10 Book-Based TV Shows to Watch If You Can’t Focus on Reading in Quarantine

Remote Control on table in living room


I am not reading much right now. The crazy world events happening currently have me a little freaked out. Let me be clear, my little family is largely doing great and we have many things to be thankful for, but this social distancing and isolation is taking its toll.

I am thankful that my husband, and I can both work from home and, so far, our jobs seem secure. Also a blessing is the almost two acres of land around our house. We have some lovely green space to get outside and for our kids to be able to run and play.

However, there are many around me – in my community, in my family, and in the world – that are not doing well, and I cannot help but worry.

One action that has helped me from feeling so helpless and has alleviated some of my stress and anxiety is checking on my elderly neighbors to be sure they have our number and can contact us if they need anything.

Also, just texting, video chatting and talking via phone daily to our family and friends has made me feel a bit more connected. Social media has its issues, but I am very thankful for it right now as it provides yet another way not to feel quite so isolated.

Typically, I would be happy to have all activities canceled so I can snuggle up with my latest book, but lately, I just can’t seem to focus on reading. I am thankfully reading some, just not as much as normal. And when I do reach for a book, it is definitely one of these escape reads.

Bottom line? THIS reader has turned to the screen to help me cope and honestly, it has been a life saver. Of course, since I am sad about not being able to read and am missing books, I have largely chosen to escape into shows that started as books.

This whole situation has made me realize that MANY of my favorite shows are based on really good books. So, hopefully, you are weathering this storm and getting through your “to be read” pile during this difficult time.

However, if you are like me – a typically voracious reader having trouble focusing on books in the current climate – here are the TV shows I suggest.

NOTE: Not all of the below TV shows are family friendly. I typically search specific shows on Common Sense Media to get information on whether or not any shows are appropriate for the whole family or are just for adults.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I make a small commission (at no cost to you!).


My thoughts: I discovered and quickly devoured this 12-book series written by Winston Graham a couple years ago. I was astounded that something so wonderful existed for so long (the first one was written in 1945), but I had never heard of it. I have the TV show to thank because I watched a few episodes of it first and then read the books.

Synopsis (from PBS): Aidan Turner stars as Ross Poldark, a redcoat who returns to Cornwall after battle to discover that his father is dead, his lands are ruined, and his true love is engaged to another. Can Poldark change his destiny, restore his lost fortune, and reclaim his love?

Where to Watch: PBS, Amazon Prime

The Night Manager

My thoughts: Holy cow, I loved this show. I have never been able to get in to any of Le Carre’s books, but I know MANY people who love them. I plan on reading this book soon.

Synopsis (from Amazon): The Night Manager is based on John le Carre’s novel, ex-British soldier Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is recruited by MI-6’s Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman) to infiltrate the inner circle of an arms trader named Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie).

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime


My thoughts: I have never been able to get in to the Outlander books although I did read some of the first one and enjoyed what I read. This would be the perfect time to pick it back up, but opting for the show is good too. It’s well done and is a perfect escape from our current reality.

Synopsis (from IMDB): Follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world in which her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Where to Watch: Netflix, Hulu, Starz

The Durrells in Corfu

My thoughts: This is one that has been on my list (both the book and the show) for awhile, but until this quarantine, I had not gotten to them yet. I have started the show and am enjoying following this quirky family and their adventures on the Greek island of Corfu.

Synopsis (from PBS): Keeley Hawes (Upstairs Downstairs) stars as an intrepid widow who decamps from dreary England to a sun-dappled Greek island with her four recalcitrant children, ages 11 to 21, on this adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals and its two sequels.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, PBS


My thoughts: This is a rare show that my husband, and I watched together and both equally loved. After devouring the show, I read the first book in the series and it was just different enough from the show to keep me guessing. I hope to read more books in the series soon!

Synopsis (from Acorn): Adapted from the crime novels of Ann Cleeves (Vera), this hit BBC Scotland series is filmed against the backdrop of the Shetland Islands. Douglas Henshall (Primeval) stars as good-natured DI Jimmy Perez, who quickly realizes that not all is what it seems in this close-knit community. Henshall exudes authority; his offbeat assistant, DC Alison “Tosh” McIntosh (Alison O’Donnell), adds humor.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, Acorn TV, Britbox

Haunting of Hill House

My thoughts: Give me all the scary, horror TV shows! We watched this one just after it came out and were completely mesmerized by this scary series. I have heard they took some pretty major liberties with story, but I am hoping to read the book soon to find out.

Synopsis (from Netflix): Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it.

Where to Watch: Netflix


My thoughts: This took a couple episodes to hook us but once it did, we could not stop (this is another one that was perfect for both the hubs and I together). Very soon after finishing the show, I read the book which is equally good and includes some cases that are not focused on in the show so made for exciting reading.

Synopsis (from Netflix): In the late 1970s two FBI agents expand criminal science by delving into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to all-too-real monsters.

Where to Watch: Netflix

The Outsider

My thoughts: This is one of my favorite Stephen King books, and I especially loved it on audio (Will Patton is an uh-mazing narrator). I confess that I have not seen the show, yet, but I am hearing good things and it is up soon.

Synopsis (from HBO): Based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel, The Outsider begins by following a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a young boy. But when an insidious supernatural force edges its way into the case, it leads a seasoned cop and an unorthodox investigator to question everything they believe in.

Where to Watch: HBO, Amazon (for purchase)

Little Fires Everywhere

My thoughts: Ok, so I hated this book. However, I am in love with the casting decisions for the show version and will pretty much always watch Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington!

Synopsis (from Hulu): Starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. Based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller, the story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Where to Watch: Hulu

Big Little Lies

My thoughts: This is a book that I liked but did not love. However, I have heard from numerous friends that agreed with me about the book, but still really liked this show so I am excited to check it out.

Synopsis (from HBO): Based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book, and featuring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley, this darkly comedic series tells the tale of three mothers whose seemingly perfect lives unravel to the point of murder.

Where to Watch: HBO, Amazon (for purchase)

What are you watching in quarantine?

If you like this post, you might also enjoy: 10 Books for Escape Reading, 10 Classic Books to Read if You Think Classic Books are Boring, Most Memorable and Best Books of 2018, Reading Report: Mini Reviews of Recent Reads


Binge Worthy TV Shows to Watch with books and plant in background

1 thought on “10 Book-Based TV Shows to Watch If You Can’t Focus on Reading in Quarantine

  1. I loved The Haunting of Hill House! Will you be watching season 2 whenever it comes out? (It was supposed to be out this upcoming October, but I can only assume that it will have to be pushed back due to Covid-19).

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