jack nicholson and co. in one flew over the cuckoo's nest

7 Classic Books Made Popular By Their Movie Adaptations


Whenever a book becomes popular, the laws of pop culture thermodynamics ensure that it will receive a film adaptation. But what happens when a lesser-known book is enshrined in the people’s hearts by a turn in movie theaters? Option your books–they just might make it big!


  1. “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke


2001: A Space Odyssey cover

Image courtesy of Wikipedia


Clarke and Kubrick worked together on the “2001” project together, with the two men collaborating on both the film script and the novel’s manuscript. Though not as trippy or visually stunning as the film classic, “2001” is nonetheless a quintessential SciFi read from one of the best in the genre. It’s also a little easier to understand, warranting several sequels before Clarke’s death. 


  1. “The Prestige” by Christopher Priest


The Prestige

Image courtesy of Goodreads


Fresh off directing “Batman Begins”, Christopher Nolan brought this magical thriller into the world, in the process alerting the masses to the source material by Christopher Priest. Though seeing the film first may spoil some of the twists, Priest’s world is intoxicating enough to draw in even the most jaded of readers.



  1. “Q&A” by Vikas Swarup 


Q&A cover

Image courtesy of Vikus Swarup 


An Academy Award winner for best picture, “Slumdog Millionaire” would never have existed were it not for Swarup’s 2005 tale of a poor young Indian man earning the big bucks on a popular TV game show. A diplomat by profession, Swarup was inspired by a rapidly modernizing India and real-life game show scandals to craft this funny and moving portrait of a kid and his tireless country.


  1. “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar


a beautiful mind cover

Image courtesy of Goodreads


Before the film “A Beautiful Mind”, Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash was almost solely known in math and academic circles. The immense critical and commercial success of the Ron Howard film, however, catapulted Nash’s story and the book it was derived from into the larger culture. Unlike the film, which took many liberties in its depictions of Nash, Nasar’s account is detailed and true to what really went down in its subject’s colorful and often-tragic life.


  1. “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk


fight club cover

Image courtesy of Amazon


“Fight Club” the book did decently upon it’s 1996 publication, but it’s the 1999 film adaptation with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton that truly made Palahniuk’s work a household name. If you ever wanted to know where the very-twisted characters and concepts of that cult favorite came from, then look no further than the source.


  1. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey


one flew over book cover

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“One Flew Over” was adapted into play only one year after its 1962 release, but it was the 1975 Jack Nicholson-starring film that truly cemented it in the world’s imagination. A pointed critique of contemporary psychiatry, the film’s haunting plot and imagery continues to draw new readers to the novel—even though Kesey reportedly disliked the finished film.


  1. “Mommie Dearest” by Christina Crawford


mommie dearest cover

Image courtesy of Wikipedia


What started life as a fairly trashy celebrity tell-all transformed into a cult classic for the ages with a 1981 film adaptation. Faye Dunaway’s ghastly performance as an off-her-rocker Joan Crawford helped this seriously flawed film survive far past its expiration date, while at the same time ensuring that Crawford’s daughter, Christina, would always find an audience for her account of her famous mother’s bizarre abuse.


Featured image courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.