13 Books To Read Before They Become Movies In 2017

Get ahead of the curve with this reading list

Hidden Figures (HarperCollins, $44.99) by Margot Lee Shetterly

Why read it? It’s the incredible true story of the black female mathematicians whose tireless work behind the scenes made the NASA space race possible.

Why see the film? Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst all star in what is being pegged as the feel-good hit of the summer, out on February 16.

Anything else you should know? The soundtrack is curated by Pharrell. The music superstar was so impassioned after he read the script that he personally volunteered to take on the job to Shetterly (who also acts as the film’s producer).

Big Little Lies (Pan Macmillan, $14.99) by Liane Moriarty

Why read it? Liane Moriarty is one of Australia’s most successful authors, and this was the story that sent her star well and truly ascendant. The tale of a school trivia night that ends in the death of a parent, it’s about the secrets that we keep from each other (and why we should never let them bubble up to the surface so spectacularly).

Why see the TV show? When they say star-studded, this is what they mean: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgaard, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern and Adam Scott all star in this HBO mini series.

Anything else you should know? It’s the big, buzzy project helmed by Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard film company, an organisation dedicated to telling female stories. The company was a join production between Witherspoon and Australian producer Bruna Papandrea, but the two have since parted ways.

The Zookeeper’s Wife (HarperCollins) by Diane Ackerman

Why read it? Another incredible true story of a couple who saved hundreds of Jews from the Nazis in WWII-era Warsaw, by hiding them in the basement of their Zoo.

Why see the film? It promises to be a lavish historical drama, with Jessica Chastain and Daniel Bruhl starring. The movie hits cinemas on May 4.

Anything else you should know? The film has one of the most female-heavy behinds the scenes teams in recent memory: a female director (Niki Caro), a female screenwriter (Angela Workman), working from a female novelist’s book (Diane Ackerman), a female stunt co-ordinator (Antje Rau), a female camera operator (Rachael Levine) and three female producers (Diane Levin, Kim Zubick and Katie McNeill).

Wonder (Penguin) by RJ Palacio

Why read it? It was a heartbreaking, bestselling breakout hit in 2012 when it was released, telling the tale of a young boy born with a facial abnormality who desperately wants to fit in at school.

Why see the film? Last year’s Awards Season MVP – Jacob Tremblay, who broke everyone’s heart as the boy imprisoned with his mother in Room – stars alongside Julia Roberts.

Anything else you should know? The film is out on April 7.

The Lost City of Z (Simon & Schuster) by David Grann

Why read it? 2017 is going to be dominated by amazing true stories, and here’s another one: the tale of the last great British explorer who journeyed deep into the Amazon in the ‘20s.

Why see the film? It received rave reviews out of the New York Film Festival, with stars Charlie Hunnam and Sienna Miller receiving the bulk of the praise from critics, not to mention the lush, lavish cinematography of wild jungles.

Anything else you should know? Sienna Miller’s role goes above and beyond the usual long-suffering wife role, taking agency and control over the narrative and becoming arguably the most interesting character in the film, which is slated for release mix next year.

The Circle (Penguin, $22.99) by Dave Eggers

Why read it? You’ll never look at social media again. The bestselling story of a young girl who takes a job in customer service at The Circle – a Google/Apple-esque tech behemoth – and uncovers a huge conspiracy behind the scenes to “remake the world in its image”. Eek.

Why see the film? Because it looks so good. Emma Watson will star as Mae, wide-eyed and naïve, Tom Hanks is The Circle’s enigmatic founder, and John Boyega will play Kalden, a co-founder with his own agenda to push. That’s a pretty stellar cast.

Anything else you should know? It’s out on May 25

The Dark Tower series (Hodder, $69.99) by Stephen King

Why read it? This is the ne plus ultra when it comes to epic fantasy series, following an enigmatic hero as he battles against good and evil.

Why see the film? It’s been a long time in the making, and when the casting was announced last year – Idris Elba as the ‘Gunslinger’ hero, Matthew McConaughey as the evil sorcerer, and an 11-year-old kid from the real world who chances upon the series’ alternate dimension Mid-World – the Internet exploded. The movie will hits cinemas on July 27.

Anything else you should know? It’s not going to be a strict adaptation of the books – they’re picking up the story from number four, and are taking more of a “fresh take” on the series. Also, Aussie Abbey Lee stars.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Why read it? It’s a smart pageturner, about the sole survivors of a devastated plane crash who have to learn to trust each other in order to make it back to civilisation.

Why see the film? There’s an interesting romance subplot – Ben is a doctor on his way back from a medical conference, Ashley is a writer heading to her wedding to a different man – that could place this movie (out October 19) at the interesting nexus of drama, thriller and romance.

Anything else you need to know? The casting has undergone a few iterations, which are interesting to chart. Back in 2014 the leads were rumoured to be Rosamund Pike – fresh off her Gone Girl success – and Charlie Hunnam. But the pair dropped out and the new cast will be headlined by Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for Elba…

The Snowman (Penguin, $19.99) by Jo Nesbo

Why read it? Forget The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, this is Nordic Noir at its very finest. Jo Nesbo has sold more than 30 million copies of his Harry Hole murder mysteries, which centre on a brilliant yet prickly detective at odds with his colleagues in the Oslo Crime Squad.

Why see the film? This particular story – about a serial killer targeting wives and mothers – is Nesbo at his most haunting, eerie best. The film version, helmed by Swedish director Tomas Aldredson who scared us all with vampire flick Let The Right One In is sure to hit all the most terrifying notes.

Anything else you need to know? The cast is epic. Michael Fassbender stars, with Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chloe Sevigny and J.K Simmons in supporting roles. Mark October 12 in your diary as the release date.

Ready Player One (Arrow, $19.99) by Ernest Cline


Why read it? This is an iconic, much-beloved space opera, namechecked by many as one of (if not the) best sci-fi novels in the history of the genre. But to say it’s sci-fi is to downplay everything else about it that is fantastic: it’s also a coming of age story, an epic bildungsroman and a savvy pop culture mash-up. Don’t be put off by the sci-fi label.

Why see the film? Dystopia might not ever look as good on screen. The year is 2044 and the world is well and truly ruined by climate change, poverty, disease and war. People retreat into OASIS, a gripping video game, the control and fortune of which has been promised by the founder James Halliday to whosoever can solve the riddles hidden throughout the game. Can Wade Watts, ordinary man, be the chosen one?

Anything else you should know? Steven Spielberg is directing. Ernest Cline has adapted the novel. And Simon Pegg – for whom this is a true passion project – leads an all-star, truly, all-star cast that includes Mark Rylance, Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Cooke, T.J Miller and Tye Sheridan in the lead role. We’re excited for December 14, the release date. Could this be the film to take on Star Wars next year?

Annihilation (Fourth Estate, $9.99) by Jeff VanderMeer


Why read it? Critics raved about this book, the first in a trilogy of titles about a biologist, psychologist and anthropologist investigating an environmental disaster zone known as Area X.

Why see the film? Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. There is so much of it around this movie it’s practically reverberating against the walls. Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac and Jennifer Jason Leigh will all star.

Anything else you should know? The director, Alex Garland, is the man behind Ex Machina, one of the best sci-fi movies in recent years. This adaptation promises to be similarly fantastic. No release date yet, though.

Thank You For Your Service (Scribe, $29.99) by David Finkel


Why read it? It’s considered one of the iconic collections of non-fiction about modern warfare, focussing on returning veterans in America and how, for them, war is never truly over.

Why see the film? Haley Bennett has had a pretty stellar year, what with roles in The Girl on the Train, Magnificent Seven and Rules Don’t Apply. But at the wife of a veteran Miles Teller) struggling with PTSD, she gets her first true lead role, and early buzz is that she is heartbreakingly good in the movie.

Anything else you should know? Amy Schumer also stars, in her first major non-comedic role. No release date yet, though.

The Glass Castle (Simon & Schuster, $30.00) by Jeanette Walls

Why read it? You might have already, that’s how well-known and respected this bestselling memoir about a dysfunctional family is.

Why see the film? Brie Larson is taking on the lead role – right off the back of her Oscar win. Could she go two for two when this is released next year?


Anything else you should know? Her parents will be played by Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson, and Aussie star Sarah Snook will co-star. No release date yet.

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