If you do a little online digging, it might surprise you to learn how many beloved movies actually started out as bestselling books and classic novels. Luckily, Netflix currently has a wide array of watch-worthy films that began as page-turners.
From the memoirs that were adapted into thrillers to the YA novel that became a mega-hit rom-com, here are the best Netflix movies based on books. How many of these timeless tales that took the big leap from page to screen have you seen?
The Fundamentals of Caring
Based on Jonathan Evison’s bestselling novel, The Fundamentals of Caring follows a down-and-out writer (Paul Rudd) suffering from writer’s block after a personal loss. He becomes the caregiver for a sarcastic teen with muscular dystrophy. These unlikely heroes set out on road trip across the great American landscape, ultimately arriving at a new perspective.
The book and Netflix flick both received rave reviews, so there’s no wrong place to start. “With the trip as our main narrative, the film focuses the characters on a specific task. Whereas the book has more time to develop Ben’s and Trevor’s relationship before they leave, the film drops us into this action almost right away and develops the relationship on the move,” per The Take.
Alison Brie told Vulture that while “the more abstract sci-fi threads” are inspired by her love of the genre, the mental-health aspects of Horse Girl are based on her “real-life family history with paranoid schizophrenia and depression.”
Here’s the psychological drama’s plot, per Netflix: A sweet misfit with a fondness for crafts, horses and supernatural crime shows finds her increasingly lucid dreams trickling into her waking life.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
There are many onscreen adaptations related to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, but this award-winning version is a little different.
Based on a collection of short stories, we follow Mowgli from his adoption story all the way to realizing his true purpose in the Jungle. We also learn his human origin story.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Jenny Han’s YA collection is now a smash-hit trilogy on Netflix. For those just catching up, Lara Jean is a quiet teen writing secret love letters to past crushes that she has no intention of sending. But the letters go out anyway.
Critics have said the movie version plays by the rom-com rules pretty well, even if it is a tad predictable. With that said, the adorably charming cast more than makes up for any parts you might see coming miles away.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that you can find one of Stephen King’s many made-for-movie stories on Netflix. And if you’re looking for an unsettling psychological thriller, Gerald’s Game is not a bad place to start.
Here’s the plot, per Netflix: When her husband’s sex game goes wrong, Jessie — handcuffed to a bed in a remote lake house — faces warped visions, dark secrets, and a dire choice.
Based on Stephen King’s novella, this horror flick unfolds on a Nebraska farm in 1922 and centers around a domestic dispute that turns sinister.
A couple can’t agree about what to do with their farm. The lady of the house wants to let the land go, but the husband and son decide things must end much differently, especially for her.
This gripping thriller isn’t just based on a book, it’s a true story. The Angel follows Ashraf Marwan, the high-ranking Egyptian official who became a double agent and helped achieve peace between two countries in the 1970s.
As an Egyptian man working as a spy for Israel, he’s endlessly walking a dangerous line in his efforts to do what’s right. No matter where you start, both versions are equally suspenseful and intricate.
Our Souls at Night
Starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, two widowed neighbors turn to each other for platonic companionship, but in a tale as old as time, they catch very real feelings for each other.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Based on the memoir of the same name by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind tells the tale of a brilliant 13-year-old Malawi boy who saves his farming village from starvation by building a wind turbine out of scraps.
The inspiring film adaptation marks the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and stars 14-year-old Kenya-born Maxwell Simba. Since starring in the film, he’s been offered a scholarship to attend the African Leadership Academy, the same prestigious South African school that the real-life Kamkwamba attended.
Brain on Fire
Based on Susannah Cahalan’s bestselling memoir, Chloë Grace Moretz takes the lead in this bizarre true story about a medical mystery. The deeper the plot goes, the more it becomes a quest to recapture one twenty-something woman’s identity.
A New York Post reporter’s life is turned upside down when she starts having strange neurological symptoms including psychosis, memory loss, and seizures. Once she starts looking for a diagnosis, she winds up with more questions than answers.
A Fortunate Man
A Fortunate Man is based on Lucky Per, the late 1800s eight-volume novel written by Danish Nobel Prize-winning author Henrik Pontoppidan. In 2018, the movie version was one of three films shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.
Peter “Per” Sidenius’s life changes after being accepted into an engineering program and fleeing his devoutly religious family. But his own ambition proves his greatest threat. While the movie was met with lukewarm reviews, it was based on one of the most famous Danish novels in history, which has to count for something.
The Little Prince
Based on a famous French novella for children, this beautifully animated story-within-a-story follows an “over-scheduled girl” who befriends “an eccentric aviator.”
Starring Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy, and Rachel McAdams, The Little Prince travels across the universe, making poignant observations about life, love, and loss as we know it.
Directed by Emmanuel Mouret, this French period drama is inspired by a story in Denis Diderot’s 18th-century novel, Jacques the Fatalist. It was originally adapted in 1945 for the film, Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne.
Here’s the 2018 plot, per Netflix: When her romance with a lustful marquis takes an unwelcome turn, a wealthy widow concocts a scheme to get revenge — with help from a younger woman.
The Land of Steady Habits
Based on the novel by the same name, Rotten Tomatoes has called The Land of Steady Habits “one mid-life crisis worth watching” and we’d tend to agree. Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Edie Falco, and Connie Britton, the perfect-for-film story is a sharp, shrewdly funny, and hard-to-swallow slice of life.
For the most part, critics loved the movie just as much as the acclaimed book, often crediting the remarkable onscreen performances as much as the profound source material. If you’re feeling a story about rebuilding relationships, personal demons, and unavoidable self-discovery, start here.