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Looking for something to do? Read these books, then watch their on-screen adaptations

Holly Viers • Apr 13, 2020 at 12:30 PM

If you’ve been stuck at home due to COVID-19, chances are you may be running out of things to do.

If that’s the case, why not catch up on some reading? One of my favorite pastimes, not just during this time but anytime, is to read books that have been adapted into movies or shows, then compare them. (The books are almost always better, but it’s still fun to watch the stories play out on screen.)

Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

1. “Little Fires Everywhere”

Read the book: If you’re looking for a bit of mystery, this is a great choice. This 2017 novel by Celeste Ng follows the picture-perfect Richardson family and a new-to-town single mother who threatens to upend their lives. In one of my favorite novel layout styles, the book begins by giving you a glimpse of the ending, then works its way back through everything that led up to it.

Watch the show: The book has been adapted into a miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. The show is a Hulu exclusive, and new episodes premiere every Wednesday.

2. “Stargirl”

Read the book: If you have young people at home, this is a good option for them. This 2000 novel by Jerry Spinelli follows Leo, whose high school is disrupted by the arrival of Stargirl Caraway, who is singled out for her differences. Often referred to as a “celebration of nonconformity,” the book garnered high praise, along with several awards, for its inspiring message.

Watch the movie: A film adaptation starring Grace VanderWaal was released last month and can be streamed now on Disney Plus.

3. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (series)

Read the books: If you’re in the mood for some lighthearted romantic comedy, check out this series by Jenny Han. The series follows Lara Jean, a high school student who’s written secret love letters to all her crushes. But when her secret letters somehow get mailed to their subjects, Lara Jean has to deal with the repercussions.

Watch the movies: The first two books – “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “P.S. I Still Love You” – have been adapted into movies starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo. Both are available for streaming on Netflix.

4. “Looking for Alaska”

Read the book: Older teens might enjoy this coming-of-age tale from John Green, which tackles powerful themes like grief and self-discovery. The story follows Miles Halter, who leaves home for boarding school in an attempt to discover his “Great Perhaps.” While there, he meets Alaska Young, a wild and unpredictable girl with a troubled past.

Watch the show: The book was adapted into a miniseries starring Kristine Froseth and Charlie Plummer. All episodes can be streamed now on Hulu.

5. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”

Read the book: Fans of historical fiction may enjoy this 2008 novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Set in 1946 and told through a series of letters, the story follows writer Juliet Ashton and her discovery of an extraordinary society on the island of Guernsey during the German occupation.

Watch the movie: A movie adaptation starring Lily James was released in 2018 and is available for streaming on Netflix.

6. “A Wrinkle in Time”

Read the book: Though it was published in 1962, Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery Medal-winning novel still attracts new readers today. The story follows Meg Murry and her brother, Charles Wallace, as they travel through time and space to find their father, who disappeared while working on a tesseract, otherwise known as a “wrinkle in time.”

Watch the movie: The book was adapted into a 2018 movie starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. It can be streamed on Disney Plus.

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