By Andrea Trejo, Collection Management Librarian
Which was better: the book or the movie adaptation? We’ve all been a part of this discussion at one time or another! Book lovers will often argue that the original title is better than its movie adaptions.
And there is supporting evidence for this! Movies can often just be a snapshot of a book or part of a series, whereas the book is the bigger picture. Or sometimes characters are omitted in the movie adaptation or lack the personality we see in the book.
But what about when the movie adaptation can do certain things better than the book? Here are titles that help prove that point.
Check out these 10 film adaptations better than the original books
Why it might be better: During an interview with MovieWeb, Stephen King himself said that he loved the ending of the movie adaptation, which was different from the book ending. It should count for something when an author compliments a director's decision to steer away from the source.
Movie description: When Dave Drayton notices a strange mist on the lake, he does not think much of it. Later, when his son, Billy, his neighbor Brent Norton, and he travel to the grocery store, strange things begin to happen. On their way to the market, they see the army, the local firefighters, and the police heading toward the mist. When an elderly man runs into the market with a bloody nose, declaring that something is in the mist, the store immediately becomes besieged by otherworldly creatures that the shoppers and employees must battle.
Why it might be better: Will I pick up the 600-800 (depending on the edition) page book? No, but will I rewatch both the 2019 and 1994 adaptations respectively? Yes. Also without spoilers, both movies approach certain pivotal moments better than the book.
Movie description: Chronicles the joys and sorrows of the four March sisters as they grow into young ladies in mid-19th-century New England.
Kiki's Delivery Service
Why it might be better: While Kiki in the movie and the book are pretty characteristically similar; the stunning panoramic scenes of Kiki's adventures in the movie bring the book to life.
Movie description: A young witch named Kiki and her chatty black cat, Jiji, befriend a bakery owner. Kiki is an enterprising young girl, but she must follow tradition in order to become a full-fledged witch. Landing in a far-off city, and with the help of her new friend, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world.
Why it might be better: Think of the movie adaptation as the SparkNotes version of the book: it's shorter, more action-packed, and condenses the (fictional) science in a way that everyone watching can find entertaining.
Movie description: Jurassic Park takes you to an amazing theme park on a remote island where dinosaurs once again roam the earth and five people must battle to survive among the prehistoric predators.
The Princess Bride
Why it might be better: This is a tough one because any book that can make you laugh deserves the spotlight, but the film adaptation has memorable one-liners, boasts a great cast, and is a cult classic.
Movie description: Based on William Goldman's novel of the same name, The Princess Bride is staged as a book read by a grandfather to his ill grandson. This tongue-in-cheek fairy tale depicts stable boy-turned-pirate Westley's journey to rescue Buttercup, his true love, away from the evil prince. With help from Prince Humperdinck's disgruntled former employee Miracle Max, swordsman Inigo Montoya, and a very large man named Fezzik, the star-crossed lovers are reunited.
Why it might be better: I absolutely love Coraline the book. It's magical and is a twisted version of Alice in Wonderland. However, if it wasn't for the movie adaptation, we would never meet the endearing Wybie Lovat (voiced by Robert Bailey Jr.) or Keith David as the voice of Cat.
Movie description: A young girl walks through a secret door that she has found in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life but much better. When her adventure turns dangerous and her counterfeit parents, including the Other Mother, try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home—and save her family.
The Color Purple
Why it might be better: Similar to The Princess Bride, the book version of The Color Purple tells so much more than the movie, and there's more depth to the characters' stories. However, the movie is a great adaptation, so instead of saying it's better than the book, I will say it enhances the book and encourages people to read more of Alice Walker's work.
Movie description: Living in the rural American South, an uneducated woman who was raped by her father, deprived of the children she bore him, and forced to marry a brutal man she calls "Mister" is transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women, acquiring self-worth and the strength to forgive.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Why it might be better: Honestly, this movie and this book are both excellent given the time they were made and the subjects that couldn't be shown on film. So, put this one up there with The Princess Bride and The Color Purple as movies that are A+ adaptations.
Movie description: A chance encounter in a nursing home leads to an unexpected friendship between a dowdy housewife and a spry octogenarian who tells her the story of a fiercely independent woman half a century ago, inspiring the housewife to change her life, often with hilarious results.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Why it might be better: Not everyone will read a comic book but a movie adaptation casts a web (hehe) to a wider audience. Also, the soundtrack is *chef's kiss.*
Movie description: When Miles Morales, a teenager living in New York, becomes the new Spider-Man, he must team up with Spider-Man counterparts from other dimensions to save New York City from Kingpin.
Pride & Prejudice
Why it might be better: The lush green scenery, the time period costumes, and the enemies-to-lovers tension between Mr. Darcy and Ms. Bennet on the big screen does the book justice and beyond.
Movie description: The Bennets are the parents of five daughters near the close of the 18th century. Comfortable within their means but well short of rich, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are looking for suitable husbands for their girls. Eager to see if a match can be made, the Bennets bring their daughters Elizabeth and Jane to a ball thrown by their new neighbor. Jane seems to like Charles, and he appears to feel the same, but Elizabeth takes an immediate dislike to Darcy, Charles' egocentric best friend. Fate causes Elizabeth and Darcy to frequently cross paths, and while they don't care for one another, they can't stop thinking about each other, either.
Collection Management Librarian Andrea is an avid audiobook and manga reader. When she isn't chipping away at her reading list she's attending local pop culture conventions.