Another post to do with lists 🙂 So, we often talk of our favourite books being adapted for the big screen or TV (or now, Netflix), and also about how the book is so much better (which is almost always the case–there are a few exceptions though). But this post, as you would have noticed from the title is not about that.

Groucho Marx once said, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Perhaps, that is the thing to do for the most part but sometimes, TV can lead you to find some of those books you escape it to read. And that is what this post is all about. The books that I “discovered’ because of film- and TV-adaptations. Here are some of these:


anne of gg

Anne of the Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Back in school, when some of the boarders (I was a day-student) put on a tape of a 1985 (I think)  version of Anne, I found I really enjoyed the story a lot. This was, as far as I remember, the first three books put together but with some plot changes including Roy Gardner not appearing at all. But anyway, the series lead me to discover that this was based on the books by Montgomery which I went on to read. And of course, I loved the little redhead and her adventures on Prince Edward Island, when I read the book. Much later, I found more of her books thanks to a Shelfari friend, and now she is one my favourite authors.


north and south

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I happen to see the first episode of the 2004 BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South on TV, with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe (who I recognized as the ‘dentist’s daughter’ from the other show My Family that I watched some episodes of) and finding it interesting immediately looked it up. At first my search led me to the 1980s series by John Jakes set around the American Civil War, but soon enough I found the ‘right’ book, and read along as they aired the series on TV. I loved this story which was about the issues of differences and clashes between the industrial north and agricultural south, between workman and factory owner, between culture and enterprise, and of the need to understand the viewpoint of the other. I have since then, read this book a few times, and also others by Mrs Gaskell, another writer I have added to my favourite authors list.


Miss pettigrew.jpg

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

I absolutely loved the 2008 film starring Fances McDormand and Amy Adams, and later found that this was a book. I finally read the book a few years ago with a book group on Shelfari, and it was sheer delight from cover to cover. If anything, the 1938 book was a touch more subtle, definitely less dramatic, and as enjoyable as the film. This light-hearted tale of a middle-aged governess who lands up at the wrong address, and into the house of the beautiful Delysia DeFosse, a mistake which changes both their lives was a wonderful read. The illustrations were an added bonus. Loved them!


twentieth wife.jpg

The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan

This one I “found” through a Hindi TV series called Siyaasat, which ran on the Epic Channel in 2014. This was an excellent series, and tells the story of the love of Salim/Jahangir, son of the Mughal emperor Akbar, and Mehrunissa, the daughter of one of his courtiers, a story which spanned many years, and many hardships before Mehrunissa finally became Jahangir’s wife. But of course, it is much more than mere romance, it is also a story of court intrigues, politics, and the always-ongoing battle between the heirs to the Mughal Throne. I loved the show and when I noticed it was based on this book, I ordered a copy and read it, and enjoyed it very much. The author I thought did a great job of fictionalising historical events.


ben hur

Ben Hur by Lew Wallis

This is one on my list that I haven’t really read yet (I featured this on Shelf Control # 12 earlier this week. Find that post here.) This was slightly different from the other entries on this list. I’ve seen the Charlton Heston 1959 film adaptation a few times, and found it fairly interesting. I particularly enjoyed the Count of Monte Cristo-type revenge story that it included and the exciting chariot race. This is the story of a Jewish Prince, Judah Ben-Hur who is betrayed by his childhood friend and falsely accused of treason, and who survives many hardships, encountering on his journey, Jesus, who offers him support and encouragement. But I had no idea this was a book till only some years earlier when I went through the 1001 books list where I found this listed. I’m looking forward to reading this and seeing the original story that translated into this and other film versions.



Longitude by Dava Sobel

Another book and author that I’ve written about on this blog earlier (find that post here). This I first came across from the TV series starring Sir Michael Gambon and Jeremy Irons, which tells the story of John Harrison, a self-trained carpenter and clock-maker who developed the marine chronometer and resolved a problem that plagued sailors for long, calculating longitude accurately when at sea, something that saved time, precious cargo,  and most importantly, also lives. Finding this was based on a book by Dava Sobel, I got and read this and enjoyed it very much. I have since read another of her books, and have a third on by TBR (all that is in the post linked above).


princess diaries.jpg


The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

This one I, of course, found from the film starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews which I like very much. This one’s the story of a high-school student who suddenly finds out that she is the heir to a small European kingdom, and how she copes with this huge change in her life. And while I found and read the first book, in this case, the film for me was far better, and I didn’t really enjoy the book very much.


The Oz Books by L. Frank Baum

The Wizard of Oz–well, not quite the Wizard of Oz since I knew that as a book first (I did enjoy the Judy Garland adaptation)–in fact this was one of the books I enjoyed as a child. But what I “discovered” in this case from adaptations, mostly animated ones, but also one, if I remember right, with people, were the other Oz books. I had absolutely no idea that Baum had written fourteen of these books (and some other authors have written more). I’ve since read the Marvelous Land of Oz and have a couple of others waiting on my TBR. Lots of fun!

So that is my list, or at least as many as I can remember at this point, of books that I found through TV and movies. Are there books that you found this way? Which ones? And how did you find them? Looking forward to hearing about them!


9 thoughts on “Books on the Screen: Some Reads I ‘Discovered’ from Films and TV

  1. I’ve seen Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day recommended several times but I still haven’t got round to it. And while I’ve heard of most of the others (bar the Indu Sundaresan book) I shamefully haven’t got round to them either! By the way, did you see the sequel film Return to Oz which came out in the 80s and which was a little bit more scary than the Julie Garland musical? Or the prequel Oz the Great and Powerful which was released about five years ago to indifferent reviews?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Miss Pettigrew is a really delightful read. You should pick up sometime.

      I have seen the recent Oz film though its been a while since I did (don’t remember it very clearly) but from what I remember I think it was fairly good fun. I didn’t remember Return to Oz at all but now that you mentioned it, I have vague memories of it coming to mind. Must look it up again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s an interesting approach. Yes, you are quite right. The film to book approach works quite as well as the book to film one. One doesn’t have to imagine the characters either, as you’ve already seen them, and know them quite well. I did the book version of ‘The Twentieth Wife’. Would probably not have heard of it otherwise. The same holds true of “The Wizard of Oz” series. In fact, even the first one I read long after seeing the movie, and my own sets of little reels for my Viewmaster, which I’m sure you’ve never even heard of.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We still have your viewmaster- though the Dorothy reel has vanished.

    I don’t think I’d have found Twentieth Wife either if it weren’t for the series. Both were really good.


  4. I remember doing a paper on Charlotte Bronte back in HS. Which of course led me to Mrs. Gaskell’s biography. But I never knew she wrote her own novels. Then a friend introduced me to the North and South DVD. What? Elizabeth Gaskell wrote this!

    Yes, I too discovered the book North and South from its movie. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So I wasn’t the only one 🙂 At least you had heard of Elizabeth Gaskell- I only found out about here after I looked up the adaptation. I read the Bronte bio much much after I discovered the novels.


  5. Loved this post! So great to know some other book-film adaptations! Followed you on your blog 🙂 Hope to see you on mine too! It’s See you there! ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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