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March 25, 2015

BOOK vs MOVIE by @KathleenMBarker

English: Movie tapes in a abandoned theatre
English: Movie tapes in a abandoned theatre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When a new movie that is based upon a book hits the big screen, do you watch the movie or read the book first?

Of course, if you are reading this post on a blog titled "Girl Who Reads", then you'd likely to choose the book. Yet the chicken-or-egg process of a good story should evoke a moment's hesitation. My own answer? It depends.

Unlike many of my bookaholic friends, I do not keep an eagle eye on the New York Times bestseller list. My never-ending to-read list comes from a select group of guinea pig acquaintances who have given a book a big thumbs up.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good movie too, but it's rare to find one that captures the images that my mind has conjured from the book that it is based on. Usually films have difficulty compressing the story satisfactorily into the 90-120 minute attention span of the average movie audience.

Recently, I had two completely different book vs. movie experiences. The first evolved from a former classmate and Facebook friend who raved about a book that involved a historical romance AND time travel. Normally I hate time travel tales, but she carried on so that I bought the book just to shut her up. How good could it be if it had been written over 22 years ago and I'd never heard of it? I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Photo credit: STARZ
As I became more entangled in the story of Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall, I dreaded reaching the end of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Yet I need not have worried...there are 8 books in the series that range from 848 to 1488 pages each. I plowed through them all at a record pace. Much to my delight, I discovered that a television series began last fall on the STARZ channel. I quickly added it to see how disappointed I would be at the small screen version of such a tale. I have watched these first eight shows several times in anticipation of the next new installments that start April 4th. Reading these books has enriched my appreciation for the televised series, which is done very well, indeed. In fact, I plan to read all 8 of the books again, more slowly, to appreciate what I devoured quickly in the first go-round.
Photo credit: IMDb

This scenario is not always the case.

Not too long ago, I watched the movie Gone Girl.  It was so entertaining and smartly made, that I felt sure the book by Gillian Flynn would be terrific. SO wrong (cue the Debbie Downer music here). After nearly 100 pages - and hating every paragraph - I'm not sure I'll finish it. All I can do is wonder how the book was ever a bestseller. Clearly, I am in the minority here as there are over 37,000 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

A great book won't always be a great movie, and a mediocre book can be a very good movie. Where do you stand: book or movie first?

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  1. I do try my best to read a book before I watch a movie or TV series. However, there have been occasions when I don't realise that a movie was a book first. I do tend to prefer books over the movies but I still do like the movies. They both have their own merits - I'm the only one in my family that really reads so I have to watch a film with the family to be able to a story.

    1. Lauren, I too am often surprised to discover a book only after the movie or tv show appears.

  2. I've often wondered if it makes a difference to the experience if you read book then watch film or vice versus. I'm surprised you didn't like the book for Gone Girl if you enjoyed the film... as I thought these were pretty close in experience (I loved the book) There are a few books/films where I've enjoyed both but generally I stick to the book only so not to be disappointed

    1. I wish I knew why the book rubbed me the wrong way, Cleo! It seems the more a movie has to condense, the more likely I am to enjoy it only after I've read the book.