Authors create worlds with their words. However, it is us readers who give shape to the characters and worlds of books with our imagination. While reading books, we immerse ourselves in the story of the characters. For us, the characters become real. We already imagine them to be a certain way. The news of our favorite books transformed into series exhilarates us. At the same time, we are filled with a foreboding sense of trepidation. We are skeptical about the ensuing depiction of our favorite books on screen. We are unsure if the makers would be able to do justice to our imagination. While sometimes we are happy with the results on screen, other times we are less than satisfied. Let us look at the series from different genres that gave wings to our imaginations by bringing our cherished book worlds on screen.
A Foray into the Pages of History
Book: Outlander Series
Author: Diana Gabaldon
The Outlander series has continued to win our hearts since its publication on June 1st, 1991. Gabaldon has nine books published in the series to date. Just after the end of WWII, Claire Randall and her husband take a trip to the British Isles. To Claire’s utter astonishment, she finds herself in 1743 Scotland after walking through an ancient circle. Claire meets Jaime and thus starts an inconceivable love story that spans across timelines.
Ronald D. Moore decided to bring Claire and Jaime’s story to the small screen in 2014. Catríona Balfe and Sam Hueghan masterfully bring the characters of Claire and Jaime to life in this enthralling series. The background music and setting make the reader feel like a part of ancient Scotland. As of now, we have 6 seasons. A seventh season is on its way to delight the audiences. Outlander is a series worth watching for all historical romance fans.
Political Intrigue in a World of Fantasy
Book: A Song of Ice and Fire
Author: George R.R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire is one series that enjoys unprecedented success. The first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996. Since then, George R.R Martin has been enchanting readers with the intrigues of Westeros. All the great houses have been grappling to get ahold of the Iron Throne.
The series became the inspiration for the fantasy drama series Game of Thrones. David Benioff and D.B Weiss first enlivened Westeros on our screens in 2011. Since then, fans all over the world had been waiting for winter to come. After a run of eight seasons, the series finally concluded in 2019. Though the series pleased almost everyone with its beguiling sets, spectacular VFX, and amazing acting, it is worth mentioning that the eighth season did not live up to the expectations of many. Still, that does not undermine the spectacular run of the previous seasons. Fans of the books and the fantasy genre, in general, should definitely watch the series. Please note that children and people who are not fond of violence and sexual themes should think twice before giving the Game of Thrones a try.
Life as Young and Lively New Yorkers
Book: Gossip Girl
Author: Cecily von Ziegesar
Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar is a teen fiction with an edge. The book is closely based on the author’s real-life experiences while at Nightingale-Bamford School. First published in 2002, the book mainly follows Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen. Both belonging to the elite class of New York’s Upper East Side, their ever-changing dynamics of friendship and enmity set the tone for everyone in their circle.
The amazing reception of the book urged Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to create a television series based on it for The CW. Released in 2007, the series took the streets by storm. The fashion and the jet-setting lifestyle depicted in the series awed many. Knowing the identity of Gossip Girl intrigued everyone. The creators gave us six seasons filled with fashion, friendship, love, and betrayal. Blake Lively, who played Serena van der Woodsen, and Leighton Meester, who played Blair Waldorf, are still household names. The immense popularity of the Gossip Girl series gave way to a sequel that was released on HBO Max in 2021.
Small Town Friendships
Book: Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane follows Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart as they traverse the enigmatic road from childhood to adulthood. They are only teenagers when they meet in the 70s. Yet, the bond they form seems impenetrable. It is truly a treat to see the socially awkward Kate and the uber-cool Tully complete each other. It is worth watching whether their friendship passes the test of time and ever-changing situations.
In the year 2021, Maggie Friedman decided to adapt this heartwarming book into a series for Netflix. Though not always true to the book, the series does justice to it. The way the series flashes back and forth between the past and future gives it a unique panache. The beautiful music and the swoon-worthy locations make the series a visual treat. Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke bring the characters of Tully and Kate to life. Their teenage counterparts, Ali Skovbye and Roan Curtis do a great job as well. Netflix is all set to bring us back to the nostalgic lanes of Seattle with a second season of Firefly Lane which is set to release in 2022.
Back To Childhood
Book: The Baby-Sitters Club
Author: Ann M. Martin
Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club was all the rage in the 80s and 90s. Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacy McGill are the founding members of a babysitting service called the Baby-Sitter’s Club in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. The series chronicles the lives of the preteens as they run their business. It deals with issues like divorce, moving, friendships, illness, and death in a simple and no-nonsense manner. The personal narratives hit home and warm our hearts.
In 2020, Rachel Shubert decided to bring this coming of age series to our screens. The first season of ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ was released on Netflix in July, 2020. I must say, the creators did a magnificent job. They retained the retro charm and the innocence of the books. At the same time, they added modern elements to appeal to contemporary audiences. Sophie Grace as Kristy Thomas, Monona Tamada as Claudia Kidhi, Shay Rudolph as Stacey McGill, and Maria Baker as Mary Anne Spier truly brought the struggles of preteens to life on the screen. The series is a hidden gem with its masterful acting, story-telling, sets, and music. It is a pity that it was not renewed for a third season despite stellar reviews.
Anyone willing to relive the seemingly uncomplicated life of childhood should give this book a try. The Baby-Sitters Club is a perfect watch for children and adults alike.
In addition to the aforementioned series, I would like to make some special mentions that I am sure would appeal to many.
Book: Bridgeton Series
Author: Julia Quinn
Long before Chris Van Dusan and Shondaland decided to make the binge-worthy Bridgerton series in 2020, fans of Regency Romance novels were enthralled by Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series. All the eight Bridgerton siblings have captivating romances of their own told in different books of the series. Naturally, many were skeptical when they got to know that their favorite novels would be turned into a TV series.
The Netflix series did a great job in bringing the haut ton of 19th century England on our screens. However, I have to mention that the series took many creative liberties. The seamless inclusion of people of color not only raised the eyebrows of some sticklers of history, but also gained the appreciation of many. The immense popularity of the first two seasons has prompted the makers to not only renew the series for new seasons, but also create a prequel revolving around the older generation. Bridgerton is a must-watch for all fans of Regency Romance.
Book: 13 Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why is a thought-provoking young adult novel that urges us all to introspect. Hanna Baker is only in the first year of high school when she commits suicide. She leaves behind seven double-sided tapes. On the tapes, she talks about the thirteen people and events that prodded her to take such a drastic step.
The 2007 novel was adapted into a series that was released on Netflix in 2017. It is noteworthy that Selena Gomez is one of the executive producers of the show. Though the series does not follow the book to the letter, it does explore myriad serious issues like depression, suicide, rape, and peer pressure among teenagers. Among others, Dylan Minette and Katherine Langford play their respective characters of Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker meticulously. The critical and popular reception of the series led the directors to create a total of four seasons as of now extending the original plot of the novel. The 13 Reasons Why series is one of its kind and definitely worth a watch.
Even though it is a tad disconcerting for us bibliophiles when we get to know that our beloved books are all set to be adapted into TV series, it also brings an unexpected rush of excitement. It is undeniable that there are some marvelously made series the premise of which originally took seed from books. These series open the gates of the world of reading to many. People for whom books are just mundane and tedious bits of knowledge find themselves reading the books that inspired their favorite series almost inadvertently. I am sure that even as this article is being penned, there is a plethora of book-inspired series being planned. So, let us all give a rest to our skepticism and watch how our imagination is visualized in the form of books that inspire TV series.
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2 thoughts on “From Imagination to Visualization: 5 Best TV Series Inspired by Books”
I love Kristin Hannah! I didnt know one of her books had been adapted into a series. Immediate binge watch. I did read “Thirteen Reasons Why,” but the adaptation was so controversial that I chose not to watch it. Very interesting post, Thank you!
Interesting and informative post, Kajori!
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