March 2015 vol. 2

March 2015



Book lovers love to opine that the book is always better than the movie. You can buy buttons, t-shirts, bags, mugs, and other assorted merchandise that proudly proclaim the sentiment.




You don't even have to try that hard or do a Google image search for very long before you find plenty of comics and those meme images that fly around the internet that reinforce the assumption of book superiority.




Now I don't think I have to explain to you that here at Eight Cousins we are book lovers. Nevertheless, given that we're in the season for celebrating stories in a variety of media -- from the book and media awards given out by the American Library Association to the Emmys and the Oscars -- it seemed a good time to ask the staff: Is the book always better?

I feel that the book is almost always better than the movie, with the movie version serving as a visual extension of the book yet being a totally different art form. When the actors are similar to the characters in the book, it can be especially rewarding. That said, I have enjoyed many movies without reading the book as you do get the gist of the story along with good cinematography and musical score. ~ Cathy v

I preferred the movie version of About a Boy to Nick Hornby's book. In the movie, the focus is on the friendship between Will, a shallow bachelor (played by Hugh Grant), and Marcus, an introverted and bullied boy (played by Nicholas Hoult), whereas in the book, Hornby explores Marcus's relationship with the rebellious Ellie in more depth, which distracted me from what I felt was the more important storyline. I liked that the movie pared the book down to its essentials. ~ Tasha 




Many years ago (I hadn't realized it was as long ago as 1981!), I watched the TV mini-series, A Town Like Alice. I absolutely loved it--and had to read the book upon which the series was based. To my surprise, the mini-series was as good as the book by Australian author Neville Shute. The book offered a little more background information on the main character, Jean Paget. Other than that, I would say they were equals. Australian actor Bryan Brown so perfectly captured the demeanor and character of Joe Harman, it was he I pictured as I read the book. I don't know whether the mini-series is available on DVD, but the book certainly is available and I recommend it as a wonderful read! ~ Mary Fran


My biggest disappoint in the category of book into movie was Under the Tuscan Sun. Although the scenery in the movie was beautiful, the only common denominator between book and movie was the fact that the author bought a house in Tuscany! ~ Mary Fran






Books and movies are different media, and as such should be judged on metrics that account for the way the media work. To say that "the book is always better" reduces a complex comparison to a single generalization. The Hunger Games books tell a story that is as brutally violent as it is anything else. Given the target demographic, this story does not translate verbatim to the screen, though the people responsible for the movie are able to use the different medium (film vs. print) to change the story without compromising its integrity. The reductive mentality is harmful primarily because it closes conversation regarding the story. A more productive way to compare the book to the movie is to view the two pieces as distinct. ~ Greg

The book is way better. ~ Tildy

Why are we even having this conversation? The plot of the movie was completely different. They should have just given it a new title. Also the original cover (pictured left) is the best -- love her defiant expression. ~ Sara




Is the book always better than the movie?

It depends. I think the best book to movie transitions are not word-for-word, but when the movie adds to the book. Some of the best examples for me are: 


The Shining, by Stephen King - either way you're going to be scared to death. There are scenes in both the book and the movie that scare me to this day. The way that the little boy says "Redrum" in the movie is totally creepy, and you cannot capture the speech inflection like that in text.






  Stand by Me is based on the novella "The Body" in Stephen King's collection of stories Different Seasons. Again, both book and move are excellent here. 







The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins -- I thought the books were all excellent, and the first movie added to the book. The scenes in District 12 were chilling, very reminiscent of Nazi Germany, I thought. I didn't think the text in the book quite captured that. However, while I have enjoyed all the movies, I like the first one best.



Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, duh - I've been a purist here, and have deliberately NOT watched the movies. My family tells me they are excellent. But in this case, I don't want to change the images formed in my head when I first read these books in junior high. Even though I have not seen the movies, I've heard enough about them to make an informed opinion. I'm pretty annoyed that the movies make more of the romance between Aragorn and Arwen than there ever was in the books. Plus, I have always envisioned Lothlorien as either silvery American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia), or golden American sycamore trees (Pseudoplatanus occidentalis). I have no idea what the trees in the movie are and I don't want to. And don't even talk to me about Tom Bombadil.


Two books that I can't wait to see as movies: The Martian, by Andy Weir, and Child 44, by Tom Robb Smith! ~ Lysbeth



I actually prefer the movie edition of Stardust to the book. I thought the casting was superb. Michelle Pfeiffer is absolutely perfect as Lamia; I am continually struck by her emotionless expressions every time I watch the movie. The scenery, both England and Stormhold, are gorgeous, and I love the banter between Yvaine and Tristan. In fact, I loved the movie so much, I had to read the book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book a lot, but I didn't connect with the characters in the same way.  ~ Sara 




The book is better, even if Richard Chamberlain did play the priest. ~ Lindsay







I always try to judge the movie as an entirely separate entity, but that can get really hard when the book is one I care about a whole lot. I think if I've already formed a strong attachment to the book, there is, in comparison, that inevitable "gap" between me and the movie that I try (and sometimes fail) to make allowances for.  ~ Cara



Whether you read the book or see the movie first can have an enormous impact on your preferences, but in the case of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, I saw the movie first, and again loved it so much I had to read the book, and, I loved the book, too! What I find fascinating about this book/movie combo is that book Nick and Norah are completely different than movie Nick and Norah. Enough so that they each feel like different people and very different couples, but both versions are fully realized characters that perfectly fit their respective medium. Also, book Nick and movie Norah (and vice versa) would not get along at all. I'm not even sure book Norah and movie Norah (or book and move Nicks) would be friends. Read the book. See the movie. You'll understand what I mean. ~ Sara


It's too painful. I can't talk about it. ~ Julien


The size! It's all wrong. ~ Julien


The book clearly states that Toothless is smaller than Hiccup. ~ Julien


I mean, really, that would be like making Harry Potter's wand 8 feet long. ~ Julien