Thursday, January 20, 2011

Books vs. Movies

Image by Jonathan Liu
I recently got into an argument with someone, which prompted me to write this post. This guy told me he hated Harry Potter, which of course made me tell him he’s crazy and talk about how awesome the books are. Only, turns out, he had never read the Harry Potter books; he’d just seen the movies. Of course I know plenty of people who haven’t read the series but love the movies, and I understand not everyone enjoys reading as much as I do, but this guy saying he hates Harry Potter without knowing the original really pissed me off.

After I told him this, he started ranting about books in general – he said that reading is boring and that it’s pointless to read books because they’re all turned into movies, which take less time to watch. Overlooking the fact that this statement is wrong (lots of great books aren’t turned into movies), this got me thinking about my own opinion on the topic.

On principle, I always read the book before watching the film adaption, no matter what, even though it annoys my friends when I tell them that no, I can’t watch that movie with them because I haven’t finished the book yet. I do this because I feel that the original book is almost always better than the film adaption (for example I love Nicholas Sparks’ books, but the movies usually bore me). I don’t really know why I feel that way (it could be because thoughts and feelings, which are really important to me, are easier to convey in books than they are in movies; it could be because I look for different things in movies than in books – I watch a lot of comedies, while most of the books I read aren’t supposed to be funny; or it could be because I have expectations as to how the characters, locations, etc. should look, and those expectations are different from the movie). Either way, I’m often disappointed by the movie versions of books I really liked. Somehow, though, I still feel obligated to watch movies based on books I loved, despite knowing I’ll probably be disappointed.
I’ve heard lots different opinions on this topic. Some people (who don’t read a lot in general) almost never read the book versions of the movies they see, which I guess makes sense (even though I don’t quite understand it – books are awesome!). Of those that do read, though, some feel like me and need to read the book before they watch the movie, while others have said they like reading the books after reading the movies (which I don’t really understand). Others don't watch the movies at all.

So, how do you feel about this topic? Do you read the book before or after watching the movie, or not at all? Do you always watch the movie versions of books you liked? And what do you think is usually better – the original book or the film adaption? Let me know what you think in the comments section!


  1. I *must* read the books before watching the movies. Most of my friends think that this crazy too but I think we can only see how good or how bad a movie is by comparing it to the original work. Usually I like the book A LOT better, especially when it comes to Harry Potter but I personally think that Lord of the Rings films were pretty well done. I loved the books and the movies. Simply remarkable!

    Here from the CEP. Hope that you have a good day! =)

  2. Books are always better because not only are they more detailed and for the most part developed but you are the creator of that world in your own mind. You get to pick how characters look, the scenery etc. It is what you make it to be and each individual will have a different mental image etc.

    I think many people who don't have an appreciation for reading just haven't found the right book that really drew them in. We also live in a world where we need to constantly (not all of us) be entertained and stimulated. Reading takes time and effort and imagination while with a movie you're basically being spoon fed the entire thing. Very few movies these days require much thinking once everything is said and done.

  3. I usually like to read a book before I watch a movie. But admittedly I did the opposite when it came to Twilight. I watched the movie first and hemmed-and-hawed for almost 6 months before I picked up the books. And like any other book-to-movie adaptation, the book was better. I don't think I have EVER found the movie to surpass the book in any case.

  4. Hi, found your link through YA Addict :)

    First, sounds like that guy you spoke with was an ignorant jerk! I have very little tolerance for people who cannot respect others beliefs or enjoyments when they don't agree. Reading may be boring to him, but I've come to realize that there are still many, many people who love it like we do! So poo on him =P

    As to the real reason for your post...I agree that most of the time, the book will be better than its movie adaptation. Books can offer a depth and insight that most movies can't - simply b/c you really can't get into an actors head the way you could a character.

    Harry Potter is in fact one of the few where I've found the movies actually do the books justice. They may not be exact (what movie is?) but they've done a phenomenal job w/ the casting, the CG is badass and they've really captured the essence of the story. On the flip side, I loved Twilight (the book) but the movie fell really really short of what it should have been.

    I don't know if I'll always watch the movie version of my favorite books. I'm always scared that they'll botch it, lol. I'm a nervous-wreck just thinking of what they'll do with Hunger Games, City of Bones and Vampire Academy *please don't suck, pleeeeease don't suck!*

    Oh, and I agree with Michelle too. She made some really good points :)

    Great post!
    Book ♥ Soulmates

  5. I usually read the book before the movie just because they are usually better. Especially since a movie can't capture everything that was said in the book. But for the most part I fell the HP series has done an extremely well job at portraying the book in the movies, even though many things are left out or changed.

    A great example where movies fail to capture the essense of the books are some of the Nicholas Sparks movies and the first Twilight movie (which i feel could have been so much better).

    Some people dont read because its an investment of time and usally find it boring because they haven't found out what they like to read just yet. Ill even say it I recently found out I enjoyed reading YA Paranormal Romances. But before you would never see me read a book and even say reading is boring.

    But that's just my take on it.
    You can find me @


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