TIME Books

15 Books for Your Oscar Season Reading List

Many of the season's most celebrated films are based on novels and non-fiction books

Hollywood loves a sure thing. So for many filmmakers, adapting an already successful book is a recipe for big-screen success. The 2016 award season, already in full swing, is no exception; some of the year’s most anticipated and celebrated movies got their start as novels, biographies and histories. Here, a list of books that have served as fodder.


  • The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge


    Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu won four Oscars for last year’s expansive Birdman, so it’s no surprise his next project is similarly ambitious. The director’s notoriously expensive adaptation of the Michael Punke novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a frontiersman whose company leaves him for dead after a bear mauling—but he survives, and tracks down his deserters to seek revenge.

    Published: 2002

    In theaters: Dec. 25 (limited), Jan. 8 (wide)

  • Room

    Little, Brown and Company

    Critics wondered how a movie could capture the voice of Emma Donoghue’s novel, narrated by a young boy who has spent his life locked inside a room with his kidnapped mother, yet most have been impressed by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay’s skillful handling.

    Published: 2010

    In theaters: Oct. 16 (limited), Nov. 25 (wide)

  • The Price of Salt, or Carol

    Dover Publications

    The movie version (just called Carol) of Patricia Highsmith’s lesbian love story stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

    Published: 1952

    In theaters: Nov. 20

  • Brooklyn


    Saoirse Ronan has earned critical raves as the moody Eilis Lacey in the adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s novel about life as an Irish immigrant in 1950s New York.

    Published: 2009

    In theaters now

  • The Danish Girl


    Eddie Redmayne, the British actor who won last year’s Best Actor trophy for The Theory of Everything, stars in the adaptation of David Ebershoff’s novel based on the true story of transgender Lili Elbe, one of the first people known to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

    Published: 2000

    In theaters: Nov. 27

  • Steve Jobs

    Simon & Schuster

    Michael Fassbender takes on the tech visionary in this biopic based on the biography by former TIME managing editor Walter Isaacson.

    Published: 2011

    In theaters now

  • In the Heart of the Sea

    Penguin Books

    Nathaniel Philbrick’s National Book Award-winning story of the whaleship Essex—whose sinking inspired Moby Dick—gets the silver screen treatment in an adaptation starring Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson and Cillian Murphy.

    Published: 2000

    In theaters: Dec. 11

  • The Martian


    Ridley Scott directs Matt Damon in Andy Weir’s story of an astronaut left behind on Mars who struggles to find a way to survive.

    Published: 2011

    In theaters now

  • To Reach the Clouds

    North Point Press

    Philippe Petit’s memoir of his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers is the starting point for The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

    Published: 2002

    In theaters now

  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

    W.W. Norton & Company

    Michael Lewis’s anatomy of the financial crash—and profiles of the people who saw it coming—gets the Hollywood treatment with Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt.

    Published: 2010

    In theaters: Dec. 11 (limited), Dec. 23 (wide)

  • Beasts of No Nation

    Harper Perennial

    Uzodinma Iweala’s novel about a young African boy recruited as a guerrilla warrior has caused a sensation as Netflix’s first original feature film, which debuted online and in theaters.

    Published: 2005

    On Netflix now

  • Trumbo

    Grand Central Publishing

    Bryan Cranston stars as the blacklisted Spartacus screenwriter in an adaptation of Bruce Cook’s biography.

    Published: 1977

    In theaters now

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

    Harry N. Abrams

    Jesse Andrews’ simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming YA novel about a teenage cancer patient became a Sundance favorite starring Olivia Cooke and Thomas Mann.

    Published: 2012

    On DVD and Blu-ray now

  • Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

    Broadway Books

    The David Foster Wallace biopic The End of the Tour, starring Jason Segel, took much of its dialogue from journalist David Lipsky’s interviews with the Infinite Jest novelist, which were published in book form after Wallace’s death.

    Published: 2010

    On DVD and Blu-ray now

  • Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil’s Deal


    Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s biography of the Boston crime boss, which covers his fights with competitors and his strange alliance with the FBI, is fodder for a shapeshifting Johnny Depp.

    Published: 2000

    In theaters now

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