Ask Ginni, our resident Literary Lady, anything you want to know about reading and relationships! She’ll comb the books and wrack her brains to help you out with your page-turning problems, your wordy woes, and your novel nuisances. Fire away, Bookworms!
Dear Literary Lady,
Why can’t I just watch the movie version of books? Aren’t they pretty much the same thing? – WaitingforDVD, Lexington, KY.
You can. You can also have margarine instead butter, aspartame instead of sugar, decaf instead of caffeinated, and the gluten-free, low-fat, low-cholesterol, sugar-free, carob version of dessert. You can also listen to the acoustic cover of your favorite song at open mike night.
What I’m trying to say is that watching the movie version of great books is a bit like eating vegan food or listening to cover bands—even when it’s good, it’s just not as good as the real thing.
Why? Because you’re only getting one interpretation of the real thing when in fact there could be many. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand words may paint a thousand different pictures. Movies will only give you one.
When you read a book, your interpretation of it is unique to you. Your Jay Gatsby might be a more dapper version of your cousin Archie, and not at all like Robert Redford or Leonardo DiCaprio. Atticus Finch might invoke memories of your grandfather, who Gregory Peck just doesn’t embody. Unlike the movie, reading the book is a personal endeavor, an exercise in your imagination, a story screened solely through your experiences.
There are some spectacular films based on books out there—films that are true to the plot and come close to capturing the ineffable qualities of the book’s characters. You should absolutely watch them. BUT, you should also read the book. A movie tells only one story about a book, and you just might have your own.
Love and paperbacks,