In the last several years, there’s been a whole bunch of TV shows based on books that have hit our screens. I was raised to always read the book before watching the show or movie. It’s a tradition I’ve stuck to religiously. However, as more and more shows come out it’s become harder to keep up. That’s why I’m here to tell you whether to start with the book or just skip straight to the TV show for some of the most popular TV adaptations out there.

HBO

Game of Thrones is probably the most famous of the shows based on books genre. You know what it’s about, a bunch of people fighting over a throne in a brutal fashion. There are also dragons. As much as this pains me deeply to say, while the TV show is worth watching for its cultural impact alone, the books just aren’t worth the time. It’s not that they aren’t good, they are but compared with the visual marvel that is the TV show they just don’t quite measure up. If you don’t believe me, you can buy the whole set for $30.99 on Amazon.

Sharp Objects is based on a novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn. The story follows young journalist Camille Preaker as she investigates the disappearances of preteen girls and fights her own demons in the hometown she fled years before. The novel is full of suspense and fascinating twists and turns. The show captures that same creepy energy that the book does so well. Personally, I preferred the book, but both iterations of this mystery are worth the time if you’re looking for a good engaging mystery. It comes down to whatever format you prefer. You can get the book on Amazon ($7.98).

The TV and graphic novel iterations of Watchmen are so incredibly different that I almost didn’t include them on this list. But I did because I believe that while different, both versions are totally worth the time. Even if you aren’t usually a graphic novel person, Watchmen ($14.99) is a fascinating read that asks some very interesting questions and deals with some important issues all under the guise of a superhero story. The TV show is totally different, but also deeply thought-provoking and engaging. The first episode takes a little bit of patience, but if you stick with it, the payoff is totally worth it.

I picked up Big Little Lies ($7.78) in an airport as a quick fun read to get me through the plane ride, and that’s exactly what it was. It’s an easy read, and it’s got enough suspense to keep you hooked. The show, however, is on a whole different level. Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, and Meryl Streep are the girl-power cast that dreams are made of. The TV show takes the plot of the book and elevates it to something that is truly remarkable. The TV show is most certainly worth the time, but take or leave the book.

Hulu

The TV show Little Fires Everywhere strays just a tad from the book it’s based on, but man, both are just so good. The book ($10.20) by Celeste Ng is an amazing piece of literature. It’s beautifully written, perfectly suspenseful, and one of my absolute favorites recently. Similarly, the show is amazing. The actors are fantastic, and the story is well-crafted and deeply entertaining. Both the book and the TV show are absolutely worth the time. I recommend reading the book first and then seeing how the show compares.

The Handmaid’s Tale ($7.99) is one I can only recommend you watch or read if you are fully mentally prepared for how deeply disturbing it is. Especially if you are a woman. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, this is another one that’s totally worth the time spent reading the book. Margaret Atwood is an amazing writer and her book will take you to places you aren’t sure you want to go. Once you’re there, you’re immersed in such a powerful story that you won’t be able to look away. The TV show captures that same feeling. You can’t go wrong spending time on either of these masterpieces.

Amazon Prime

Good Omens is just a delight. It’s darkly funny and wonderfully quirky and everything about it is just fun. That being said, the book ($7.99) is fairly similar to the TV show. So it might not be worth the time to tackle both. I absolutely loved this book, but David Tennant and Michael Sheen add something really excellent to this story with their wonderful performances as a demon and an angel trying to stop the apocalypse. If you aren’t a book person, the show will give you everything you need with some added visual sparkle. If you are a book person, go for them both.

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