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Our pick of some of the best book to film and TV adaptations, from One Day to Dune

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Dune (Warner Bros.)
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Dune (Warner Bros.)

One Day, David Nicholls's 2009 novel of the same name, is getting the telly treatment, with Molly Manners' adaptation of the book coming to Netflix on Thursday (February 8).

Starring Ambika Mod (This Is Going to Hurt) and Leo Woodall (The White Lotus) as university friends Emma and Dexter, the new 14-part series will reimagine Nicholls's celebrated love story, which was previously adapted into a 2011 film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. The novel drops into the lives of Emma and Dexter over a 20-year period.

From blockbuster films based on the Harry Potter books and the wildly popular TV adaptation of Game of Thrones, to indie projects such as the Oscar-winning The Quiet Girl and screen versions of classics such as Hitchcock's Psycho – so many of the world's best films and TV shows started out as books.

It isn't remotely surprising, either: a lot of the heavy lifting is done by the author who has spent years mapping out a universe, or developing complicated characters.

As we wait for the release of One Day, here are some of our favourite films and TV series that began on paper.

Dune

It took 50 years for a director to successfully adapt Frank Herbert's futuristic tome Dune for the screen: previous efforts had never quite captured the mystery, nor size, of his interstellar universe. But then along came Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival), who had been obsessed with the novel since reading it as a teenager and adapted it using his signature minimalist style. The result was an astonishing Oscar-winning sci-fi film with a star-studded cast, and an incredible score from Hans Zimmer.

The Godfather

So good was Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's 1969 novel, that despite The Godfather book having sat on The New York Times Best Seller list for 67 weeks, it's Coppola, not Puzo, who is most closely associated with the title. Coppola's 1972 film adaptation was an instant classic, picking up nine Oscar nominations and winning three. The film is exquisite it every sense: the colours, the themes, the acting, the music, the camera shots.

Call Me By Your Name

Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name picked up four Oscar nominations, and took home one Academy Award. But it's best remembered for hard-launching the career of Timothée Chalamet – not to mention for that peach scene. The beautiful film, which told the story of two young American men who fall in love in Northern Italy started out as a book first: André Aciman's acclaimed 2007 novel.

Normal People

BBC 3's 2020 adaptation of Normal People was always destined to be a mega-hit: Sally Rooney's 2018 novel was a best-seller and transformed the Irish author into a household name. But, sealing the deal was the casting of two then-unknown names: Daisy Edgar-Jones was Marianne, while Paul Mescal was Connell. The world was smitten right away, and the series picked up dozens of awards.

The Quiet Girl

This Oscar-nominated Irish language film, which was directed by Colm Bairéad, is about a nine-year-old girl from a dysfunctional family who goes to spend a summer on a farm. It’s an adaptation of Claire Keegan’s exquisite novella Foster, which packs an absolute punch, as does the film.

Pachinko

This Apple TV show is based on the 2017 best-selling historical fiction novel of the same name by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee. Pachinko was a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and the novel tells the story of Korean immigrants living in Japan from 1910 up to the modern day.

Gigantic and ambitious, it was a major undertaking for creator Soo Hugh to turn it into a TV show, but it all turned out incredibly well. The series received critical acclaim including earning an Emmy Award nomination. Both are worth reading and watching.

Breakfast At Tiffany's

Truman Capote's 1958 novella, Breakfast at Tiffany's momentarily became a bit of an albatross for the author: while it brought the New York socialite international fame, and was adapted into the classic romance starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, it also pigeon-holed him as a certain kind of writer. Capote fought furiously against this, and published his pioneering non-fiction book, In Cold Blood, in 1965.

Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin’s work really isn’t for everyone. The 75-year-old author, who wrote the novels that inspired Game of Thrones and its spin-off series House of the Dragon, is known for the violent and sexually explicit content of his books. Remember, the graphic stuff was toned down for television, and there were still some scenes that were tough – to put it mildly – to watch. However, the epic fantasy novels, which were inspired by the War of the Roses, have sold as many as 90 million copies and been translated into 47 languages. The series was also a massive hit, picking up awards, millions of fans, and running for an admirable eight seasons.

Wuthering Heights

Director Andrea Arnold’s take on Emily Brontë’s masterpiece is a real thrill: raw, heady, strange, and beautiful. A very different beast to previous adaptations, it divided critics upon its release, but it is now widely viewed as the Gothic novel’s most electrifying reimagination.

Big Little Lies

Any TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty's 2014 New York Times best-seller novel, Big Little Lies, was likely to do well. But it was a match made in heaven when Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon picked up the book's screen rights – the duo developed, executive produced and starred in the series. They were joined on screen by Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, Meryl Streep and Shailene Woodley, and the show became one of 2017's biggest hits.

One Day will be released on Netflix on February 8