13 Books You Need to Read Before They Hit The Screen in 2021

Virtual book club starts now.

By Bridget Chambers
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Another year is here, and while most people are setting goals, I’m making a list of all the books becoming movies in 2021.

When it comes to reading versus watching, I’ve always been Team Book… but why choose? I personally love to read a book before it becomes a movie or TV show. This preference originated with reading the Harry Potter series as a kid and culminated with last year’s TV adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere

There’s just something about reading a book, imagining the setting in your head, dreaming up the characters’ faces, and then watching it through the lens of someone else’s imagination on screen. 

Sometimes it plays out exactly as you had imagined, and other times it leaves you disappointed, but I have always found the experience fascinating. During a summer job at a production company, I got to witness exactly how Hollywood can take a book and bring it to life on the screen. Insider information: it happens earlier than you think. Sometimes authors will send their unpublished manuscripts to producers before the book is even announced! Getting a glimpse into all of this “behind the scenes action” made me all the more interested in keeping my eye out for upcoming book adaptations and scrambling to read them before their release dates.

This year, I plan on being prepared. The following titles include some of my all-time favorite books, as well as a few that I’ve been wanting to read for years, but now I have a deadline. If you’re looking for a kickstart for your 2021 reading list, this is a great place to start. Read on for all the books becoming movies in 2021!

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 

Where the Crawdads Sing is one of those books that make you want to crawl into a cozy spot and read every page in one sitting… or at least that’s what I did! I did not want the story to come to an end, but I was simultaneously dying to get to the bottom of what was happening. This coming-of-age mystery novel truly transported me into a different world—a quiet coastal town in the 1960’s—and follows the life and experiences of the female protagonist, Kya “The Marsh Girl,” when someone in the town turns up dead. When I heard that a movie adaptation was in the works, I did not think I could be more excited, until I learned that Daisy Edgar Jones is set to portray Kya. Another plus? Reese Witherspoon is attached to the project, as well!

P.S. If you haven’t read Sally Rooney’s Normal People and seen Edgar Jones play Marianne, add this one to your list, as well. 

Release Date: TBA

The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Whenever someone asks me what my all-time favorite book is, I never hesitate to answer Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. This is one of the most anticipated book-to-film adaptations of the year, which will star Dakota and Elle Fanning as the Rossignol sisters. I must say that I am a little nervous to see it, however, because I am not sure how any film could top the brilliance that is this historical-fiction romance novel. I have read The Nightingale cover-to-cover twice now and plan on doing it again before the film comes out in December, and you should, too.

Release Date: December 22, 2021

Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Can you tell I love Kristin Hannah? I chose Firefly Lane as my favorite book of 2020 and cannot wait to watch Netflix’s TV adaptation. I actually read Firefly Lane after hearing that it was going to become a show, and then passed it along to my whole family so we could discuss it and watch the show together. The trailer has already been released, showing co-stars Katherine Heigl as Tully and Sarah Chalke as Kate growing up throughout three decades and facing all of life’s trials together. A testimony to friendship, family, sisterhood, and romance, this book will have you in fits of both laughter and tears. This show is coming out fast and this book is a tad long, so get to reading.

Release Date: February 3, 2021

The Last Letter From Your Lover

The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

While I have not yet read The Last Letter From Your Lover, anything that comes from Jojo Moyes is sure to be amazing. The film adaptation of her bestseller, Me Before You, is both a favorite movie and book of mine. Chicago Tribune writers claim the novel is full of “realistically complicated characters and [an] emotionally complex plot,” that makes “The Last Letter from Your Lover… hopelessly and hopefully romantic.” Along with the book’s glowing reviews, the star-packed cast list, including Shailene Woodley, Joe Alwyn, and Felicity Jones, has me excitedly anticipating this read and watch.  

Release Date: TBA

Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

This well-loved, romance classic inspired by the Book of Hosea in the Bible, is finally coming to life as a feature film starring Abigail Cowen, Nina Dobrev, and Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy fans, McSteamy is back!). Following protagonist Angel on her journey from prostitution to self-acceptance, forgiveness, and love, this book, and assuredly the movie, is hopelessly romantic. Every woman will want to find a man like Redeeming Love’s Michael. Don’t be intimidated by the length… the story sucks you in and you’ll be finished before you know it. You can get a first look at the making of the movie here.

Release Date: TBA

The Woman in the Window

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

For fans of The Girl on the Train and The Woman in Cabin 10, this psychological thriller must undoubtedly be your next purchase. The Woman in the Window follows an agoraphobic woman, portrayed by Amy Adams in the film, who spends her days drinking and staring out her window spying on her neighbors. When Dr. Anna Fox (Adams) sees something that she shouldn’t, the story takes a dark, twisty turn. Julianne Moore also stars in the film as a woman who befriends Fox. I plowed through this book, as will you, and cannot wait for the film to finally come out, for it has been pushed back multiple times.

Release Date: TBA

101 Dalmatians

101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Childhood me is excited! We all know that the 101 dalmatians themselves were never the stars of 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith… Cruella de Vil was! Well, this year, she will finally be featured in her own film entitled Cruella, starring Emma Stone. Fashion-obsessed and greedy, this antagonist will definitely translate well to the screen. The film also stars Emma Thompson as a Baroness. I, for one, can’t wait to see these two Emma’s put a dark twist on a classic tale. 

Release Date: May 28, 2021


Dune by Frank Herbert

When it comes to books becoming movies in 2021 this has to be one of the most anticipated. Although I might not consider myself a Sci-Fi lover, the hype around this book-to-movie adaptation has me dying to read Dune. Far in the future, Dune is set in an interstellar society where computers are banned, planets are controlled by Houses, and eternal human life is possible. Even if you don’t think you love Sci-Fi, you will definitely love watching Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoam, and more share the screen. Plus, this first film is part of a two-part adaptation of book one, so you technically could only read half to be prepared! Check out the trailer here

Release Date: October 1, 2021

Two Kisses for Maddy

Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matthew Logelin

This true story is at the top of my reading list… I’m just waiting until I’m ready for a good cry. Author Matthew Logelin writes about his marriage to his dream girl and high school sweetheart, Liz, and his struggles in raising their daughter after Liz’s abrupt death. The film adaptation is called Fatherhood, which will star Kevin Hart and is actually being produced by the company I worked for last summer.

Release Date: April 2, 2021

The Riencarnationist Papers

The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz

The premise of this novel immediately piqued my interest: there is a secret society that has access to every memory of their past lives. The story goes back and forth between the present and the past and follows protagonist Evan as he enters this society of reincarnationists. The movie is called Infinite and is set to star Dylan O’Brien, Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, to name a few. Watching all of the different time periods come to life should make for a very interesting film adaptation. Add this to your list of books becoming movies in 2021, stat!  

Release Date: May 21, 2021

Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty 

The next Big Little Lies is almost here! Nicole Kidman and Liane Moriarty join forces again to bring us a Hulu limited series based on Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers. The book is set at a wellness retreat that brings together nine city dwellers who are all in search of a life change. Upon arrival, the guests must surrender all technology, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, to ensure no worldly distractions. As things progress, the retreat itself, as well as its mysterious leader, Masha (Kidman), begins to make Frances, a struggling author portrayed by Melissa McCarthy, question what is really going on. Each character is so well-developed, with such unique desires and backgrounds, that I am very intrigued to see how it will translate to the screen. 

Release Date: TBA

Conversations with Friends

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney has one of the most uniquely beautiful writing styles that I have ever read. While I have not yet read Conversations with Friends, her novel Normal People was one of my favorite reads of 2020. Hulu already adapted Normal People into a limited series (it’s worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet), and the same team is now adapting Conversations with FriendsConversations with Friends, which was actually Rooney’s first novel, follows best friends, Frances and Bobbi, and their complicated relationships with married couple, Melissa and Nick. While no one is yet tied to this mini-series, if it is anything like Normal People, it will assuredly be incredible. 

Release Date: TBA

Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaugh 

The back of the book sums it up best: “Some people’s secrets are darker than others.” I am a sucker for any kind of thriller novel, and Anatomy of a Scandal promises a bit of everything—it’s chock-full of romance, mystery, lies, and politics. The TV adaptation of this courtroom drama will most definitely appeal to fans of Scandal and Big Little Lies. The stacked cast already includes Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery, and Rupert Friend. I am dying to get my hands on a copy of this book before it comes to Netflix.

Release Date: TBA

If reading more is one of your 2021 resolutions, you have no excuse but to get started now. You might even want to grab some friends and start a virtual book club… and then host a virtual watch party!

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