ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

These books should be the next big Netflix adaptations

From page to screen - we need these on TV now.

These books should be the next big Netflix adaptations
Becca Caddy
30 March 2023
Book adaptations are flavour of the month for streaming services right now. Amazon hit gold last year with Prime Video's Reacher and Paper Girls, while Netflix continues to mine the work of many authors for its best-performing series, including Neil Gaiman's wondrous The Sandman and, more recently, Lockwood & Co. But which other books would make the best Netflix series?

UPDATE:The Shadow and Bone TV series, based on Leigh Bardugo's super popular Grishaverse books, has returned to Netflix. Season 2 has landed on the streaming service, and it's a story that adapts the Siege and Storm book and adds an original storyline featuring the Crows characters.

With Netflix plucking away at the page turners - graphic novels or otherwise - and taking great strides to bring greater variety to the stuff we lose our weekends to, we take aim at 20 books we feel deserve adaptation by the streaming giant.

(And don’t worry: There are no spoilers ahead, so you’ll be able to binge them all when Netflix invariably take note and nick all our ideas.)

Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

1. Magician by Raymond E. Feist

Buy now from Amazon

The first book in Feist’s epic Riftwar saga. In Crydee, Pug, an orphan boy, is apprenticed to a master magician. When the Kingdom is attacked by alien invaders, Pug and his friend Tomas are swept up into the conflict. As Pug continues his training and tries to find a way to close the rift, Tomas joins the fight. There’s enough in one book for several series, with the characters aging from teenagers into men.

Cast Wishlist: Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things stars as Pug, with Spider-Man star Tom Holland as Tomas, and – as with all great fantasy adaptations – at least one role for Brian Blessed.

37
6
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

2. The Optimist by Sophie Kipner

Buy now from Amazon

California native Tabitha Gray redefines what it means to be a truly hopeless romantic. See, Tabby is an optimist – aggressively so – and no amount of failure, embarrassment, or humiliation can dent her fierce belief that real, true, lasting love is just around the corner. Each episode follows another of Tabitha’s cringe-worthy attempts at love, and her efforts, often in vein, to prove to those around her that true love is really out there...

Cast Wishlist:Greta Gerwig as Tabby, and Tilda Swinton as her wine-loving mother, Twilda.

8
2
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

3. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Buy now from Amazon

Adapted from Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel/story collection hybrid, we’re thinking a 13-episode series following a set of interconnected characters orbiting the music industry in New York and California. Think HBO’s Vinyl, only not terrible. Goon Squad moves back and forth in time, from a family safari in 1973, to the early ‘80s punk movement, through to present day adulthood friendships, affairs, dates, and deaths, ending in the early years of the 2020s.

Cast Wishlist: The characters age up and down, but at various points we would love to see Emily Blunt as Sasha, Matthew Rhys as Bennie, David Duchovny as Lou, Vince Vaughn as Bosco, Parker Posey as Jocelyn, and Viggo Mortensen as Scotty.

6
2
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

4. The Wicked + The Divine by Keiron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

Buy now from Amazon

Every 90 years, the ancient gods are reincarnated in the bodies of teenage hosts, in a process known as The Recurrence. ‘The Pantheon’ are granted fame and supernatural powers for two years, at which point the hosts die, and the next cycle begins. The 2010s Recurrence sees the Pantheon celebrated as pop stars.

Cast Wishlist:Simona Brown as Laura Wilson, Iris Law as Lucifer, John Boyega as Baal, Harry Styles as Baphomet.

5
1
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

5. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

Buy now from Amazon

A series of interconnected dark, heartbreaking, funny tales, Diaz’s 2012 short story collection follows Dominican-American protagonist Yunior as he navigates life and love in New York City, exploring questions of masculinity, heritage, culture, identity, and infidelity. The writing is as fast and loose as the characters’ morals (especially the men) and each episode could adapt one of the nine stories in the collection, eight of which are narrated by Yunior, with the ninth, the brilliant ‘Otravida, Otravez’ narrated by Yasmin, a woman with whom Yunior’s father has an affair after migrating to New York from the Dominican Republic.

Cast Wishlist:Rick Gonzalez of Coach Carter and Arrow stars as Yunior, with Zoe Saldana as Yasmin.

5
1
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

6. Outline by Rachel Cusk

Buy now from Amazon

The first in a trilogy of novels by Cusk, Outline follows narrator Faye, a writer in her mid-40s, as she travels to Greece to teach a writing class. As she travels, Faye is told stories by those she meets; the man next to her on the plane, her students, friends she meets in restaurants.

With her own backstory purposefully obscured, she meanders between encounters as strangers and acquaintances offload their troubles, usually to do with love, onto her. Faye listens intently to each, sensing that, even as they fail to ask about her life, each of them is relieved at the chance to be seen and heard.

Cast Wishlist:Kate Winslet stars as Faye.

6
3
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

7. Marching Powder by Rusty Young

Buy now from Amazon

The true story of British drug trafficker Thomas McFadden, who is arrested and incarcerated in the vast, lawless San Pedro Prison in Bolivia. When Australian backpacker Rusty Young meets McFadden on one of the illegal tours the latter conducts, showing tourists around the slum prison, he bribes the guards and stays for three months as McFadden’s cellmate, writing a book about his life as an international trafficker, his subsequent incarceration, and life in San Pedro Prison.

Cast Wishlist:Chiwetel Eijofor as McFadden (he was mooted for a possible film adaptation), with Liam Hemsworth as Young.

5
2
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

8. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Buy now from Amazon

We’re desperate to see V. E, Schwab’s books adapted into movies and TV series, but if we had to pick just one it’d be the best-selling The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. It’s about a woman who makes a pact with the devil to escape a life she considers miserable. But there’s always a catch when you make a deal with the bad guys and although Addie does get what she wanted, she is also cursed as well. We think this would make a really popular series as it has something for everyone wit elements of mystery, fantasy, historical fiction, and romance. There would also be some wondrous sets, from rural France to Paris to New York.

Cast Wishlist: Ben Barnes would be excellent as the devil, proving in the Shadow and Bone series and The Punisher that he’s a formidable – but crucially for this story incredibly handsome – villain.

1
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

9. The Water Cure By Sophie Mackinstosh

Buy now from Amazon

Grace, Sky and Lia live in a house on a remote beach with their parents, protected from the illness that ravages the rest of the world. At least that’s what they’ve been led to believe. We found this tense, eerie and beautifully-written book impossible to put down – it’s no surprise it was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize when it came out in 2018. It would make a fantastic limited series for those who like an unnerving mystery. The story has a timeless, dream-like quality and we’d love to see that adapted onto the screen with over-saturated and surreal pastel skies and dark and stormy seas.

Cast Wishlist: Florence Pugh is the queen of creepy tension these days, just look at her phenomenal performances in Midsommar and more recently The Wonder. She’d shine as Lia here, a broken and naive young woman desperately seeking connection.

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

10. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Buy now from Amazon

Another award-winning book, Piranesi is a story of a man seemingly trapped in a dream-like, labyrinthine series of interconnected halls, adorned with statues. It’s hard to say much more about this mind-bending masterpiece other than it would be almost impossible to translate from page to screen, which is all the more reason to add it to this wishlist. Aesthetically, it would be ground-breaking – although Netflix has pulled out all the fantasy stops recently with The Sandman. Story-wise, it would have the same eerie, edge-of-your-seat mystery that had us all hooked on Lost and, more recently, Severance.

Starring: Pedro Pascal is proving time and time again that he can smash any TV role, so we think he’d be up to the challenge of playing the main character, Piranesi, here.

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

11. Book of Night by Holly Black

Buy now from Amazon

Holly Black’s first adult novel is about a world similar to our own but with one twist of magical realism – shadows can be the source of great powers, augmented and even detached from a person’s body. When we read Book of Night, we saw it unfolding cinematically in front of us, so we can totally imagine how brilliant and spooky the shadow elements would look on screen – especially considering how great the Darkling’s powers are translated to Netflix in the Shadow and Bone series. As it’s part mystery, part grounded fantasy it would have great appeal on Netflix too, appealing to both crowds

Cast Wishlist: We’d love to see Hailee Steinfeld in the role of Charlie Hall, she showed us she can be an action hero in Hawkeye and we’d love to see her play a more emotionally challenging part.

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

12. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Buy now from Amazon

Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows have already been combined into a Netflix series (the second season arrives soon) but we’d love to see her novel Ninth House, as well as its sequel Hell Bent, turned into one too. It’s about secret societies at Yale and their dark and dangerous occult practices. This could be a wonderfully popular dark academi series that’s spooky and sexy with fantastic sets and special effects.

Cast Wishlist: Chance Perdomo was hypnotic as Salem in Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and we’d love to see him play the powerful and stoic Daniel Arlington.

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

13. The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Buy now from Amazon

The Echo Wife is a dark and spooky tale that evokes a lot of gothic horror, but brings the story bang up to date with sci-fi elements that deal with robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s about a husband and wife, Nathan and Evelyn, who want different things and the lengths Nathan will go to in order to have a wife who’s on the same page as him in every way. There are some shocking twists and turns, so we’ll leave it there. But imagine this story would have The White Lotus levels of intrigue and Westworld levels of sci-fi aesthetics and appeal.

Cast Wishlist: Evan Rachel Wood would make a fantastic Evelyn, and not just because she was in Westworld, which covers similar themes, but because she can go from elegant and full of poise one minute to strong and intelligent badass the next.

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

14. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Buy now from Amazon

Neverwhere is already a TV series, which is actually how the story started life. The book proved to be more popular than its TV roots, but it was a brilliant series that does still stand the test of time. However, Netflix did such a fantastic job adapting Gaiman’s The Sandman onto the screen in 2022 we’d love to see an updated Neverwhere too. This is a wondrous story about the secret worlds underneath the streets of London. It’s dark and spooky, but has a fairy tale-like quality too – a balance Gaiman always manages to strike remarkably well – which we think would make it appealing for the whole family.

Cast Wishlist: Every single one of the voice actors who were involved with the Neverwhere BBC dramatisation back in 2013 were phenomenal, so we’d love to see them all reprise their roles in a new live action version – especially James McAvoy and Natalie Dormer. They’re probably a little old to play the characters at the correct age to stay faithful to the book, but we’re willing to overlook that small detail if you are?

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

15. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Buy now from Amazon

This classic dystopian novel from Octavia E. Butler follows the story of Lauren Olamina, a young woman who is able to feel the pain of the people around her as if it’s her own – a condition Butler calls ‘hyperempathy’. She’s growing up in a future version of the US where chaos reigns and the rich and powerful are the only ones who are safe. We think this would make a fantastic series as it’s eerily prescient – despite the fact it was written in the 90s it talks about smart drugs that enhance performance and a leader is in charge who promises to “make American great again”, sound familiar?

Cast Wishlist: Camryn Jones was phenomenal as Tiffany in Paper Girls, and would make a fantastic Lauren Olamina.

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

16. Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson

Do you know what HMRC stands for? Wrong! It's Her Majesty's Royal Coven and this book is about the secret society of witches that protect the country from otherworldly evils. The world-building in this novel is truly wonderful. We were left wanting to know more about each character's backstory, each building, where each hallway lead. We think it'd make a great TV series as it deals with vitally important issues of race, identity and gender with a whole dose of magic thrown in to elevate it to the level of fantasy. We can't wait for the next book.

Cast Wishlist: Oscar-winning Kerry Condon would be great as Niamh, one of the main characters in the book who is both a scarily powerful witch and very down to Earth thirty-something who'd really just like to leave magic behind her and settle in the countryside.

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

17. The Black Monday Murders by Jonathan Hickman

Buy now from Amazon

It's truly criminal that comic book genius Jonathan Hickman hasn't had his original work adapted into a movie or TV series yet. And even though he's had more popular series, we think The Black Monday Murders comics would make a deep, dark and disturbing new show for Netflix. Described as cypto-noir, this is a story about the ancient, occult underbelly of modern financial institutions and it's sprawling in its world-building. It would appeal to those who loved only the darkest elements of the recent adaptation of The Sandman, as well as those who enjoy a dark mystery.

Cast Wishlist: Kingsley Ben-Adir has starred in a lot of great movies and TV shows at this point. But it was his particularly compelling performance as private investigator Karim Washington in Netflx's The OA that convinced us he'd be perfect as NYPD detective Theodore Dumas in an adaptation of The Black Monday Murders.

0
0
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

18. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Buy now from Amazon

Not a novelised sequel to Tarantino’s movie, this is a book about a young girl on holiday in a quiet English village who disappears. Villagers join the search for her, scouring nearby moors and reservoirs, but she is never found. Over the next 13 years, through the changing seasons, the aftershocks of tragedy affect the lives of those in the village.

Cast Wishlist:An ensemble of great British actors feature in the cast, including Sean Bean, obviously, and Jodie Whittaker. Seriously, choose anyone: there are more than enough roles to go around.

2
2
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

19. Murder in Mississippi by John Safran

Buy now from Amazon

Australian journalist John Safran's Murder in Mississippi investigates the murder of a white supremacist by a young black man, and uncovers the strange nature of their relationship. Safran, a TV presenter in the Louis Theroux mold, had once made a documentary on the victim, and as he returns to to Mississippi to investigate the murder the American South hosts his fish-out-of-water view of local customs, history and race.

Cast Wishlist: A true-crime docuseries based on this book should feature Safran himself. This is a troubling and timely examination of modern America in the style of Making a Murderer and The Keepers.

2
2
Thanks for voting
Books that would make brilliant Netflix series

20. Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayesha Malik

Buy now from Amazon

Sofia is a young Muslim woman living in London, navigating work in publishing and her dating life. After she leaves her boyfriend when he expects her to move in with his parents, Sofia is thrust back into the Muslim dating world, and the result is a romantic comedy in Bridget Jones vein, with mishaps, friendships, and romance operating – refreshingly – out of the cultural cliches such fiction often leans on.

Cast Wishlist:Afshan Azad from the Harry Potter films stars as Sofia Khan.

2
3
Thanks for voting

SOMETHING MISSING FROM OUR SHORTLIST?

Tell us about it, and if enough people agree we'll add it in.