The Ultimate List of Movies that No One knows were Based on Books

movies based on books

It’s always shocking to me when I really love a movie and then find out that it was a book first. It’s one of those “why didn’t I know this before?!” kind of moments. These movies based on books include a Disney Channel Original movie…

When I was writing my post on 8 film-to-book adaptations that I would love to “see” my initial list was huge! Once I narrowed it down, I found out that many movies that I love or enjoy were books first. 

When I say “movies that no one knows were books first” what I really mean to say is “movies that I didn’t know were books first”. 

So… let’s begin!


1. Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

movies book

“ After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own”. 

2. Room by Emma Donoghue

“Held captive for 7 years in an enclosed space, a woman and her young son finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time”. 

This story is so heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. If I had watched it on the big screen, I’m sure that I would’ve bawled my eyes out at the end. Even if I already know the story, I bet that if I read this book, I would still cry so many times. 

3. One Day by David Nicholls

“After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Emma are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not, on that day”.

Both the screenplay and the novel is written by David Nicholls, so I wouldn’t believe it if someone told me that the movie was awful compared to the book. 

4. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

“Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it”.

Okay, I know this is a Netflix series and not a movie but still…! I can’t believe this one is based on a book. I don’t watch horror movies so I’ll (probably) never read this book either.

Btw, for people who read and watch horror stories, which one is scarier; the movie or the book? 

5. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

“Willowdean (‘Dumplin’), the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen, signs up for her mom’s Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town”.

This was really doesn’t seem like it was based on a book huh? I watched the trailer and would have never guessed that it was a book first. It has this sort of plot and vibe that makes it seem like it was always a movie. Do you know what I mean? 

6. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

“An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within”. 

This movie actually goes on my list of Top favorite movies ever

I actually watched this one by accident one night when I didn’t know what to watch on Netflix and ever since I’ve always recommended it. I specially recommended it to friends when they want to watch a romantic-dramatic movie that will give you all the feels.  

Also, this is one of the movies that first came into mind when writing my post: 8 film-to-book adaptations that I would love to “see”.  AND it was then when I googled this movie that I read that it was based on a book! 

7. The Martian by Andy Weir

“An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assumes that he’s dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive”.

Am I really the only one who didn’t know this movie was based on a book after watching it?! 

After I watched The Martian on the big screen I remember thinking that it was such a refreshing and original story! I immediately loved the fact that a good movie could be made without there being any sex scenes, murder, or tragic deaths involved. 

8. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

“The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program”.

Empowering intelligent women working at NASA in the 1960s. Let me tell you that up to this date by just watching the movie trailer I still get goosebumps. 

9. The Duff by Kody Keplinger

“A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts”.

This one I’m 99% sure that half of you didn’t know was a book first. I actually found out a couple of hours ago. 

I didn’t love this movie but I wouldn’t have guessed that it was written by a high school senior. 

10. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

“Aliens and their Guardians are hiding on Earth from intergalactic bounty hunters. They can only be killed in numerical order, and Number Four is next on the list. This is his story”. 

I actually found out that this movie was based on a book after googling the reason why The mortal Instruments was canceled after the first movie and finding an article named “YA book adaptations that were a flop at the box office” or a title similar to that one. 

11. Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

movies based on books

“Five high school kids, Olivia, Wendall, Stella, Charlie, and Mo, meet in detention and start a band based on the lemonade vending machine outside the detention room”

Yep. One of the best Disney Channel Original Movies ever made was based on a book. 

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

“A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of ‘watchers’”. 

I did watch the movie and haven’t read the book but I feel like the book was better than the film in this case. Idk why but I wouldn’t be surprised if the book was actually better than the movie.


Your Thoughts:

Was there any movie from this list that you didn’t know was based on a book?

Is there any other movie that you were shocked when you found out that it was a book first?

  1. Putri

    I Am Number Four is based on book? The movie is pretty popular but why I never know it? .-.

  2. Jawahir

    Whattttt Silver Lining Playbook and Lemonade Mouth are based on books! Brooklyn had such beautiful cinematography, so I then read the book and sad to say it was so boring…👀

  3. London

    I didn’t find The Haunting of Hill House book scary at all, so I think it’s safe for you to read! The show, on the other hand, stay far away from. It’s really good but really scary, and I’m a scary movie junkie so that’s saying something.

    • val @behindthatstory

      Good to know! Thank you for the advice haha 🙂 I’ve never watched the show because it looks too scary so I don’t think I’ll watch it any time soon but now I really want to read the book


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