Books to Movies like Apples to Oranges

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say they didn’t like a movie because “they didn’t follow the book.” Okay, I understand the frustration of feeling like you’ve been jipped out of seeing your beloved characters’ lives lived out accurately on the big screen (*cough*Princess Diaries 2*cough*), but altogether, let’s be honest: comparing books to movies is like comparing apples to oranges. They’re two completely different art forms: what makes a good book is not what makes a good movie. And if you’re going to get hung up on all the little details, then just don’t even bother.

I have a friend who swears she can’t even bear to watch the Harry Potter movies because of the screaming inaccuracies, i.e. Harry standing up on his broom when rescuing Neville’s Remembrall. “That did not happen in the book,” she swears. I’ll admit, there are times that the differences bother me, too (like when Harry stood there and watched Dumbledore die–he was under the body-bind curse in the book, which does seem like a big discrepancy). But I remind myself that the decision was likely made mindfully and with a greater purpose in mind–such as progressing the storyline more quickly, saving the HP movies from being 17 hours each, or for cinematic effect. For the most part, I highly enjoy seeing film adaptations of books I read and loved. And, overall, I don’t let those thoughts ruin the experience for me. Water for Elephants and The Help are both excellent examples of 2011 movies adapted from two of my favorite novels.

Recently, I discovered a new benefit for seeing a movie after reading a book. I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo during summer 2011, and was enraptured with the mystery aspect of the novel, but bored with the business and legal matters that book-ended (pardon the pun) the excitement. I couldn’t (and didn’t care to) follow the Wennerstrom affair, and ended up skimming through the last 100 pages of the novel. Fans who had rushed out to buy the second novel after completing the first seemed shocked that I didn’t feel the same sense of devotion to the series. But as far as I was concerned, I had no interest in reading The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Then, a few weeks ago, B and I decided to see the (American) Dragon Tattoo movie adaptation. Seeing the “boring parts” compressed down to about 15-20 minutes, I was able to better understand the connection to the story. By not wading through page after page of storyline that I had no interest in, I connected more to the characters. After seeing the movie, I finally felt compelled to read more about Lisbeth and Mikael. I just finished The Girl Who Played with Fire last week, and while I won’t be putting it on my Top 10 list, I am glad I read it and plan to read Hornet’s Nest soon.

Another pleasant surprise was One for the Money, the movie version of the first book in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. As a recent fan (I read the first novel on our honeymoon in June and have since finished #2, #3, and #4), I was a little concerned with the filmmakers’ choice to cast Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum. I still think she’s just too beautiful to play Plum, who I envisioned as a plain-Jane, Heigl delivered and pulled it off well. My mom, though, didn’t feel that the actor playing Joe Morelli was quite dreamy enough. Either way, I hope to see more movies in this series. If they make ’em, I’ll watch ’em.

 

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Abandoned Books

As a reader, I’ve found that my reading habits ebb and flow. Some weeks I’ll knock out two or even three novels, while other time it’ll take four, even five, weeks to turn the final page of a book. In that case, you can be certain that I’m just not feeling the book. (Either that, or I’ve been sucked into a TV series on Netflix.) I’m a before-bed reader, but I’m also a baby about getting at least seven hours of sleep each night. A book’s worth to me can be judged on the amount of sleep I’m willing to give up in order to read it. If I’m turning out my light after 10 minutes in order to get a full nine hours… it’s probably not going to make my Top Ten. If I’m telling myself, “Just five more minutes,” or, “Just until the end of this chapter,” and settling for a less plentiful night’s rest? Well, that says a lot.

My whole life, I’ve always finished every book I pick up. No matter how abysmal the writing, how boring mundane the character, or how foreseeable the plotline, I powered through. Recently, though, a T-shirt my mom owns has been weighing heavily on my mind. Well, okay, not the t-shirt itself, but rather the quotation emblazoned upon it. The shirt reads:

Too many books, too little time.

And this, my friends, is the truth. There are times when I honestly find myself stressed out over the knowledge that I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. And balancing my “wants” with the books for my 2+ book club meetings each month, the classics I avoided in school, and the professional reading I’ve never gotten around to… my goodness! The clear solution is to quit my job and read all day instead. At least that would eliminate one category of required reading!

So, I’ve developed a new policy. If a book just isn’t doing it for me, and three hundred others are calling my name, I’m no longer going to force myself through every page. I’m reciting my new T-shirt mantra, and avoiding thinking about Vince Lombardi’s words: “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

I began this policy in August with that month’s book club read: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I know, I know. Everyone else in my book club LOVED it. And I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from every other person I’ve encountered whose familiar with the novel. But I just didn’t get into it! Who knows? Maybe I’ll pick it up again sometime in the future… but maybe not.

Another book I’ve abandoned multiple times in my life is The Hobbit. I’ve never been a huge fan of fantasy novels, but felt like I should power through this well-known classic. But the book had the same effect the LOTR movies had on me. Every time I cracked it open, I fell straight to sleep. I gave it a fair chance. Honestly, I did. I’ve read that first chapter about Bilbo’s dinner party at least five times. Heck, I practically have it memorized. But past that? I just couldn’t do it. Will I pick this one up again sometime in the future? It’s possible… but probably not. We’ll see.

Just this month I abandoned Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley. I feel especially guilty about throwing this one to the wolves (well, returning it to the library) because it’s this month’s book club read. I feel as though when I’ve made a commitment to a group, I need to follow through on my end. (I know, I just confessed to slacking on August’s read, as well. Bad book club member.) But after 2.5 weeks and 150 pages, I just plain couldn’t take it any more. Again, my mom owns a copy, so I might pick it up again sometime in the future. But, maybe not. We’ll see.

I’ve currently reading two fabulous books that I can guarantee I will not be abandoning. They are: A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers and Four to Score by Janet Evanovich. (And, yes, I am SUPER-excited to see One for the Money which comes out THIS WEEKEND!) I also just finished reading (rather, listening to) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle after reading this post on one of my favorite book blogs, Forever Young Adult. (BTW, they also just happened to post a book report for A Wrinkle in Time this week!)

So, to sum up, I’m gonna read what I wanna read. I’m still going to push my boundaries, try new genres, and at least give a fighting chance to each of my book club books. But, I’m going to keep in mind that reading is an escape for me, and there’s no reason to escape into a world more painful than reality. (Okay, that sounded really emo. I’m not one of those “the world hates me” kind of people, I was just trying to make a point.)

Remember, you can always keep up with my 2012 reading on by book log!