These Netflix Shows Based On Books Will Have You Entertained From Start To End
And yes, comics count as books.
It’s always a cool feeling to find out one of your favorite TV shows is based on a book — even better if it’s a whole series. The onscreen book adaptation is far from a new concept, but it does seem to be more popular in Hollywood than ever, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. You may actually be surprised by just how many Netflix shows are based on books.
Sometimes, tuning into a television or movie adaptation of a book you’ve read can be nerve-wracking since it’s common for themes and scenes to be changed or even omitted for the screen adaptations. Or maybe the acting performance differed from how you interpreted the characters on the page. Either way, it’s usually fun to see a story you love interpreted in a totally new way.
Netflix has an impressive résumé of films like The Kissing Booth, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Dumplin’, and Moxie that all count books as their original source material. And when it comes to television series, the streaming platform has tons of great selections. It’s always exciting to learn that a show you love has more to explore in the form of a book, or vice versa. So, whether you’ve read these books or plan to read them, you won’t be disappointed to have started watching these shows.
1. The Witcher
Before Henry Cavil popped up on the screen as Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter with magic powers in Netflix’s The Witcher in 2019, and even before Geralt captivated fans via graphic novels and video games, the character lived within the pages of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher book series. The first book was published in 1994, but the series would not have come to be without Sapkowski’s 1986 short story The Witcher that he entered into a writing competition. The rest is history.
2. Virgin River
Viewers were introduced to the world of Virgin River in December 2019 when Season 1 was released on Netflix. It was easy to fall in love with the quaint outpost in California’s redwood forest that was created by Robyn Carr, the author of 21 and counting Virgin River books. Originally published in 2007, the small-town love story is one viewers still can’t get enough of over a decade later.
With Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes producing and a diverse cast telling the stories, Bridgerton was an immediate success when the world was introduced to the story back in December 2020. But the hit show was actually inspired by author Julia Quinn’s 2000s book The Duke and I, which followed the story between Daphne and the Duke of Hastings. Quinn received much success for the book and went on to write seven more Bridgerton books that each follow the love story of each sibling. The Netflix series is expected to do the same with its upcoming seasons.
4. Shadow and Bone
Netflix’s Shadow and Bone made waves when it debuted in 2021, and the show was inspired by an equally popular book series that started in the early 2010s. The streaming platform has since confirmed that it will be continuing the story of Alina Starkov with a second season.
In yet another young adult show inspired by a fantasy novel, the 2020 series Cursed follows the character of Nimue (Katherine Langford) as the plot unfolds a retelling of the Arthurian legend. But before Langford gave life to the character, Nimue lived on the pages of Thomas Wheeler’s 2019 novel Cursed. Illustrated by Frank Miller, the novel leaves room for a potential sequel, but there hasn’t been any updates on this front from Netflix.
6. Sweet Magnolias
Fans who’ve watched Seasons 1 and 2 of Sweet Magnolias may be interested to hear the story doesn’t stop there. The show is based on author Sherryl Woods’ novel series on the southern town of Serenity, which contains a whopping 11 books in total.
7. The Queen’s Gambit
Anya Taylor-Joy became everyone's favorite chess player when fans saw her in the role of Beth Harmon in 2020’s The Queen’s Gambit. But Beth was actually first introduced to the world in 1983, when author Walter Tevis published his book of the same name. Much like the book, the show does an excellent job of telling Beth’s coming-of-age story and challenges within the male-dominated world of chess.
When viewers were introduced to the love triangle that developed between Billie Connelly (Sarah Shahi), her ex-boyfriend Brad (Adam Demos), and her husband Cooper (Mike Vogel), things got heated real quick. The 2021 show was inspired by B.B. Easton’s 2016 memoir titled 44 Chapters About 4 Men, in which Easton discusses how her secret journal about her ex-boyfriends changed her marriage.
If you can’t get enough of Joe Goldberg’s unethical and unhinged ways, then maybe give the book trilogy his story is based on a try. Joe first graced the pages of author Caroline Kepnes’ book You in 2014, and she later published two follow-up books, 2016’s Hidden Bodies and 2021’s You Love Me, that follow Joe in new adventures.
10. The Haunting of Hill House
The 2018 horror series The Haunting of Hill House actually goes all the way back to 1959, when renowned author Shirley Jackson first published her gothic novel of the same name. Jackson’s novel is considered one of the 20th century’s best literary ghost stories and has been made into two feature films, The Haunting (1963) and The Haunting (1999). The Netflix series is a very loose adaptation of the book, but many key elements are still there.
11. The Haunting of Bly Manor
This horror story dates back over 100 years, as it’s based on a series of short stories penned by Henry James and published under the title The Turn of the Screw by Collier's magazine in 1898. Prior to Netflix’s adaptation of the horror story, Jack Clayton’s 1961 film The Innocents and Floria Sigismondi 2020’s The Turning were also popular variations of James’ work.
When Lupin was released on Netflix in January 2021, it quickly became the most-watched non-English series on the platform, per Newsweek. The thief and master of disguise Arsène Lupin was created by French author Maurice Leblanc in his 1905 short story The Arrest of Arsène Lupin. Between the years 1907 and 1941, all of Leblanc’s short stories on the character were compiled into 24 books. In 2011, the 25th book was released posthumously after a relative of Leblanc discovered Lupin’s story was not over.
13. Tiny Pretty Things
In this teen murder mystery, viewers are captivated in Episode 1 when Cassie Shore (Anna Maiche) falls off the roof of an elite ballet academy. The season has many twists and turns, as does the book it’s based on, which was published in 2015 by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. Although Netflix did not renew the show for a second season, fans can still check out the sequel book, Shiny Broken Pieces, to get more dancing drama.
Before Sarah Paulson’s notorious line as Nurse Ratched, “Help! He's escaping! The killer is escaping!” blew up on TikTok, the character of Nurse Ratched was first depicted in Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Nurse Ratched is the main antagonist and regularly revokes the patient’s personal rights. Netflix’s Ratched is a prequel to that story, giving audiences a glimpse into the experience that made her the way she became.
When Netflix’s Maid dropped on October 1, 2021, viewers were captivated with Alex’s (Margaret Qualley) story of single motherhood, domestic abuse, and, eventually, hope. The limited series was inspired by Stephanie Land’s 2019 memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive, which tells the story of Land’s real-life experience with poverty in America.
All these series are available to stream on Netflix.