In our house, we have an ongoing, years-long discussion happening about whether books or movies are better. O is vehemently pro-movie and mildly anti-book. I am vehemently pro-book and mildly pro-movie. There are plenty of movies which are great representations of their literary counterparts – all of the Harry Potters spring to mind – but they can’t outshine the books, and they can’t replace the books’ place in my heart.
O’s argument in favor of movies is threefold: They are compact, they are visual and they are a team effort. A lot of people working very hard to visually represent a universe that is fully realized and presented in a brief and potent package. They give the viewer every benefit of the book, without demanding the time and (extended) attention that books demand. I understand that premise, though it’s taken hours and hours of discussion for me to accept the argument without my go-to kneejerk reaction of “Books are the best! Stop hating on books! Mom, O is making fun of my books again!”
My defense of books is probably at least partly attributed to my long and sordid history with books (I ruined more than a couple of them trying to read in the shower as a kid) and my glasses-given propensity toward indoor activities and quiet. I also love a nap, and there is nothing better for slowing down my brain and my eye balls than a book.
But I don’t know that the typical pro-book arguments, like their affordability (if you’re willing to library it and aren’t a compulsive collector like I am), their portability, and their individuality are telling the whole story. Reading books does allow a person to delve into a world, the details of which they’re largely responsible for creating themselves. As someone who is not very individually imaginative, I love this aspect of books. It gives me the basic framework of a setting and allows me to color in whatever I want. But for someone like O, who imagines very vividly and easily on his own, the very act of reading can inhibit him from creating a world. Movies tell the story, give him a fully realized world, and let him get on his way and move onto other things.
Those are just the preliminary thoughts I wanted to get out. Writing things out does help me sort out my thoughts and focus my arguments and, as I said, this discussion has been going on for years. I intend to revisit the debate, to look at a few different scenarios, and maybe get a discussion going. So if anyone is, in fact, reading this, go ahead and leave me your thoughts.