Do you prefer books or movies?

Do You Prefer Books or Movies?

Kelli Angyal, Staff Writer

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Wonder…The Fault in our Stars…The Book Thief…The Maze Runner…The Hunger Games. 

This list could seemingly go on and on.  There are thousands of movies that were first books. Whether it’s a children’s series like Harry Potter or an adult best-seller like Stephen King’s IT, the trend of taking great books and turning them into box office hits is common.

According to Sachidanand Das, Ph.D., this is becoming more and more popular each year.  In 2006 and 2008, just 11% of the movies released were based on books.  But in 2015, 55% of the year’s film releases were books first.  Das says, “Such book-based films have the advantage that they get a strong story line, and adapting them to screen is easier since already a script exists.”

If roughly half of movies are also books, what do people prefer?  It seems to be a matter of personal preference.

“I prefer books, but I probably watch movies more often,” said eighth-grade social studies teacher, Mrs. Strietman. “I like the details in the book, and I like being able to use imagination.” Mrs. Strietman enjoys reading various books with her children, too.  “It changes all the time, but for now I’m reading Harry Potter with my  daughter.” When asked which she would rather live without, she responded, “I would live without movies because half the time I don’t even like them, but I can always find something to love about books.”

Mrs. Shaffer, an English teacher on the Ignite team shared, “I usually like books more, because they paint a picture in your mind, and you can choose how to visualize characters and settings. And I like how they include so many details. I like knowing everything.”  However, Mrs. Shaffer says that she loves movies as well. “They bring a story to life, and they get to show me how other people interpret the story, and that’s kind of fun to watch.”  Final verdict: Mrs. Shaffer would give up movies over books. “When you read you can create your picture in your mind, and it can be interpreted many different ways. I wouldn’t want to give that up. “

Another English teacher, Mrs. Saunders, said that she is somewhat annoyed by the trend of taking books, especially books for children and teens, and turning them into movies.  “There are so many amazing stories in the pages of young adult literature–stories that could actually grip students–and then there’s a movie, and the kid thinks, ‘well, why bother reading?’ ”  Mrs. Saunders cited the Percy Jackson series, The Hate U Give, and Divergent as just a few of the many books she wishes would have never been made into films.  “You miss so much when you only see the movie. There are so many layers to the characters, so much subtext that goes unseen,” she said.  She went on to add, “Many of my favorite books have been turned into movies or series after I read them: The Handmaid’s Tale, Big Little Lies, Water for Elephants, Gone Girl, The DaVinci Code…I am always let down by the movie. I cannot think of one movie that I have liked more than the book. I enjoy seeing both, I guess; the comparison can be fun, but the book always wins.”

Student opinions were different with students unanimously choosing movies over books.  Lauren (8th), Kendall (6th), and Grace (8th) all said they enjoy a good film over books. “I prefer movies,” Lauren explains, “since it’s easier to focus on.” Lauren’s favorite movies are comedies and action, and she prefers the visuals that come with a movie’s action scenes. 

Sixth grader, Kendall agreed, “I prefer movies because I’m  not a huge fan of books. Movies are cooler…I don’t have to do any work.” Kendall especially enjoys films that have music, citing the Pitch Perfect movies as her favorites.  

Grace, an eighth grader said, “I don’t like reading.” She likes movies because the experience is more visual.  “I could easily live without books because I’m too lazy to read anything,” she said.

People will never agree on the book vs. movie debate, and maybe they don’t need to. Dashiell Bennett, writer for The Atlantic wrote about the “symbiotic relationship” between movies and books. There is significant evidence that suggests that when a movie is made from a book, both benefit in sales.  In 2015, the year that more than half of movies were based on a previous print source, according to Nielsen BookScan, “all 10 of the top-selling print titles had a relationship with movies or television.”  Similarly, all 10 of the top-grossing films that year were inspired by print–either a novel or comic book.

According to Dashiell Bennett, “Movies may get their best ideas from the book world…but they return the favor by creating very effective feature-length advertisements for reading.”