When I started my 2012 Reading Challenge in the spring, I thought that, somewhere along the way, I might dip my toe into the “eBook vs. printed book” waters that are swirling around the blog-sphere these days. I read novels in both formats, and there are certain things that I like and don’t like about each one, but ultimately I decided that I wasn’t excited enough about the subject to blog about it. (We all know that I like using my exclamation marks!!!)
But once I looked back at I’ve read so far (and looked at what I’m reading now), I discovered that what I was excited about was the link between the page and screen. Of the four books I’ve already finished, three have been adapted into movies. And I’m currently reading The Paris Wife, which was described to me as “the book version of that new Woody Allen movie”.
So what’s the connection? Am I just drawn to particularly “cinematic” stories? Do good novels naturally lend themselves to being depicted on film? And how does experiencing a story in one medium impact how we feel about it in another? These are all really interesting questions to me (nerd alert!) and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about them for a while. I don’t have any definitive answers for you, but I do have ideas on what I think are some of the pros and cons:
Movies are a multi-sensory medium: I think Jane Austen writes dialogue that is wonderfully romantic and satisfying, but for me, Darcy’s final proposal to Elizabeth is made infinitely better when I can see Darcy’s face, framed by the warm golden light of the sunrise, and hear beautiful string music crescendo in the background. (I have Pride and Prejudice on in the background as I’m writing this, in case you couldn’t tell).
Books give you more creative control: My sister and I both love the Harry Potter series, but she refuses to see any of the movies. No matter how adorable an eleven year old Daniel Radcliffe might be, she’s convinced he won’t live up to the version of Harry that exists in her imagination … and she has a point. How could he? Besides which, she’s told me that she pronounces Hermione’s name a very specific way, and hearing other characters/actors saying it differently would just freak her out.
Movies offer a shared experience: We can certainly read something as part of a group and discuss it afterwards – this is in fact a popular cultural occurrence known as Book Club Night, or, if you’re me, My Entire University Career – and it can certainly be fun and rewarding. But the fact is that the actual reading is experienced alone. On the other hand, watching The Hunger Games in a sold out theatre and hearing the entire audience gasp out loud at one particular scene was thrilling, and strangely comforting, at the same time.
Books can be friends: Speaking of comforting … I find my favourite books to be comfortable and familiar in a way that my favourite movies aren’t. I’m much more likely to re-read Anne of Green Gables if I’ve had a bad day than I am to watch the dvd version. The book is just … cozier, somehow.
As you can see, we’ve got a tie. I suspect I could talk about this one for a while (I read a lot. Except for when I’m watching movies), but I’d much rather hear what you think! Would you rather watch a movie or curl up with a book? Why? Could you even choose one over the other? Would you even want to? Tell me all about it!