Readers Write

Movies-to-Books Experience

In the July/August 2014 issue of Books Make a Difference, we featured Lois Lowry. Shortly after Lois’s book The Giver was published in 1993, Jeff Bridges began the quest to turn the book into a movie. The long journey came to fruition in theaters August 15. About the transition of book to movie, Lois said she was excited about the big screen adaptation and the changes producers made, but she reminded those who haven’t read the book that a reader’s experience of a book is not the same as the story told in movie form.

“If a thousand people read this book, they’re reading a thousand different books,” says Lois. “It’s entirely individualized by each reader. When you go to a movie, the filmmakers are telling you what to see and they’re not requiring you to use your imagination. So if a thousand people sit in the theater they are all seeing the same thing. And that’s the way a book and a movie are powerfully different.”

Lois’s words got us thinking about books becoming movies and movies becoming books and the experience of it all. We’ve all seen movies based on books (whether or not we realized the movie was based on a book). In this month’s Readers Write, we asked: If you see the movie first, do you read the book after you’ve seen the movie? Do you read books created from a movie? What movies-to-books have you read? Tell us about your movies-to-books and books-to-movies experience.

Emily: Sarah’s Key. I saw the movie and it made me want to read the book (by Tatiana de Rosnay). Also read The Vow after watching the movie, because I wanted to actually hear the true story from the Carpenters rather than the Hollywood lots-of-drama-added version.

Toni: I read the book Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake before it was a movie. In the book, you are able to get into the thoughts of the characters, especially the Native Americans. A movie can’t do that and it made the story so … less rich.

Karen: I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie, although sometimes I’m disappointed when they change the story, such as The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Kelly: I tried to read the book Nicholas Nickleby (Charles Dickens) and was having a hard time figuring it out so I watched the movie then read the book again, and it really helped make sense of the book. Still one of my favorites.

Joe: As a guy, I’m pretty proud of the fact I’ve seen movies based on books, movies that most of you probably didn’t know were based on books. For example, Rambo/First Blood was based on the novel First Blood by David Morrell. In the book, Rambo dies at the end. But Hollywood wanted to make a sequel, so they kept him alive. Morrell then wrote a sequel to the book based on the movie sequel. I think he had to share credits with Sylvester Stallone and James Cameron. And, here’s the best one: Die Hard (Bruce Willis). Yes, based on a book: Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. What, did you think guys who watch shoot-em-up-movies don’t know their novelists?

Kyle: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Stereotypical, I’m sure. But I totally loved the novelization of Star Wars and Star Trek! After I watched the shows a bazillion times, back when we didn’t have electronics in the car, reading the books passed the time on road trips and the school bus!

Tell us about your books-to-movies or movies-to-books experience!

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