂


    1. The last Hunger Games book moves so slowly (as a read) that I also liked it better as a movie. Not sure they needed to split it into two, but that’s Hollywood for you. 🙂


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