I have a very strict books-on-film policy. I always read the book before seeing the movie. Always. When I read a novel, I want to imagine the characters and the setting on my own without someone else’s interpretation popping into my mind. I prefer to discover the story for myself. It doesn’t matter if the work is contemporary, a classic, or a book for children, I am adamant about reading first.
I mentioned in a recent On Reading post that I treated myself to a viewing of all the movies based on Jane Austen’s novels. In keeping with my policy, I read the books first and watched the movies later. Most of the movies adhere closely to the original story lines, and although some of the actors didn’t mesh with the images in my mind, I enjoyed watching the stories on screen. As I watched the movies, I was thankful I had read the books first so I could compare them with the scenes I had pictured while reading.
However, when I started rereading Pride and Prejudice for the Classics Bookclub that we are hosting here in September, I began to doubt my convictions. The story is much easier to follow now that I have the plot firmly planted in my mind. I catch even more of the wit and sarcasm because I can hear the voices of the actors, and I have a better understanding of the setting and landscape thanks to the images from the film. I don’t know if I am ready to change my habits completely, but I admit that I am enjoying the novel even more than I did the first time because of the understanding that I gained from the movie.
What about you? Do you prefer to imagine the scene on your own, or are you just as happy to watch someone else’s interpretation first? Do you have different feelings if the book is a classic as compared to a more contemporary work?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Perhaps I might be willing to amend my own rules for watching books on screen.
Lauren is a wife, a mother of two, and an avid reader. She blogs at Baseballs and Bows.