From the Wire

The Best Literary Adaptations to Stream in June

Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

Reflecting on 75 Years of the National Book Awards

In the run-up to the 75th anniversary of the National Book Awards later this year, The Washington Post has invited authors who have been honored by the NBAs to write a series of essays exploring the history and impact of the Awards, decade by decade. Viet Thanh Nguyen kicks things off with an examination of what the first National Book Awards reflected about the 1950s in America. In the process, he does the best job I’ve seen anyone do trying to evaluate what, if anything, book awards mean in the big picture.

…Many prize winners have been forgotten; conversely, many older books still read today never won awards in their time. Prizes sometimes predict a future member of the literary hall of fame; sometimes they’re simply given to the books that a majority of judges can agree on. Juries are not immune to the passions and prejudices of their times, so it’s no surprise that they can be both prophetic and fallible.

Adaptations for Your Summer Couch Party

We’re in a season of extremely mid TV and movies, but the adaptations keep coming. The big highlight of June’s watchlist is House of the Dragon season 2, but there are plenty of alternatives if boobs-and-dragons isn’t your jam. Hulu’s adaptation of Queenie (coming June 7) looks promising, or you could go a little more avant garde with Max’s Slave Play. Not a Movie. A Play., a documentary in which playwright Jeremy O. Harris deconstructs his well-known Slave Play. Let’s be real, though. Crazy Rich Asians is hitting Netflix on the 6th, and when Crazy Rich Asians is an option, it is the best option.

17 New Books to Read in June

It used to be that fall and winter were for “serious” reading and summer was almost exclusively about beachy fare (romances, thrillers, and women’s fiction) and Dad Books (presidential biographies and popular nonfiction), but those days are, blessedly, long gone. Exhibit A is the NYT‘s round-up of 17 new books coming in June, which contains multitudes that range from literary fiction like Fire Exit by Morgan Talty and Parade by Rachel Cusk to a history of reality television, an autobiography by Anthony Fauci, and Akwaeke Emezi’s latest genre-defying tale. Good news for eclectic readers!

Toward a Grand Unified Theory of Dad Books

Speaking of Dad Books! This week on the Book Riot Podcast, Jeff O’Neal and I attempted to define this ubiquitous you-know-it-when-you-see-it category and offered recommendations for what we’re calling Dad Books 2.0. As we see it, the Dad Book is a state of mind, and it’s available to readers of all genders. Put down that Ron Chernow doorstop and go exploring with us.

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