At my sister’s house this morning I noticed a book in her bookshelf: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’d like to preface this story by saying that my sister is not someone who likes to read. She likes the idea of reading, but can never finish a book – I love her anyway, but I give her endless crap for it. That said, she had Flynn’s book in her bookshelf, facing the room. Not with the spine showing, with the cover showing. So of course my first instinct was to say, “hey! Put that book in with the other books properly! It misses its friends!”
But then I looked at the cover, which had been altered from it’s original state so it could be recognizable for the movie’s audiences, and instead started thinking about just how much I want to see that movie. It looks amazing! It’s like a well-written Lifetime movie! The book-lover in me tells me to read the book first and then see the movie, which I had originally decided. But is it always better to read the book first?
Here’s the thing: if you’re not planning on reading the book, then you should by all means see the movie. But what if you want to read the book and see the movie? It’s a toss up! We’re all guilty of seeing a film first and then being so excited about the movie that you want to read the book. Usually, you read the book afterward and realize just how much more amazing the book was and you wish you had read it first. Especially because now you picture the actors as the characters!
However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m generally an advocate of reading the book first, don’t get me wrong. But picturing actors is natural, and I find it really helpful a lot of the time. For example, I read The Hunger Games series before the movies came out and I loved the books. After seeing the first two movies I re-read the series and pictured the amazing Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Let me tell you… she is an AMAZING Katniss!!!! When I picture J-Law as the main character, I’m thrilled! I see the features perfectly, I can picture her facial expressions, and it’s wonderful! When I try to think of the character I used to picture before seeing Lawrence as Katniss, I actually remember a different actress that I mistakenly thought looked exactly like the character – Lawrence wins as Katniss. So what’s the difference? If I’m going to end up picturing celebrities as my protagonists anyway, why not see the movie and picture their flawlessness??
I mean, Ben Affleck is in the new Gone Girl movie. Is it really that bad to have to picture Ben Affleck when you’re reading? NO! (I’d like to mention this now, because I won’t get the opportunity again – hate me if you will: I prefer Matt Damon.)
So what’s the big deal in seeing the movie first? Other than the bragging rights you get to have (“I already read the book so I know what happens at the end so if you don’t buy me the large popcorn/drink combo I’ll tell you the end of the story before we watch”) I don’t really think there’s a huge problem with it! I’m a big re-reader. Some of my favorite books I’ve read maybe 10-15 times. A lot of those books have been turned into movies, and honestly I really don’t mind picturing an actor as the main character, or the villain, or even just the butler. I like having a more vivid idea of what the character looks like, talks like, and what their expressions are. I like thinking of the characters as real life people, and sometimes seeing the movie first helps with that!
So my deliberation: if you like a bit of risk, see the movie first! It’s not always bad, and then when you read the book after you see it, you get the same story but in so much more vivid detail! So next time a book turned movie comes out, try seeing the movie first. Maybe you’ll like it!
Until next time!