Have Books Ruined Me for Movies? Let’s Discuss.

Posted May 16, 2019 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Let's Discuss / 53 Comments

When I was younger, I LOVED going to the movies. I went often, and I especially loved Disney movies and the iconic teen movies that came out at that time (10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless, Say Anything…, Heathers, Can’t Buy Me Love, Sixteen Candles, She’s All That, etc.).

As I got older, my movie watching habit slowed WAY down. A lot of it just had to do with how much it cost—it always seemed like there were better ways to spend that money, and we’d occasionally rent something but it got harder and harder to find movies that everyone wanted to see (or even that my husband and I were both really interested in). When my kids were little, we often went to see the newest animated features, but other than that, my movie excursions were rare.

Lately, I’ve started watching more movies again. It started because of all the book-to-movie adaptations that have been happening. I wanted to see some of my favorite books onscreen. Then I was also trying to rent some other popular movies that I’ve seen people talking about.

Only problem is, I’m finding that I don’t love movies the way I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I still like them, but I just don’t love them. For instance, I just recently watched A Star Is Born, The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Captain Marvel. They were all really good. I liked them; I didn’t love any of them. And that’s been pretty par for the course lately.

I started to wonder why. When watching Miseducation, I remembered that it was based on a book. I haven’t read it, but I found myself thinking that it probably worked much better in that format. The film is about a girl who’s sent to a Christian conversion camp when she’s found with another girl. That has the potential to be a heartbreaking movie, right? But the plot is slim and the methods used by the staff at the camp are (for the most part) subtly unsettling rather than blatantly abusive. The story really focuses on the emotional journey that Cameron goes on. See, and this is where I’ve been spoiled by books: In a book, I’d be able to intimately know all of the main character’s thoughts and feelings. I would have felt Cameron’s pain right along with her. Even though I thought that Chloë Grace Moretz did a fine job with her role, I still missed knowing exactly what was going on in the character’s mind. I wanted to know how her experiences were affecting her (and those around her), and I feel like I only got a hint of that. In fact, when the big dramatic moment happens near the end of the movie (I won’t spoil what that is), I was a bit blindsided because I hadn’t really felt enough tension along the way to get us there.

This is often true with books that are turned into movies. I definitely enjoy them more if I’ve read the book first because I can fill in the emotional journey in my head since I’ve already experienced it. But even with movies that aren’t based on books, I’m wondering if this missing connection to the inner workings of the characters is what holds me back from truly loving them. I think I’m used to going on that inner journey with a character, and two hours just isn’t long enough to really replicate that in movie form. TV series are much more successful for me because I have a lot longer to get to know the characters and grow attached to them.

I’m not sure if this is truly why I don’t enjoy movies quite as much as I used to, but this is my suspicion.

Does this theory make any sense? Do you think that reading a lot can make watching movies less enjoyable? Do you have any recs for absolutely fabulous movies that will make me change my mind? I want to know!


Linked to the Book Blog Discussion Challenge


53 responses to “Have Books Ruined Me for Movies? Let’s Discuss.

  1. For me, it hasn’t really happened that way. I still enjoy movies, I just rarely watch them. For some reason, I prefer wasting my time binging a series on Netflix than watching a less-than 2 hour movie ??‍♀️ There’s something wrong with me. Anyway, I guess I only think that when it’s a book I’ve read and I’m like “oh but they missed this, but they didn’t show this, and they aren’t showing how she’s feeling, they ignored this” etc etc.
    I think the best route would be like they did with Twilight. They let the main character do their own narration so we knew what was in their head, you know?
    I love Sixteen Candles so much!! She’s the Man is another movie I enjoyed a lot!

    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters recently posted: Hilarious Rom-Com: Petal Plucker by Iris Morland
  2. It’s so weird to see you talk about this because I recently had the same realization. I just don’t love voices like I used to. As a teenager and in my 20’s I LOVED movies. Going to theater was a total experience and I soaked up every minute of it. Going with my parents (as a kid), going with friends (as a teen), or with my husband (20’s)… but it’s been a long time since I kept up with current releases, or went to the theater with any regularity. I actually only see movies at the theater once or twice a year now. It has to be something I’m really dying to see. Last year that # was 2: Love Simon and Christopher Robin. So far this year… nothing. I’m not sure how much of that is due to books but I do know that most of the time I would rather read than watch a movie. Great topic, Nicole!

  3. I have found that I have progressively been reading more and watching less. My kids have convinced me to watch Stranger Things with them and the Marvel movies. Other than that, I just prefer books!

    Alison Flores recently posted: Jared ~Cover Reveal
  4. I find I don’t watch as many movies either. Mostly because of the time. They are getting so much longer these days. I still haven’t gotten to seeing the new Avengers movie. Mostly because it’s 3 hours. Then add in the previews and commercials and you’re looking at closer to 3.5 hours. And sitting that long…even in the new loungers is just too tiresome for me. I have a stack of movies I bought from Black Friday sales…dating back 2 or 3 years and again it goes back to the time it takes to watch a movie.

    When I watch a movie, it’s because I really want to watch it. All of it. I will pause it for bathroom breaks or snack breaks. Whatever kind of break and then dive right back in. Though the cost of movies these days has me refraining as well. If it’s one I know I want to see and will likely end up buying, I might just wait to buy it…at Black Friday for super cheap.

    Lately what I’ve watched have been Marvel movies and animated ones. There really hasn’t been much else out lately that makes me want to go see anything. Though I’ve got a slew of Disney ones this year that I have to see asap!! Lol!

  5. I don’t really go out to see movies that much anymore. I just enjoy watching them in the comfort of my own home.(Not to mention how expensive it is to go nowadays).

    When it comes to books to movies, I always find that the book is always better in some way. Great post!

  6. Jen

    That completely makes sense! And since my husband and I have been in our 30s we haven’t gone to the movie theater once. We’d rather watch a movie at home or more often then not, I watch a movie when I’m on the elliptical. And if I have to chose between watching a movie or getting time to read, well reading always wins. 🙂 A movie I’ve watched lately and loved was To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. I tried to get into the book twice and just couldn’t, but the movie was absolutely adorable.

  7. This is such an interesting discussion! I think your theory makes a lot of sense! It’s a lot easier to have a character driven book, than a character driven movie. I think I enjoy movies the most where a visual component can really be played up in either the setting or the plot. If you haven’t already read/watched Crazy Rich Asians I’d highly recommend trying it out! I read the book first, yet I thought it was one of the most fantastic adaptations I’ve ever seen!

  8. Interesting question! I don’t think I can answer it because I’ve never been a movie lover. I’ve always preferred books because they have more depth and backstory. Most movies don’t give me enough time with the characters.

  9. So I am kind of notorious for being rubbish at movies. Now, whether that is because of books… that is another question. Hard to answer too, because I have been reading for as long as I have been watching movies, and have never really been a movie person. I love shows though, as you know hah. I think my problem with movies is, by the time you become invested, the thing is over! And I just prefer more time to get to know characters and worlds and such. Which I assume is why I gravitate toward books (and shows!)

    • I read when I was younger too, so I guess I can’t 100% correlate my reading to not enjoying movies as much, but I think I definitely see myself being pickier nowadays because, just as you say, I want more time to get to know the characters and I want more of their internal thoughts and feelings.

  10. This is a very interesting idea you present. I grew up watching movies, though I never liked watching them quite as much as the rest of my family. I tend to miss at least 10 minutes of every film I see in the theatre, because I fall asleep, and I never rewatch, as my daughter frequently does. I think reading is a more active activity, whereas watching TV/movies is passive. I cannot sit still and just watch. I used to grade papers as I watched, and since I “retired” from teaching, I blog with the TV on, but I never really focus on it.

    Sam@wlabb recently posted: Discussion: Jump in Someone Else's Train
  11. I totally get what you’re saying, but I LOVE the whole movie theater experience!!! Plus, my blog theme is all about book to movie adaptations, and my beau has a movie podcast, so we go to the movies quite a bit. We try to make it more cost efficient by going on discount days.

    For me, my increased book reading actually means less TV watching, but I totally agree with you that a TV series often provides a better medium for adapting a book because characters can be flushed out, and the story feels rushed.

    Katisha @ Reel Literature recently posted: 21 MUST READ BOOKS FOR ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
  12. Interesting post! I’ve always loved books more than movies, but I do enjoy seeing movies and find it a different experience. In the theater I love the visuals and the popcorn, and at home I like being able to share the experience with my husband. Plus I find movies sometimes pack more of an emotional punch for me. But I’m choosier about movies, because I’d almost always rather be reading.

  13. For me, it depends on how well the story is told. I definitely enjoy many more books than I do movies, but a movie with a complex story and characters will still reel me in. That said, I also love how books are a singular experience; there’s no noise, no flashing of colors on a screen. It’s just me and the words on the page; my imagination is free to fill in the rest.

    Crystal @ Lost in Storyland recently posted: Fairytale Reviews: Ogre Enchanted // A Curse So Dark and Lonely
  14. To be honest I didn’t watch as many movies when I grew up and I was happy with that as I always had books around me. Now that I am watching a lot, I keep commenting on the plot and the character development. I know I get on the nerves of others, but books have made my standards pretty high. And I don’t regret it.

    Gayathri recently posted: Ten Weird Things All Bookworms Do
  15. This is an interesting topic and I find that book-to-movie adaptations are hit or miss. It’s rare for me to enjoy a movie as much as or more than the book version.
    I am definitely a film buff though and I have a habit of re-watching old favorites.

  16. As my reading has increased, my movie watching and series watching have both slowed dosn. And I have learned that I am just not a watcher. Sitting and staring at the screen for more than two hours or even an hour doesn’t interest me. I often find myself thinking I would rather be reading or getting bored even if it is something good. So I’m not a watcher. I do enjoy musicals and I do watch some book to film adaptions but like you I end up thinking that I perfered it in book format more.

  17. Your post makes perfect sense, Nicole.
    Going to the cinema is not only an expensive proposition these days but no matter how good the actor is, you can’t know what’s inside their head like you can reading a book. I don’t watch the films if I’ve read the book for this precise reason, although I did watch the TV adaptation of Deborah Harkness Discovery of Witches and thought it was good and I do love the Harry Potter films (am I allowed to confess the I think J.K. Rowling’s writing style is too ‘wordy’).

    Flora recently posted: Publication Day!
  18. Yeah, I like the IDEA of movies, or the EXPERIENCE of going to the movies more than I’m really into movies anymore. I thought it was weird when I was a kid that my parents would go to maybe one movie a year, and now that’s totally me. I also feel like books ruin TV for me, because TV shows never know when to wrap things up. Like, they’ll have a really awesome premise and start off strong, but if the show is successful, it almost invariably goes beyond it’s natural story arc and just starts getting ridiculous in attempts to keep things going. Unless you’re George R. R. Martin, most authors have to have a point their stories are working towards, which I find much more satisfying.

    Wendy @ Falconer's Library recently posted: Sunday Post #32/Sunday Salon #5
  19. I so so relate to this! I’ve never really felt connected to movies? A lot relies on emotions and facial expressions, I feel, which can or don’t work really well… depending on the actors. Whereas books we do get that intimate close-up and personal view of their thoughts and feelings. I LOVE that. ?? I do have a lot of movies I like, but I’m really rarely drawn to watching them and I’d struggle to pick a movie I feel really passionately about. ?

  20. That absolutely makes sense. I love being able to know the character’s thoughts and feel what they’re feeling! I’m not a big fan of movies either. I really don’t watch very many, I’m just not interested, and I haven’t been to an actual movie theater to see a movie in like ten years, but I guess that’s a different topic lol.

  21. I’ve never been that big into movies…I wasn’t raised with them (literally…we didn’t GO to the movie theater and didn’t have a TV…yep, my parents were THOSE people), and while I went fairly often in my early 20s I’m just not a huge fan. Would much rather read! I do like good adaptations now and then.

  22. I loved going to the movies in my teens, but tickets are so expensive (and people are so noisy and there’s no personal space between chairs) that these day I can spend years without watching a film at the theatre.

    Now, your theory makes perfect sense to me. Knowing a character’s inner thoughts makes me care about her/him (or, in other situations, I may end up hating the character). If I read the book the film is based on, as you, I can fill the emotional blanks and enjoy the film. I prefer watching television series because they give me character development and tons of emotions.

    Happy readings! 😉

  23. Personally I think movies are written much more shallowly in the last 20 years. My mom is a huge movie lover but most movies we can’t help but critique the entire time we watch now. It’s hard to enjoy when the writing is so poor. Even ones based on books don’t adapt what works on the page for the screen. 🙁 Such a good discussion Nicole. And I think you hit the problem on the head. Screenwriters don’t try to get us to see inside people’s heads.

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.