Books You Can Completely Avoid Reading By Watching Their Screen Adaptations

Looking for a good story but don't want to actually invest in reading? These movies and shows do as good of a job telling a story as the book.
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Not all of us are avid readers or can find the time and focus to read an entire series, and it doesn’t make you lazy for preferring to watch the movie or series of those good stories. In fact, some of the screen adaptations actually do a better job of telling the same story than the books.

Here is a list of books you can actually skip reading because their screen adaptations do a sufficient job of maintaining the plot.

1. Pride and Prejudice

pride and prejudice 2005 keira knightley movie still
Image Source: Amazon Prime Video

This is a beautiful book and if you want to take the time to read it, it will be a fulfilling experience. However, if you have no interest in reading through a medium-length novel written in early 19th-century prose, then you can fill in all the gaps in the story with the screen adaptations.

Between the 1995 mini-series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and the 2005 movie starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, you have all of your bases covered. If you really love the story and want to learn more about it, there are at least ten other screen adaptations to get you through.

Personally, I thought the story was more heartfelt watching on my screen than reading a book written similarly to a classic. Spending time deciphering the text took up a lot of my time when I could have just been enjoying the quality story underneath.

2. Fifty Shades of Grey

fifty shades freed movie still dakota johnson jamie dornan
Image Source: The New Yorker

I watched the movies before I read the books, so I was both shocked and annoyed that everything that happens in the movies is exactly what happens in the books. There may inherently be more detail added into books, but that small amount of extra material was not worth reading three whole books.

I barely talked myself into reading the books and I was completely disappointed. I was not a fan of the writing style and found it to actually be cringe-worthy. Although the movies follow the same story, the main character Anastasia's inner dialogue is omitted, making the story more entertaining and less cringe.

If you’re not interested in reading these books, don’t!

3. The Martian

the martian movie still mars astronaut matt damon
Image Source: Forbes

Personally, I really enjoyed the book with its very detailed explanation of every space-related science fact presented, but it can be overwhelming to anybody who is not used to reading nerdy science fiction.

The movie, starring Matt Damon, also does a really good job of keeping the plot intact and adding humor throughout. The impact of reading comedic lines doesn't hold a candle to seeing it portrayed in front of you.

Its 104,588 words took me a longer amount of time than an average book would to read and comprehend, which could definitely put a damper on the excitement and thoroughness of the story. I found the story to be intriguing and the movie adaptation only makes it more potent.

4. Fight Club

fight club movie still edward norton brad pitt
Image Source: Science on Screen

When I first watched this movie, I didn't have any expectations and had no idea what to expect besides a good cast. I was blown away by the whole movie and then I found out it was a book!

I enjoyed both the book and the movie, but the big reveal of the storyteller lying to you and himself come up a lot sooner (almost too soon) in the book than it does in the movie. For me, it ruined the rest of the book and made the second half feel a lot less important than the ending does in the movie. 

Overall, Fight Club with Edward Norton and Brad Pitt was a very enjoyable movie adaptation and the story stays very similar between the two works.

5. Matilda

matilda movie still parents garden
Image Source: Into Film

This movie was one of my favorites when I was a kid and I probably watched it once a month. When I read the book, I was disappointed to learn there wasn’t much more story than there was in the movie.

Of course, the book has more detail but it wasn’t significant enough for me to want to give up watching her make breakfast with telekinesis in the movie. Mara Wilson’s performance as Matilda in the movie makes you feel all of the sadness, pride, and joy even stronger than it comes through in the book.

6. A Series of Unfortunate Events

series of unfortunate events netflix original tv still
Image Source: The Campus Crop

I read all of these books when I was growing up, and they are very near and dear to my heart. However, there are thirteen of them, which takes a lot of time and money to read.

Although I was also a fan of the movie adaptation starring Jim Carrey, it rushed through the plot of three books in one movie. I recommend watching the Netflix original series starring Neil Patrick Harris, which goes more in-depth and follows the books more closely.

This series is, without a doubt one, of my favorite recent shows and the nostalgia from my childhood is only a portion of that. I do wish the show had been able to have more episodes, but the ones it does have are very entertaining and bring Lemony Snicket's original themes to life.

7. Room

room movie still brie larson netflix jacob tremblay
Image Source: WIRED

The book is told differently than the movie adaptation, but seeing this dramatic story acted out by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay really made it all the more personable and lifelike than the book.

I was still very affected by the story when I read it, but when I watched it I couldn’t help but cry at the crushing story. Books are hit or miss for making me cry when I should, but a movie (especially of this caliber of good acting and storytelling) almost never fails.

If you want to get the full effect of the story, the cast and crew made such a good movie that it is even more impactful to watch it than read it.

8. The Nanny Diaries

nanny diaries movie still scarlett johansson kid
Image Source: Amazon Prime Video

I read the book version of this first and I was a little thrown off by the ending. Despite the satire throughout the story, I still assumed there would be a happy ending. When they made the movie, that was one of the biggest differences between that and the book.

I was glad to see the authors' humor and opinions toward the nannying industry in upper-class Manhattan remained throughout the film, and it made me wish there was a sequel like there was to the book.

Overall and most importantly, the movie ended things more cohesively. Plus, it stars Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, so what is there to lose about watching the movie?

9. Atonement

atonement movie still james mcavoy keira knightley green dress
Image Source: Vogue

I wanted to make sure I read this book before the movie because I had had the book on my shelves for a couple of years. But, I did get distracted and never got around to finishing it before I watched the movie. When I did, I was surprised at the ending and realized I should probably finish the book.

After watching the acting in the movie, it was hard not to just imagine what had happened in the movie because the storylines are very similar. So, if you’re not a book reader, the movie is more than sufficient in its storytelling and James McAvoy and Keira Knightley play their parts perfectly.

10. The Princess Diaries

princess diaries movie still anne hathaway mia thermopolis
Image Source: Seventeen Magazine

The Princess Diaries books by Meg Cabot were some of my favorite books when I was a child, and the movies were just as impressive. There are 11 books in this series and only two movies, so it’s more cost- and time-effective to just watch the movies.

Additionally, the casting of Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis and Julie Andrews as Queen Renaldi are some of the most accurate I have seen, especially for a Disney movie. Even the second movie, despite sequels being notorious for being worse than the original, was incredible and maintained Mia’s awkward personality as she learns how to be the queen.

11. Lord of the Rings

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Image Source: The Mary Sue

I know this is controversial, but I started reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was in 5th grade. Even at the height of my reading craze, I was still only able to finish the first book completely and also about 1/3 of the second book.

Tolkien’s writing style is just too slow-paced and, in my experience, too detailed to the point where I was confused. I know a lot of people love these books, but the movies are just as detailed and thorough. They also maintain Tolkien’s pacing in the books, but with a lot less confusion.

However, I want to clarify that reading The Hobbit is much more efficient than watching movies. There is no reason why a 300-page book should be split into three separate movies.

12. Jurassic Park

jurassic park movie still car t-rex
Image Source: No Film School

These movies have been popular since the ‘80s, and the books by Michael Crichton were almost as hyped up. But, one of the main problems with reading science fiction you’re unfamiliar with is confusion. The number of times I had to flip back to the inside cover of the book to check which dinosaur he was talking about was absurd.

It was a lot easier to just watch and enjoy the science aspect in a more passive way in the movies, while they still provide an opportunity for people who enjoy that to do so.

I have found it difficult to read anything by Crichton for that exact reason, but I expected Jurassic Park to be different because of the incredible screen adaptations. I was wrong and will definitely be resorting to watching any of the five, soon-to-be-six, movies.

13. Maze Runner

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Image Source: Tampa Bay Times

As exciting of a story as the Maze Runner series depicts, the books seemed to fall flat to me. Dashner’s writing style is a little bland, especially in comparison to the dystopian thriller he was actually writing about.

I am usually a sucker for consuming a good young-adult dystopian novel series, but the Maze Runner series just didn't keep me drawn in like so many others had.

That being said, the movies starring Dylan O’Brien did an amazing job of heightening that story and bringing all of that excitement and suspense into it. Although not all of the books in the series ended up being adopted, at minimum the first and second movies were definitely better portrayed on-screen.

14. Outlander

outlander series still jamie claire fraser
Image Source: Hollywood Reporter

Outlander is another long book series that has been adapted to television. There are currently nine books written of a planned ten and each book is, on average, 850 pages long. There are currently fewer seasons of Outlander on TV than there are books in the series, which may be reason enough not to reach for the books.

Also, I found the show to be a lot steamier than the books, which may not be important to all people, but it is an integral part of the series so I found it to be lacking in the books.


While a lot of books are famously credited for being better than their movie or TV adaptations, there are some clear exceptions to the rule. Whether the reason is time, money, or entertainment value; there is always an acceptable reason to prefer to watch the movie instead of reading the book.

The experience of seeing a high-quality story unfold on a screen in front of you can evoke emotions that a story with difficult or overly thorough writing can hinder you from experiencing.

I can always be found in front of a TV. I will watch anything, from reality shows to period pieces to blockbuster action!

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