Five TV Shows Based On Books That You Should Find Time To Read

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With the popularisation of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, binge-watching television shows has become a favorite pastime for a lot of us.

What you may not have realized, however, is that many popular TV series got their stories from the pages of best-selling novels. If you want to understand the full story behind the show, you may want to curl up and read the following bestsellers before you hit “play” on that remote.

13 Reasons Why


This Netflix series, which is popular with a younger audience, tackles the controversial and sensitive topic of teen suicide. The series is based on the 2007 young adult novel of the same name, written by Jay Asher.

While the show focuses on a series of cassette tapes explaining the reasons 17-year-old Hannah Baker commits suicide, it remains true to the novel.

However, the writers expanded upon the relationships between the main characters, extended the timeline, and also incorporated the use of modern technology like smartphones, which heightens the level of bullying and gossip among Hannah’s tormentors.

Orange Is the New Black

Now in its sixth season, Netflix’s wildly popular series Orange Is the New Black is based upon the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman.

The book and show follow the lives of Piper and her fellow inmates through a deeply flawed fictional federal prison system, Litchfield Penitentiary. While they share the same name, the TV series is only loosely based upon the book; as everything from the backstory of other characters to Piper’s own escapes are pure fiction.

Game of Thrones

Die-hard fans of HBO’s blockbuster TV show Game of Thrones know that the series is based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling series “A Song of Fire and Ice.”

While the first season closely mirrored the action in the first novel, A Game of Thrones, which was published in 1996, the writers of the TV show have made major plot changes in later seasons, including whether characters live or die, how they’re portrayed, and with whom they’re romantically involved.

Martin had contributed one script per season in the past; he is now focusing on finishing the last novel in the series. He however, remains a producer on the show.

House of Cards

Many fans know that the Netflix show House of Cards spun out from the 1990 BBC series of the same name. What binge watchers may not realize is that the entire series is based upon the “House of Cards” trilogy by Michael Dobbs, which was first published in 1989 and recants the dark side of British Parliament.

While the British series shares draws a lot of similarities with the novels, the U.S. version recants the tale from the perspective of an American politician, set in Washington, D.C. instead of Westminster.

Unfortunately, the show has not been without real-life controversy, with lead actor; Kevin Spacey fired from the show in 2017 following allegations of sexual assault.

The Handmaid’s Tale

the handmaids tale
This TV show is based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning dystopian novel of the same name. The Handmaid’s Tale TV series has achieved critical acclaim for its dark portrayal of totalitarianism in New England, following a fictional Second Civil War.

The series, which runs on the streaming service Hulu, stars Elisabeth Moss as the protagonist and narrator Offred. Despite the fact that the series follows the novel’s plot quite closely, changes were made to make Offred more rebellious and scenes were expanded to flesh them out in more detail.

Atwood is not involved with the production of the series, but the show’s lead writer, Bruce Miller, has said he consulted with the author when making changes to the plot and characters.



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