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Your summer reading list, courtesy of the movies

What to read so you'll know if the book was better than the movie, from Star-Lord to Captain Underpants.

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Covers of The Tower, Wonder Woman, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Summer movies? Sure. But don’t forget summer reading.

Not all of this summer’s movies are sequels and reboots — many of the season’s films are actually based on books and comic books. And the variety of films drawn from the printed page is striking. Some of them adapt kids comic books, some adapt historical novels, and some adapt epic fantasy sagas. And a handful more aren’t based on one specific book, but will be enriched by related reading material nonetheless. The result is a slate of source stories that range from well-known best-sellers to more obscure offerings.

So while you’re impatiently waiting for King Arthur, Wonder Woman, Tupac, or a murderous 19th-century heiress to arrive on the big screen, why not pick up the books their respective movies are based on and brush up? Below, we’ve listed this summer’s 14 biggest book-to-movie films, accompanied by the related reading we suggest seeking out.

If you’re excited for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, read Star-Lord

Movie release date: May 5

The cover of Star-Lord
Star-Lord is both funny and heartbreaking.

To be honest, there have been a lot of good Guardians books over the years. You can’t go wrong with any of them. But Chip Zdarsky and Kris Anka’s Star-Lord is one that deserved more recognition. The series, which wrapped up on April 19, spans only six issues but gives the Guardians franchise’s central hero an unexplored depth and ache. Their story finds Star-Lord, a.k.a. Peter Quill, and his team stranded on Earth, the world where he was born but doesn’t even begin to understand. Zdarsky is the funniest human in the comic book industry, but Star-Lord shows he can also write heartbreak. Anka’s art is crisp and clean, and he has a thoughtfulness for detail. Star-Lord might not be the best Guardians story ever created, but it’s one of the ones I enjoyed the most. —Alex Abad-Santos

If you’re excited for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, read The Once and Future King

Movie release date: May 12

The cover of The Once And Future King
One of the loveliest retellings of the Arthurian legend.

There have been a thousand and one retellings of the Arthurian legend since it emerged in medieval British poetry, but T.H. White’s version is still one of the loveliest. It’s a rich and empathetic rendering of the story that gives all of its heroes profound faults and then loves them anyway. Most moving of all is White’s depiction of Lancelot, who has something cowardly and cruel within him, and reacts to it by making himself brave and kind. —Constance Grady

If you’re excited for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, start with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1

Movie release date: May 19

The cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is coming to the big screen.

Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid started life as an ongoing series of daily online diary entries, combining cartoons and text to tell the story of Greg Heffley, an oblivious and funny middle schooler who gets into the usual middle school scrapes. The project was a hit on the website FunBrain in 2005, racking up 20 million views within two years, and in 2007 an abridged version was published as a paper book. Since then, Kinney has published 10 sequels, all of which have sold like gangbusters. Start at the beginning, though; this first book should tell you everything you need to know to keep up with whatever kid (or kid at heart) you’re bringing to the film. —Alissa Wilkinson

If you’re excited for Everything, Everything, read Nicola Yoon’s book

Movie release date: May 19

The cover of Everything, Everything
Everything, Everything is a sweet-natured YA romance.

Maddie has a disease called SCID, better known as bubble baby syndrome. She’s allergic to the world outside. At 18 years old, she’s never left her house — but then a cute boy moves in next door. Yoon’s debut novel is a sweet-natured YA romance that critics adored and fans swooned over. —CG

If you’re excited for Baywatch, read (or just smirk at) Casey Brady’s Baywatch Junior Lifeguard books

Movie release date: May 26

Cover of Baywatch Junior Lifeguard book 4
The Baywatch Junior Lifeguard series could make for some ironic beach reading.

To answer what is presumably your first question, yes, the Baywatch Junior Lifeguard books are a thing that exists. Published in the ’90s by Random House as a tie-in to the TV show, this five-book “young reader” series from author Casey Brady contains such thrilling titles as Earthquake! and The Haunted Tower and follows a team of — you guessed it — junior lifeguards as they experience all the heartbreak and horrors that come with the job. The books are now out of print, but you can still find them on eBay and through used-book sellers on Amazon.* —Jen Trolio

*Note that we do not recommend actually reading these books, but they do make for a fun summertime gag gift.

If you’re excited for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, read The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Movie release date: June 2

The cover of The Adventures of Captain Underpants
The Adventures of Captain Underpants is loaded with fourth-grade humor.

Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is the first in what Dreamworks Animation hopes will be a long and fruitful series. It’s a reasonable hope: The Captain Underpants series contains 12 books and 3 spinoffs, has been translated into more than 20 languages, and has sold more than 70 million copies worldwide (50 million in the US.). It features two kids named George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two fourth-graders in Ohio who accidentally hypnotize their school principal into becoming Captain Underpants, a superhero from the comic books they write together. The story is loaded with fourth-grade humor, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need in the dog days of summer. —AW

If you’re excited for Wonder Woman, read The Legend of Wonder Woman

Movie release date: June 2

The cover of The Legend of Wonder Woman
The Legend of Wonder Woman is a funny and beautiful origin story.

Ray Dillon and Renae De Liz's The Legend of Wonder Woman is the gorgeous and joy-inducing origin story Wonder Woman deserves. The comic leans into Wonder Woman’s (a.k.a. Diana Prince) Greek mythology-driven roots but also maintains a sense of humanity when it comes to showing the pressures of being a kid and growing up as Queen Hippolyta's daughter. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the comic is it the way it reminds you of how hilarious Wonder Woman can be. —AAS

If you’re excited for All Eyez on Me, read The Rose That Grew From Concrete

Movie release date: June 16

The cover of The Rose That Grew From Concrete
The Rose That Grew From Concrete is a collection of Tupac Shakur’s poetry.

Tupac Shakur’s long-awaited biopic is finally coming out, and while you should certainly prep by loading up your playlists with his music, it’s also worth digging into The Rose That Grew From Concrete, a collection of the late rapper’s poetry. The poems were unearthed after he died, written in his own handwriting between 1989 and 1991, before he became famous. They’re an unfiltered, deeply personal look at how Tupac became Tupac. —AW

If you’re excited for The Beguiled, read Thomas Cullinan’s novel

Movie release date: June 23

Cover of Thomas Cullinan’s The Beguiled
Thomas Cullinan’s The Beguiled is a sexy, spooky, unnerving thriller.

First published in 1966, Cullinan’s book — which Stephen King has called a “mad gothic tale” — forms the basis for Sofia Coppola’s new film about a Union Army corporal who is found nearly dead in the woods near the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. The inhabitants of the school (three women, five teenagers) nurse him back to health as he tries to seduce them. But then a dark secret is revealed that throws everything that’s happened into question. Spooky, sexy, historical gothic fun. —AW

If you’re excited for Spider-Man: Homecoming, read Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man

Movie release date: July 6

The cover of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man is a return to the classic idea of superheroes.

Spider-Man: Homecoming looks like an amalgam of the classic Peter Parker origins and samplings from Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s Miles Morales character (Bendis in particular has voiced confusion over one character in Homecoming who looks like he’s been transported from Miles’s story). No one’s seen the movie yet, so we can’t know for sure how or if Miles will be incorporated. But it’s as good a time as any to get familiar with the character, and Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man — a riff on Spidey that returns to the classic idea of being a superhero and experiencing the joy of saving the world and doing good while also feeling pain over not being able to tell your friends and family about your secret struggles. It’s as good a setup as any for understanding what Homecoming appears to want to do and how it could rekindle the spirit of Spider-Man. —AAS

If you’re excited for Lady Macbeth, read Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Movie release date: July 14

Cover of Lady Macbeth of Mtensk and Other Stories
The murderous Lady Macbeth of Mtensk.

Lady Macbeth isn’t based a Shakespearean work, though it’s easy to assume as much based on the title and setting. The movie takes place in 19th-century Scotland, but in the story it adapts — which was published in the same era by Russian writer Nikolai Leskov — the murderous antiheroine is Russian. She’s not pleased with her provincial life, and she remedies her malcontent with sex ... and then more. The novella goes beyond the story told in the film, offering vintage pulpy Russian drama (it was first published in Dostoyevsky’s magazine Epoch), and the English translation comes packaged with five other Leskov stories too. — AW

If you’re excited for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, read Valérian and Laureline

Movie release date: July 21

The cover of Valérian and Laureline
Valérian and Laureline dates from 1967.

There’s a tendency, especially since Valerian is only coming out in 2017, to say that the film looks like a space opera akin to Star Wars or The Fifth Element, the latter of which was also helmed by Valerian director Luc Besson. But the original source material for the new film predates both. First published in 1967, Valérian and Laureline is the work of writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières (Mézières had a design role in The Fifth Element), who built out a weird world where two travelers — the titular Valerian and Laureline — travel through time and space to find an intergalactic criminal. Christin and Mézières filled their universe with all kinds of odd and shaggy creatures, mind-blowing concepts, and even a few elements that George Lucas and Star Wars may have borrowed (including the Millennium Falcon). If it’s good enough for that iconic franchise to poach from, it’s definitely worth a read before the new adaptation brings it to life. —AAS

If you’re excited for The Dark Tower, read Stephen King’s epic fantasy saga

Movie release date: August 4

The cover of Volume 7 of the Dark Tower series.
Steven King’s eight-book series is really one long novel, 33 years in the making.

Despite the early positive buzz it’s gotten, there’s simply no way that Sony’s upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower can encompass all the pleasures and plot intricacies of this sprawling eight-book series. A fantasy/Western hybrid inspired by Tolkien and Sergio Leone, The Dark Tower is really one long novel that took King 33 years to complete — a Tolstoy-size feat of world building on a massive scale, divided into eight parts. The story of Roland Deschain, a knight with guns for swords who’s trying to restore his destitute world while avenging himself on a mysterious Man in Black, spans multiple universes and timelines, with the titular tower at its center uniting them all. But as always, it’s King’s immense storytelling power, and his ability to combine the macro and the micro at once, that has made The Dark Tower a beloved cult hit. —AR

If you’re excited for Tulip Fever, read Deborah Moggach’s book

Movie release date: August 25

The cover of Tulip Fever
The lushly written novel Tulip Fever is finally coming to the big screen.

If historical romances are your jam, Deborah Moggach’s Tulip Fever, with its lush prose and rich historical detail, is going to be your new fave. It’s a fast-paced book about an unhappily married young woman who falls in love with the portraitist her much-older husband has hired, set against the backdrop of 1630s Amsterdam at the height of the tulip craze. Moggach says she was inspired by the fantasy of “walking into a Vermeer painting,” and the influence shows in her precise, color-saturated imagery. —CG

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