By Jon Wahlgren
Hollywood’s love of the literary world has produced some real titans of pop culture. This year alone, screen adaptations of books like Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects have made their mark on water cooler conversations around the globe, and there’s still more to come. From now through September, here are eight favorites making the leap from page to screens big and small that you should know about.
Crazy Rich Asians
In theaters… now, the silver-screen adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians is racking up reviews as sparkling as diamonds (as of this writing, the movie enjoys a 96% Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com with the book sitting pretty at No. 1 Most Sold for fiction on Amazon Charts). Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu plays Rachel Chu, a New Yorker who agrees to spend a low-key summer with her boyfriend’s family in Singapore, only to discover that “low-key” is far from the right term to describe their uber-lavish lifestyle (the title may give that twist away). This endearing fish-out-of-water romantic comedy is notable for featuring an all-Asian primary cast in a major Hollywood production set in the present day, something that hasn’t been done since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club. Can’t get enough Crazy? Two more books in the series follow. [Paperback | Kindle]
We the Animals
Filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar steps into the world of narrative features with We the Animals, breathing his sharp documentary skills into Justin Torres’s captivating 2011 autobiographical novel. The story follows three close-knit brothers in a mixed-race family in upstate New York surviving and bonding through the ups and downs of their blue-collar parents’ relationship. Early buzz for this adaptation is strong, with the film nabbing four wins and three nominations on the festival circuit this year with a gem of a film The Hollywood Reporter says “perfectly mirrors the bold style of its source material.” Now in theaters, We the Animals is sure to wreck the hearts of movie-goers everywhere. [Paperback | Kindle]
“All over the world, husbands and wives routinely and somewhat pointlessly ask one another: Are you okay?” Meg Wolitzer observes in a particularly popular passage among Kindle readers from her 2007 novel The Wife. “It’s part of the contract; it’s the thing to do, because it implies that you care, that you’re paying attention, when in fact you might be deeply and relentlessly bored.” Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce star in the third page-to-screen adaptation of Wolitzer’s work, in which Joan (Close), the wife of a world-famous novelist (Pryce), questions the choices and sacrifices she’s made at the altar of a happy life and marriage. Like all things Wolitzer, expect absorbing characters, quick wit, and wry social commentary. [Paperback | Kindle]
Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop is a prestige magnet. From the time of the book’s original publication to its step into film, people who know a thing or two about books and movies lavished it with praise. The 1978 novel was shortlisted for the esteemed Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and its film adaptation earned three wins (Best Film, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay) and nine additional nominations at the 32nd Goya Awards in February. Emily Mortimer (Hugo) stars as Florence Green, a free-spirited widow facing surprisingly ruthless opposition over her plan to open a book shop in a small 1959 English coastal town. Bill Nighy (Love Actually) and Patricia Clarkson (The Green Mile) co-star in this somber tragicomedy that American audiences can enjoy when it hits theaters on August 24. [Paperback | Kindle]
The Hunt for Red October
Jack Ryan, the character at the heart of many a major Tom Clancy novel, stars in a brand-new show coming to Prime Video on August 31. You can bet the series will offer a political thrill ride featuring big booms and white-knuckle action thanks to big names like John Krasinski and executive producer Michael Bay at the helm. The show tells an all-new story in the Clancyverse, in which the titular CIA analyst (played by Krasinski) investigates a series of suspicious bank transfers that leads to the discovery of a growing terrorist threat against the United States. While you wait for the show, dive into the world of Jack Ryan starting with The Hunt for Red October: Clancy’s 1984 breakout debut that spawned a 1990 film starring Sean Connery and featuring Alec Baldwin in the role of Ryan. In it, Jack must track down a missing Soviet nuclear submarine — the sneakiest, most techno-thriller of all naval vessels — with mysterious motives as it appears bound for the U.S. eastern seaboard. Once you come up for air after finishing that one, queue up the show for more thrilling action. [Paperback | Kindle]
The Little Stranger
You may know Domnhall Gleeson and Ruth Wilson from their memorable turns in Star Wars and Luther, respectively, but thanks to their starring roles in The Little Stranger, they’ll soon be featured on an all-new stage: your nightmares. Sarah Waters’s freaky ghost story is set not long after World War II, in which a physician named Dr. Faraday is called to a patient residing in the crumbling Hundreds Hall manor in the English countryside — a place his mother once worked when he was a boy. What Faraday finds, though, is a family struggling with more than just illness. Stephen King crowned The Little Stranger his no. 1 book of 2009, and it’s shaping up to be one of the spookiest films of 2018. Dread it in theaters on August 31. [Paperback | Kindle]
The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Now, we’re no experts on interior design (nor, arguably, clocks), but, to us, installing a hidden clock inside the walls of a house doesn’t seem like a very good use of neither a clock nor wall. But putting a clock in the walls that has the power to obliterate humankind? Now that’s just downright irresponsible. Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, and Kyle MacLachlan star in the big-screen adaptation of family-friendly spooky adventure The House with a Clock in Its Walls, where orphan Lewis and his warlock uncle (played by Black) need to find said apocalyptic clock before the witch wife (Blanchett) of its evil creator (MacLachlan) can get to it. The novel is a breezy 186 pages for readers to blast through ahead of the film's September 21 release. [Paperback | Kindle]
Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach
Pete — of Pete the Cat fame, the beloved early-readers series from best-selling author and artist James Dean — hits the small screen in a big way on September 21 as the star of his very own Amazon Prime Original show. The show features endearing stories with the same affirming messages Pete the Cat is known for, along with gorgeous animation and the vocal talents of fellow-cool-kids KT Tunstall, Elvis Costello, and Diana Krall. Viewers young and old will get a kick out of seeing their favorite Pete the Cat books come to life (as well as some all-new stories, too), like Pete at the Beach. Pete’s having a great day out in the sun, and jumping in the water is the best way to cool off — but the water terrifies Pete, so he’s in quite the conundrum. Gather the kittens round for some quality reading time and find out together how Pete works through his fear. [Paperback | Kindle]
This article was originally published on Amazon Charts on August 15, 2018.
ILLUSTRATION BY GARFIELDBIGBERM / SHUTTERSTOCK
Subscribe to the Amazon Book Review, featuring picks for the best books of the month, author interviews, reading recommendations, and more from the Amazon Books editors.