There’s nothing quite like seeing the pages of a book come to life on screen — especially when it comes to our favorite romance novels. Comparing what actors and actresses are cast as the leading ladies and dashing men with how we imagined them in the stories is half the fun, and judging just how well the story was adapted — for better or for worse — is another part of what makes it so enjoyable. Sure, we’re of the camp that the book is almost always better than the movie, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still love the film adaptations for their own charm and feel-good moments. Here, we ranked 12 of our favorite romance movies based on books — and where you can watch them now!
The best romance movies based on books, ranked
12. Twilight (2008)
Based on the cult classic novel by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight and its subsequent films are a must-have on this list of romance movies based on books. Perhaps a controversial take, it’s safe to say we’ve entered the Twilight renaissance over the past few years, and the world is finally starting to come to their senses in terms of recognizing the novel and film’s influence.
The story follows Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who just made the move to the rainy town of Forks, Washington, to live with her father. It’s there where she becomes intrigued by one of her classmates, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and his elusive family. After a series of unusual occurrences between her and Edward, one of them being stopping a moving van from hitting her with his bare hands, she concludes that the impossible just might be possible: Edward is a vampire.
Add dreamy werewolves and vicious vamps into the equation and you’ve got the recipe for one of the most popular film franchises of the last two decades. But the most important question of all still stands — Team Edward or Team Jacob?
Watch Twilight now on Amazon Prime video.
11. The Hating Game (2021)
Based on the novel by Sally Thorne, The Hating Game tells the story of Lucy and Josh, who are forced to work in close proximity when their publishing companies are merged. When a life-changing promotion is at stake, the two rivals go head to head for the position with a set of conditions: whoever doesn’t get the job has to quit.
As time progresses, tensions rise, but so does their attraction to one another. This quintessential enemies-to-lovers romance was brought to life by Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell and is perfect for fans of the popular trope.
Watch The Hating Game now on Hulu.
10. Safe Haven (2013)
A woman named Katie (Julianne Hough) attempts to escape her rocky past by traveling to a small, coastal town in North Carolina. It’s there where she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widowed father to two young children who runs the local general store. As their relationship starts to progress and she becomes more present in the lives of Alex and his children, her past begins to catch up with her.
This Nicholas Sparks novel has romance, drama and even a little bit of mystery, making it one of our favorite movies based on popular books.
Watch Safe Haven now on HBO Max.
9. P.S. I Love You (2007)
Consumed by her grief, she has withdrawn from her family and friends. On her 30th birthday, she receives a cake and cassette tape with a recording from Gerry. After this initial message, she continues to receive letters and messages he had arranged for her prior to his death, all in the hopes of helping her move on from her grief and encourage her to continue living her life to the fullest, even in his absence.
A tear-jerker at times, P.S. I Love You is a heartwarming story of love, loss and the beauty that comes with both.
8. Me Before You (2016)
Me Before You is based on the novel of the same name by Jojo Moyes. The book follows the character of Lou (Emilia Clarke), who jumps around from job to job before she finally settles into a role as a caretaker for Will (Sam Claflin), a man paralyzed after being hit by a motorcycle.
Will is initially cold to Lou, turned off by her bubbly and outgoing personality. However, he eventually begins to warm up to her. When Lou learns that Will intends to go forward with assisted suicide, unable to accept the current state of his life, she makes it her goal to change his mind by taking him on a series of trips and adventures to prove that his life still has meaning.
Watch Me Before You now on Amazon Prime.
7. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Based on the novel by Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’s Diary tells the story of a 32-year-old woman named Bridget Jones who vows to turn her life around at the start of the new year — from exercising to cutting back on smoking. Keeping track of her progress and the ins and outs of her day to day life in a diary, Renée Zellweger‘s hilarious take on Bridget makes this film an absolute classic — and who can resist the charm of Colin Firth and Hugh Grant?
Watch Bridget Jones’s Diary now on Paramount+.
6. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
Based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife tells the story of Clare, played by Rachel McAdams, and Henry, played by Eric Bana. Henry has a genetic disorder which causes him to travel through time randomly. Clare and Henry cross paths throughout his many travels through time, and while they eventually marry, the complexities of his disorder make their relationship a unique one.
Rent The Time Traveler’s Wife on Amazon for $3.79.
5. Atonement (2007)
Atonement, based on the novel by Ian McEwan, tells the story of a grave misinterpretation that has major consequences for the characters involved. Cecelia (Kiera Knightley) and Robbie (James McAvoy) are two young lovers who get ripped apart when Cecelia’s younger sister Briony (Saoirse Ronan) makes a false claim against Robbie after witnessing an assault involving someone she thought was him. Her accusation lands him in prison, and the fate of him and Cecelia is uncertain.
Watch Atonement now on Amazon Prime.
4. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
Tish and Fonny are a young couple living in 1970s Harlem. Despite the trials and tribulations of their life, their love is strong and carries them through.
When Fonny is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, Tish, now pregnant with his child, must navigate this new reality and the way in which her plans for the future have been altered. Starring KiKi Layne and Stephan James, this story about love persevering is based on the novel by James Baldwin.
Watch If Beale Street Could Talk now on HBO Max.
3. Emma (1996)
Based on the beloved Jane Austen novel, Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Emma, a young socialite who entertains herself by playing matchmaker for those within her community. With her sights set on finding love for Harriet Smith, a not-so-refined woman she knows, her constant meddling is cause for confusion and comedy throughout this classic film adaptation.
Watch Emma now on Amazon Prime.
2. Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Another classic Jane Austen adaptation, Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen star as Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth deals with nearly constant pressure from her mother to marry.
When she meets the cold, aloof Mr. Darcy, things are icy upon their introduction. However, as the story progresses, this original enemies-to-lovers tale shows as they come to learn the true nature of one another, falling for each other in the process.
Watch Pride & Prejudice now on Amazon Prime.
1. The Notebook (2004)
Coming in at first place on the list is no surprise: the 2004 film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. The story follows the epic love story of Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling), two young lovers from different worlds. Allie’s parents’ disapproval of their relationship causes them to go their separate ways and embark on their own separate lives without each other — but fate steps in, bringing them back to one another. Of all the romance movies based on books out there, this one stands the test of time.
Watch The Notebook now on Amazon Prime.
For more movie recommendations, read below!