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  • MK

    You should have included The Godfather. The Coppola film was much better than the Puzo novel.

    • Gustavo

      I deffinitely second that. When I came here I was thinking it’d be number 1 in this list. The book is, at best, ok. The movie is – I guess we all agree – at least very great.

      The Lord of The Rings is also not really a good example, seeing as at least some good 70% of those who’ve watched the movies and read the books will agree the books are way better.

      • ParusMajor

        It’s the music in those movies. The soundtrack makes those movies great. The music composed by Nino Rota.

        • auto devis

          the godfather was just amazing

    • Bill

      Seconded- the book was horrible! Too much time spent on the actress and her surgery to “tighten up” down there (if you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean). Coppola turned out a masterpiece from that trash.

  • j g-burn

    Eff you and your Lord of the Rings opinions!!! Lets have a frosty pint together and hash out our differences.

  • 5minutes

    Lord of the Rings the movie is better than the book? Are you serious?

    Sadly, I think you are. I especially like how you claim that ROTK is better as a movie because the book is, your own words, “short and uneventful”. I mean, yeah… except for the giant battle at Minas Tirith between the armies of Gondor and 200,000 orcs led by the Witch King of Angmar, followed by the Battle of Pelennor Fields and the final conflict at the Black Gate. Oh – and the rescue of Frodo from the torture rooms at Cirith Ungol and the final destruction of the ring.

    Even then, I have to question your whole conclusion that more bang-zoom action makes something “better”.

    • redstick

      Well, i read and admired the trilogy — but I have to admit that it was with the Divil’s own skippin’ o’ pages that I got through some of the draggy sections, especially in “The Two Towers”. I suspect that I am not the only one….

  • Jim Ciscell

    For the record, the Fight Club book was horrible, in my opinion. I am not saying that it should belong on the list, but I did not enjoy the book at all. I did however love almost every facet of the movie. It is one of my favorite movies of all time, but the book certainly seemed like a jumbled mess.

    Also, I have read all of the Mary Poppins books and there is no coherent narrative to them at all. They are almost like a series of dream and short stories. By contrast, the movie is an absolute classic and again one of my favorites of all time.

    • Ed

      The Fight Club book was almost completely identical to the movie. And the voice of the narrator was fresh and entertaining. Do you read often?

  • Martim

    #4 I dare to disagree, the book was really good. Ok, make Morgan Freeman read it to you for the win.

    Two big cases to consider:

    The planet of the apes. The firs thrilogy was great, the book is lame.

    La planete de singes, Pierre Boulle. Just imagine that awesome story cut to 140 pages, no epicness, no Charlton Heston.

    Totall Recall. Philip K Di*k’s short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. The story is fine, but again… No Arnold, no senseless action, no gore, no epicness.

    • fdx

      I completely disagree with you on Planet of the Apes, the end, especially is great in the book. On the other hand i agree that the 1st 2 movies are great, so let’s say that both versions are great.
      Speaking of Philip K D..k, i was thinking of Blade Runner instead of Total Recall, it’s far from being his best work, but the movie is pretty amazing.

  • Dreymac

    I’m glad to see Jaws made the list because since I first read the book and watched the movie in high school in 1974 I’ve always felt it was the best example of a movie being better than the book.

    I read the Tolkien series at about the same time and the Hobbit has always been one of my favorite books that I have read many times. I was disappointed with the Lord of the Rings books compared to the Hobbit but the movies are remarkable. I can’t really agree that they were BETTER than the books but they were done as well if not better than any other literary interpretation I have seen. I can’t wait to see the new Hobbit movie but can’t imagine it as being anywhere as good as the book.

    Phillip K Dick is my favorite author of all time and all of the movies based on his work might be considered better than the books. A great comparison can be found at this link: His short stories were thought provoking, insightful and sometimes disturbing but Hollywood has taken them to another level. Read his works for intellectual stimulation and watch the movies for sensory stimulation. They will never be able to make movies favorable to Ubik or Valis.

    And what about Stephen King? He was my favorite author until Cujo; a horrible book and worse movie. The Stand is the only book I’ve read more times than The Hobbit and despite being attempted with a TV miniseries, it could never be properly done on the silver screen either.

    • ParusMajor

      Yes, Philip K. D ick is brilliant . I have lately listened to some of his stuff as audio books (Minority report, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, We’ll remember it for you wholesale, etc) read by Keir Dullea (the dude in 2001: A Space Odyssey). Awesome. Absolusitively awesome. 😀

  • Claire b

    Hate to say it but I agree with the LOTR films being better than the books.
    The world of middle earth is beautifully written and immensely detailed however by the time Frodo got to Mount Doom I didn’t give a damn whether the ring was destroyed. I felt no connection to the characters so didnt care about their fate. The movies however did really well with the character development, I cared despite already knowing how everything ended.

  • fdx

    Ii agree the storytelling is sometimes weak in Lord of the Rings (especially the second book), but Tolkien was a teacher not a writer, but saying the universe is deeper in the movies is beyond ridiculous; it’s probably easier to understand but that doesn’t make it better.

    Also, i hope you get the whole point of the end of the 3rd book which is to slowly dissolve the fellowship of the ring and emphasize the loneliness of the ring bearer(s).

    • Jeff

      I do get the point of the end of LOTR, and I absolutely adore the books. That was the hardest entry to write. I have just always thought that Tolkien was a little too wordy, and that sometimes hindered an otherwise nearly flawless epic tale. It was voted the greatest work of fiction of the 20th century, as I mentioned in this article, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. I freaking love the books, as well as The Hobbit. I just happen to think the movies actually surpassed the books, despite how poorly (such as Faramir) were handled.

      • I think the movies have probably robbed many future generations the joy of reading the books. Once you see the movie you don’t want to read the books, my wife and son are two such examples. While my daughter and I have read LOTR at least 3 times and the Hobbit just as much. I will say this in defense of the movie being better (I am just thankful we have both), I would skip every song, and there were a lot of songs, when reading Tolkien’s books. The movie actually made the songs enjoyable, which only makes sense as reading a song will never provide the same emotion as hearing it. Great list, Jeff.

        You can read more top 10 lists by Jeff here: (this is my favorite:

      • fdx

        1st time i get an answer directly from the author, so cool 🙂
        I understand where you’re going but, in all fairness, there are other examples of movies better than books, than lord of the rings.
        1st title that came to mind when i read the title of the top ten in my RSS feed (before reading the article itself), was Blade Runner; and, i still think it’s a much better example than LOTR as i mentionned in another post.

        As i mentionned, Tolkien’s style is far from perfect and his storytelling could be better but the richness of the universe is so much better in the books that you can hardly compare the two. When i first read the books i remember thinking that the author was taking me on a specific path but also gave me a glimpse of all the other stories and characters available in the universe he created outside of the main path of the plot itself.

        By the way, did you notice that Peter Jackson made the same choices as Ralph Bakshi in his trilogy regarding the changes to the plot? (Removing Bombadil, restructuring book 2 and not mentioning Shelob, making eomer a key character in the battle of Helm’s deep)….

  • r.

    I’m going to join those ripping on you for your Lord of the Rings opinion. Given the heavy mythology Tolkien baked into his books, it’s really difficult (impossible, perhaps) to deliver the same experience, not just of wonder, but of depth and even history which Tolkien carefully wove into his novels. This entry is made worse by your examples cited, the flaws of which are spoken of by other commenters already. Return of the King is not “uneventful”. Nor is the Shire’s scouring an unnecessary, tacked-on ending. It bridges the end of the main plot (the quest to destroy the Ring) and the main character’s journey. Frodo needs to see that the Shire is not untouched and even its simple purity has been tarnished by the Evil in the land. Thus: he ultimate cannot find a place in Middle Earth anymore and leaves. I could go on about the missing symbolism and mythology which was, for practicality and time, lost in the translation from book to film, but I’m not the article writer here.

    I’ll close off by saying that this ill-planned entry is all the more galling when, as others have pointed out, The Godfather, Parts I and II, were left off the list. The book is thrilling and, at times, profound, but the film brings out the real pain and devastation of mob life.

    Good call on Stand By Me, though.

  • john louis

    I might include Blade Runner which was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick entitled, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.”

    Another possibility The movie Rambo: First Blood vs. the Book First Blood by David Morrell.

    • I forgot about Rambo’s first book, which I read. The movie and the book weren’t great, but the movie definitely translated the feeling of being John Rambo better.

    • Mark Hill

      Yeah, I would second Blade Runner. It wasn’t based off a short story though, it was a full, albeit relatively brief, novel. Which was okay, but nothing special.

      I suspect that there are many, many more potential entries for this article, because there are so many movies that we don’t realise are based off of books because the book is obscure, or just sucks. The Natural comes to mind, off the top of my head.

      Nice work on this one Jeff, I agree with you on pretty much all of these. Not sure where I stand on LotR because I haven’t read them in forever, but I don’t want to wade into that debate anyway.

      • skywatcher

        Astute comment, Mark. I suspect few know that Alfred Hitchcuck’s “Psycho” was based on a book by Richard Matheson. And it’s a pretty good book.

        There are hundreds of powerful and magical books around that could make great movies. And there’s one I’m anxious to see if anybody ever has another go at Finney’s “The Circus of Dr. Lao.” There was one attempt with Tony Randall playing seven different characters and it was a Heck of a try. Bu tit wasn’t better than the book,and I think this is a book that’s written to be a movie.

  • David

    i never even knew forrest gump was a book lol

    fighting cannibals and traveling to alien planets you say?

    i know my next book

  • Bane

    while we’re talking Stephen King, unfortunately for him while there are several movies that are better than his books, more often than not the on screen adaptations are junk compared to the books. Such as, It, the Stand, Dead Zone, and the Mist.

    • tim

      It the movie was NOT better than the book. neither was the stand, or dead zone. In fact the only story that was better than the book was the Shining. Though I liked the end to the mist better in the movie than the end in the book.

      • RalphF

        Actually no, “anything by Stephen King” could have been one of the entries. Almost universally the movies are better than the books. His books are very hard to finish, including “The Stand”, everyone’s favorite book to raise. It drags. His Gunfighter omnibus drags like hell too, I’m very much hoping a movie would some day come out and improve it.

        Net net, King has always needed better editing save for some of his short stories.

        • Ed

          While I agree that King can drag (I should know, I’ve read quite a bit of his stuff) I would disagree with saying “anything by Stephen King” has a better movie adaptation. I mean, look at “Pet Sematary” for God’s sake. On one hand we have a roller coaster thriller that comments on the typical American family while still scaring the crap out of the reader, and on the other hand we have, well, the movie.
          Another fine example is “Carrie”, a brutal commentary on High School social hierarchy and the place religion has in the home that is absolutely botched by cheesy effects, poor casting, and oversimplification of the overarching theme.

  • ParusMajor

    A Clockwork Orange, maybe? One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?

    • mrclam

      While you may have a point about Clockwork, it must be noted that the film was very, very faithful to the book, so any difference would be slight. As for Cuckoo’s– hell, no! The book was much, much better. It’s a masterpiece, easily one of the very finest American novels of its decade.

      My vote goes to Goodfellas. The book it was based on, Wiseguys, was a cookie-cutter true crime book written without any style.

      • brian

        What? A clockwork orange the same? The movie and the book have completely different endings

  • ParusMajor

    Oh, and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” was way better imho than the book it was based on, “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. That’s just my opinion, though.

  • CJB

    About LOTR: I thought the books and the movies were equally good, which is a rarity.

    Probably nobody has ever heard of this movie called “Till The End Of Time” with Dorothy McGuire and Guy Madison about WWII vets returning home and trying to fit into “normal life”. It’s based on a book called “They Dream Of Home”. Loved the movie… read the book. What a disappointment! The ending of the movie was so much better than the book. Movie is definitely worth seeing as it also has Robert Mitchum. As I understand it, the theme song from the movie was also very famous.

  • DL

    Sorry, the LOTR books were MUCH better. Jackson made some very goofy and unnecessary changes.

  • Charles Bronson

    Nothing invites more comments than movies 🙂

    • You are way off, religion and politics are much more “inviting” – I know from much experience.

      • Jim Ribsa

        you’re both off, it’s what invites more comments on a top ten list that invites the most comments.

  • Becca

    Silver Linings Playbook should of been on this list, i know it’s fairly newer, but i recently read the book and went to see the movie the following day, and it’s the first time i’ve read a book myself where the movie was better.

  • david middleton

    Have you read The Princess Bride?

    I have to agree that it is a great film. However, it is a masterpiece of a novel.

    In this case novel beats film (and I will also go so far as to say that Rita Heyworth and the Shawshank Redemption is the best novella written by King… and that his story does top the film!)

  • Vera Costa

    I could add “Rosemary Baby”…. Polanski’s version was magnificent

  • I completely disagree with the people naming Philip K.’s work. Blade Runner doesn’t even come close to matching the level of commentary featured within Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and, just to name another example, The Adjustment Bureau completely went the opposite direction from the point of the short story (because Philip K. was a determinist, and that shows in most of his work). The only film that made a decent tribute to Phil was Total Recall, and it was because of the level of satire. If you read enough of his work, you start to realize Phil was a master of satire. Even if serious discussion can come from the ideas featured in his stories, he usually inserted something silly (like an army bombing a whole mountain range to kill one man), and some stories are just completely silly (like the one about killer reproducing gumballs). Total Recall didn’t have the exact same style of humor Phil did, but the spirit inherent within his stories was still there. Everyone else has been taking his stories more seriously when they should’ve been having fun with the ideas he has created. Phil sure had fun with them (for the most part anyway).

    • Redhead Metalhead

      Also forgot to mention that We Can Remember it For You Wholesale was satirical as well. Read the story and take note of the idea presented to Quail toward the end, the idea suggested being planted into his head. It’s completely ridiculous, but that’s really the whole point.

      • fdx

        What i meant when i initially mentioned Blade Runner was the movie is really a masterpiece, and really different from the book BTW, the electric animals are not as central to the movie as they are in the book. On the other hand, i feel that it’s not Dick’s best work.

        So maybe saying the movie is better than the book is exaggerated, so let’s say it’s probably Ridley Scott’s best work but an above average production for Dick….. I’m a big Ubik fan myself 🙂

  • Mz

    anyone want to nominate Jurassic Park? The book was alright but the movie is better.

  • Dennis S

    Most of the posters on here have never read a book so how would they know? By the way, I think the movie “The Dictionary” is better than the book.

  • Add “Legally Blonde” to the list. The novel was not published until after Reese Witherspoon and her string bikini made the movie a hit. It should have stayed buried.

    Also, try reading “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” and you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for what Hollywood can do. Great idea, wretchedly executed in prose.

  • daddyostjames

    “Stroker ace”starring Burt Reynolds was better than the novel “stand on it” on which it was based on!

    • The Duke

      Enjoyed M.A.S.H….But thought the film far superior…Sutherland and Gould at the top of their game

  • Dennis S

    I thought the Superman comic books were much better than the movies.

  • Eli.Burnside

    Fight Club (the film) is much better than the book.

    • Ed

      They’re fundamentally the same story.

  • catherine

    Also “The Hours”. Far better than the book.

  • bk

    Disagree with Princess Bride-missing out on the Zoo of Death is a great gap in the movie. Fantastic movie, but the book still outdoes the movie.

  • Mark

    If you’ve never read Forrest Gump or it’s sequel…. DON’T. They are terrible and charmless and the movie was far better. The second book even goes out of its way to point out that you shouldn’t let anyone make a movie out of your biography because they’ll screw it up.

  • Alyson

    I nominate Atonement. Loved the movie, so I thought I’d love the book, but no. I couldn’t even get through the first few chapters before I fell asleep.

  • Cat

    I read a LOT, but just couldn’t read Dr. zhivago, but loved the movie, don’t actually know anyone who managed to read the book, if anyone out there has managed the book, perhaps they could compare and post.

    • Dennis S

      I did read the book (of course I also slogged through “Tropic Of Cancer” and “Winds Of War”) and I agree with Cat–The movie was better.

      • Cat

        Dennis, Thanks for your comments, I have also tried tropic of cancer, gave up! Life’s too short. How was Winds of War? Is it worth even trying?

  • Dennis S

    Cat, actually “Winds Of War” is good reading. The mini series with Robert Mitchum was also good but in this case I would say the book was better. Wouk focuses on one family mostly during WW2 and their experiences but there’s also a lot of historical fact. Of course the sequel novel was “War and Rememberance”-I would recommend both. However, I would strongly recommend staying away from Michener’s “Chesapeake” and Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms” unless you have a bad case of insomnia. Another book I thought much better than the move is “:From Here To Eternity”.

  • Cat

    Thanks, Dennis, I was intrigued enough to read a short section of Winds of War on Amazon, and have ordered the book! One of my favourite books and movies of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved the book and thought the film was excellent. I’d love to see a really good film made from Salem’s Lot by Steven king, I remember reading it years ago, in bed and was afraid to turn out the lights, but I was young and innocent then, perhaps it wouldn’t even give me a slight shiver now!

  • Dennis S

    Cat-I have to honestly admit that I’ve never read a Steven King novel. You’re right about “To Kill A Mocking Bird”–Both novel and movie were great. Harper Lee only lives about 130 miles south of me. Everytime I used to go through Monroeville I wanted to find her and talk with her but I didn’t have the guts because they said she was such a recluse. Now I hear she’s in very bad health. In fact I’m not even sure she’s still living although I believe she is. She was good friends with Capote I’ve heard. I’ve never read any of his stuff. Have you read “The Wayward Bus”? The movie was Ok but I believe the book was better. I very much enjoy commenting with you.

  • Cat

    Hi Dennis, I haven’t read The Wayward Bus, nor seen the movie, I’ve read quite a few of Steinbeck’s novels, my particular favourite is The Grapes of Wrath, harrowing but wonderful. Have you listened to Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad, I loved it. I read Capote’s In Cold Blood a while back, I think I enjoyed it! How awesome that you live near Harper Lee, did you ever seriously think of trying to contact her? With my fabulous powers of deduction I have figured out that you live in the USA , I am in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but I have family in Virginia, and have visited your beautiful country often. what are you reading at the moment? I have just started an historical novel, Lionheart, about King Richard and the crusades in the Holy Lands in 1190s.

  • Dennis S

    Cat–I’m reading “Cause Of Death” by Patricia Cornwell. Have you read any of her novels? Her main character is Kaye Scarpetta. Kaye is a medical examiner who always gets involved in the murder investigations. It’s always a good read. I guess if I was forced to name my favorite novel it would be “The Young Lions” by Irwin Shaw. It was made into a movie (Brando played the German officer)–The movie was good but the book is better. I’ve read it 4 times over the years. Yes,I’ve heard that song by Springsteen–My favorite song by him is still “Darlington County” because it reminds me of my younger days with my buddies. I was always getting away and it would be one of them handcuffed to the bumper of a state trooper’s Ford-haha- Northern Ireland. I would love to go to Ireland. I’ve been in the Far East (US Navy) but never Europe. When I think of the people of Northern Ireland I think of courage.

    • Cat

      I’ve read Patricia Cornwell novels over the years, but I must admit I got a bit tired of her latter books, when she was obsessed by the wolf man! I loved the movie The Young Lions, but have never read the book. The only books I have read a few times are Pride and Prejudice, and The Count of Monte Christo, I realise that Jane Austin might be a little too girly for you, but it is quite witty. Have you seen Mystic River and Shutter Island, or read the books by Dennis Lehane? Both are worth a look. I have a morbid fascination with crime and mystery novels, I particularly like Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, his are a bit more light hearted, but good for a grey, damp afternoon,(we get a lot of those here), and a good cup of coffee. I may be a little bit prejudiced as I have met these authors at various book signings, and found them to be very accessible and quite charming. by the way, I shall be going to a Springsteen show in July, and am looking forward to it very much. I envy your travels in the Far East, I would love to go there, maybe some day. We have had a difficult time here over the years, and a bit of escapism through books and to a lesser degree movies, (we didn’t always like to go out in the evenings) was very comforting, when you could lose yourself in a good story, and not think of the bullets and bombs going off outside!

      • Dennis S

        Below is to Cat–

  • Dennis S

    No I haven’t read any of Jane Austin’s books. I saw the movie Mystic River but not Shutter island. I haven’t read either book. I’ve always been obsessed with the old west and wish I had been born a hundred years before I was. I’ve read all of Louis L’Amour’s books. Many of his were made into movies.I’ve read “Lonesome Dove” (Larry McMurtry) twice and watched the movie at least 7 times.The book is great-The movie even better. Fiction,of course but a lot of realism (speech,clothing,attitudes,etc.). I tried my best to read “Finnigan’s Wake” long ago but it was too complicated for my simple brain. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what he was trying to say.The first book (novel) I remember reading was Hans Brinker (Or the silver skates). My grandmother bought it for me when I was 7-years-old. I still have it. Have you read any of Ayn Rand’s books? I read a couple of hers and a lot of others down in the boiler room of my ship on long midnight watches.

  • Dyonus

    I’d include Fight Club (debatable…though the book is pretty good) and Big Fish.

  • Arolina

    Even though I simply loved the Forrest Gump movie I can never agree it was better than the book. The book is just soooo much more than a movie, it offers hours of laughter and the adventures that Forrest has been involved in are so much more than shown in the movie. It’s just much funnier and much better than the movie. I would highly recommend reading it.

  • William Wizer

    C’mon Lord of the rings the films better than the books?
    if you only care about massive visual effects and huge battles probably but… Lord of the Rings is a lot more than the battles. you may like the rest or not but removing everything else was almost criminal and can only be justified because the books have enough material to make six full films instead of just three but they didn’t want to take the risk of trying to make six films and find themselves forced to leave the story unfinished for some stupid economical reason or any other silly thing.

    truth to be told there’s no way to show in a film (or a series of films) the richness of Tolkien’s LotR universe. let’s be sincere. the entire main plot is just a weak excuse to have somebody do a long travel over the entire land and show us all the little stories it contains. each character has his/her own story even if it’s not an important one in the big scheme of things but it’s still part of the LotR universe. even that happy crazy Tom Bombadil has his own story and reason to be.

  • Ed

    If I hear one more person tell me “The Shining” movie was better than the book, I might just have to mutilate Stanley Kubrick’s grave.
    “The Shining” was an entertaining film, don’t get me wrong. Each performance (save perhaps Shelly Duvall) was thuroughly enjoyable, and more importantly, scary.

    • Ed

      But “The Shining” novel was a thurough and chilling metaphor about substance abuse, particularly Alcoholism, as well as being scary as hell.

      • Pedro Urrutia

        The movie is deeper than the book, just watch the documentary Room 237. Alcoholism? Cute.

  • Charles Campbell

    I agree with L.A.Confidential being a better film than the book. Except for a handful of characters and incidencies the book has no bearing on the film. I read L.A.Confidential twice and I can tell you it is a chore. The film was great!