Books vs. Movies, pt. 1

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.

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About apheckel

one world at a time.
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2 Responses to Books vs. Movies, pt. 1

  1. Charlotte says:

    This is fun. I love both movies and books, but if I had to choose one, I would choose books. I love being immersed in another world for an extended period of time. I love the intense immersion of movies, and that makes their brevity helpful, so it’s not too overwhelming. But I like how a book can inhabit my life in more subtle ways, coloring how I think, speak, and perceive things. A book can create an atmosphere in my daily life throughout the course of reading it that I really love, especially fiction with fantasy elements. It makes me feel like even the mundane moments in my life hold a kind of magic. But I’ve always loved reading the most, since I was a child. I used to want to be an author for many years, and I still love writing, so reading inspires me. Movies feel more recreational and temporal. But both have the power to affect me in very profound ways.

    • apheckel says:

      I definitely agree that the prolonged immersion in a book is books’ primary strength. It can have the power to seriously color the way you see everything and they tend to creep into the everyday in a way I don’t usually find with movies. Plus, I’m a really slow reader consumer of media – that is, I’m a slow reader and I also find myself needing to re- and re-re-watch TV shows and movies to fully absorb themes and messages that should be much easier for me to grasp, as a generally smart person. Books allow me to go at my own pace, which I really appreciate, and nobody’s going to judge me if I’m not ready to discuss a book right after I put it down, as people so frequently like to do in the car on the way home from the movie theater. Unless, I suppose, I were in a book club, which I’m now thinking we should definitely start.

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