30% of Netflix’s Hit Shows Are Adaptations

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

It Feels Like a Lot Because It Is a Lot

If your latest scroll through the Netflix menu left you feeling like every other option was based on a book, you’re not super wrong. Nearly one-third of the English-language shows Netflix has released so far this year are adapted from existing IP. Leading the way are the limited series Fool Me Once, based on the novel by Harlan Coben, and One Day, adapted from David Nicholls’s 2009 novel, which was previously adapted for film in 2011. When we look beyond Netflix, 7 of the 10 highest-grossing movies of last year were based on existing work, and—here’s the real  👀 stat—the last time the highest-earning film of the year was not adapted from existing IP or part of a franchise was 1998 when Titanic raked in the equivalent of $600 million (equivalent to $1.2 billion today) in the U.S. alone. That’s a full quarter-century of adaptation domination, and there’s no slow-down in sight. 

Color Purple Actress Criticizes Film for Queer Erasure

Speaking of adaptations! In a wide-ranging interview at BuzzFeed, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, who appeared in last year’s adaptation of The Color Purple, goes on the record to criticize the filmmakers for downplaying the lesbian relationshipbetween main character Celie and her life-changing lover Shug Avery.

The Color Purple is a book about Black lesbians. Whether the choice was made to focus on that or not in the cinematic iterations of The Color Purple, it’s still a movie about Black lesbians. People can try to say the story is about sisterhood, but it’s a story about Black lesbians. Period.

This is a familiar debate and hardly the first time an adaptation of Alice Walker’s beloved novel has failed its queer characters and missed an important opportunity to meet queer audiences where they are. It’s especially disappointing, though, coming out of a year in which some of the most celebrated films and series—All of Us StrangersPassages, and Fellow Travelers—were about queer relationships. Can it be a coincidence that writers, producers, and studios were more comfortable with those stories about white men than with this one about Black women? 🤔

National Black Arts Festival Launched Banned Book Fair

The National Black Arts Festival will hold the first Blacklisted! Banned Book Fair and Conference this weekend in Atlanta. The fair will feature programming with authors like Tayari Jones and Nic Stone, a market where attendees can purchase books that are frequently the subjects of challenges and bans, and interactive exhibits about the history of attempts to ban books by authors from marginalized communities. Writing workshops, teen events, and a screening of Toni Morrison’s documentary The Pieces I Am will round out the schedule. May their efforts succeed. 

No Plot, Just Vibes

Sometimes you feel like a plot, sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you feel like a plot, but what you need is to sit down and chill out. These books are for those moments.


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