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The 13 Most Successful Secular Fiction Novels Never to Be Adapted Into a Feature Film

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | April 14, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | April 14, 2010 |

You’d think, with the way that Hollywood takes every fucking thing with a whiff of success attached to it and turns it into a movie (board games, children’s toys, cartoons, bubble gum mascots) that they’d have already pillaged every successful book in the history of mankind. And you would be mostly right. In fact, in coming up with the list below, I discovered that all but 13 novels that have sold over 10 million copies have been turned into a feature motion picture at some point. Can you believe that? All but 13. And of those 13, several of them are practically unadaptable (though, Hollywood tends to find ways — see the upcoming Monopoly or Battleship movies), or are way too short or way too long for a feature length film (again, not that it’s stopped Hollywood in the past — see Where the Wild Things Are and the Dr. Seuss movies). In fact, many of the ones below actually have been made into either TV movies or mini-series. Only a few have been completely left alone (and the number one novel only because they can’t get the rights). I was actually fairly stupefied by this realization.

So, here you go: The 13 Most Successful (Secular) Novels Never to Be Adapted Into a Feature Film. Note that The Hobbit would top this list, but I left it off because the feature film is well into development.

13. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (11 million copies sold)

12. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (14 million copies sold) (Note: There has been a TV movie.)

11. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (15 million copies sold)

10. The Pillars of Earth by Ken Follett (15 million copies) (A TV mini-series is in the works.)

9. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey (15 million copies sold)

8. Shogun by James Clavell (15 million copies sold) (Note: A TV Mini-Series has been made out of it.)

7. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (15 million copies sold)

6. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (16 million sold)

5. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (20 million copies sold)

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (29 million copies sold)

3. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (30 million copies sold)

2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (45 million copies sold). (Note: A TV show, a TV special, and a Home Video have been created out of it.)

1. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (65 million copies sold)

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.