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These 12 Books Are About to Become 2021’s Most Popular Shows

The covers for "Shadow and Bone," Conversations with Friends," and "Foundation."
Square Fish/Hogarth/Del Rey

There’s been a wave of high-profile TV adaptations of popular books, and it’s certainly easy to understand the appeal. Shows based on a best-selling book come with a built-in audience and tons of anticipation. The trick is living up to readers’ expectations.

Before they become the next big thing on TV, you can get ahead of the game by reading the following books, each of which is already, or soon to become, a TV show. From YA fantasy and contemporary dramas, to (of course) a few remakes, here are a dozen books that are about to become the year’s most headline-grabbing TV shows.

Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel

Sarah Vaughan’s Anatomy of a Scandal is slated to become a Netflix original series later in 2021. Immerse yourself in this suburban thriller about Sophie, a housewife with a seemingly perfect life that’s thrown into chaos when her husband admits to an indiscretion and is accused of a terrible crime.

Nine Perfect Strangers

If you loved Big Little Lies, then Nine Perfect Strangers should absolutely be next on your must-read list. The Liane Moriarty novel follows nine strangers who meet at a health resort that’s hiding more beneath the surface. The upcoming Hulu adaptation is set to star Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Samara Weaving, Luke Evans, and more

Shadow and Bone

Netflix continues to ride the YA wave with an upcoming adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy, which focuses on a soldier who discovers a gift for magic that could potentially save her war-torn country. The Netflix adaptation (coming April 23) will also include elements from Six of Crows, a separate story in the same universe about a team of outcasts on a heist mission.

Station Eleven

Back in 2015, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was one of the buzziest books of the year. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale about a group of performers who travel between settlements and encounter a dangerously charismatic cult leader. The miniseries will reportedly arrive on HBO Max sometime in 2021.

Firefly Lane: A Novel

The best-selling contemporary novel, Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, is the latest piece of women-centric fiction to get snapped up by Netflix. The first season debuted Feb. 3, 2021. The story follows two unlikely best friends: shy Kate and popular Tully. They grow up, they grow apart, and then grow back together, and encounter tough moments along the way.

Behind Her Eyes

Everyone’s talking about Behind Her Eyes, the Netflix psychological thriller based on the novel by Sarah Pinborough. A single mother is drawn into the orbit of a charismatic, but unsettling, married couple. As their secrets slowly unfold, it leads to an ending that’s already the stuff of pop-culture legend.

Conversations with Friends: A Novel

Following last year’s adaptation of Normal People, Conversations with Friends is the latest Sally Rooney novel to get the TV treatment, with an upcoming Hulu/BBC adaptation. The story of a young woman who eventually forms a connection with an older, married man, that fractures her friendships, will most likely arrive on screens early in 2022.

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America

Beth Macy’s investigation into the American opiod crisis is about to become a Hulu miniseries later this year. It will star Michael Keaton and Peter Sarsgaard. The book particularly explores the role one major pharmaceutical company had in encouraging more prescriptions, despite evidence of the dangers.

Foundation

The adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novel, Foundation, is currently slated for a fall 2021 release on Apple TV+. Until then, however, you can explore the world in the novel! It’s about a group of scholars and scientists who are trying to preserve knowledge in anticipation of an upcoming dark age in the twilight of a galactic empire. But they also have to contend with the threat of the growing number of corrupt warlords gaining power.

Gossip Girl

Years after the original Gossip Girl adaptation aired on The CW, Cecily von Ziegesar’s classic YA novels are getting a reboot, thanks to HBO Max. The series focuses on a group of wealthy teenagers at an elite Upper East Side high school, whose scandals are all chronicled by a seemingly all-knowing gossip columnist

Harriet the Spy

Who didn’t grow up reading Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy? The schoolgirl investigator is about to get her own animated series on HBO Max, featuring the voice of Beanie Feldstein as Harriet. A release date for the series hasn’t been announced yet, but that just gives you more time to reread the charming book series!

Made for Love: A Novel

Alissa Nutting’s dark comedy is about to become an HBO Max original series starring Cristin Milioti and Ray Romano. The story follows Hazel, who is forced to move into a senior trailer park with her father after fleeing an oppressive marriage to tech titan, Byron. As Byron uses more and more sophisticated tools to track her down, Hazel resorts to drastic measures to keep her freedom

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »

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