Diaries Magazine

Why I Read the Book First.

Posted on the 20 May 2013 by Shayes @shayes08
Why I Read the Book First.
I don't have to tell you that it's sort of all the rage to turn books into movies right now.
In 2012 alone, countless books made their way to the big screen including major bestsellers-turned-blockbusters like Breaking Dawn: Part Two, The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Les Miserables, Life of Pi and more.
The most recent of these highly anticipated book-to-film adaptations is this month's release of The Great Gatsby.
In the ten days since Gatsby has been released, I've seen numerous Facebook statuses and Twitter posts proclaiming its awesomeness and the fact that everyone should go see it. One friend sent me a message and simply said, "Go see The Great Gatsby."

My response?
I will. After I've read the book again.*
In my many conversations with people about book-to-movie adaptations over the years, I've found that (generally) most people fall in the middle. They've seen some movies before they read the books. They've read some books before they saw the movie. Sometimes they didn't even know a book existed until after they saw the movie, and other times they were so intrigued by the book that they wondered if it had been made into a film.
However, when you talk to people who really love books or really love movies, they tend to hold a very strong opinion about whether or not you should see the book or the movie first.
In my experience, those who really love movies claim that it's better to see the movie first (or even worse...claim that if you've seen the movie, you don't need to read the book), and those who really love books (like myself) claim that it's better to read the book first.
A movie-loving friend told me that it's better for book lovers to see the movie first because the movie often deviates significantly from the book, and if you see the movie first there's a smaller likelihood of the book being ruined by any plot deviations the movie may make.
I can understand his logic. 
After all, I wouldn't rant about my irritation with how Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban deviates unnecessarily from the plot or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two epic fails at wrapping up the series as elegantly as J.K. Rowling does in the book if I had seen the movie before I read the book.
And yes, I am one of those irritating people that rants about how the movie often screws up the book. I am fully aware of the fact that I could relieve this irritation by simply watching the movie before I read the book, and yet, I hold fast to my motto of book before movie.
The answer is quite simple, really.
I believe that a great deal of the beauty in a book lies in the imagination of the reader. The thing that makes a book so beautiful is the fact that the experience of reading it is completely unique to every individual that enters into the world of that story.
You, as the reader, have the opportunity to take the bits and pieces of information that the author gives you about the world the characters are in and flesh it out.
Sure, J.K. Rowling tells you what color eyes and hair Harry Potter has and fills you in on the fact that he wears glasses and has a lightning scar on his forehead, but you, the reader, get to fill in the rest of the details. You get to determine how tall he is, what his clothing looks like, how his voice sounds. You get to determine his mannerisms and the way his hands gesture wildly when he speaks. The Harry Potter that you create in your head is completely your own, unlike that of anyone else.
As a child, that was my favorite thing about reading a book.
I could open those pages and escape to a world that was completely my own. It might look similar to someone else's, but the nuances of that world were completely unique to me. The way the houses and clothing looked, the colors of the fields, the little quirks of each character, I got to create those all on my own. And that world would forever be my own.
You lose that magic when you see the movie first.
Rather than interpreting the world of the story on your own, through your own eyes, with your own experiences, you see the world through the eyes of the director. You see the nuances of the character through the interpretation of the actor. Your experience with that story is not your own, but the collective experience of all of those who have worked on that film.
One of my favorite book series is the Anne of Green Gables series. It also happens to be my favorite film.
I saw the film long before I ever read the book. I still love the books dearly, and because of the way they did the second film in particular, there are still nuances about the story I was able to create for myself, but whenever I picture Anne Shirley in my head, I will always see Megan Follows. And whenever I picture Gilbert Blythe, I will always see Jonathan Crombie.
I'm mostly okay with this, because as I read the book series, I felt like Megan Follows perfectly captured the nuances of Anne Shirley's character. But it doesn't change the fact that my interpretation of that story will be forever colored by someone else's interpretation. It will never wholly be my own.
Now, some people might find this petty and a little bit ridiculous. But, as I said, that has always been one of my absolute favorite parts of reading stories. And it's one of the reasons I love stories so much.
Because every single individual brings their own experiences and thoughts and ideas to the table when they read a story. They take the bits and pieces of information and the dialog provided to you by the author, and the story comes alive. It comes alive in a new way every time a new person reads the story.
And that is why I will always (if given the opportunity) read the book before I see the movie.
Are you a book person or a movie person? Which do you think is better to do? See the book or the movie first? Why? Does it matter to you at all?
Why I Read the Book First.
*I read The Great Gatsby in high school, but I don't remember anything about it other than the fact that I hated it. I don't know why I hated it, I just remember that I hated it. I don't even remember the plot. So I've determined I'm going to read it again before I let Baz Lurhman's interpretation color my opinion on it.
Photo Credit: Cayou. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic license. Design by me.
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The post Why I Read the Book First appeared first on Shades of Shayes.

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