“The book is better than the movie.”
We’ve all heard that line, and many times it’s absolutely true!
But there are also those folks who enjoy a good film more than they want to curl up with a book.
Book lovers have certain personality traits
Those who tend to like the books better than the movie are usually highly imaginative.
I’ve begun listening a lot to audiobooks and found that I create entire worlds and imagery in my mind to accompany the narrative.
Reading is the same, except you are creating the imagery and scenes in your head out of the words on the page (or screen).
A film, by contrast, provides the images for you and doesn’t require the same level of imagination.
This is not to say that imaginative people never like films: clearly they do!
But book lovers tend to be on the highly imaginative side.
Introspection is the ability and desire to look inside.
Those who like books more than films are often very introspective people.
They partly prefer the experience of book reading because they can choose to pause for long amounts of time and really ponder a page or passage.
They like to savor words and images, to think a lot about what’s being said or how it relates to their own life and experiences.
They don’t enjoy watching a grand cinematic experience as much, generally, because it’s more extroverted and doesn’t give the same opportunity for introspection as a book does.
On a similar note, book-preferrers tend to be:
Those who prefer the book to the film tend to be a bit subtler.
Subtlety is the art and practice of being understated and not forcing a point.
A book uses words and leaves the rest up to you, whereas a film shows you the images and uses music, dialog and many other techniques to stimulate your emotions and thoughts.
The individual who prefers books is likely to be a bit subtler than a moviegoer.
This isn’t bad or good, it’s just an observation.
The subtle individual also tends to like subtler music like jazz and classical, and laid-back minimalist design in terms of homes, furniture and landscaping.
Those who prefer books to movies tend to be, well…bookish!
Bookish folks are more reserved and not quite as extroverted in most cases.
They like to think things over and listen more than they talk.
They don’t want things spelled out and made visible right away:
They prefer a riddle and a more subtle exploration which is why books hold such an appeal.
They find that films give away too much and usually hand the audience too many clear answers about what’s happening and why.
Books, by contrast, hold more back and reading also tends to be a more solitary experience.
Book lovers who would prefer to curl up with a thought-provoking tome tend to be very patient.
This makes a lot of sense:
A book may take somebody 15 to 20 hours to complete, whereas a film can be consumed in one or two hours.
Book lovers are patient and relish the idea of really dedicating their time and energy to a single story or subject for hours at a time.
A person will need to put in more effort and time to read a book and focus your attention on it for an extended period of time.
People who almost always like the book more than the movie are usually very detail-oriented people.
They are the type who will watch a film and point out small inconsistencies and goofs that annoy them.
They don’t only prefer books because they’re more imaginative and creative, but also because they include more details and facts that make the story make sense.
The nature of a film to summarize and condense doesn’t appeal to such people.
They want to read and understand the details, rather than watching an executive summary that just skips past certain parts or condenses even tedious passages into a montage or a short dialog.
They want to read the whole thing instead of just skipping over it!
This brings me to the final point…
Those who prefer books to films tend to be very focused individuals.
They are able to sit down and shut out the world at least for an hour or two.
This requires having a certain amount of time and space in their life, as well as the desire and interest to just focus on one subject.
A film allows you to start and pause much more frequently without losing your train of thought. It can also be finished much more quickly as I noted.
Book lovers are patient people!
Five case studies where the book was better than the movie
There are many situations where I found the book (or books) to be more enjoyable than the movie adaptation.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1921): a tragic classic that wasn’t recognized in its day but has become known around the world, the Great Gatsby. In my opinion it is a far more compelling book than the glitzy 2013 film directed by Baz Luhrman and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954-1955): this is a timeless series by the master of fantasy writing. The film series, by contrast, gave me vertigo and I found it poorly-paced, melodramatic and gauche.
Dune by Frank Herbert (1965): Herbert’s Dune and its sequels are incredible works that paint a dystopian, mystic image of a colonialist, resource-obsessed future. The 2021 film directed by Denis Villeneuve, while well done, still doesn’t come close to the rich world that comes to life through Herbert’s pens.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (1997-2007): Rowling’s books are an absorbing read with an amazing atmosphere and unique world that she creates and maintains throughout the series. By contrast, I found the movies boring, melodramatic and thoroughly forgettable.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999) is an outstanding book. The 2007 film also directed by Chbosky and starring Logan Lerman is definitely worth a watch as well, but it’s hard to fit the same depth and engrossing story into the shorter span of the film as the book contains.
These are some titles that come to mind for me…
Are there any other examples of books that were better than the movie that you would add to the list?
Three case studies where the movie was better than the book
The book isn’t always better than the film, at least in my opinion!
Jurassic Park (1993): I’m an enormous fan of the late great Michael Crichton, especially his books Sphere and Congo, but when it comes to his novel Jurassic Park (1990), the film ended up being much better!
Bridge to Terabithia (2007): Katherine Paterson’s 1977 young adult novel is a touching story, but it’s fairly threadbare and basic. The 2007 film, by contrast, is a stunning work of cinematography, bringing the imaginative world of Terabithia to life in a touching and heartbreaking way.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013): Jordan Belfort’s 2007 memoir of Wall Street excess is a crazy read, but it’s still nowhere near as entertaining and insane as the 2013 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.
These are some titles that I think of in this category…
Are there any other examples of movies that you found to be better than the book that you would add to the list?