If the book is always better than the movie …

For my entire life I have fallen in love with books only to be disappointed when they make their debut on the silver screen. Even the best movie adaptations (think Fight Club) pale in comparison to the book.

And how could they not? There is just no way they can compete. Books don’t have to fit into a 2-hour timeframe, the author can control every vision you see in a much more precise manner than a director can. A picture may say a thousand words, but only a well-crafted sentence can say precisely one thing to everyone.

For years I have lamented when my favorite books turn into movies and I end up hating the movie for being a lesser version of the book.

Finally I have figured out the anecdote: Read the book after watching the movie. 

The movie is like a teaser, a vague synopsis of the real story that can only lie within the written word. But I already know the ending, you might object. And to that I respond with what if you could take your favorite movie, the one you’ve watched a thousand times, and turn it into a week-long experience? What if all of your questions about motivation and what the character were thinking could be answered?

It’s there, it’s in the book.

I went to see The Hunger Games before I read the book, in fact, when I went to go see it because I didn’t even want to read the book. I loved the movie in a way that no one who had read the book could have because it was different. It changed their baby and sped things up and made a book into a movie.

But I liked the movie so much, I read the book and I didn’t care that I knew what would happen in the end it was like uncovering a treasure trove. I got to know the character’s thoughts, I got to read every little detail, I savored every extra moment that went above and beyond the movie.

And I think I might do this for every popular book from now on. Watch the movie, enjoy it –– then read the book and enjoy it too.


  1. For a while I was reading books after I saw the movie for films that were nomination for best adapted screenplay and found it interesting what gets changed or cut out of some adaptations. Children At Men especially interesting because there were certain changes where I couldn’t help but think “How did they come up with that?”

  2. I think you’re onto something, here. The only film adaptation I thought did the book justice was one I saw before I read the book (‘Let the Right One In’). It’s also one of my favourite films. Perhaps I wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much if I read the book before.

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