How about this new Golden Age of television? You can hardly catch up with one show before everyone starts raving about another one—not to mention the book-driven Oscar bait soon to hit big screens across the country. Here are the best books worth reading that are behind the TV and films we’re most excited to see soon.
HBO, July 12
Is the suspense killing you, too? Can you believe we used to watch all of our TV shows like this, waiting one entire, agonizing week between episodes? If you’ve started watching Sharp Objects and find delayed gratification overrated, you could discover the whodunnit sooner by reading the debut novel by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), on which the show is based; or you might wait until after the series wraps and answer any unresolved questions you still have. Either way, you’ll get an even deeper, more detailed picture of Camille Preaker’s mysterious past and the demons lurking in Wind Gap’s closets.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Hulu, July 25
Since the lobster, no one has done more than Stephen King to further the world’s awareness of Maine—specifically the fictional town of Castle Rock. Since first appearing in the the 1979 novel The Dead Zone, Castle Rock has become an iconic character in its own right: it is an Everytown, USA in which unimaginable horrors lurk below the surfaces, inside tattered old barns, and in the hearts of men. Hulu’s new series unites characters and stories from across the King canon, so if you’re going to catch all those Easter eggs, start by reading (or rereading) the following:
In 2008, journalist David Sheff penned an intelligent, heartbreaking memoir about his son’s meth and heroin addiction—and so did his son, Nic. Both sides of this wrenching story have been combined into a powerhouse film starring Steve Carrell, Amy Ryan, and “It” boy Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name). While Nic’s book takes the reader on a wild, anxiety-inducing ride through back alleys, jail cells, and flophouses, David’s book confronts an extreme version of the struggle every parent faces, addiction or no: how to let go of what you love most. Both are highly acclaimed and absolutely worth the read.
Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff
Tweak by Nic Sheff
This is no typical YA novel. Teen protagonist Starr Carter is torn between two very real worlds: the mostly white, insulated private school where she is a successful, popular student, and the African-American neighborhood where she is known best and where her family struggles to keep her safe. When her longtime friend Khalil is shot and killed by police right in front of her, it forces Starr to find her voice, what it means to truly belong. It’s an urgent, necessary book—and, now, movie—that contends with the epidemic of violence toward African-Americans, what it means for a child on the verge of adulthood to have to reconcile the world she trusts and relies upon with a world that seems intent on harming her and those she loves.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
When 19-year-old Garrard Eamons was outed as gay to his small-town Baptist parents, he was given a choice: either be shunned by everyone he had ever known, trusted, and loved; or enter a two-week fundamentalist gay conversion therapy program. Eamons’ memoir, published in 2016, moves between his experience inside the program and that of growing up gay in Arkansas. The film comes out this fall and stars Russell Crowe (convincing in his stern jowliness) and Nicole Kidman (wielding a glorious ice-blond helmet)—Oscar whispers are already abounding. But first burrow into Eamons’ enthralling and somehow wholly universal attempt to reconcile who he knows he is with what he’s been taught to be.
Boy Erased by Garrard Eamons