Books

Paramount+ Unveils Adaptation of A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW

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


Will you allow me a moment of blatant self-promotion before we get into the news? I recently launched Better Living Through Books, a newsletter about the myriad of books we think of as “lifestyle nonfiction.” If you’re into self-help, how-to, business/management, cooking, parenting, etc., I think you’ll love it. Check out the first couple editions in the archives, and sign up to receive the new installment when it comes out this weekend.

🎵 Do You Wanna Buy a Bookstore? 🎵

The majority shareholder of legendary indie bookstore(s) Vroman’s, based in Pasadena, CA, has decided it’s time to pass the baton. At 79 years old, Joel Sheldon III has been running the show for 45 years. Now, having guided generations of readers to their next great book, he’s ready to step aside. But not for just anyone. 

He doesn’t just want to just sell to the highest bidder, however. Sheldon wants to leave the bookstore in good hands.

“Vroman’s deserves new ownership with the vision, energy, and commitment necessary to take it successfully into the future,” Sheldon said in an Instagram post announcing his decision last month.

It’s no easy feat to keep an indie bookstore alive for 130 years—Vroman’s was founded in 1894—and I wish them all the best of luck in finding a worthy successor.

MacGregor’s Mustachioed Man in Moscow

In an exclusive for Vanity Fair, Paramount+ revealed the first look at its limited-series adaptation of Amor Towles’s runaway bestseller A Gentleman in Moscow. Sporting a very impressive mustache he insisted on growing himself, Ewan MacGregor plays the titular gentleman, a Russian count named Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who lives in a gorgeous hotel and, I guess, does other…gentlemanly stuff? The show, which will premiere March 29, looks quite enchanting. Is it finally time for me to get on the Towles train? 

Florida School Requires Parental Consent for Black History Month Activities

IPrep Academy in Miami-Dade County, FL, has begun requiring parental consent for students to participate in Black History Month activities. A permission form asks parents if they want their kids to have access to “…class and school wide presentations showcasing the achievements and recognizing the rich and diverse traditions, histories, and innumerable contributions of the Black communities” and is a result of a policy that was enacted last fall in connection with the state board’s Parental Bill Of Rights. 

Say it with me, folks: it was never just about the books. As Professor Marvin Dunn of Florida International University puts it, “this will create a generation of people who are miseducated when it comes Black history.” And that is precisely the point.

Black Historical Fiction to Read With Your Book Club

Apropos of <waves hands>, here’s a terrific round-up of Black historical fiction novels for your next book club, via my intrepid colleague Erica Ezeifedi. I can’t wait to pick up The American Daughters. Erica also writes our In Reading Color newsletter, regularly highlighting books by and about people of color. Don’t miss it!

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