Stop being lazy: Why you should read the book before you see the movie

Stop being lazy: Why you should read the book before you see the movie

Unlike the chicken and egg, we all know which came first when a book has been adapted into a movie. And generally, it’s always a good idea to read the book first. Need convincing? Here are just a few of the reasons why.


It fires your imagination


When you read a book, your mind conjures up images to accompany the words as you read. The principal characters will be different in each individual reader’s mind, and as they’re swept along by the narrative, they’re likely to have  a definite image of each protagonist , as well as the general scenery that surrounds the story. Some writers are expert in creating particular atmospheres too: the still and stifling closeness of a humid summer’s night, the chaotic feeling that being on a battlefield would bring. Skipping reading a book before you watch a film means missing out on letting your imagination provide the images while you read.


You’ll get the whole story


An inevitable truth is that most books have to be abridged to be turned into movies, so there are bound to be some details lost, or skipped over, in the movie version. If you read the story first, you may feel cheated if a certain subplot is left out, but at least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you read the book as it was intended to be read by the author, before Hollywood got involved.


The movie could spoil your enjoyment of the book


Sometimes when you go to see a movie that’s based on a book that you’ve already read, you come away feeling distinctly disappointed.  A recent study by Promopony highlights three movies that, although based on great books, could be perceived as cinematic let-downs for their readers. Perhaps if you’d never read the epic love tale of Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, for instance, you might quite enjoy the movie. But for any fans of Louis de Bernières’ novel, omitting important character details such as Corelli’s comrade soldier Carlo saving his life because he was in love with him made the movie a pretty poor imitation of the book.




Casting you don’t agree with


Sometimes the screenwriter, producer and rest of the movie production team do a brilliant job of transforming a book into a movie, but the choice of actors or their interaction with each other on-screen delivers a hammer blow and turns what could have been a great movie into a flop. It’s fair to say this is only really a problem for the viewers who’ve already read a book and have a particular image of a character in their mind, and then just can’t square someone like Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) or Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennet) in that same role. In that scenario, those who haven’t read the book first are much better off!


There’s always an exception...


However, there are some occasions when, almost regardless of the quality of the screenwriter’s adaptation, it does make sense to do things the other way around. A classic example is when students are getting to grips with a classic tale such as those written by Shakespeare or Dickens, or one that’s been written in a foreign language that they can’t speak. Watching the movie first helps them gain an overview of the story, and they can then read the book in class and be able to concentrate on the deciphering the antiquated language and turns of phrase.


So, what books should be on your reading list this year?


There are plenty of  movie releases based on books out in 2017 and there’s still time to read a number of them before you go to see the story told on the big screen. For instance, My Cousin Rachel, adapted from a Daphne Du Maurier novel, won’t be released on screen until July and in November, the movie version of John Green’s novel Let It Snow will make for great pre-Christmas viewing, as three intertwined romances are played out on-screen.

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