The Film Adaptation Test of a book

25 February 2022

Telling an author you read their book is the greatest compliment they can receive, according to American poet Lee Ballentine. Anyone taking five to six hours out of their time to read a book cover-to-cover must have — in most cases — thought highly of it. The title evaded the did not finish pile: that’s saying a lot.

As an additional compliment, you could tell the author you’ll read their novel again. But with so many books in the world, who has the time to repeat read a title? Instead it might be better to say their book should be made into a film. It’s a way of saying your novel is so good, more people need to experience it, so let’s get it into cinemas. For most authors that’s probably an affirmation; it’s my guess many quietly hope their work will result in a movie.

It’s more than a commendation though. It’s an endorsement that discharges a reader from the obligation to pick up the book again. But it also makes for a useful metric in assessing a novel. If a book is worthy of being adapted for the big screen, it’s probably a good story. It’s something that should be put before a wider audience. And if not, perhaps you could settle for telling the author you read their book, and leave it at that.