What first – the book or the movie?

I have many a time had the debate within myself of what to do when a movie based on a book is released. Do you read the book first? Or watch the movie first?

My initial reaction, as a firm book lover (and I’m sure many of you share the same sentiment), is of course you need to read the book first! And I did. I still do. For The Help, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter (of course), The Secret Life Of Bees…and many, many other books. I loved all of them! But what did I think of the movies? Nothing much really. The movies usually seem to range from “alright” to “pretty good”, but it’s just never the same.

hunger games

the help

I came to my first movie/book comparison realisations when I was merely 11, and headed to the Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone premier. The Harry Potter freak inside of me, had been counting down for months and despite the excitement of a big premiere – I was kind of disappointed. I lie, I was kind of gutted. As I continued watching the movie (meaning I watched it another 10 times that summer) I started thinking of the different arts of writing and film making. Having studied Film at university, I recognise the differences even more so. So I can’t really expect the two to be the same, yet the movies hardly ever seem to capture the enchantment and don’t seem to grip you in the same way.

harry potter & philosophers stone

After being disappointed by so many movies after reading the books, I have debated watching the movies first. I am yet to do it, as something inside me screams at how wrong this is. When you watch the movie first, when you finally get to reading you already have the character’s quirks and mannerisms in your head according to the actor playing them. You already know what happens (kind of.) Something just tells me not to do it.

On my current watch list is the Life of Pi, as well as The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both based on books which are apparently incredible. The honest truth is I don’t see myself having time to read the books before. I hate the thought of never reading them because I’ve already seen the movies.

life of pi

perks of being a wallflower

Have any of you ever had these conflicting views, thoughts and emotions? I feel like it’s a no-win, catch 22 type. Regardless, I will continue reading books and watching the movies based on them. It’s kind of hard not to.

5 comments on “What first – the book or the movie?

  1. I am in the exact same boat. The book is ALWAYS better than the movie which is why I think book before movie is always the best bet. For me, the story is in the book and then you just get to see what the story is visually when watching the movie (rather not spoil any surprises by watching the movie first)

    My current catch 22 is The Perks of being a Wallflower, to read the book first or not. I know though that I probably won’t read the book after the movie though

    • Also just feel I don’t have enough time to read all the books I want. I got the most reading I’ve done all year while I was on holiday. Why does facebook and twitter steal all my reading time! Perhaps that should be my new years resolution! It’s really so hard to find the time to read the book when you only hear of it just before the hype of the movie comes out…

  2. shiri says:

    I agree with reading the book first but sometimes I get lazy and watch the movie, and you’re right, I never get around to reading the book… I saw The Time Traveller’s Wife and love the movie, but my friend who saw it with me hated it because she had read the book, I still haven’t gotten around to reading it but am a little sad I saw the movie first.
    I need more free time to read all these books, and I need to read quicker before the movie comes off cinema!

    • I actually saw people talking about Time Traveller’s wife on twitter the other day complaining about how terrible the movie is in comparison to the book. I know you can’t compare but it’s so hard. Also find I’ll only become aware of a good book once a movie is being released. Sometimes I consider my book genre of choice as “potential oscar nominated movies”😛

  3. […] What first – the book or the movie? (leelipman.wordpress.com) […]

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