Thursday, October 25, 2012

Movies or books? Books or movies? You make the call!

For the last 26 plus years I have been around, I can truly say that reading, yes reading, has been one of the banes of my existence.  I have never really liked or enjoyed reading unless it was something that really sparked my interests.  Books about Wars or History I could blow through in hours, or maybe even days.  When it comes to books for recreational reading or that I was assigned to read in school, well they were never really my cup of tea.  Perhaps this comes from my family.  No one in the family was really a reader.  I cannot think of a single grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle who really owned a number of books.  Of course I remember reading books as a child.  I had a few that were my favorites.  One was about a dog named spot and his search for his mother.  The other was a book about Rudolph and was in the format of a Where's Waldo type of book.  In any case, I think that reading is something you either do or you don't.  Which brings me to the choice I have to offer.........books or movies?  Movies or books?  Both?  Can that be a viable option as well?

Maybe reading is an acquired taste and I just had something sour me on it when I was a smaller child.  I think for me this experience came in school.  I remember being forced to read books that I had no interest in and it really made it hard to get into it, and especially learn anything from it.  I do however, recall my 5th grade reading/english class.  Mr. Yoder.  The guy was pretty cool, and more importantly gave us the ability to choose what we wanted to read.  Our school used to get those Scholastic Book Magazines that sell books to students and schools.  He would allow us as a class to browse through it and select a book that we thought sounded good.  Naturally there were different ideas as to what sounded good, so there would be lively discussions (as lively as a discussion could be for 5th graders) and eventually would come to a vote.  I distinctly remember one novel that we chose.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.  It was a murder mystery, filled with clues, turns and a big reward for the person who won the game.  It had all the essentials I needed to be interested.  This allowed me to, for the first time in my life, become immersed in a book.  Become the character and see the story.  Feel what the characters were feeling, hate other characters in the novel based on what they said or did.  It was really a great experience.

For the rest of my high school days reading went back to being a monotonous task.  Only done because it had to be.  I remember opening up novels and reading the first few lines.  I would literally toss the book off the wall and it would sit there until I turned it back in.  Perhaps I was lucky in this respect, I would be able to answer most test questions by listening to class discussions, or following context clues.  My high school reading list was probably much the same as anyone else's in America.  To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Old Yeller and of course the typical ten thousand Shakespeare plays.  (Don't get me wrong, Shakespeare can be great, but so boring to read sometimes.  Also one of my favorites was Macbeth )  These books may be interesting to some however, when read in the wrong format, they can become a nightmare.  I feel that if I was to maybe sit down with these books now, with the age and experience I have now, maybe they would have a different feel.

Recently through the urging of a professor I have at school, I have begun reading for recreational purposes!  WHHHATTTTT?  (I know right!)  Me reading books!  Get out of town!  But alas!  It is true.  My first novel to tackle was recommended to me by that very same professor.  The book is titled the Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a copy.  (This experience in itself was weird, I have never really shopped for a book before, so this really was a new experience for me.)  Amazingly enough I found the book on a table and brought it home with me.  Later that night, mostly due to torrential rains and a power outage, I found myself presented with an opportunity.  With no TV and no Internet, it gave me a rare amount of down time with nothing to do.  So I decided, what better time to begin my adventure with this book than right then and there.  The next thing I knew, I looked over at the clock and 1:00 AM was staring back at me.  I had blazed through a hundred pages or more in just one sitting, I didn't think to get up for a snack, or to go to the bathroom.  Nor did I once want to turn on my PC or TV.  I became engaged in the story and could not pull myself away from it.  I wanted nothing more than to find out what happened to the main character "Charlie" and his friends would do next.  Luckily the next night I had just as much free time.  Rather than booting up my PC, turning on the TV, popping in a DVD or flipping on the PS3 (Oddly enough they are all abbreviations.)  I decided it was time to find out what Charlie was up to.  In my second sitting, I blazed through the rest of the novel.  I thought it was quite an accomplishment considering I had not read anything in roughly nine years or so.

Another interesting thing about the book is that it was recently made into a movie and is currently in theaters.  This gave me an even more unique opportunity than I had by just reading the book.  For the first real time in my life I could be one of those people who read the book and then went to see the movie.  One of those people who could go and see the movie, yet tell everyone that the book is better.  This really got me pumped up and I wanted to see this movie as soon as it was available.  I am happy to say that this week, I was able to hit up Cinemark and see this flick.  I always hear those people saying "the book was way better than the movie," so this was my chance to test the theory that books are always better than movies.  One unusual thing about this movie, as I would imagine is not the case with most other films made out of books is that the Author, Stephen Chbosky, not only wrote the screenplay, but he also directed the film.  For the most part the movies I researched had totally different people write the screenplay and all had totally different directors.  Movies like the Green Mile, I am Legend, the Notebook, The Da Vinci Code and even the Hunger Games all fall under this category.  There were only two major things that I noticed about the film that differed from the novel.  One was a poem and the other was an abortion.  Truly only one of those had any real bearing on the plot of the novel.  Naturally it did seem like the novel/screenplay was a little streamlined in order to make it flow better, and they threw in some jokes or more modernized things in order to make it more appealing to the current generation.  All in all I would have to say that the book and the movie were very similar.  The novel and the movie both have a sort of "Teen Angst" feel about them, so if you aren't into that or looking for something like that, you might want to pass it by.  The book does teach a valuable lesson, that you cannot always live life on the sidelines.  Being a wallflower allows you to observe, learn and see things about people others may not.  This works, but you also need to get out there, throw yourself into the mix and see what happens.  Here is the trailer for the film:

I have continued reading and currently am working on another novel.  After that I have On the Road by Jack Kerouac lined up and ready to go.  We will see where this reading thing takes me and if the habit sticks or not.  Maybe I can start recommending books!  Wouldn't that be cool?

So the question is......Movie or book?  Book or movie?  You tell me.  What do you prefer?  Why do you think that is?  I'd love to get some feedback on this, so feel free to drop me a line on here, Facebook, Twitter or even via E-mail.