Welcome to my blog. If you're addicted to books, like I am, then you've come to the right place. I mostly write about books and my experiences reading them. These are very personal book reviews. (If you can even call them book reviews...) I’m a true believer that none of us lives in a vacuum. When you read a book, watch a movie, listen to a song, etc., you absorb that art form into your life experience, and it changes you. But you also change it, because no two people see anything the same way. The way I interpret a novel may be totally different from the way you will. It’s still the same novel, but the meaning for each of us is unique. Once you express that meaning, it changes the art. So these posts are about how these books fit into my life. I’d love to hear how they fit into yours. Please make comment and share your experience.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Is the book always better?

I've long held a theory that you should always see the movie BEFORE you read the book.  There are two reasons for this.  The first reason is that almost everyone agrees that the book is usually better than the movie.  It's just too difficult to translate an art form into a different medium.  In the process, it becomes something different and much of the original is lost in translation.  The second reason is that chances are, if you liked the movie, you'll love the book.  It's like getting bonus features.  You'll be reading along, come to one of your favorite parts in the story and WOW--the author surprises you with something the screenwriter had to skip.  It's like a treasure hunt.

If you insist, however, on reading the book first, you end up with a bunch of sourpuss book lovers complaining about all the things they left out of the movie.  But if you see the movie first...you come away pleasantly surprised (usually) instead of annoyed.
This is my good friend and serious book lover, Christine.  And she has this awesome shirt...with which I usually agree.

I just finished The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.  As many of you know, Peter Jackson is making it into a two part movie, the first one coming out in December.  I LOVED Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy and I'm sure he'll do just as fine a job with The Hobbit as he did with those books.  In fact, I'll wager that I'll like the movie even better than the book, essentially disproving my long held theory.  Here's where we come to the exceptions:  classics, non-contemporary books and poorly written but entertaining action stories. I attribute this to writing style and craft.  I find very few non-contemporary authors to be good writers.  And many contemporary authors are good storytellers are not necessarily good writers.  Tolkien particularly has this annoying habit of calling attention to the narrator when he's not even a character.  It drove me nuts.

My only previous experience with The Hobbit was an animated made-for-tv movie that I remember seeing as a kid.
The Hobbit Animated Movie Cover

I remember liking the movie a lot as a child and then seeing it again as a young adult and not appreciating it so much anymore, because it was really a movie geared toward children.  Now that I've read the book, I can see all the things they had to leave out to get the basic gist of the story into one animated short film.  Here's what I remember from watching the movie as an adult:  There were no women in it.  NONE.  Not a single female character.  Maybe there was a woman in the background somewhere, but none that have a memorable part.  Now that I'm done with the book, I'm realizing that the lack of women isn't the fault of the movie but of Tolkien. So what is up with that?

I also read a fair amount of sci-fi/fantasy and what I find interesting about The Hobbit is that in many ways that old animated movie was probably spot-on in gearing it for children, because I find the story quite child-like in many ways.  There are some scary parts, but only a few of the key characters die and only at the end...and the violence is not graphic.  There is no sex. Not even a hint of it.  Almost all modern Sci-fi/fantasy has some kind of sexual undercurrent or theme.  It's often part of a power struggle between characters or kingdoms. It is noticeably absent from this book.

My guess is that Jackson is going to create a total adventure experience with his movie and that the battle scenes will be exciting and the imagery will be beautiful and he'll even include a few women in there once in a while.  And my see the movie before reading the book theory will be shot.  And my friend Christine's shirt will also be proven wrong.  Because I'm 99.9% sure I'll like that movie a whole lot more than I liked this book.

With that said, feel free to comment with any times you thought the movie was better than the book.