Reading lists

The modern novels we would love to see on TV: from Queenie to Grown-Ups

With Sally Rooney's Normal People the hottest book-to-small screen adaptation of the moment, we've been thinking about other popular modern books that could make great TV.

BBC Three

From Hulu's star-studded interpretation of Liane Moriaty's Nine Perfect Strangers to Adam Kay's bestselling This Is Going to Hurt becoming a miniseries on BBC Two, 2020 is shaping up to be a bonanza year for book-to-TV adaptations.

On Sunday, another literary sensation was given the small-screen treatment: Sally Rooney's bestselling millennial love story Normal People, about the on-off relationship of two young lovers as they navigate secondary school then college in Ireland.

To call the BBC Three series giddily awaited is an understatement. Not only has Normal People been one of the most discussed novels of the past two years, its adaptation was co-scripted by Rooney herself, alongside award-winning playwright and the story editor on HBO's thrillingly good Succession, Alice Birch. The pedigree appears to have paid off: Variety have called the show 'crushingly intimate'. For NME, it is a 'flawless romance', while Rolling Stone branded it 'a millennial love story for the ages'.

In short, it looks set to the TV hit of the lockdown since Tiger King.  And that got us thinking: what other recent novels would make brilliant television?

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (2019)

Elevator pitch: A millennial Bridget Jones-cum-Fleabag that tackles perceptions – in equally heartbreaking and hilarious measure – around diversity and black identity in Britain, racial stereotypes and the female experience.

What's it about?

A 26-year-old Jamaican-British woman living in London is reaching her wits' end. Her work at a national newspaper, staffed primarily by white people, isn’t going swimmingly. And after a messy break up she descends into full-scale self-destruction mode by entering a conspiracy of bad relationships and worse decisions.

Surrounded by a vibrant cast of characters – from the yuck parade of awful men she dates to her ebullient but old-school Granny, Queenie navigates the ups and downs of a life wounded by personal trauma with an inspiring spirit. A fresh, witty and heart-warming portrait of a modern woman searching for meaning in the modern world.

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more