Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Book or Movie First?

Many bookworms and movie lovers like myself probably face this dilemma a few times a year– do we read the book of something before we see the movie?

I’m a believer that whatever medium you are introduced to a storyline or topic first is often the one you love the most. I find this to be true with  musicals/plays that are turned into movies as well. I love the movie version of The Sound of Music so much more than the original stage musical, for example.

My constant dilemma of book before movie is often difficult because most times, the reason the book is becoming a motion picture is because of its huge success and bestseller status. Reading the book becomes almost as much a right of passage as seeing the movie, which also becomes much hyped and talked about.

Of course, so many books I love have not been well-adapted for the screen or become so drastically different than the plot or details of the book that it’s incredibly distracting and disappointing. Water for Elephants was this for me– that book captivated me and I can’t even remember that I made it all the way through the movie with Reese Witherspoon and that vampire kid.


If I love a book, I’m likely destined to be disappointed by the movie because I’ve created my own picture in my mind of how I think things play out, especially vivid details of pivotal scenes or characters. When I heard that Ben Affleck was going to be the husband in the Gone Girl movie, I thought he was ALL WRONG since in my reading of the book I sort of imagined a skinny, glasses-wearing hipster/writer. Perhaps because author Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay and worked with director David Lynch on the film, Affleck worked for me ( probably because he’s so good at displaying no emotion)– though there were other issues with that film, but I digress.

There are a few instances where my love of the movie surpassed my interest in the book, the original, non-musical Les Miserables being one of them. In Victor Hugo’s defense, it could be that since I read that book during high school with a so-so teacher, my reading of it might be a bit tainted.

Recently, this book versus movie dilemma happened where the reverse happened with The Martian. I purchased the book for Q’s birthday this past year and he enjoyed it. I probably would never had read it since science and space, while fascinating to me, are not usually things I can get into or enjoy. Stephany changed my mind on wanting to read the book, but because of Q’s interest in seeing the movie, I ended up breaking the book before movie rule– and I’m glad I did. I know there is a lot more technical explanations in the book than the movie, so in this case, I’m glad I saw the science in action, so to speak, so that when I’m reading the book, I won’t get bogged down in trying to comprehend the science or spend half the time looking up words/terms that are unfamiliar.

What’s your preference, fellow bookworms? Book or movie first? Is there a book that was totally ruined for you on the big screen?



Single Post Navigation

2 thoughts on “Book or Movie First?

  1. Oh, the dilemma… the struggle is real! I am USUALLY a book – before – movie person…. and most times, I don’t even want to see the movie/TV series (happened with “Outlander”, even though people say that they did a good job with the series, but Jamie and Claire just look completely (!) different in my mind than the actors they picked out).

    I obviously have seen movies before I even know they were based on a book…. and read the book in retrospect and either hated it or loved it. I think it really comes down to how well the movie is made or how far it strays from the original story.

    Harry Potter, for example, I find incredibly well done.

    I had to chuckle about “the movie with Reese Witherspoon and that vampire kid”… I started the book “Water for Elephants” and couldn’t get into it, then I thought ‘maybe I’ll watch the movie’. I love Reese Witherspoon but find “the vampire kid” annoying, so I never followed through LOL
    so many factors go into making a movie good for me, while with a book, you can make up your own image in your head 😉 I think there is no right or wrong way to approach it.

  2. Ooh, I hope you love The Martian. I have yet to see the movie because the book caused such an emotional response from me (which is weird, I know, because it can be very technical, but the character of Mark Watney was just so incredibly well-written), that I needed to give myself some time to recoup. Haha. (But it was helpful to picture Matt Damon as Watney because, yeah, he’s not too bad on the eyes.)

    I usually go into movies adapted from books with low expectations, which helps! I loved Gone Girl (though I also loved the book, so take that as you will). I loved The Great Gatsby (come on, Leo as Jay Gatsby? Perfect casting!)

    Divergent was vastly different from the book, but I still enjoyed it.

    Me Before You, which is my favorite book of all time, is being made into a movie and I’m nervous that they’ll get it right. The casting looks okay, so we’ll see. I’m going to try to see the movie as I see every movie-from-book: it’s own creative THING. It helps with the disappointment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: