Read great books, watch great films. If the book has been made into a film, which do you do first? Do you read a book first or watch the movie? It’s an old question that pops up on the internet over and over. Does it matter? I believe it does, but my answer isn’t one or the other. Do both. Read first or watch first is purely an individual choice. My choice depends on the book or the movie.
Read the Book
We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else’s mind..Anna Quindlen
Reading a great book is an experience unlike any other. The author’s words fill your head with sounds and pictures and people. But it’s not just the author’s words that paint those things. Your experiences, your world, inform how you interpret the words.
A book is usually a longer experience than a movie. You experience it in private, unless you are reading aloud to someone. Even then, it’s your life and your dreams coloring how you read the story. Which is why the movie disappoints you.
I’m always frustrated when somebody makes a movie out of a book and they leave the book behind, or the heart of it.Sean Penn
The book tells the entire story and then some. There are subplots and details and far more story. Sean Penn calls it the heart of the book. Perhaps it is.
A great book needs a strong opening, compelling characters, a story that keeps you engaged from the first page through to the end, dialogue that sounds unique to each character, and a writing style that appeals to the reader. While that’s like movies, it’s not the same.
Watch the Movie
Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different.Stephen King
Stephen King is right. Movies and books are different. As different as two different fruits. Books are based on words—a verbal media. Movies are based on images, moving images.
What makes a good book and what makes a good movie are totally different things.Seth Grahame-Smith
What makes a good movie includes the script, the characters, the acting, the timing, the sound, and the visuals. All the parts have to work together to create a great storytelling experience.
Filmmaking is a completely imperfect art form that takes years and, over those years, the movie tells you what it is. Mistakes happen, accidents happen, and true great films are the results of those mistakes and the decisions that those directors make during those moments.Jason Reitman
Read Great Books, Watch Great Films
Mr. Reitman is correct. But, I also have to say that writing books is also an imperfect art form that takes years. In the creation of a film or a book, mistakes are made. Sometimes, those are happy mistakes that result in great books or great films.
You can read the book first, then watch the film. Or watch the film first, then read the book. Either way, it’s very likely that you will find one or the other to be less than. Are you a more visual person? Or are you a more verbal person? Perhaps, like me, you enjoy both.
I love to read great books, watch great films. Sometimes I read first. Sometimes I watch first. If it’s a great story—it doesn’t matter to me which comes first. Sometimes, I read a book and think I saw a movie. How about you? Do you have a preference? Do you know why? Tell us in the comments.