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Poll: Movies and Books

Reader Habit for Movies and Books (can choose two answers)

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New Moon was released this past weekend and grossed a whopping $140.7 million. Record shattering.   New Moon also debuted at No. 5 on the NYT Bestseller Children’s list and spent 11 consecutive weeks on the list.

There is obviously overlap between the readers and movie goers.   So I ask you, will you see a movie of a book you’ve read and conversely, will you read a book of a movie you’ve seen. (I bought Q&A by Vikas Swarup after watching Slumdog Millionaire).

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Chicklet
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 12:24:29

    It depends on the book, and what the reviews are like for the movie adaptation, but in general I will see the movie after reading the book or read the book after seeing the movie. I know that movies are such a different animal than books that usually I don’t get too wrought up over the changes that were made.

    My favorite film adaptation of a book is L.A. Confidential, because the screenwriter and director did such an amazing job of telescoping and simplifying the story, while still retaining the most important parts. (The book takes place over eight years; the movie takes place in a few weeks.)

  2. Maili
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 12:29:01

    I will read/see book/film after seeing/reading film/book. Which comes first doesn’t matter. I generally enjoy scriptwriters and directors’ interpretations so I’m not that bothered if it’s not faithful to the novel. It’s not possible, anyway.

  3. Keishon
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 12:47:23

    I will not read/buy a book after seeing the film version nor will I watch a film/tv version of it after I’ve read the book. There are exceptions of course. Perfect example: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Loved the book. Won’t be seeing the movie. Nope.

  4. Cathy
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 12:49:10

    I didn’t vote, because it varies for me. Sometimes seeing a movie will inspire me to read the book for all those missed secondary plots (like Little Children), and sometimes reading the book will make me interested in the screen adaptation (like Lord of the Rings), or sometimes the movie coming out will inspire me to read the book beforehand (Atonement), but at other times I read the book and have no interest in the movie (Time traveler’s wife), or see the movie and am not interested in the book (Master and Commander).

    Anyway, I vote ‘all of the above.’

  5. LoriK
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 13:12:58

    I’m willing to consider seeing the movie after I’ve read the book. It depends on the reviews and especially on the casting. I find that I’m generally happiest with movie versions of books I liked, but didn’t love. If I’m too attached to the book any change grates on me and changes are inevitable because books & movies are such different mediums.

    If I’m interested in reading the book I won’t see the movie first. One of the things I like about reading is painting pictures in my head and I don’t want the movie version to override that. If I don’t care about reading the book and the movie sounds interesting I’ll see it and never bother with the book.

  6. Jody W.
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 13:30:24

    I am not consistent in the order in which I partake of books and movies based on books. But I can tell you I’ve never read a book based ON a movie before seeing the movie. I’ve rarely read a novelization of a movie, period.

  7. Janine
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 13:47:44

    It depends. Usually, if I’m interested in reading the book, I will avoid the movie until I have read the book. But if I’m not interested in reading the book, sometimes I’ll see a movie and enjoy it so much that I will read the book afterward.

  8. Mireya
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 14:15:14

    The power of Team Jacob and the Brotherhood of the Pectorals …

  9. joanne
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 14:29:35

    I will see a movie after I’ve read the book but it depends very much on the genre.

    I’ve often been disappointed in romances and romantic books when they become movies since the romance generally takes second place to the action/adventure or scenery.
    PLUS contemporary romance books are often turned into a Lifetime movie. Doesn’t work for me but I’m a reader much more than a movie person.

    I’ll watch any addaptation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — but that’s just to see if they’re messing with Mr. Darcy. Jane Austen’s books usually fair very well on screen. Same with Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

    I thought Wharton’s The Age of Innocence was pretty good at capturing the ‘feeling’ of the book. The Remains of the Day — can’t name the author — was very different from the book but not in a bad way, just different.

    Answering the poll: sometimes I’ll see the movie after reading the book but never before.

  10. Las
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 14:48:58

    I will always read the book if I saw the movie first. If I see the movie after reading the book depends on the genre. I find that mystery/thriller books make for good, entertaining movies. Everything else is hit or–more likely–miss. The Namesake was a pleasant surprise. I loved that book and had avoided the movie like the plague until I happened to catch it on cable. I can’t think of a romance I’ve read that’s been made into a film after I read it. I saw Possession before reading it, and while I wasn’t crazy about the movie it looked like it would have been an awesome book. Bought the book asap, and couldn’t finish it.

  11. library addict
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 15:08:45

    I'll watch a movie based on a book and I'll read the book after seeing the movie. Heck, I'll even read a book based on a screenplay – LOL. In general, I think the book is usually better because there's more detail, but there are always exceptions.

    There are movies I will never watch again because I don’t feel the film captured whatever it is was I enjoyed about the book or that the film version was miscast. But I do not subscribe to the theory that a filmmaker can “ruin” a book. The book is still there. And they are such different mediums.

    I didn't start reading the Harry Potter series until after the first film came out. And I didn't enjoy the second film as much since I had read the book just before seeing it.

    So I do think one of the keys to enjoying films based on books (particularly books you enjoyed) is to not read/reread the book just before watching the film.

  12. LizC
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 15:08:52

    As always it depends. If I like the book I will try to see the movie unless it looks terrible. I’m not going to waste money on a film adaptation that might royally suck compared to a pretty decent novel.

    Rarely will I see a movie and then read the novel just because I do like to have read any book before seeing a film adaptation. So if a movie looks interesting enough to see I’ll try to read the book first. However, seeing the first Lord of the Rings movie (3 times in one day) finally compelled me to read the trilogy before the other 2 movies came out (not that I’ve actually bothered to watch RotK).

  13. Sandy James
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 15:40:53

    With very few exceptions, I never enjoy a movie nearly as much as a book. Maybe my imagination is more vivid. Perhaps a writer can paint a scene better than a director can put it on film. Or maybe it’s because the book’s “story” and the movie’s “story” always end up too far apart from each other. I always end up comparing the two, and one is invariably inferior (usually the movie). So for me, it’s one or the other.

  14. ReacherFan
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 16:22:02

    Apparently I’m in the majority in that will see a movie adaptation of a book I’ve read. It’s becoming rarer and rarer. Mostly they sacrifice the story for special effects to to cater to the stars special needs. I’ve seen movies where all they have in common with the book is the title and character names and just a general sense of the original story.

    Truly great books rarely become the movies they should be simply because the story can’t be told in 2 hours. I have found well done multi-part TV movies are often truer to the books than movies are.

  15. Anonymoussss
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 16:25:47

    ReacherFan called it – there’s only so much of the story you can tell with 120 pages of screenplay.

  16. J.
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 17:04:50

    If I read the book and if I liked it; I must see the movie. Doesn’t matter if the ratings for the movie were great or bad, I would want to see it either way just to satisfy my curiosity. Sometimes though, I’d be sadly disappointed but there’s been a few good ones.

  17. Shanae
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 18:29:08

    I will see the movie before/after I read the book. It doesn’t really matter either way for me. What I expect is for each to stand alone. I never expect a movie to be as good as the book because what I have in my mind is often hard to live up to. What I expect from any movie adapation is for it to have it’s own legs. If the movie is awful I hate to hear, “It’s not a book, it’s a movie.” My response is that’s not excuse for a bad screenplay, direction, casting, editing, etc.

    One movie that I loved as much as the book was “The Color Purple.” The book and movie were excellent.

  18. Jennie
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 18:33:40

    I’m of the opinion that the movie version of a beloved book is bound to be disappointing, so whenever possible, it’s best to see the movie first then read the book. Of course, this is often not a practical option, and it really only applies to books that one loves (and how do you know if you’re going to love a book before you read it?), so as advice, it’s not useful. But as an observation I stand by it.

  19. Eva_baby
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 18:56:28

    I voted for the will see/will read in either order. I like to do the comparison. And usually one is superior than the other and, surprisingly, it is not always the book.

    One exception is The Godfather which I thought both the movie and the book were equally excellent with the book being a good companion piece to the movie because it filled in some background that the movie only alluded to.

    Also the tv adaptation of The Stand by Stephen King was surprisingly faithful to the book and had superb casting.

    I also can’t bring myself to read The Sookie Stackhouse books, but that is only because I have been spoilered. LaFayette is my favorite character and I don’t think I can handle the fact that he is such a minor character a in the books.

  20. Jane
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:00:53

    @Eva_baby I think the order issue is so interesting. I wish I had framed my poll answers better (but this is generally always true. polls are hard!)

  21. mina kelly
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 02:58:18

    I’m happy to go either way round, though like everyone else I make exceptions. I’ve given up on films based as books I read as a child – Fantastic Mr Fox was a favourite as a kid, and the Dark Is Rising sequence, and you couldn’t persuade me to touch either movie with a bargepole. Happy to watch Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, though. I saw Men Who Stare At Goats and An Education recently, and I’m hunting the books down for both, and though I saw the film first I prefer the book of The Exorcist immensely.

    (I also have a bad love for novelisations, especially Sci Fi and Horror. I have three of the Alien novelisations, which stand up against the films very well)

  22. Marianne McA
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 05:43:37

    I think the only habit that I have, regarding movie adaptions, is that I wouldn’t reread a book before seeing the film, because I’d rather not have the book fresh in my head when I see the film.
    I know some people do the opposite – my daughter’s friend had reread New Moon in anticipation of the film.

    I would reread the book straight after the film, though, because for me, the book is the ‘true’ version, so it doesn’t bother me to have the film fresh in my head when I read the book.

    And now I’m wondering, because of Mina’s comment, whether that’d work the other way round for a novelisation. Would the film then seem to be the ‘true’ version? The only novelisation I can recall reading is the one based on the Nescafe coffee ads (- and why did I read that??? -) and I’m not sure that gives me enough to base opinions on.

  23. Dani
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 09:48:22

    I learned in my youth *snicker* to never see a film adaptation after you’ve read the book. It’s just a set up for frustration (thanks Flowers in the Attic!). However, I’ve found that if I see the film first, I can enjoy the book later without any problems (thanks Memoirs of a Geisha!). So, that’s how it goes with me.

    In my experience, the only film that’s turned out better than the book is The Devil Wears Prada.

  24. Ros
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 12:44:12

    I think I may be the only person in the world to have read Michael Ondaatje’s ‘The English Patient’ but not to have seen the film.

    In general I’ll read then watch, watch then read, just watch, just read, whatever. I have found that for some ‘tricky’ books (for me, this often means Victorian novels) it’s really helpful to have seen the film or TV adaptation first, so that I have a general idea of where the story is going and who the characters are, and I know that I will care about them. What I can’t bear are adaptations of novels that don’t respect the novel at all (I stopped watching the recent BBC version of Emma after the first episode because the dialogue was so appalling).

  25. Shiloh Walker
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 21:40:57

    For me it just depends on the book/movie.

  26. Helen Burgess
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 12:18:29

    My 17 year old daughter has just seen New Moon – she loved the books (although does not like Bella) but did not like the film, I told her of Mrs Giggles take- Edward and Jacob have a hawt love- which she thought very funny as the only thing she did like in the film was Jacob taking his shirt off, again and again and…..

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