Be sure to read these books before the movies and TV adaptations premiere later this year.
When it comes to Hollywood gold, some of the most renowned films and shows are based on books. From The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption to The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings, we’ve seen a gamut of worthwhile adaptations across genres across decades. So, here are the books you need to read before their adaptations hit the small and silver screen later this year.
‘The Last Voyage of the Demeter’ | Theatrical Release Date: August 11, 2023
This might be the easiest movie to prep for, as you can get away with reading a single chapter in advance. The Last Voyage of the Demeter is based on “The Captain’s Log” from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The story follows a merchant ship and all its passengers as they transport private cargo from Carpathia to London. A dark presence haunts their journey and, out at sea, there’s nowhere to hide. The upcoming film from director André Øvredal stars Liam Cunningham, Aisling Franciosi, and Corey Hawkins.
‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ | Prime Video Release Date: August 11, 2023
Red, White & Royal Blue is based on the New York Times bestselling novel of the same name by Casey McQuiston. The queer romance follows the relationship between the son of the President of the United States and the Prince of Wales. The book (and likely the show) features cutesy serendipity and begs to ask if love can save us after all. The upcoming series stars Nicholas Galitzine (Purple Hearts, Cinderella) and Taylor Zakhar Perez (The Kissing Booth, Minx) as the star-crossed lovers.
‘A Haunting in Venice’ | Theatrical Release Date: September 15, 2023
Following in the footsteps of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, A Haunting in Venice is yet another Agatha Christie adaptation with an all-star ensemble. Yet, unlike its predecessors, this film will venture into the horror landscape, bringing seances and spirits into the foreground. The film will, once again, follow Detective Poirot (actor/director Kenneth Branagh) — who comes out of retirement to solve the mysterious murder of a man who lost his life during a seance. The upcoming film stars Tina Fey, Michelle Yeoh, Kelly Reilly, Jamie Dornan, and Emma Laird.
‘Lessons in Chemistry’ | Apple TV+ Release Date: October 13, 2023
Lessons in Chemistry is based on Bonnie Garmus’ debut novel of the same name and follows Elizabeth Zott (Brie Larson) who dreams of being a scientist in 1960s California. Let’s just say the rampant misogyny doesn’t make it an easy feat, as her aspirations are put on hold when she unexpectedly becomes a single mother. The series also stars Lewis Pullman, Aja Naomi King, and Beau Bridges.
‘All The Light We Cannot See’ | Netflix Release Date: November 2, 2023
All The Light We Cannot See is based on Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The four-episode Netflix series is a World War II saga about a French girl who takes refuge in her uncle’s house after Paris is invaded by Nazi Germany. The narrative also follows the bright and technologically gifted Werner Pfennig who is accepted into military school before he is sent off to war. The stories are told in parallel, with each chapter shifting between the refugee and the soldier — as themes of sacrifice and the dangers of greed come to the surface.
‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Song Birds and Snakes’ | Theatrical Release Date: November 17, 2023
The Ballad of Sing Birds and Snakes is a prequel to The Hunger Games franchise based on Susan Collins’ novel of the same name. The story follows a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) years before he becomes President of Panem. He mentors a tribute for the 10th Hunger Games, laying the groundwork for his rise to tyrannical power. Based on the trailer, it looks like the film will aim to build sympathy for Snow — if such a challenge is even conquerable. The film also stars Viola Davis, Rachel Zegler, Peter Dinklage, and Hunter Schafer.
‘The Color Purple’ | Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2023
A remake of the 1985 film that cemented Oprah Winfrey’s star power, The Color Purple is based on Alice Walker’s classic 1982 novel of the same name. The narrative follows Celie (Fantasia and Phylicia Mpas) in southern America in the early 1900s. The equally heartwrenching and powerful saga navigates themes of identity, self-empowerment, and oppression in the early 20th century. The cast also includes Halle Balle of The Little Mermaid, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Ciara, and Corey Hawkins.