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13 New Shows and Movies Based on Books

Literary adaptations you won't want to miss this fall

Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter and Lily James as Mrs de Winter in the Netflix film Rebecca and Jeff Daniels as James Comey in The Comey Rule

Kerry Brown/Netflix; Ben Mark Holzberg/CBS Television Studios/Showtime

Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter and Lily James as Mrs. de Winter in "Rebecca." Jeff Daniels (right) stars as James Comey in "The Comey Rule."

En español | Avid readers rejoice! This fall's new slate of streaming movies and TV shows is borrowing heavily from the bookshelf, with literary adaptations based on everything from classic horror (The Turn of the Screw) to political memoirs (James Comey's A Higher Loyalty) to pulpy crime novels (take your pick!). If you've already read the book(s), get ready to compare the adaptations. If not, consider this your tailor-made reading list!

The book: I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Ian Reid (2016)

The adaptation: I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Netflix

What to look for: Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is known for such labyrinthine, puzzle-like films as Being John MalkovichAdaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He brings his trademark twistiness to this surreal thriller with a deceptively simple premise: A young couple (Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley) take a road trip one snowy evening to visit his parents, played by Toni Collette, 47, and David Thewlis, 57. Go in knowing as little as possible and prepare to be surprised in every scene.

Where to watch: Out now on Netflix

The book: The Wallander series by Henning Mankell (1991–2011)

The adaptation: Young Wallander, Netflix

What to look for: Think of Inspector Kurt Wallander as Sweden's answer to Sherlock Holmes. Since his creation in 1991, the fictional detective has appeared in more than a dozen books, nine Swedish films, a Swedish TV show, and a British TV show starring Kenneth Branagh (now 59). The new Netflix prequel (if you couldn't tell by the name!) stars Adam Pålsson and traces the character's origins, with a twist: The action has been moved to the present day instead of the 1970s setting that the novels’ original chronology would have dictated.

Where to watch: Out now on Netflix

The book: The Van der Valk series by Nicolas Freeling (1962–1989)

The adaptation: Van der Valk, PBS

What to look for: This might get a bit confusing: Wallander is a Swedish detective created by a Swedish writer and sometimes played by a British actor; Simon “Piet” Van der Valk is a Dutch detective created by a British writer and played by at least five British and German actors across TV and film. Got it? We're not sure we do either. The original five seasons of the crime drama aired in the United Kingdom from 1972 through 1992; the sixth-season reboot, which appears in the U.S. as part of Masterpiece series on PBS, stars Marc Warren, 53, and uses wanderlust-inspiring Amsterdam locations as backdrops.

Where to watch: Out now on PBS


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The book: The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (2011)

The adaptation: The Devil All The Time, Netflix

What to look for: Set in the colorfully named town of Knockemstiff, Ohio, this Southern (Midwestern?) Gothic thriller follows the intertwined fates of a cast of unsavory characters in the years between World War II and the Vietnam War. Spider-Man's Tom Holland faces off against an evil preacher (Robert Pattinson), a corrupt sheriff (Sebastian Stan) and a couple of serial killers (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough—Elvis Presley's granddaughter!).

Where to watch: Coming Sept. 16 to Netflix

RELATED: Love a thriller? Have we got a booklist for you. Check out our critics’ latest favorites here: 9 Thrilling Mysteries for Summer Reading

The book: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald by Errol Morris (2012)

The adaptation: A Wilderness of Error, FX

What to look for: Known for documentaries such as The Thin Blue Line and the Oscar-winning The Fog of War, filmmaker and former private investigator Errol Morris released this true-crime book about Jeffrey MacDonald, a Green Beret surgeon convicted of killing his wife and two daughters in 1970. Did he do it? Before you rush to judgment, consider all the clues in this five-part docuseries from the producers of HBO's The Jinx.

Where to watch: Coming Sept. 25 to FX

The book: A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey (2018)

The adaptation: The Comey Rule, Showtime

What to look for: One of the first dramatizations of the Trump era, this adaptation of the former FBI director's memoir stars Jeff Daniels, 65, as James Comey, and Irish actor Brendan Gleeson, 65, as the president. Expect a who's who of acting heavyweights playing ripped-from-the-headlines political figures, including Holly Hunter, 62, as former acting attorney general Sally Yates; and Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks, 73, as former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Where to watch: Coming Sept. 27 to Showtime

The book: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (2013)

The adaptation: The Good Lord Bird, Showtime

What to look for: James McBride won the National Book Award for his darkly comedic take on the life of abolitionist John Brown (played by series cocreator Ethan Hawke, 49), as told from the point of view of an enslaved teen nicknamed Onion (Joshua Caleb Johnson). While the narrative takes some unexpectedly raucous turns, history buffs will love how the story weaves in such famous figures as J.E.B. Stuart (Wyatt Russell) and Frederick Douglass (Daveed Diggs). Diggs, of course, is no stranger to historic roles: He won a Grammy and a Tony playing the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the musical Hamilton.

Where to watch: Coming Oct. 4 to Showtime

The book: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

The adaptation: The Haunting of Bly Manor, Netflix

What to look for: The first season of Netflix's spooky anthology series, The Haunting of Hill House, was loosely based on Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel of the same name; the follow-up installment brings back much of the same cast and crew, but the action has moved to a country estate, where a young governess is hired to look after two children. Haunting, as the title suggests, ensues. If you recognize the actor playing Henry Wingrave but can't quite place his face, think back to the ‘80s: Henry Thomas starred as Elliott in E.T.!

Where to watch: Coming Oct. 9 to Netflix

The book: The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (1979)

The adaptation: The Right Stuff, Disney+

What to look for: Tom Wolfe's 1979 best seller, about the test pilots who would become America's first astronauts, was already adapted into an Oscar-winning movie, but there was plenty of story still left to tell. Executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, the new eight-episode series stars Patrick J. Adams (of Suits fame) as John Glenn and Jake McDorman (who played Murphy Brown's son, Avery, in the 2018 reboot) as Alan Shepard.

Where to watch: Coming Oct. 9 to Disney+

RELATED: Craving more space drama after The Right Stuff? Check out our list of the Top 10 Moon Movies here!

The book: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

The adaptation: Rebecca, Netflix

What to look for: You probably already know the plot of this classic Gothic romance from its acclaimed 1940 Alfred Hitchcock version, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine: Girl meets widower, girl moves into his estate, girl is haunted by the ghostly memory of his late wife. This new adaptation stars Armie Hammer and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again's Lily James, with Kristen Scott Thomas as the icy housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. The new cast has big shoes to fill — after all, the original won best picture at the 1941 Oscars.

Where to watch: Coming Oct. 21 to Netflix

The book: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (1983)

The adaptation: The Queen's Gambit, Netflix

What to look for: If you're a fan of the documentary Searching for Bobby Fischer, keep an eye out for this coming-of-age miniseries about an orphan chess prodigy — played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who starred in this year's uproarious Emma adaptation — as she navigates addiction on her rise to the top. Not familiar with the work of novelist Walter Tevis? You'll certainly know the other films based on his books: The HustlerThe Man Who Fell to Earth and The Color of Money.

Where to watch: Coming Oct. 23 to Netflix

The book: You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz (2014)

The adaptation: The Undoing, HBO

What to look for: Big Little Lies fans shouldn't miss this new psychodrama, which shares the same channel (HBO), producer (David E. Kelley, 64), and lead actress (Nicole Kidman, 53) as that Emmy-winning hit (The Night Manager Emmy winner Susanne Bier directs). Kidman stars as therapist Grace Fraser, whose life starts to unravel when she discovers that her missing husband (Hugh Grant, 60) may be involved in the murder of a young woman. Donald Sutherland, 85, costars as Grace's retired financier father.

Where to watch: Coming Oct. 25 to HBO

The book: The Highway by C.J. Box (2013)

The adaptation: Big Sky, ABC

What to look for: David E. Kelley's other new fall show draws on The Practice and Ally McBeal creator's decades as a master of the procedural. This time around, he's adapting this Montana-set mystery by prolific Edgar Award–winning novelist C.J. Box. Detectives Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe) team up with Cody's estranged wife, former cop Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), to track down two sisters who were kidnapped by a truck driver. If you get hooked on Cassie, you'll be happy to know she's the protagonist of four of Box's books.

Where to watch: Coming this fall to ABC

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