Books are awesome

Joshua Hardee , Assistant Editor

You know how sometimes someone will give you an ultimatum to choose between two things to see which you most prefer, even if you really like both? Well, I always found one of those especially difficult to answer: books versus movies.

First and foremost, I must say I despise these sorts of questions because they usually imply an absolute where none exists; I’m forced to choose the one that on average gives me the most satisfaction. As someone who’s an avid reader, I’d have to be on the books side, although there have been cases when I’ve thought an adaptation of a book actually did the idea justice more than the book itself. And I have to admit that I’m actually a huge movie buff – I just only like good ones, and they’re few and far between these days. I got to thinking about this choice the other day and came up with some reasons why I personally feel books usually win out.

One aspect of books that I prefer is that they’re simultaneously objective and subjective in a way that movies aren’t. Even though an original movie exposes you to the source material as does a book, reading a book and immersing yourself in that world allows you to visualize that world through your own imagination, which I think personalizes the experience. If you think about it, whether you’re watching an original or adapted movie, you’re still seeing someone else’s interpretation of the story. Not that that’s always a bad thing; I just appreciate seeing the intent of the author without anyone else’s input and being able to formulate my response from how the work affected me.

However, I do think there’s a notable exception in the book versus adaptation debate. There’s a book called “The Bridges of Madison County” that was adapted into a movie, and it was reworked into the version that we see in the finished film. I really liked this movie and how the directors, producers and actors were able to successfully execute the intention that the book itself had kind of failed to convey. Of course, I’m led to wonder if this resulted from the fact that the original idea was just exceptionally hard to translate to readers without the advantages of a movie or if the writer was trying to tackle a subject they could neither quantify nor fictionalize with at least a little whiff of reality. Actually, I think this demonstrates that any particular work requires the medium best suited for it and that the right one doesn’t always suit your preference.

And whereas a movie provides images to illustrate ideas and concepts at play in a story, I find that books can often be enthralling and immersive in their own unique way. It’s a weird experience when you’re in the grip of a very compelling story, and it seems as though the pages dissolve as you progress to the point where there’s no disconnect between you and the story, especially with the characters.

In reality, I believe both mediums can serve creative needs for varying subjects and purposes because I don’t think the differences are such that one is absolutely more useful than another. And I’m certainly no snob when it comes to this preference, although I generally find that books are more rewarding.