8 Essential Movies for People Who Love Books
The movie is so rarely as good as the book! That's why we love to watch movies set in bookshops and inspired by readers. These eight—from classic rom coms like Notting Hill to historical dramas like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—will delight book lovers.
Books have been inspiring Hollywood since the industry first emerged. Many of cinema’s earliest hits were adaptations of literary classics like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Carol, and Frankenstein. And while this bookish craze continues today, over the years the genre has expanded to include not just adaptations, but book- and bookstore-centered films like Book Club (2018) and Becoming Jane (2007). Below are the eight bookish films every bibliophile should watch.
The Bookshop (2018)
Set 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 set up a bookshop, it becomes clear that her passion isn’t a shared one as an influential member of 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 Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel by the same name, The Bookshop is a beautiful period piece chock-full of books.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
Lily James leads Netflix’s historical romance about a British writer who sails to the island of Guernsey in search of inspiration for her newly contracted column in The Times Literary Supplement. But her weekend getaway takes an unexpected detour when she discovers romance, an unusual book club, and Guernsey’s German-occupied history. Based on the 2008 book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is a charming appreciation of books and the writing life.
84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
Based on Helene Hanff’s critically acclaimed memoir by the same name, 84 Charing Cross Road centers on the real life, 20-year correspondence between Hanff (Anne Bancroft), a New York City 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 movie, the two bond over literature, modern culture, history, and even Yorkshire pudding.
Funny Face (1957)
Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn star as Dick Avery, a charismatic high fashion photographer, and Jo Stockton, a cautious bibliophile and employee at Embryo Concepts bookstore, in this 1957 musical. When Dick interrupts Jo at work with an impromptu photo shoot, he unintentionally captures her, subsequently changing their lives forever. With songs by the Gershwin brothers, costumes by Edith Head, and direction by Stanley Donen, Funny Face 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 district. Divorced and living with an unkempt but loyal roommate, it’s clear that Will is lacking in the love department. But his circumstance changes when Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), Hollywood’s biggest celebrity, enters his store one day. After a book on Turkey gets bought and a cup of orange juice gets spilled, the two find themselves in a whirlwind romance. Notting Hill is classic 90s rom-com full of bookish charm.
This Golden Age classic is led by Hollywood legends Ida Lupino, Olivia de Havilland, and Nancy Coleman. Based on Theodore Reeves’ fictional story, Devotion centers on Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontë as they wrestle with both their novels and their love lives. Filled with romance, conflict, and an overall appreciation of books, 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 sci-fi nerd, the group tackles six of Austen’s most notable works. What none of them see coming though, is how Austen will help them out of their own personal crises. Jane Austen Book Club is a cinematic deep dive into the lasting, influential themes of Austen’s work.
The Fast Company trilogy (1938, 1939)
Hollywood released this 1930s trilogy to please fans of the Myrna Loy and William Powell-led Thin Man series, as the wait time in between each film was deemed too long. Based on Marco Page’s novel by the same name, Fast Company follows rare-book dealers, Joel and Garda Sloan (Melvyn Douglas, Florence Rice), as they attempt to solve a murder. The succeeding films star different sets of topnotch Golden Age actors like Rosalind Russell and Franchot Tone. But no matter the faces, each film is a crowd-pleasing bookish comedy.