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The 17 Best TV Shows Based on Books to Stream Right Now

We found your next favorite binge-watches.

outlander, a tv show based on a book series
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Sometimes, reading can seem like such an effort. If you're torn between starting a new show and finally picking up the book that's been sitting on your nightstand for weeks—or, let's face it, months—why not find a happy medium? 

From gritty reimagined crime thrillers to that show you've been hearing your coworker rave about for months, here are 13 of the best TV shows based on books that you can stream right now.

Related: All the AFI Top 100 Movies That Were Based on Books 

My Brilliant Friend

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Based on Elena Ferrante’s book of the same name, My Brilliant Friend will span four seasons, just as Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels series spanned four books.

The hit coming-of-age stories explore the intensity of young female friendship and its everlasting impact on women. The first installment follows elderly author Elena Greco as she reminisces about the early days of her friendship with Lila Cerullo, who has suddenly disappeared without a trace. From intense beginnings to old age, the series unravels the enigma that is and was this young woman.

You can stream the show now on HBO.

Related: 10 Elena Ferrante Books: A Complete Guide 

Bridgerton

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Whether it was because we were in quarantine or because the juicy love story was just that good, Bridgerton became Netflix's most viewed series of all time soon after it was released in December 2020. This is partially due to Shonda Rhimes, the showrunner behind similarly successful shows like Grey's Anatomy, and partially because the book series it was based on already had a very strong fanbase. 

Related: 9 Romance Books for Fans of Julia Quinn's Bridgerton Series

Dexter

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Everyone's favorite serial killer is coming back on Halloween 2021. The show first ended in 2013, with what was generally considered one of the worst season finales of all time. But Michael C. Hall is returning in this limited series that will hopefully give viewers a much more satisfying ending. Superfans can also read the Darkly Dreaming Dexter series of books the show was based on—except for the first season, the books go in an entirely different direction than the show.

Perry Mason

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The titular character of Erle Stanley Gardner’s hit detective fiction, this famous criminal defense attorney got a serious reboot in HBO’s recent television adaptation of the books. The original Perry Mason series ran for nine seasons from 1957-1966. The reboot, starring Matthew Rhys as Perry Mason, also features Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany and John Lithgow.

RELATED: Here's Everything We Know About HBO's Gritty, New 'Perry Mason' Reboot

Though Perry Mason has seen many different adaptations, one thing is for sure: his inquisitive nature remains. In this gritty reimagining, Mason will relentlessly pursue the truth about a child kidnapping case in Depression-era Los Angeles.

Perry Mason is now streaming on HBO.

The Queens's Gambit

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If you had told us last year that fall 2020's hottest TV show was going to be a dark drama about chess, well...we would have been pretty excited, especially once we confirmed that the show was based on Walter Tevis's book, The Queen's Gambit. The story follows Beth Harmon, an orphaned girl with an incredible skill for chess—and with a troubling history of addiction.

Related: 10 Books Like The Queen's Gambit 

The Queen's Gambit is now streaming on Netflix.

Watchmen

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The dark graphic novel Watchmen has previously inspired movies, but the HBO series is arguably the best take on the story. (Though technically, this series picks up where the original graphic novel left off.) The series expands the universe with new characters and thoughtfully explores themes of racism and capitalism. You don't have to read the graphic novel to enjoy this series, but we highly recommend it.

Related: The 13 Best Graphic Novels of All Time For Lit Lovers

Pride & Prejudice

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Another book that has seen a thousand different lives, if you’re wondering where to start with an adaptation of Jane Austen’s brilliant Pride & Prejudice, we know where: the 1995 BBC miniseries.

Starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as the elusive and beguiling Mr. Darcy, this series skyrocketed Firth to fame and solidified his place as one of the best Mr. Darcy portrayals any Pride & Prejudice adaptation has seen. Spanning six episodes, this TV show will keep your heart fluttering all week long.

RELATED: The Best Jane Austen Movies

Pride & Prejudice is now streaming on Hulu.

Anne with an E

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One of the best TV show to book adaptations now streaming, Anne with an E, based on the classic children’s book Anne of Green Gables, became a fast cult hit.

When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt a young orphan boy, they are shocked to discover that the charge they receive instead is young Anne Shirley, a bright and imaginative young orphan girl. Originally distrustful of Anne, the pair come to welcome her into their home with loving and open arms—a heartwarming journey you can discover for yourself in all three seasons streaming now on Netflix.

The Handmaid's Tale

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Margaret Atwood’s book of the same name gets a new life in this Hulu adaptation. Set in a futuristic, dystopian world where environmental disaster and a plummeting birth rate have led women able to bear children to become government property, this series is both chilling and uncomfortably timely.

RELATED: The 15 Best Dystopian Books You Haven't Read Yet

The Handmaid’s Tale has been praised not only for its acting and its accuracy to its source material, but also for well-crafted plot decisions that have enabled the show to live far, far past the book’s ambiguous and confounding ending.

You can stream The Handmaid’s Tale now on Hulu.

Alias Grace

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Based on Margaret Atwood's award-winning novel of the same name, Alias Grace is a dramatic miniseries which elegantly gives life to an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery. Centered around the real life of Grace Marks, a young psychiatrist endeavours to exonerate one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s from the charges involving one of Canada’s most famous murder mysteries. Is this poor Irish maid truly capable of cold-blooded murder, or is she simply insane?

Big Little Lies

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This HBO series adapted from Liane Moriarty’s thriller of the same name was one of the most popular TV shows based on books, partly thanks to its stellar cast featuring names such as Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoe Kravitz.

When a new mom arrives in this wealthy, coastal California town, the women are on high alert. There’s something dark brewing under the facade of wealth and status in Monterey, and it’s about to boil over the surface.

Big Little Lies is now streaming on HBO.

RELATED: 17 Suburban Thriller Books Like 'Big Little Lies'

The Undoing

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If there's one thing HBO knows, it's that Nicole Kidman can carry a psychological thriller based on a best-selling book. In this case the book is You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, which has also recently been reprinted under the same name as the show. 

In this tight, six-episode mini series, Nicole Kidman plays Grace Fraser, a psychologist who spends her days counseling patients who can't see the truth about the people around them. But when a young mother from her son's school is murdered, and all evidence points to her husband (Hugh Grant), Grace is unsure whether to trust her own instincts. 

The Undoing is now streaming on HBO.

Related: 8 Thriller Books for Fans of The Undoing 

Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones took the world by storm when it was released on HBO, bringing to life the world created by George R.R. Martin. Though the series has ended, fans of the books are still waiting for the next book release—Martin has become infamous for missing his writing deadlines. Still, we harbor hope that the books' ending will be more satisfying than the series finale was. 

Related: 10 More Books to Read If You Like Game of Thrones

Mindhunter

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If you’re looking for a TV show based on a good nonfiction book, Mindhunter is your next binge-worthy obsession. The show is based on former FBI agent John E. Douglas’s book about his time working with the Bureau’s Investigative Support Unit.

One of the first to use psychological profiling on serial killers and to dig into the darkest minds known to man, Douglas’s life and career have inspired other works such as The Silence of the Lambs. But if you’re looking for the chilling and frustrating history behind psychological profiling, you’ll need to watch Mindhunter to see how the practice really got its start.

Mindhunter is now streaming on Netflix.

Outlander

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Prepare to be swept off your feet. This romantic drama series will have you swooning among the Scottish highlands no matter what timeline you find yourself in. Based on the book series of the same name by Diana Gabaldon, each season of the TV show follows one fantastic book.

RELATED: 9 Books Like 'Outlander' That'll Give You All the Feels

When English WWII nurse Claire Randall finds herself transported in time from 1945 to 1743, she falls in with a group of rebel Highlanders who whisk her away on new adventures in life and love. And nothing will never be the same again.

You can stream Outlander now on Netflix.

A Discovery of Witches

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Though A Discovery of Witches only has one season so far, more are on the way, and we couldn’t be more excited for them to arrive.

Based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness and named after the first book in the series, A Discovery of Witches follows a young woman who discovers that she’s a witch after she accidentally stumbles across an ancient and bewitched manuscript. When a vampire comes after her also in pursuit of the book, the two soon fall headlong into a forbidden, torrid romance that will have your eyes glued to the screen all season long.

RELATED: 5 Empowering, Witchy Reads

A Discovery of Witches is now streaming on AMC, or available for purchase to stream on Amazon.

Normal People

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It’s the summer of Normal People. If you missed the hype a few months into quarantine, don’t fret, because you can still hop onto this bandwagon. And believe us, you’ll want to. Based on Sally Rooney’s novel of the same name, this TV series follows the book nearly to a perfect T.

When Connell and Marianne begin a secret love affair in high school, they never imagine it would impact their lives forever. But the two find their way back to each other time and time again, proving that some loves really are meant to be. There won’t be a dry eye in the room by the time these 12 episodes come to a close.

Normal People is now streaming on Hulu.

Related: 8 Modern Romance Novels to Cozy Up With