TMP: Books I’d Love to See Adapted to Screen

This week’s topic on Thursday Movie Picks brings us back to literature: we’re to share the books we wish were adapted to screen, but sadly haven’t. Two of the novels I chose I’ve read a long time ago (nine or ten years, to be exact) and never picked them up again, but they made such an impression on me that immediately I knew they belonged on this list. For that reason I won’t be able to give you great details on them, as they left me more with a feeling than anything else.

On top of that, while writing about movies is (mostly) easy now, for me putting my thoughts on books into words is still a pain! I think I don’t feel confident writing about them because I never studied (even self-taught) literature, so I know next to nothing about story structure, character arcs, narrative devices, style, etc. Anyway, I always try my best here – so scroll down for the three books I so wish were made into movies!

La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

#03 La Sombra del Viento, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Book one in the El Cementerio de los Libros Olvidados series, La Sombra del Viento is a mystery novel set in mid-20th century Barcelona, about a man’s quest to keep a book from being forgotten, and ultimately, to save his own life.

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
— Carlos Ruiz Zafón, La Sombra Del Viento

It’s one for the book lovers, quite obviously, but being filled with mystery, suspense, romance and secrets, I think it would make such a great movie. Like all books in this list, coincidentally or not, it’s incredibly atmospheric. But alas, the author has made it clear he won’t be selling the rights, so it’s unlikely the book will ever be seen on screen – let’s just hope it won’t be forgotten.

The Ballroom by Anna Hope

#02 The Ballroom, by Anna Hope

Once again, an enigmatic premise that delivers beauty and terror, this time against the backdrop of the moors of Yorkshire, in 1911. The Ballroom is set in an asylum where men were kept apart from women but for one night of the week, when dances were held in the great ballroom. It’s the love story of Ella and John, who meet on such a night – and so, it’s a romance novel. The setting is gloomy, which together with the challenges that come with it and the character’s states (madness, you would presume), make this story so unique.

There are plenty of mad women in here. I’m not sure I’m one of them though.
— Anna Hope, The Ballroom

And it’s a nail bitter too, as the lovers try to be together against all rules and odds. Oh, and expect lots of tears. No news of an adaptation here, but then no news of the author refusing one either.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

#01 The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

Like with The Shadow of the Wind, it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve read this one, for the first and only time. But again, it left me with such a strong feeling that to this day I cherish it. Not only that, but looking back, I think it steered me towards many of the things I love today. I must’ve been 15 or 16 when I got a copy of The Secret History, simply because it had an intriguing title (ahh, easy times). So reading about Greek mythology, the dark allure of beauty and the violence of men, even classical sculpture, got me positively obsessed with all these things as a teenager, and now well into adulthood.

Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.
— Donna Tartt, The Secret History

In The Secret History, a small group of students is caught in the web of their own exclusive little college club, seeking truth in all these themes and seeing just how far they’d go to find it. Reading it, is feels like you get access to this elite club that lives by its own rules. It’s hypnotizing, and dark, and beautiful, and it would make one hell of a movie in the right hands. Sadly, again, it seems like Tartt is not inclined to allow it – though in this case, it might be for the best.

Have you read any of these books?
What books would you like to see adapted to screen?
5
  • I have read The Secret History, and similar to you, I read it years ago and hardly remember it. It took me a while to actually realise I’ve read it, because I picked the book up in Estonian. Since then, I’ve read Tartt’s The Goldfinch and plan to read The Little Friend. I would love to see a movie adaptation of The Secret History, and I think since I own both of her other books, I should buy and reread The Secret History as well.

    Really intrigued by your second pick too by the way!

    • Oooh I read it in Portuguese, but I actually got a 1992 edition of The Secret History second hand while on a trip, like… 7 years ago maybe? Haven’t read it though, so I’m the same as you right now. I do want to buy a pretty new edition because, well, books.

      The Little Friend never caught my eye, not sure why. But I do own The Goldfinch, just haven’t gotten the courage to read it, yet!

      The Ballroom is a dream, but dark, and so sad. You should definitely read it!

  • Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Secret History, I still believe it’d make a great movie!

  • I’m so happy to see I’m not the only one who picked La sombra del viento. But like you/I said on Instagram, maybe it’s better if it doesn’t become a film. For the sake of those who loved it.

    • It’s such a good book, and a special one for book lovers. So yes, maybe it’s for the best 😅

  • Jay Nixon

    All these sound terrific and would make fine films. I’m most intrigued by The Ballroom, the setting and story seem made for film. I’ll have to check out the book.

    This was a fun change of pace exercise and being a reader I have dozens of books I think would make good films but these three are a trio of my faves that I think would lend themselves to the screen the best.

    How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater (2005)-Comic novel by Marc Acito tells the tale of young sexually confused Jersey teen Edward Zanni and the lengths he goes to his senior year when his divorced father marries gold-digging shrew Dagmar and she blocks his way to attending Julliard. Helping Edward are his group of very resourceful and game friends, free spirit Paula D’Angelo, enterprising Natie Nudelman (affectionately called Cheesehead), Edward’s sometime girlfriend, perky blonde Kelly, exotic Persian transfer student Ziba and football jock Doug Grabowski who’s more at home with the theatre geeks than his sport cronies. Together, with the sometime reluctant help of Paula’s dotty Aunt Glo, they scheme to defeat the rapacious Dagmar and make Edward’s musical dream come true.

    The Queen’s Man (2000)-In the year 1193 young Justin de Quincy witnesses the murder of a tradesman on the road from Winchester to London. As he lies dying the man hands Justin a letter and begs him to find a way to get it to the queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Letter in hand he’s brought into Eleanor’s presence and her confidence leading to a world of intrigue and danger as Eleanor plots to save her favorite son, Richard the Lionhearted whilst her grasping younger son John schemes to seize the throne. Great historical detail and an engaging lead character makes a good adventure.

    A Cast of Killers (1986)-In 1982 author Sidney Kirkpatrick is commissioned to write a biography of King Vidor, director of classics The Big Parade and Stella Dallas among many others. Delving into Vidor’s papers he discovered a trove of research that the director and his good friend former silent star Colleen Moore had compiled on the unsolved 1922 murder of film director William Desmond Taylor. Putting the Vidor bio aside for the moment Kirkpatrick built on the existing research and plunged into the jazz mad world of the twenties where men with vague pasts such as Taylor’s could rise to the level of respected film director. Along the way he acquaints the reader with the many people, shaded by Vidor’s intimate knowledge of the film community of the time, involved in the case including the two stars, comic legend Mabel Normand and supposedly innocent Mary Miles Minter, whose careers were destroyed in the scandal and the massive cover-up and graft that protected the killer, whom Vidor deduced, for decades. A fascinating story begging to be filmed.

    • Thanks for this comment, Jay. I’m happy you thought The Ballroom was interesting, it does seem perfect for a movie!

      I never heard of any of your picks, but A Cast of Killers sounds particularly interesting, especially because of the hollywood setting 😊

  • I didn’t enjoy The Secret History. Too much pretentious over privileged college kids. Though I think it could be an interesting movie.

    • Oh they certainly were an insufferable bunch 😂 But I found them, the setting and the action intriguing so I ended up really loving the book! Well it is easier to sit through two hours of unlikeable characters, than through 500+ pages!