Buzzfeed recently posted a list of Sixteen Books To Read Before They Hit the Theaters this Year. As readers, we accept this as the natural order of things. To do otherwise would be as unfathomable as eating one’s desert before dinner. And yet, I still find myself wondering, is reading a book before seeing the movie really a good idea? Or, are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment by reading these books in advance? Ask yourself, when is the last time you were satisfied with a movie adaptation?
Unfortunately, no matter how stellar the cast or celebrated the director, we almost always find fault with the movie. We complain that the actors look nothing like the characters we imagined (i.e. Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher). We lament the loss of stories and characters that are sacrificed in the interest of time (Tom Bombadil from Lord of the Rings ). Many times, these adaptations are excellent films. Some even win awards. And yet, we still feel the intangible absence of something we can’t quite put our finger on. The truth is, cherished books live in a place in our imagination that is simply impossible to replicate in the real world.
Surprisingly, the reverse does not seem to hold true. Picking up a book after watching the movie version usually leads to enlightenment, not disappointment. Waiting to read the book allows you to watch and enjoy the movie without the weight of your own expectations (i.e. book baggage). But, there is a catch. Your impressions of the characters and settings will not be your own. They will belong to a movie studio. Who knows what beautiful and terrible images you might have conjured in your mind’s eye. You will never know.
And so, we readers must make a choice. Read the book first and spoil the movie, or watch the movie first and spoil the book. Quite the dilemma. And yet, ultimately, I find the choice an easy one. After all, you never get a second chance to experience a book for the first time. And I want that experience to last for days, not 2.5 hours. Guess I’m in for a year of disappointment at the movie theater, because these books are just too good to pass up!
Books Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: