[Book Talk] Sometimes I Watch the Movie Without Reading the Book

05:00 Cilla P 6 Comments

I don't know if it's the hipster part of me or the bookworm part, but there's a certain satisfaction that comes with being able to tell people that I've read the book that's being made into a movie/television show. Maybe it's because I tend to think that adaptations are somehow of lesser quality than the original material. Which reader hasn't come away from watching an adaptation of their beloved book thinking "the book is SO much better"?

That sentiment isn't always true, of course. I personally enjoyed The Hunger Games movies more than I did the books. I tried to read Wicked with no success, but was utterly in love with the play. Then there are occasions where I'd rather watch the adaptations before I read the book, or even instead of reading the book. Don't be horrified! I have some good reasons for this choice.

The book requires a lot of effort

I mentioned in this post that I find reading Jane Austen's work (as well as other classics) to be a struggle sometimes, thanks to the language. Thankfully, those stories have been adapted dozens of times, and I've found that it's always so much easier to understand their plots when I can watch it play out on screen. I was completely lost when reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time. Then, I watched Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley's version, and I could totally see what was so romantic about the story. When I go back to read Pride and Prejudice, already familiar with the plot, it'll be easier for me to digest the language.

Also, some books are ridiculously big. For instance, have you seen the size of Les Miserables? 😱 There's a reason it's called 'the brick'. I'm sure it's a great work of literature, but I'm not so interested that I would invest the time required to read it. The musical (or the movie of the musical), on the other hand, only take three hours, and it has great songs. 


When I know a book is being adapted, I'd have the best intentions to read it first before I see it. However, thanks to a neverending pile of unread books and life in general, sometimes it just doesn't work out that way!

Other times, the adaptation moves faster than I can read the original material. For instance: Poldark. I believe the first season of the BBC series cover the first two books (out of twelve), and it's currently on the second season. I still haven't picked up the second book. (Knowing a particularly controversial/unforgivable plot point happens in Book 3, I'm hesitant to keep reading.)

I'm not that interested in the story...

But my friends wanted to see the movie, or it's on tv and I happen to be doing nothing. This was the case with The Maze Runner for me, a bunch of movies made out of Nicholas Sparks' novels, Stephenie Meyer's The Host. I mildly enjoyed these, the way you would get sucked into a movie that's already on your tv screen. However, I read The Maze Runner after I saw the movie, and DNF'd around the 30% mark. I've read three of Nicholas Sparks' novels after A Walk to Remember and The Notebook came out. I don't want to read The Host; the concept's much too much like Animorphs for my liking.

The adaptation is iconic or enjoyable in its own right

Some adaptations aren't not straight adaptations - they have that something extra that makes them - dare I say it - perhaps more appealing than the original material. For instance: Les Mis, Wicked, The Lord of the Rings (I did try to read these, but they just don't work for me. Admittedly, I don't care that much for the movies either, but I have seen them on tv). Also, I'm mad for Hamilton, but I fell in love with the songs a little more than I did for Alexander Hamilton's life story. So I'm not likely to go out of my way to read the biography the musical is based on, as brilliant as I'm sure it is.

What about you? 
Is there a movie/tv version of a book that you prefer over the actual book?
Which have you seen without reading the book?


  1. Depends on what the story is.

    I made it a point not to read Love, Rosie (aka Where Rainbows End) before I saw the movie because I didn't want the movie to be spoiled. I sometimes find it hard to watch more romance based stories knowing everything that happens; it's easier for me to read the book afterwards knowing that it will probably have some different tweaks to it. It worked really well for that particular movie because they did change a lot of it.

    Sometimes I unknowingly watch the movie/show before I know it's a book. I watched the Princess Bride as a child, not knowing it was a book. But I read it years later and LOVED it. That's one of those adaptions that is so close to the book it blows your mind (helps that the author wrote the screenplay and very passionate fans created the movie).

    1. That's interesting! I haven't watched Love, Rosie, but I had a similar dilemma with Gone Girl, because everyone was talking about the big twist in the middle of the story. I think I may be less inclined to watch romantic movies too if I know the whole plot already.

      Ooh I didn't know the Princess Bride was a book! I still need to watch the movie though, haha.

  2. I'm like you---sometimes I read the book first, but there are definitely times that there are stories that sound interesting as movies (or plays), but they aren't the type of books I'd really enjoy.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Movies require much less investment than books, and some stories suit the screen more than paper!

  3. I have definitely watched movies without reading the books. In fact, I watched half of the Harry Potter movies before I even picked up the first book. But, thankfully, by the time the last movie came out I had caught up on all of the books.
    This is not as much of a unforgivable sin as most readers make it out to be. Sometimes reading a book first just doesn't work out, and at least you are still experiencing the story. But, there are some instances, like with the Percy Jackson books and the Divergent series, that the movies did not do the books justice.
    There has never been a movie adaptation that I loved more than the actual book, but some have come pretty close, like the Hunger Game and The Fault in Our Stars.

    1. I actually watched the Percy Jackson movies and thought they were quite fun, but it seems that the books must be even better! I also watched Divergent without reading the books, but in that case I didn't care about the movie either. You're right - the important thing is that you're still experiencing the story!


Thanks for reading! It makes my day to hear your thoughts and I will respond asap. :)