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10 Amazing Books That Inspired Fantastic Period Dramas

Sometimes, great movies and TV shows are based on equally amazing books. When going through a reading slump, it helps to reach for books you love or even books that inspire movies you know and love. Here are ten books that inspired great period dramas (this is only a small list so there are many more), and why you should give them a read or a reread, this spring.


1.Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

This is a children’s book by Ian Fleming. Yes, the James Bond guy. It’s full of spies, heists, and a regular family with an extraordinary car saving the day. Some people will like the movie better, but the book is also a lot of fun. It’s also pretty short, so it won’t take long to read.

2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Anything by Jane Austen could fit on this list. Sense and Sensibility has been made into some wonderful movies and miniseries, including the 1997 Ang Lee masterpiece and the 2008 BBC miniseries. The book presents a strong relationship between sisters and all the polite snark we all expect from Jane Austen. It’s certainly worth a reread.

RELATED: Sense and Sensibility (1995): The Gold Standard of Austen Adaptations

3. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Like with Jane Austen, Ms. Gaskell really could fill an entire list. I love this book and the miniseries adapted from it. Think of it as Pride and Prejudice, but with the conflict of labor unions and the changing world aspect amped up to one hundred. It’s worth a read (or reread).

4. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Like the movie it inspired, this book is a monster. Despite that, it’s a powerful book. Mitchell wove together the story of spoiled southern belle Scarlett O’Hara with the story of the South during the American Civil War and reconstruction, and it’s masterful. Any book that makes you hate the main character, while still feeling sorry for her and reading about her adventures for several hundred pages is something special.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why the Timeless ‘Anne of Green Gables’ of the ’80s is the Best Adaptation

5. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

This beloved children’s book has inspired many adaptations over the years. And today, people are still rooting for that plucky imaginative orphan, Anne Shirley. The entire magical series is short but sweet, a powerful blend of seriousness and humor to keep things light. This is another book that doesn’t take long to get through but is worth the reread. Then, go and watch the Kevin Sullivan Anne of Green Gables.

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I picked this over Wuthering Heights because of personal preference, but the Brontë’s were powerhouse writers. Every adaptation of Jane Eyre can mine something different from this book, which is powerful. It’s a beautifully woven tale reminding us that people are often capable of more than they realize.

7. The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

Like with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,  the film adaptation is just so gosh darn lovable. That doesn’t make the book any less amazing. It’s another short book written for kids, but that means it won’t take long to read. There are also TONS of books in the Oz series, so it’s actually a fun rabbit hole to fall into. This is one of those experiences you can share with the kids in your life. They might enjoy it.

8. Little Women by Lousia May Alcott

This book. Just, this book. Some people love Laurie, some…like him less. The film adaptations are great, and it, like many other classics, has been made into a web series. It’s a bit bulkier than some of the other books on this list, but it’s still a powerful novel about family, love, and coming of age. Though like with the film adaptations, tissues are needed.

RELATED: ‘Little Women’ 2018 Film Review – A Surprisingly Faithful Contemporary Adaptation

9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I maintain this book is about horrible people doing horrible things, but it’s still a beautifully written novel that has been turned into several beautifully shot films. Some people really love this novel. Some prefer the films, but overall, it seemed like one that really should be on the list.

10. The Poldark series by Winston Graham

I have not actually seen the new Poldark yet, to my shame, but have heard that it is amazing. The book series is actually quite popular, as is the show, so it’s certainly worth a place on this list.

Honorable Mentions: Anything by Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy could be on this list, as could Horatio Hornblower. I just ran out of room. But those are a few personal favorites.

What are your favorite books turned to period dramas? Is the movie even better? Let me know in the comments!

Featured Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures, and United Artists

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By on May 6th, 2019

About Bailey Cavender

Bailey grew up in North Idaho where she was encouraged from a young age to love reading, writing and learning; as a result, storytelling is a major part of her life. She believes that no story is ever the same to anyone and that everyone has a story to tell. With that in mind, she someday hopes to write a humorous and inspiring book (or ten, either way).

Her books, "A Journey Through Disney," "The Mermaid," and "Dear NSA: One Man's Adventures in Phone-Tapping and Blogging," can be found on Amazon.

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