Read a good TV series lately?
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Over the weekend, Charlaine Harris and Craig Johnson headlined the West Virginia Book Festival. In addition to being best-selling authors, the two have something else in common: their book series have been turned into successful TV series. Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series became HBO's "True Blood," and Johnson's Walt Longmire series became A&E's "Longmire."
That got me to thinking about all the other successful shows on the air right now that owe their start to a book series -- and there are plenty of them.
Youth-oriented networks ABC Family and the CW have had big success adapting books for the small screen. On ABC Family, there's "Pretty Little Liars," its highest-rated show, and "The Lying Game," which are inspired by their respective book series from author Sara Shepard.
The CW has ratings hits with "Gossip Girl" and "The Vampire Diaries" by Cecily von Ziegesar and L.J. Smith, respectively. (Last year's canceled "The Secret Circle" also was based on an L.J. Smith series.) At midseason, it will debut "The Carrie Diaries," based on the "Sex and the City" prequel series by Candace Bushnell.
Recently, ABC's 10 p.m. Sunday slot has been taken by book-based series. Last year's (sadly) short-lived "GCB" came from Kim Gatlin's novel "Good Christian Bitches," and the current occupant, "666 Park Avenue," was inspired by Gabriella Pierce's series, which currently has two books.
ABC also has had good fortune in reverse, cashing in on the popularity of "Castle" by releasing books "written" by the show's main character, Richard Castle. The "Nikki Heat" series has four books, and the "Derrick Storm" series has three e-book novellas.
(ABC Family has done something similar. A major plot point on "Switched at Birth" was one mother's memoir. The book -- "Switched at Birth: The True Story of a Mother's Journey" by Kathryn Kennish -- was released in August.)
On Fox, Bones has roots in forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series, and its now-canceled spin-off, "The Finder," was loosely based on Richard Greener's "The Locator" series. Even PBS has gotten in on the action with "Call the Midwife," now airing, which is taken from Jennifer Worth's memoir trilogy.
In cable territory, the biggest hit is AMC's smash "The Walking Dead," based on (but fairly divergent from) the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, which currently has 102 issues. On TNT, "Rizzoli & Isles" is based on Tess Gerritsen's crime thrillers, of which there are 10 to date.
And "True Blood" isn't the only premium cable channel show based on books. On HBO, there's also the enormously popular "Game of Thrones," based on George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. "Boardwalk Empire" was adapted from Nelson Johnson's "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City."
On Showtime, "Dexter" rules the roost (at least until it ends its run next year), and it wouldn't have existed without Jeff Lindsay's series, which has book No. 7 tentatively set for release next year. Its black comedy "House of Lies" was inspired by Martin Kihn's memoir "House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time."
If you're a fan of any of these TV series, why not give the books a chance?
Series premiere: "The Houstons: On Our Own," 9 p.m. Wednesday, Lifetime (the family's life in the wake of Whitney's death).
Network season premieres: "Nikita," 9 p.m. Friday, CW; "Happy Endings," 9 p.m. and "Don't Trust the B-- in Apt. 23," 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, ABC.
Season finales: "Project Runway," 9 p.m. Thursday, Lifetime; "Switched at Birth," 8 p.m. Monday, ABC Family; "Alphas," 8 p.m. Monday, Syfy.
Specials: "Lost Magic Decoded," 9 p.m. Thursday, History (recreating legendary illusions); "Make Your Mark," 8 p.m. Friday and Sunday, Disney (dance competition); "Night of Too Many Stars," 8 p.m. Sunday, Comedy Central (all-star comedy benefit for autism charities); presidential debate, 9 p.m. Monday, all broadcast networks; "Pretty Little Liars" Halloween episode, 8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC Family.
Reach Amy Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.