Books on the small screen

Catherine Coles
Coles Notes

Thanks to the many television network adaptations available through cable or streaming services, it’s easier than ever these days to experience your favourite books in a visual format. From The Handmaid’s Tale and American Gods to Outlander and Call the Midwife, it seems as through TV producers immediately turn to the literary world when coming up with ideas – half of what’s out there originated as a book! Here are five television shows based on books that are new to the small-screen or slated to arrive within the year. Remember to read before watching!

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

This modern classic depicts the struggles of a United States airman attempting to survive the lunacy and depravity of a WW II airbase. Set on the tiny island of Pianosa in the Mediterranean Sea, the novel is devoted to a long series of impossible, illogical adventures engaged in by the members of the 256th bombing squadron, an unlikely combat group whose fanatical commander, Colonel Cathcart, keeps increasing the men’s quota of missions until they reach  80. The television series adaptation was released on Hulu.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

This is an upbeat and zany novel of religious and social satire featuring a devil and an angel who join forces to prevent Armageddon (which would spoil their comfortable life-styles) by chasing down the Antichrist, a nice but invulnerable 11-year-old boy. If you are a fan of Douglas Adams (…or Gaiman or Pratchett, Good Omens’ enormously popular authors), you may enjoy this witty fantasy story.

You’ll find the television adaptation on Amazon Prime.

His Dark Materials (series) by Philip Pullman

The television version of His Dark Materials series, which will be packed with stars like Lin-Manual Miranda and James McAvoy, is coming to HBO and BBC One in late 2019. This series, which starts with The Golden Compass, follows Lyra Belacqua, whose life in Oxford is forever changed when she saves her uncle from an assassination attempt and learns of a mysterious substance called Dust. Children, including Lyra’s friend Roger, start to go missing and Lyra sets off on a rescue mission to the North.

This is just the beginning of Lyra’s adventures through multiple universes as she and her friends try to solve the mystery of the Dust.

The Loudest Voice in the Room by Gabriel Sherman

This non-fiction book offers an inside account of Fox News, including insight into its operations and influence, covering the original launch of the cable news network by Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch and the ways in which Fox has become a dominant force in American politics. Interestingly enough, this book came out in 2013, before Ailes’ #metoo takedown and eventual death. The television show, which was released last month on Showtime, primarily focuses on the past decade when Ailes arguably became the Republican Party’s de facto leader.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, has written some of his own bestselling horror novels, including NOS4A2. When Charles Talent Manx, an unstoppable monster (think Pennywise) who transforms children into his own terrifying likeness, kidnaps her son, Victoria McQueen, the only person to ever escape his unmitigated evil, must engage in a life-and-death battle of wills to get her son back.

The television adaptation was released last month on AMC. With the book topping out at 700+ pages long, this might be the one to watch instead of read!

All of these books can be borrowed from your local library branch.

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