9 Reasons Why I Read the Book First Before Watching the Movie

Reading has always been my favorite pastime. I’m happily content in the company of books. However, it’s June and I’ve only read eight — yes, eight! — books, the least for me in a span of six months.

For the past couple of years or so, I’ve noticed that a lot of books were adapted to movies — Hidden Figures, The Girl on the Train, Inferno, Me Before You, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas — just to name a few.  My friends and those who have been following my blog for some time now are aware how much I enjoy reading and that I’m not a big fan of watching flicks and how I almost always deride movie adaptations.

Then comes the great debate: read before watching OR watch before reading? Both, of course, are tactile experiences, it just depends greatly I guess on every individual’s personality but here’s why I choose the former:


1. I get the whole plot.

I like reading the book first because I get to understand the whole plot. There were times when I first watched the movie and didn’t understand a thing about it. It didn’t make any sense to me when I watched it. I’m not sure if it’s because the movie was so bad or I just really didn’t understand. But when I read the book first, I get to know the backstory and all, the characters, etc. Reading the book first gives me a greater understanding of the movie.

2. I get to imagine and create the characters the way I want.

In books, I can imagine the characters the way I want to and one thing I like most when reading is the way I can relate with the characters, being able to somewhat read their minds or understand their action and create and have my own image of them before I see their movie versions. There are a lot of irrelevant things written in books but somehow, these things are actually the important things that give more life or make the characters more interesting for me. It’s these things that make us connect with them. And there’s nothing better than these connections that we get to create as we follow the character’s development and story. Whatever are relevant in the story are the only things we see in movies. There’s not enough backstories provided about the characters and very little information to grasp.

3. It develops my thinking/imagination.

When I read something totally new to me or a first from an author, it’s cool being left to my own imagination. Unlike when I watch the film first, I can’t help but remember the actors and actresses playing the parts and I don’t really like it. I like having my own version of the characters and the settings and then be either amazed or disappointed later when I watch the movie.

4. Movie adaptations are too modified.

Many movie adaptations are too modified. This probably ain’t a bad thing for many because it wouldn’t really matter anymore whichever you do first, read or watch. No spoiler threat since there are differences already between the book and the movie. But for a booklover like me, I don’t like it when movie adaptations are too altered specially the endings.

5. Be the insider.

I find it fun when I watch movies with my friends and they’re all contemplative and musing over what’s gonna happen next and there I am, the only one in the group who’ve read the book beforehand and I’m the one conveying information and they’re all like, “Oh!” or “Aha!” Or “I see!” while I explain. 😉

6. The real ending.

Most of the time, the endings are modified in movies (as I’ve mentioned in #4), well, I guess to fit a certain time frame or perhaps to leave the audience anticipating a sequel so being able to read the book first actually gives me a different conclusion as to why the movie ended or has to end that way.

7. Comprehensive Details

A well-written book provides comprehensive details of the plot, characters, settings, etc. It gives the reader the feeling like you are there in the book. It makes you feel like you’re experiencing what you’re reading. The way everything is described in detail is way more enjoyable. You wouldn’t miss a thing.

8. There’s more suspense.

Reading can be so intense that it gives me more suspense. Just when you thought you’re gonna find out the answer already, you’re wrong. It will still take you to another chapter or so before everything’s revealed. This intrigues me more thus makes me want to read more which results to sleepless nights. 🙂 Unlike in movies that it would end rather quickly or the story just happened so fast (or too slow). Removing a lot of significant parts from the book to meet a specific time frame just lessens the suspense.

9. The book stays with you.

I love books — the cover, the pages, the smell of it. Apart from the story, the book itself offers a special connection with me, unlike movies. When I was younger, I remember our family renting and watching VHS tapes. I’ve enjoyed a few good, unforgettable movies then but there was no physical thing that leaves me connected with it. Unlike books, they can stay on my shelves for as long as they can. And I can get back to them anytime I want to.


How about you? Do you prefer reading the book first before watching the movie? Or is it the other way around? Please share your thoughts.

Enjoy the day, homo sapiens! 😊

*Image found on Google.

The Ballad of Narayama

balladAdapted from the novel of the same name, The Ballad of Narayama happens in a small, remote Japanese village in the mountains where survival rules over compassion. I’m not very sure but it seems the movie is set a century ago where people try to survive in brutal conditions.

Orin is approaching her 70th birthday and is now looking forward to her trip to Narayama. One of the village’s customs says that once a person reaches 70 years of age, they are to be taken to Narayama, a secret, mystical place high up the mountains where they are to die. She now tries her best to settle the affairs of his sons before she leaves.

It’s a movie I found difficult to watch. I for one get bored easily and if the first scenes don’t catch my attention right away, I’d stop watching. However, I continued with the film to avoid another unproductive weekend. (Well, if watching this would mean being productive!) In the first few minutes was a scene where the corpse of a baby is found in the rice paddy. There was also a scene where Orin deliberately bashed her mouth to a kind of stoneware knocking out some of her teeth (Ouch!) because she thinks her sons might not want to send her up to Narayama if she still looks healthy. Another would be Risuke’s (Orin’s youngest son) exploits with a dog (Eeewww!), he has never been with a woman before. This scene was one among the several which were probably necessary to emphasize how the people at that time were desperate to escape the hellish life they’re living and finding solace in the smallest (or weirdest) of comforts.

Orin never questioned her fate however hard it is. She believes there’s an order and purpose to it. No one can question her fidelity to gods and tradition. And so when she was able to tie all loose ends, she prepared herself for the journey to Narayama. She intended to go in time with the first snow fall as she believes that it’s a sign that her death has been blessed by the gods. The last half an hour or so was nearly wordless but captivating.

What left me thinking about after the film though was the idea that the family or the community matters more and thus must be served/followed more. Orin understood this perfectly and abides by the law/tradition without fear. I’m left appalled because I for one glorify individualism. I think it’s harsh to be governed by such mores. And it would have been interesting to have Tatsuhei’s father in the film because he questioned some of the laws/customs in their village which is why he refused to take his mother to Narayama.

The end felt empty for me. With Orin disappearing then reappearing again, kind of went away from the consistent objective approach in the film. Though this practice of going to Narayama was regarded as sacred, it also seemed useless as much as I have seen. I would’ve preferred if the story kept its indifferent tone to the end.

Has anyone of you watched The Ballad of Narayama? I would love to know your thoughts about it and perhaps understand and appreciate the film more. There are probably things I didn’t quite understand and watching movies aren’t really my thing. But still, I’d recommend you watch it.

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