The 30 best book to movie adaptations you'll want to watch AND read

21. The Birds (1960)

The Book: The mini-novel by British scribe Daphne Du Maurier tells of a small community besieged by an flock of murderous birds.

The Movie: Under the direction of suspense master Alfred Hitchcock, the fleshed-out feature focuses on the small town of Bodega Bay in California as its citizens come under attack. A mix of black humour and outright terror, The Birds can still provide sufficient reasoning to flake out of that birdwatching trip your Nan insists on taking. The novel's location - Cornwall, England - was switched out for the West Coast of the U.S.

20. Mildred Pierce (1945)

The Book: James M. Cain's novel tells the story of an aspiring housewife during the Great Depression.

The Movie: Finally landing Joan Crawford the Best Actress Oscar she so desperately craved, Michael Curtiz's adaptation of the long-suffering Mildred and her bratty daughter Veda brilliantly wove together Pierce's ambitions along with her personal woes. The movie eschews the chronological order of the narrative used in the novel, adding Mildred's voiceover as its storytelling device.

19. Jaws (1975)

The Book: Author Peter Benchley was inspired to write the tale of a small town terrorised by a great white shark after reading about similar attacks along the New Jersey coast in 1916.

The Movie: Changing the face of casual swimming for all and sundry, Steven Spielberg's Jaws drastically altered the climate of cinema - becoming the first-ever summer blockbuster. Scaring the bejeezus out of its audience, the lurching theme by composer John Williams is now synonymous with the hulking monster. The town of Amity's whining mayor is caught up with mobsters in the novel, who wind up killing Brody's cat. The mafioso subplot was omitted from the flick.

18. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)

The Book: Published in 1952, prisoner-of-war Pierre Boulle's fictionalised story is based around the real-life construction of the Burma Railway from 1942-43.

The Movie: David Lean's Oscar-winner followed the story of three British prisoners (played by Alec Guinness, William Holden) and Jack Hawkins, who are forced by the Japanese Imperial Army into building a bridge for the Burma Railway. The book's climactic ending builds to the annihilation of the bridge - for the movie, it suffered only minor damage.

17. L.A. Confidential (1997)

The Book: James Ellroy's 1990 crime novel is the third installment in his L.A. Quartet series - preceded by The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere and finished by White Jazz.

The Movie: Curtis Hanson's 1997 neo-noir caper set in 1950s Los Angeles straddled the line of police corruption and celebrity, with two breakout performances from relative unknowns Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe. When working on the script, Hanson and screenwriter Brian Helgeland stripped the novel's original plotting of any scene without the three main cops - removing a glut of characters in the process.

16. The English Patient (1996)

The Book: Set during World War II, Michael Ondaatje's novel revolves around a young Canadian army nurse and her unnamed bed-ridden English patient.

The Movie: Told via a series of flashbacks, Anthony Minghella's romantic historical drama was a huge critical and commercial success. A bittersweet love story performed by a meaty acting ensemble; Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Kristin Scott Thomas all received Oscar nods, with Binoche taking home the Best Supporting Actress statuette. The love story between Hana and Kip is the central romance of the novel, whereas in the movie, they are underplayed and the less prominent tale of the patient takes centre stage.

15. Blade Runner (1982)

The Book: Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? follows the actions of Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter in pursuit of six escaped androids.

The Movie: Ridley Scott's depiction of a crumbling, dystopian Los Angeles in Blade Runner brought the sci-fi novelist to the attention of Hollywood. While it certainly divided critics upon release, it has since been established as one of the best sci-fi movies to ever exist. Deckard's job title in the movie is that of a blade runner - a term never used in the novel.

14. The Silence Of The Lambs (1990)

The Book: Thomas Harris' serial killer sequel to Red Dragon finds Hannibal Lecter once more right in the thick of it - this time with FBI rookie, Clarice Starling.

The Movie: Anthony Hopkins' Lecter has only 16 minutes onscreen - and in that time managed to gift cinema with one of its most menacing yet compelling villains. And Jodie Foster as Agent Starling? A superb casting call (if only she'd returned for the sequel...). Lecter's line of movie dialogue "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti" was originally "...a nice Amarone" in the novel. Not huge, we'll admit, but for one of the movie's most quoted lines it's a biggie.

13. Trainspotting (1996)

The Book: Irvine Welsh's debut novel became a cult classic with its candid portrayal of junkie life in Edinburgh.

The Movie: The beginning of a beautiful friendship between director Danny Boyle and Welsh, the flick made a star of its emaciated lead, Ewan McGregor and a brutal bastard out of The Full Monty's Robert Carlyle. Different story threads are told in the novel by a variety of characters, whereas Renton is the sole narrator in the movie.

12. Gone With The Wind (1939)

The Book: A Pulitzer-Prize winner set in the Deep South, Margaret Mitchell's sprawling saga follows the life of Scarlet O'Hara during the American Civil War.

The Movie: Troublesome to get off the ground; production was halted for two years waiting for Clark Gable's timetable to free up. The movie went on to become a grandiose hit. At times economical with historical accuracy, Gone With The Wind was nevertheless a critical smash upon release with a handful of the era's biggest names - Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and Olivia De Haviland - in starring roles. In the book, Scarlett has children fathered by each of her three husbands.