From the pages to the screen, every year, multiple popular books from every genre make the journey from the magic of the written word to the magic of the small or big screen. Why strain your head trying to create more original shows and movies when books exist and are already perfect, popular and loved by thousands, if not millions, of fans worldwide?
Not that we are complaining at all! Some of the best TV shows and movies of the past couple of decades have been adaptations, and we’re lucky to have them! And when it comes to romance, we have been served hard. From puppy love to spicey love to dramas that leave you drawing in your tears, romance books have been the perfect material for adaptions for years.
We have asked around and made a list of what we believe to be some of the best and most popular romance books turned movies or TV shows. So if you’re looking for a new book to add to your TBR list, especially something you can later watch come to life on your screen, buckle up and get ready because we have some books turned movies or TV shows that will leave you swooning.
Romance From the Pages to the Screen
Book adaptations have a high chance of hit or miss when they are turned into movies or TV shows. Especially in fantasy books, the margin of error is so large! Production companies need huge budgets to be able to build the intricate world of fantasy books in real life and make them look magical while still being believable (think Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings).
However, the job becomes so much easier when it comes to romance. All you need to do is capture the chemistry between the leads, and everything will fall into place. Because what is romance if not two people who look at each other and then the world falls apart around them? These movies we chose had just the right vibe: romance, cuteness, love, chemistry and a plot that will leave you asking yourself, “Me and who?”.
So without any further ado, let’s talk about some of the best-adapted romance books!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
This adorable trilogy has captured the heart of readers worldwide (me included) with its cute couple, wonderful sister dynamics and the experience of trying to stay true to your culture among people who don’t belong to it.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before tells the story of Lara Jean Song-Covey, a high school sophomore who, since she was a child, wrote letters to every single crush she ever had but never sent them. In the act of good faith, her little sister tries to help her get her love life moving and sends those letters to all the boys Lara Jean loved before. One of those boys is the charming popular lacrosse team captain Peter Kavinsky. Using the trope of fake dating, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before perfectly captured what it’s like to fall in love for the first time.
Netflix adapted the three books into a trilogy of adorable movies starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo in the lead roles of Lara Jean and Peter. The first movie came out in 2018, with two sequels coming out consequently in 2020 and 2021. The Netflix movies are just as cute as the books, perfectly capturing Lara Jean and Peter’s chemistry and launching Lana Condor and Noah Centnieo into worldwide stardom.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Jenny Han has the recipe for successful teenage romance books that make it to the screen and get even more love! The Summer I Turned Pretty is another trilogy by Jenny Han that talks about the change from childhood to adolescence.
The story follows Belly, a teenager who, together with her family, has spent every single summer with her mother’s best friend and her two sons at a beautiful house by the shore. But this summer, Belly is no longer a child. She’s a young woman with a young woman’s body and mind. She gets caught in a love triangle between Conrad and Jeremiah, her mother’s friend’s sons, and the casual summer by the beach is no longer what it used to be.
The first book was adapted by Prime Videos in 2022 to great reception and much love. The series stars Lola Tung as Belly, Gavin Casalegno as Jeremiah and Christopher Briney as Conrad. This beautiful and charming coming-of-age story will remind you of what it felt like to spend your teenage years by the beach and fall in love with the sweet smell of the summer air. Season 2 just dropped in 2023, so make sure you catch up!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A classic on paper and a classic on the screen. Pride and Prejudice is a story that survived the test o time with its strong-minded heroine who stays relatable no matter what medium she’s in. Most of Jane Austen’s stories, if not all of them, have been adapted at some point in history, but none has been as successful as Pride and Prejudice.
The story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, who fall in love despite their families’ social and economic differences, has been adapted into multiple movies and a mini-series. Each adaption has had its own flavour and its own magic. Never the same and always amazing in its own way, the Pride and Prejudice adaptations leave a mark.
Since 1933, there have been seventeen Pride and Prejudice adaptions. Some of the best are 1995’s Pride and Prejudice mini-series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Firth’s shirtless scene as Mr Darcy still lives rent-free in everyone’s minds almost 30 years later. Another successful adaptation is 2005’s movie starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. This movie and the scene where Mr Darcy stretches his fingers after holding Elizabeth’s hands are some of the best things ever happening to cinema.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Is it romantic? Yes. Are you going to be bawling like a little baby when it ends? Also yes. Me Before You is one of the saddest books we have ever read and consequently had one of the saddest adaptations ever made. Even Emelia Clarke’s infectious smile couldn’t save this story from its inevitable ending.
Me Before You tells the story of Louisa, a bubbly, happy young woman with no idea what she wants to do with her life. She moves from one job to another, never making a plan or taking risks. Louisa works as a caretaker for a recently-paralysed young man called William Traynor. Unlike Louisa, William used to be energetic and up for any adventure life throws his way. As William tries to convince Louisa to add some flavour to her life, he hides a secret intention that will change both their lives.
This book was adapted into a feature film starring Emelia Clarke as Louisa and Sam Claflin as William. Despite its mixed reviews by critics, the movie has been a commercial success and even won a People’s Choice Award in 2016. If you are up for some star-crossed lovers with no chance at happiness together, situation then Me Before You is the movie you’re looking for.
Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
From a Pulitzer-prise-winning novel to a ten times Academy Award-winning film, Gone with the Wind set the tone for what it means to be a successful adaption that lives on. Despite the criticism it gets today for its stereotypical deception of African Americans in the South, Gone with the Wind is still considered a classic of American storytelling.
Taken place at the start of the American Civil War, Gone with the Wind follows the story of Scarlette O’Hara and her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes. Both coming from rich Confederate families, Scarlette and Ashley pursue each other romantically despite both being involved and even sometimes married to other people. Gone with the Wind is a story of forbidden love, betrayal and giving your heart away.
The novel was adapted in 1939 to great accolades. It won ten of its thirteen Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. It was the highest-earning film of its time and was widely loved by audiences and critics. Even though the movie doesn’t hold up in today’s social and political climate, it’s at least worth watching for its lasting effect on American cinema.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
A story of fantastical creatures, daring adventures and true love that conquered all, The Princess Bride is a must-watch and a must-read for romance lovers everywhere. Does the story make any sense? Maybe not, but that only adds to its undeniable charm.
The Princess Bride follows the story of Westly, a farmhand in love with a beautiful young woman named Buttercup. As Westly leaves his homeland trying to make a name for himself and enough money to marry Buttercup, Buttercup is forced to get engaged to a local Prince. When Westly returns, he and Buttercup face challenges to continue their love story and marry.
William Goldman, the author of The Princess Bride, is also the screenwriter of the cult classic movie. The film starring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright as Westly and Buttercup was well received in its time and later became a cult classic film for romance lovers. Despite its modest box office success, The Princess Bride is now part of the Library of Congress and is considered a pillar of American cinema. If you’re looking for a romantic adventure with princess and princess and true love, this book and movie is for you!
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Another classic inspires every classic, and Bridget Jones’s Diary chose the best of all classics, Pride and Prejudice. However, as you read or watch Bridget Jones, you must know that similarities are there but are also very small, and Bridget Jones’s Diary stands on its own as a story for the ages.
Helen Fielding writes the delightful story of Bridget Jones and her pursuit of true love. The story is told through Bridget’s diary entries as she writes about her career, her eighth and her journey to finding Mr Right. As she gets into a love triangle with her charming boss Daniel Cleaver and her haughty childhood acquaintance Mark Darcy, Bridget takes her time getting to know them both. A story of romance, friendships and a ton of misunderstandings, Bridget Jones’s Diary fit the screen perfectly.
The film adaption was released in 2001, starring Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones, Colin Firth as Mark Darcy and Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver. The handsome and talented cast made the movie an instant hit and a British romantic comedy classic.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Twilight is a pillar of the 21st century that changed the lives of countless teenage girls. Whether you’re a fan or not, no one can deny Twilight’s power and influence on YA literature and teenage fantasy movies.
Twilight is the story of Bella Swan, who moves to Forks, Washington, to live with her dad, only to fall in love with Edward, a handsome young man who turns out to be a vampire. Instead of the usual reaction, one would get to such news, Edward and his blood-sucking family enamour Bella and even finds herself in the middle of a love triangle between Edward and his nemesis and her friends Jacob, a werewolf. This fantastical story of love, jealousy, friendship and magical creatures is a cult classic that will live on forever.
The highly successful book series by Stephenie Meyer was adapted into a highly successful film series starring Kristen Stewert as Bella Swan, Robert Pattinson as Edward Collin and Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black. We don’t know if it’s possible that someone might not have watched Twilight yet, but in any case, this adaptation is a must-watch for people who love romance with a touch of danger. Choosing your team, Team Edward or Team Jacob is not too late!
The Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith
Another vampire classic with an unforgettable love triangle that fueled many girls’ teenage dreams for years! The Vampire Diaries books and TV series are supernatural teen dramas that were highly successful in the 2000s and remain a classic worthy of a yearly rewatch!
There are thirteen books in the universe of The Vampire Diaries, seven of which are written by L. J. Smith. The original series follows Elena Gilbert and Stefan Salvatore as the main character and narrators of the series. The book’s original story follows Elena, a human, and Stefan, a vampire, as they investigate mysterious events in the town of Mystic Falls, which is filled with mystical creatures.
The TV adaptions differ greatly from the original source material. The biggest difference is the love triangle between Elena, Stefan and Damon and the fact that Elena truly loves and chooses Damon over Stefan. There are many other differences, but that did not stop the show from becoming a great hit and having a dedicated fanbase for years.
The Vampire Diaries TV show stars Nina Dobrev as Elena, Paul Wesley as Stefan and Ian Somerhalder as Damon. With eight seasons from 2009 to 2016, The Vampire Diaries won several People’s and Teen Choice Awards and had a dedicated fan base, making the show successful.
So many other romance books made their way to the screen to great reviews and even better audience reactions. Romance is a genre that will never get old because we humans will forever seek love and connection, and when we see it on paper or the screen, our hearts call for it.