Wednesday, April 1, 2015


When a new movie that is based upon a book hits the big screen, do you watch the movie or read the book first?  The chicken-or-egg process of a good story likely evokes a moment's hesitation. My own answer? It depends.

Unlike many of my bookaholic friends, I do not keep an eagle eye on the New York Times bestseller list. My never-ending to-read list comes from a select group of guinea pig acquaintances who have given a book a big thumbs up.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good movie too, but it's rare to find one that captures the images that my mind has conjured from the book that it is based on. Usually films have difficulty compressing the story satisfactorily into the 90-120 minute attention span of the average movie audience.

Recently, I had two completely different book vs. movie experiences. The first evolved from a former classmate and Facebook friend who raved about a book that involved a historical romance AND time travel. Normally I hate time travel tales, but she carried on so that I bought the book just to shut her up. How good could it be if it had been written over 22 years ago and I'd never heard of it? I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

As I became more entangled in the story of Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall, I dreaded reaching the end of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Yet I need not have worried...there are 8 books in the series that range from 848 to 1488 pages each. I plowed through them all at a record pace. Much to my delight, I discovered that a television series began last fall on the STARZ channel. I quickly added it to see how disappointed I would be at the small screen version of such a tale. I have watched these first eight shows several times in anticipation of the next new installments that start April 4th. Reading these books has enriched my appreciation for the televised series, which is done very well, indeed. In fact, I plan to read all 8 of the books again, more slowly, to appreciate what I devoured quickly in the first go-round.

This scenario is not always the case.

Not too long ago, I watched the movie Gone Girl.  It was so entertaining and smartly made, that I felt sure the book by Gillian Flynn would be terrific. SO wrong (cue the Debbie Downer music here). After nearly 100 pages - and hating every paragraph - I'm not sure I'll finish it. All I can do is wonder how the book was ever a bestseller. Clearly, I am in the minority here as there are over 37,000 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

A great book won't always be a great movie, and a mediocre book can be a very good movie. Where do you stand: book or movie first?

(Note that this is a repost from a guest blog on "Girl Who Reads")

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