7 Books to Read Before You See the Movies
You know when you read a book and think, This would make a really good movie? Same. Before you stock up on popcorn and candy, read these seven books on which upcoming film adaptations were based.
In a 2017 memoir, Garrard Conley chronicled his life as the gay son of a Baptist pastor in small town Arkansas. Outed to his parents at 19, he was forced to choose between losing his family and friends or attending a church-supported conversion therapy program (he chose the latter). Read the book for a powerful story about love and identity, then see the movie for its all-star cast—including Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges.
Published in 2005, James R. Hansen’s official biography of Neil Armstrong describes the famed astronaut’s involvement in the U.S. space program, culminating with the historic Apollo 11 mission, as well as his personal life and upbringing. The movie version, which stars Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, skips some of the details you’ll get from reading the book but includes a wild moon landing sequence that shouldn’t be missed.
Based on the Japanese embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru, in 1996 and 1997, Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel follows the relationships that form among a group of young terrorists and their hostages. Read the award-winning and best-selling book to lose yourself in Patchett’s words, then see the film for Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe.
‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’
For almost two years, celebrity biographer Lee Israel tried to revitalize her failing writing career by forging letters from deceased authors and playwrights, later chronicling the caper in a 2008 memoir. The book is an almost unbelievable story of desperation and deception, and based on reviews (it holds a 98 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), the film—specifically Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Israel—does the source text justice.
‘My Brilliant Friend’
OK, so this isn’t technically a movie—it’s an HBO miniseries—but it’s worth a watch. Based on Elena Ferrante’s stunningly immersive Neapolitan quartet, My Brilliant Friend documents the decades-long friendship between two girls, Lila and Lenu, in post-war Naples. The book will suck you in from the first page, while the series promises Neapolitan landscapes and Italian lessons.
‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (November 30)
Told through the eyes of Tish, a 19-year-old girl in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who’s the father of her child, James Baldwin’s 1974 novel is about young love, hope and despair. The film version stars KiKi Layne and Stephan James, and is directed by Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins, meaning it’s probably going to be very (very) good.
‘Mary Queen of Scots’ (December 7)
John Guy’s 2004 biography, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, is an intimate portrait of one of history’s strongest women. Read the book for a real-life Shakespearean drama, then watch the movie to see Margot Robbie’s jaw-dropping transformation into Queen Elizabeth I. (Saoirse Ronan’s great, too.)