Movies That Inspired You To Buy The Book

…or miniseries/whatever that caused you to do so.

I can’t claim to be a literary master, and so some of my most enjoyable reads have been from the novels I bought because I thought the movie was just so dang good.

For me, some examples (in no particular order) are:

The Winds of War
Get Shorty
Leaving Las Vegas
The Godfather

What are yours?


Do comics count? I never read any of the Hellboy books until I saw the movie.

Sure they do! It’s whatever, basically.

The Lord of the Rings - I read all 3 after seeing the first movie, and was glad I did.

Harry Potter - I read the first book after seeing the first movie, but it didn’t do much for me. I saw the second movie and was not inspired to read the book. I saw the third movie (finally, one I loved) but still wasn’t inspired to read the books. Then I saw a sneak preview of the 4th movie and felt so inadequate answering questions from die-hard Potter fans that I thought I’d better read the books. This was right as Half-Blood Prince was being released and I felt none of the excitement that everyone else felt, but I thought, cool for them. I started reading the first book the day HBP was released. I slogged through it and the 2nd book. They’re very tedious because they’re so simplistic, but there’s a lot of information there I felt I needed for the entire series so I suffered through.

By the end of the 3rd book I was well and truly hooked. I inhaled them after that. I finished all 6 in a week and a half, and THEN…THEN I understood what all the excitement had been about 2 weeks before. For the last book I’ll be right there in line at midnight for the book release. I re-read them again at a slower pace, and found the first two books, once I knew where it was going, weren’t as bad as I thought. I can’t blame anybody who’s tried to read the books and never made it past 1 or 1 & 2, but I’d urge people who enjoyed the basic story, but not those books, to keep on going. It gets much much better.

Tons of others, from The Perfect Storm to The French Connection to The Andromeda Strain. I like reading books after seeing the movies. Sometimes if I know a movie is being made, I purposely won’t read the book because I don’t want the movie to be spoiled for me. I’m that way right now with The Lovely Bones. I had wanted to read the book but never got around to it. When I found out the movie was being made I knew I wasn’t going to read it until after I’d seen the film.

I read The Godfather before I saw the movie though.

The English Patient.
Had heard of the book before the movie, but never read it. Actually preferred the film.

Bleak House.
Was inspired to read the book after seeing the BBC miniseries. Loved both.

I found the book after watching the movie quite a few times. The strangest example I have is Starship Troopers. The first, oh, three minutes of the movie intrigued me, but the rest was pretty meh. I was hoping the book had more along the lines of the beginning of the movie, and I was right.

In fact, I think that’s my reasoning whenever I buy a book based on a movie. The movie didn’t impress me, but seemed to have a nifty scene or idea or premise in it. I always reason that the best part of the movie will probably be par for the course in the book.

Like Water For Chocolate
I’m weird, I tend to have read the book first.
No movie was ever made based on Starship Troopers, you heretic! There isn’t even one with a coincidence in name. No way, no how. I got the book when I was 17; “how to have a chat with a soldier on his first leave” was a Basic Social Skill for any Spanish girl, back then. I used to read lying down on bed; fell off the bed several times; finally decided to stay on the floor after the scene where Rico describes wanting to stand guard at panel #4 because “you might hear a female voice some time” (not exact quote). A movie where the Philipino main character is played by Ben Affleck and the height of all interest is co-ed showers has never, ever been made.

Oh my. I was hoping mentioning ST wasn’t going to turn into one of those discussions.

I retract my statements; abort, abort!

As I’ve noted a number of times before, I bought The Fountainhead because I wanted to see if the book was anywhere near as swoony as the movie.

I saw Garp for Robin Williams. Then I bought the book.

A friend of mine rented Diggstown and insisted that even though it was a boxing movie, I would like it because it had James Woods and Lou Gossett, Jr. in it, so how could we go wrong? And he was right, I LOVED the movie. I found out it was based on a book called The Diggstown Ringers, so I looked for the book for a really long time before I finally found it through I was so excited - it was such a fun, well-thought out con-game movie…

I can’t even begin to imagine how anyone was able to pull such a terrific movie out of such a ridiculously bad book.

Cold Mountain. Awesome movie, awesome book.

I read Roots and Shogun and Lord of the Rings long before the movies came out.

There are plenty of cases where I was inspired to read the book, either to get the whole story, or to try to figure out what was going on. Too many to list.

The Day of the Jackal
The Flight of the Phoenix


Planet of the Apes
Gone With the Wind
The Thing**
The Day the Earth Stood Still**
This Island Earth
2001: A Space Odyssey***
Dr. Strangelove***
Breaker Morant*

and a whole slew of others.

  • Yeah, I know these are based on more than one book. I read at least one of them in each case
    **Really based on a short story
    ***Based on a shorter original work, which was reworked after/during the movie by the original writer to make a tie-in. I read both versions.

Ghostworld, enuf said

These movies inspired me to read the book or short story upon which they were based:

The Thing (“Who Goes There?”)
The Man Who Would Be King
The Postman (Yeah, yeah, I know. But I heard the book was better.)
Last of the Mohicans
The Last Man on Earth (“I Am Legend”) (I had seen The Omega Man, of course, but it wasn’t until I saw Vincent Price’s take on the material that I was inspired to read the story.)
Salem’s Lot

The Hours.

I used to regularly buy books that movies were based on, even if I hadn’t seen the movie, on the basic premise that if the book was usually better than the movie, and the movie got halfway-decent reviews, it would probably be a good book. For instance, I bought The General’s Daughter by DeMille because it had been made into a movie, even though I never saw the movie. I liked it so much, I ended up reading several other DeMille books and enjoying them.

Blade Runner --> Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep
I, Robot --> which was almost 100% different from the movie. “inspired by” indeed.

Nava, you’re all wrong. There was a comedy movie by the same name. Had about as much to do with the novel as the I, Robot movie/book. But, for some reason, the director/producers decided that it would make for great comedy if it was overacted and campy…

I go on and dredge up the novels that inspired some of my favorite old movies: Grand Hotel, Red-Headed Woman, Call Her Savage, Now Voyager, Double Indemnity (makes the movie look like a two-reel comedy!!), Back Street (a shocking tearkerker) . . .

V for Vendetta
The movie floored me. I rushed out to buy the book (graphic novel). As LifeOnWry said of Diggstown, I’m impressed how the Wachowski Bros. managed to pull such a terrific movie out of such lacklustre source material. They polished the heart and soul of the book, trimmed a ton of fat, added a layer of intelligence and even hope.

I’ve heard that Alan Moore, the author, was so violently opposed to these liberties that he disavowed all association with the movie. Indeed the credits read something like, “based on the graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd,” without mentioning Moore at all. Shame - the movie was far superior.