Ever since the first book was adapted into a movie ("Sherlock Holmes Baffled" in 1900, if you're wondering), there has been much discussion about which is better--reading the original book or watching the movie adaptation? Each version has its own merits, which is probably why the debate has never been laid to rest, but to me there is a clear winner. As an avid book reader and lover (and hopefully future writer), I will always side with the book--no matter how good the movie that follows may or may not be. Here are the reasons why...
1. Books allow you to know what the characters are actually thinking.
One of my top arguments for why I will always prefer books is that books actually allow you to know what the characters are thinking or feeling. In movies, you have to rely on two things: 1) a character telling you what they (or others) are thinking or feeling, or 2) the subtext you can pick up from the performance of the actor. This may be fine for the people who pay attention that closely, but it is a lot more difficult if you're someone like me. There are also certain thoughts or feelings that you can't tell just by looking at an actor. Take a heart pounding faster, for example.
2. Books allow you to get to know the characters better.
As a result of many of the reasons on this list, books let you get to know the characters better. You get to know their actual thoughts (like I said in #1), you spend more time with them, and you learn more details about them. Take the Harry Potter series-- one of the most famous book to movie adaptations--for example. If you just watch the movies without reading the books, there is a lot that you don't know about the characters because it was left out of the movie. This brings me to my next reason.
3. Books don't have to cram everything into a two-hour time frame.
Books get to tell their stories in hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pages that take hours to read. A movie has a limited time frame of roughly two hours. You know, that is unless you divide the story into two movies like they have been doing. There is no way to get all of the material from the hundreds of book pages into a two four-hour movie. Because of this, important events and details often get left out of the movie in order to fit the limited time frame and/or because they may or may not work well with the medium. If you just watch the movie, you aren't really getting the whole story--just the condensed version.
4. Books allow you to experience the story at your own pace.
This can be related to reason three. With books, you can take your time and read at whatever pace you want to. You can breeze through it in a day or two (if you have that much consecutive time) or you can take your sweet time and enjoy it slowly over a few weeks or even months. On the other hand, movies are usually watched in a one, roughly two-hour sitting. This option is a lot faster overall if you have a busier schedule, but it also means you have to find the time in your busy day to dedicate to the watching the whole movie. You don't really have the option of watching it chapter by chapter or scene by scene...unless, of course, you want to.
5. Books leave more to the imagination.
Books allow you to be more creative and imagine the characters, places, scenes and so on, the way you want to. Everyone can have their own interpretation of things when they read, because there is no right or wrong one. In movies, all of the work is done for you with the set choice of actors and other visual details. And not everything or everyone chosen for a movie lines up with what the readers pictured in their minds, which can be a major source of discord for the more loyal book fans.
6. Books are more detailed.
There are certain things you can do in a book that you just can't in a movie. Besides letting you know the characters' thoughts, which I've already touched on, books also let you in on more basic story and plot details. It is a lot easier to set up the story and explain what is going on in a book simply because of the medium/format. An author can use anywhere from a line of dialogue to a paragraph to even a whole chapter to give the readers the background information they need. Movies have fewer options to do this and mostly have to rely on dialogue to get the job done. It takes a good balance to make this work, though, because where a couple lines of dialogue are fine, a whole big monologue of exposition takes up a lot of time and interrupts the flow of the story.
7. Books are portable.
This is an easy one. You can carry a book around with you almost anywhere you go. There's now also the option of reading it on your electronic devices. You can do this with some movies too, sure, but most of the time it's on a smaller screen that makes it harder to enjoy. Other than that, you either need to be at a movie theater or have a TV and/or a VCR (old-fashioned, I know), DVD, or Blu-ray player.
8. Books are cheaper.
Anyone who has been to the movies lately can tell you that it is not cheap. Even if you get a good price on the tickets, you also have to add the cost of any food or drinks you get there plus the cost of driving there. If you don't want to shell out that kind of money to see a movie in theaters, you can wait to buy it when it comes to stores (or Netflix now), which still isn't all that cheap. Books are usually cheaper because you can borrow most of them from a friend or a library. They're usually cheaper if you buy them too, unless you buy some sort of special edition of the book or a whole series.
9. Books allow you to experience the story as the author intended it.
Another one of the reasons that I am most passionate about is that books allow you to experience everything as the author intended it to be (for the most part). There are no big Hollywood agendas or studio/director/screenwriter changes made to the story when you're reading the book. The publishing company, yes, but not Hollywood. I can tell you that there is nothing more disappointing for a book lover than seeing one of your favorite stories be butchered and changed when it is made into a movie. My fellow Percy Jackson fans will know what I am talking about.
10. Books can stay with you forever.
There's not really much I can add to this one other than the books that we read and love, whether as a child or an adult, have a way of sticking with us and influencing us in ways we could never have imagined. The aforementioned Harry Potter series does this for me. Even though I read these books at a very young age, the stories have stuck with me to this day and remain one of my all-time favorites. I don't care how good a movie adaptation may be; none of them have made as much of an impact on me as their book counterparts have.
It's clear to see that I have a lot of opinions when it comes to this particular topic. I love movies just as much as the next person, but when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations, there really is no contest for me. Because no matter how great the visuals and effects for a movie may be, nothing will ever beat its more detailed, intimate, imaginative, and character-driven book. Anyone who disagrees can leave me a comment so we can respectfully discuss it.