8 essential movies for people who love books
Books have inspired Hollywood since the emergence of the industry. Many of the early movie hits were adaptations of literary classics like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Carol, and Frankenstein. And while this book craze continues today, over the years the genre has expanded to include not just adaptations, but also book and bookstore-centric films like Reading Club (2018) and Become Joan (2007). Below are the eight literary films every bibliophile should watch.
The Library (2018)
In the 1950s, widow Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) is a bibliophile in every sense of the word. But when she moves to the small seaside town of Hardborough, England to open a bookstore, it becomes clear that her passion is unrequited as an influential member of the town (Patricia Clarkson) sets out to close the shop. It’s up to Florence to show the community how magical reading can be. Based on the novel of the same name by Penelope Fitzgerald, The book store is a beautiful period room full of books.
Literary and Potato Pie Society of Guernsey (2018)
Lily James directs Netflix’s historical romance about a British writer who sails to the island of Guernsey in search of inspiration for her new indentured column in Times Literary Supplement. But her weekend takes an unexpected turn when she discovers romance, an unusual book club and the history of the German occupation of Guernsey. Based on the 2008 book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Literary and Potato Peeling Society of Guernsey is a charming appreciation of books and the life of a writer.
84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
Based on Helene Hanff’s critically acclaimed memoir of the same name, 84 Charing Cross Road centers on real-life, 20-year correspondence between Hanff (Anne Bancroft), a New York bibliophile, and Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins), a London-based bookseller. In the film, Hanff contacts Doel about a hard-to-find book. What she gets, in addition to her book, is a 20-year friendship. Over the course of the film, the two bond over literature, modern culture, history, and even Yorkshire pudding.
Funny Face (1957)
Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn play Dick Avery, a charismatic haute couture photographer, and Jo Stockton, a cautious bibliophile and employee of the Embryo Concepts bookstore, in this 1957 musical. When Dick interrupts Jo at work with an impromptu photo shoot, he unwittingly captures her, subsequently changing their lives forever. With songs by the Gershwin brothers, costumes by Edith Head and direction by Stanley Donen, Funny head is a classic Golden Age musical in every way imaginable.
Notting Hill (1999)
William Thacker (Hugh Grant) owns a quaint travel bookshop in the middle of London’s Notting Hill neighborhood. Divorced and living with a neglected but faithful roommate, it’s clear that Will is lacking in the love department. But her situation changes when Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), Hollywood’s biggest celebrity, walks into her store one day. After buying a book about Turkey and spilling a cup of orange juice, the two find themselves in a whirlwind romance. Notting Hill is a classic ’90s romantic comedy full of bookish charm.
This Golden Age classic is helmed by Hollywood legends Ida Lupino, Olivia de Havilland and Nancy Coleman. Based on the fictional story by Theodore Reeves, Dedication focuses on Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë as they struggle with both their romances and their love lives. Filled with romance, conflict, and an all-encompassing book appreciation, this film is the perfect blend of classic literature and classic cinema.
Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
The title of this 2007 adaptation directed by Robin Swicord says it all. In short, two women start a book club centered on the works of Jane Austen to comfort their newly divorced librarian friend. With the help of a schoolteacher, the librarian’s daughter and a science fiction buff, the group tackles six of Austen’s most notable works. What neither of them see coming is how Austen will help them out of their own personal crises. Jane Austen Book Club is a deep cinematic dive into the enduring and influential themes of Austen’s work.
The Fast Company Trilogy (1938, 1939)
Hollywood released this 1930s trilogy to please fans of Myrna Loy and William Powell Thin man series, because the waiting time between each film was considered too long. Based on the novel of the same name by Marco Page, fast company follows rare book dealers Joel and Garda Sloan (Melvyn Douglas, Florence Rice) as they attempt to solve a murder. The following films feature different sets of leading Golden Age actors like Rosalind Russell and Franchot Tone. But no matter the faces, each movie is a crowd-pleasing bookish comedy.