Our Favourite TV Adaptations of Books

We don’t often think of the thick of summer as the prime time for watching TV. Mid-year daydreams typically involve the warmth of the sun on your face, a picnic blanket, perhaps a seaside setting if you can swing it; but definitely not tanning by the flickering light of a flat screen. But, this summer, the office is abuzz with all the addictive TV that’s been programmed. We’ve already had a debrief on just how delightful the children (though, not so much any more — how did that happen?) of Stranger Things are in season 3. We’ve sheepishly, but not shamefully, discussed our favourite couplings and recouplings of Love Island. And we blasted through the five episodes of Chernobyl last month… no pun intended.

But all this small-screen consumption has, of course, reminded us of our favourite TV shows that were first debuted in book form. So if you need anything else to to get stuck into this summer, here are our recommendations (read-a-long entirely optional):

Big Little Lies

If you’re not watching the second season of Big Little Lies, I need to you stop reading (that’s how serious this is) and immediately get to the nearest streaming service you can find. The TV version of Liane Moriarty’s claustrophobic suburban noir that debuted in 2014 adds an entirely new depth to an already layered story; and, inevitably, raises a few questions. How much, on average, do we think these women of Monterey spend on petrol during all those deep-in-thought drives around town? Is a public beach the best place to discuss the murder of your abusive husband? Cutting your hair into a blunt fringe post-traumatic event: coping mechanism or just coincidental stylishness? (Looking at you, Shailene Woodley’s character.) Either way, the ‘Monterey Five’ are just as dynamic on screen as they were when we met them in the pages, making this an essential watch.

Sex and the City

I know this one is a commitment, ringing in at 94 episodes over six seasons (not to mention a few film spin-offs), but trust me it is worth it. Sex and the City had its humble beginnings in Candace Bushnell’s collection of essays of the same name, which were originally published in her column for The New York Observer. Though written over 20 years ago, the topics are as timeless as they are universal. While the show often spins into a bit of chaos that could only be fueled by the fearsome foursome that is Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, there isn’t a single episode that doesn’t make you think, this is so true. SATC celebrates womanhood, friendship, love and freedom like few other books or shows have ever managed to do, which makes it a forever classic in our hearts. Optional reading also includes The Carrie Diaries, a YA prequel to the series, which is just as charming and relatable.


This series took me completely by surprise. It’s truly difficult for me to think of Penn Badgley as anyone other than the semi-boring Dan from Gossip Girl, so I wasn’t too convinced by the psycho-stalker-masquerading-as-caring-boyfriend role given to him in the TV adaptation of Caroline Kepnes’ You. But I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong. Kepnes warned us the dangers of believing everything you think you see in a new partner, and it becomes all too vivid when portrayed on screen. On second thought, maybe Dan from GG and Joe from You aren’t so different: unassuming person turns out to be something (or someone) you never expected. We see this niche typecast you’ve carved out for yourself, Penn…

Bonus: Normal People

So you won’t actually be able to watch this one this summer, but we’d be remiss to not give you something to look forward to. BBC3 and Hulu have announced that they’re adapting the novel from the sensational Sally Rooney into a 12-part series set to air sometime in 2020. The parts have been cast, filming has begun, and we can’t contain our excitement. Normal People stole our hearts and overwhelmed our tear ducts when it came out last year, so we can only imagine the havoc a series will wreak on our emotions; but consider us ready.

As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with your favourite TV series based on books!