Let’s start this list with a disclaimer: you need to read the book before you watch the film. It’s a rule k? Personally I love watching film adaptations of books that I’ve read but always go in with the lowest of expectations. That way there’s nothing to be lost – you either confirm your suspicions that your own brain was far superior in conjuring up the images or you’re pleasantly surprised. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be for authors to watch their own creation come to life on the screen. I’m sure the squillions of dollars they get for the rights to the screenplay helps soften the blow though.  

Trust me when I say that every book/film on this list is worth your time… just remember the golden rule: read before watching.

 

Notes on a scandal 

I stumbled across this book while cruising the Karori library during my student days and quickly realised I’d found a winner. The film came out just months after I’d read it and despite the excellent actresses in the lead roles (Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench) I still went in sceptical. Never lose faith in the Dench, she will always deliver and this film is no exception. Old mate Judi absolutely nails the somewhat unhinged narrator… but that’s all I’m saying cause if you’re yet to read/watch this one, the less you know about it the better.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 

I mean all of the films in the HP franchise are great but there’s something special about the first one. Perhaps it’s because it set the bar. I’m pretty sure you could hear a collective sigh of relief from Potter geeks worldwide as they came out of the cinema happy to have seen their precious Harry brought to life so perfectly for the big screen. They really nailed the casting of the core characters and with legends like Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane and John Cleese thrown in, it’s no wonder this film does justice to one of the best children’s books of all time.

 

Room

Oh my god, this book. Honestly, if you haven’t read it yet then please stop what you’re doing immediately and get to it. This is one of those ones where I feel jealous of people who haven’t read it yet and wish I could go back to my first reading. I was recommended it years ago and thought the way that Emma Donoghue transports you into the mind of a four year old was pure genius. When I saw that the film was coming out I went ‘nup, that’s not gonna work’ but I was wrong guys. The film doesn’t try to replicate the book but instead delves deeper into the life of the mother in the story, earning the woman who played her (Brie Larson) the Best Actress Oscar.

 

American Psycho

Before Christian Bale was Batman he was a psycho and a frickin convincing one at that. This novel was revolutionary for its time and poor old Bret Easton Ellis was trolled haaaaard when it came out. At the time (1991) there was no such thing as a lovable badass protagonist ala Frank from House of Cards so it was pretty shocking for people to read a novel about rape, murder (and worse) written in the first person perspective of the psycho himself. The film still manages to keep that intimacy and as a viewer you feel almost like an ally watching Patrick Bateman go about his psychotic business.

 

A Clockwork Orange

I broke my own rule on this one and saw the film before I read the book. Thankfully both are golden. Having seen the film I thought I knew what I was in for but let me tell you, this book actually invades your brain. It’s difficult to get into as Anthony Burgess pretty much coined a language (Nadsat) that the lead character Alex and his Malchicks (gang) speak in. This is another first person one so after an initial struggle you eventually find yourself thinking in the language which is freaky as hell but super cool at the same time.  

 

Trainspotting

This was another back to front discovery and again, this book was pretty hard to get into given the stream-of-consciousness narrative but once you’re in you’re all in and feel like part of the furniture. Ewan McGregor is fantastic in the film adaptation and the soundtrack has got to be one of the best of all time. Recently we watched the sequel which although completely unnecessary was actually pretty decent. The original soundtrack peeked through every so often and the whole core cast returned which was pretty impressive in itself.

 

The Girl on the train

I read this one as I was living the London commuter life and just another girl on the train myself. It struck me as so utterly British that I couldn’t help but think the worst when I saw the American trailer for the film. Thankfully Emily Blunt doesn’t put on an accent and saves this one from straying too far from the book. You’ll probably be able to call the ending a bit quicker in the film but it still manages to keep you on your toes.