Book Notes - ID201: To Read or Watch? Why not Both?


Mon, 01 May 2017

By Paige Stewart,

Reference/Instruction Librarian

Special to The Collegian 

Sometimes it seems that popular media is completely running out of ideas. I guarantee that there will be a blockbuster this summer that features explosions, muscled men, and scantily clad women a la Michael Bay. How do I know this? Because there is always a summer movie that features fast cars, attractive women, and epic fight scenes. Storylines get rehashed all the time. We like underdog stories and romantic comedies with adorable leads. If you scroll through your Netflix queue over summer break, then you will find these movies with similar plot points, but you will also find movies (and TV shows) that are directly sourced from books.

Whenever there is a new release that was originally a movie, I pause and tell myself I should read the book. Then, about 48 hours later, I lose my willpower and plop down to watch the movie. I have done this very recently with both 13 Reason Why and The Giver. In my defense, I read The Giver about 20 years ago and I love Jeff Bridges. Should I really be beating myself up for picking the quick entertainment fix over the longer (frequently more gratifying) read? Yes and no. 

A large proportion of the remakes fall under juvenile fiction. They are books and movies that are meant to be consumed and enjoyed by a younger audience. I am going to stop beating myself up for not reading these books. I am an academic librarian, not a teen librarian. For these titles, I just want some escapism. It is very likely that spending the afternoon reading the book or watching the movie would give me the same amount of satisfaction. So, I will condense my enjoyment down to the runtime and get on with the rest of my day.

As a librarian, and someone who claims to be a bookworm, I cannot justify going directly to the movie when it comes to adult best sellers or classics. Almost every time I read the book and then watch the movie, I prefer the book. I have tried watching the movie and then reading the book and it just does not feel right. It is like I am letting the movie impose its own vision on my reading experience. 

This summer, if you are looking to kill sometime, I would highly suggest reading the book and then watching the movie. Most of the older titles should be readily available at your public library. Here are my top recommendations: Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series (the 2009 Swedish version), Battle Royale, The Help, Interview with the Vampire, The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas, and World War Z (the movie is nothing like the book).