5 Books That Inspired Great Documentaries

5 Books That Inspired Great Documentaries

It’s hard to predict the way one work of art can inspire another. Today, countless filmmakers are drawing inspiration from books, both in the fictional and non-fiction genres. Our list today is about books that inspired documentary films. Feel free to check out the books and films alike, comparing and contrasting their content.

As Nature Made Him

John Colapinto’s As Nature Made Him tells the story of a boy raised as a girl, after a botched medical procedure at birth left him without male genitalia. His parents decided to raise him as a girl, following the sex-reassignment surgery.  The book explores the nature vs nurture aspects of gender identity: a timely discussion into today’s world. The book was later made into a documentary film, entitled Dr. Money and the Boy With No Penis. 

Guns, Germs and Steel

Author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond takes on the large and rather lofty subject of civilization’s foundation throughout the past 13,000 years. The book focuses on the big picture of our world at large, including the geographical and environmental factors that contributed to western civilization.  The book was later turned into a documentary film by PBS, and was a big hit among educators.

Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth

Dirt: The Movie seemingly emerged from nowhere, becoming a huge hit for its interesting and engaging way of tackling a mundane and boring topic. The film originally inspired by a book, written by natural historian William Bryant Logan. As with many natural histories, the book is an appeal to care for our environment, and the range of natural resources we rely on.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky is a seminal book on feminist issues in the developing world. The book reveals the terrible practices of third world countries, but also offers hope for change and development through social and economic reform. It later inspired a documentary of the same name, produced by Independent Leans.

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth

Payback is a nonfiction book written by Margaret Atwood, noted author of The Handmaid’s Tale. The book tackles the topics of debt and financial freedom, presenting the issues in a light and engaging fashion. In 2012, the book was adapted into a documentary film by the National Film Board of Canada, and premiered at Sundance Film Festival later that same year.