Book After Movie?

Do you ever read a book after watching the movie adaptation?

This is an age-old question that has no one, true answer.

But for me, generally, the answer is: No. No, I don’t read books after watching the movie or TV show adaptation.

Here’s why:

  1. I like to imagine the characters myself. There’s nothing better than slowly building your visual of the character as you delve deeper into the book. Seeing the performer first will forever disrupt that, especially if they don’t resemble the character’s book description.
  2. I want to make my own assumptions. Movies can add too much music or effects that make a character more of ‘something.’ Like a bad guy is bad because of the dark shadows and creepy music, not because of their evil deeds. Books let the characters speak for themselves.
  3. I type cast performers. I can’t help it, but I always picture performers as the characters of their most memorable roles. Daniel Radcliff will always be Harry Potter. Jennifer Lawrence will always be Katniss Everdeen. This makes it hard to imagine individual characters in movies.
  4. Movies and TV shows have to be edited down for time. There’s no way around it, most books are too long to do an exact play-by-play from the book (except maybe Holes). I don’t want to read about something extra in the book that wasn’t in the movie.
  5. I get bored of the same story twice. Reading a book takes a lot of time, sometimes 5-10 hours. Movies take 2-2.5 hours. If I’m experiencing the story for a second time, I don’t want it to be drawn out or I start to get bored because I already know what will happen. So the longer format of reading doesn’t work well for the second go around.

For example:

In the spirit of Halloween, I watched The School for Good and Evil. It was a bit spooky but really hit on the fantasy genre. I thought the witches and magical creatures were perfectly suited to the season.

But I didn’t realize the movie was based on a book series until it was too late!

So now I’m stuck. I didn’t know the movie was based on the first book in a trilogy. Also, there’s a follow-up second trilogy that continues the story.

I really enjoyed the movie and was pleasantly surprised by how unique it was. I went in with low expectations but came out pleased. There were a lot of twists that I didn’t predict and there was great underlying motive for the characters.

Do I read the books now?

I also recently watched John Dies at the End, but fortunately, I had already read that book. Unfortunately, the movie version let me down. It was true to the book’s tone and plot, but it just wasn’t a winner. It was a bit strange and sort of got jumbled up with the crazy, hectic, weird plot.

Having these comparisons so close together really got me thinking about movie adaptations. Overall, I think I prefer to read the book first. But more specifically, I like to read the book before the movie adaptation exists.

Even the slightest hints from a movie trailer or ad can affect the way I read and enjoy a book. I don’t want any other influence for that first read. Because, after all…

You can only read a book for the first time, one time.

There’s just too much that a reader can get from a book that they can’t from a film adaptation. It’s just not really worth it for me to read after watching. It’s a shame that I get stuck like this because there are some really good books out there that will go unread because they went to movies.

In this case, I didn’t know that John Dies at the End was made into a movie. I was a bit behind the curve since the book came out in 2007 and the movie in 2012. But, this was all fine because I didn’t know the movie existed, so there was no influence. I still got the true experience of reading the book first, unimpeded by the movie.

But I can’t quite get over my own imagination wanting to do what it does. I’m going to make the characters be what I want them to be and that’s human nature. A good book character will be just vague enough that the reader can project a bit of themselves into the pages. That’s one of the most magical things about books. Movies just don’t have the same room for imagination.

I’m not sure I can really get over a movie’s inaccuracies compared to the book. Whatever I experience first will be my go-to default from there on out. Movies can ruin the book experience if watched first.

So, that’s my answer. I don’t read books after watching the movie.

What about you? Do you read the book after watching the movie adaptation?

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