I’ve been nursing a cold for about a month now and one of its more unfortunate side-effects has been on my ability to read, I’ve just not wanted to pick anything up. I have however been watching a lot of television. I’ve actually spent the better part of last year conditioning myself to not watch so much television so I can focus on my other hobbies and also try and get into a better sleep pattern, but over the past three weeks everything has been thrown to the wall. What’s been especially interesting to me was to learn that almost everything I’ve watched started life as a book, and that got me thinking about that old debate: books verses movies (or TV shows, but you get my drift!)
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10147644/The first program I watched was The Stranger on Netflix, which is based on a book by Harlan Coben, an author I have often been recommended but have not yet read. I enjoyed it enough to look into another one of his Netflix original series, this time I went for The Innocent. The book was published 16 years ago and the mini-series first aired in 2020 and consists of 8 episodes and is in Spanish. I have to admit I found it really gripping and each episode kept me on my toes. Apparently the show is true to the book with one major difference according to the author.
Lazy weekend afternoons had me channel hopping, and I stumbled across an old adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (1974) I remember watching this film twenty years ago and falling in love with all things Agatha Christie and her epic detective Hercule Poirot. To this day I haven’t read a single book by her, although I own a good few, but I go out of my way to watch all the modern remakes, I’m especially obsessed with the BBC remakes that air over the Christmas period. I suspect part of my hesitancy may be related to knowing the outcome, which takes away some of the joy of reading a mystery book for me.
The last thing I watched on Netflix’s was a Kevin Hart film called “Fatherhood”. I literary stumbled across this with no idea about the plot thinking it might be something light-hearted and funny. It wasn’t. After watching it I learnt it was based on a biography by author Matthew Logelin called Two Kisses for Maddy. The memoir is based on the first year of his life following the birth of his daughter and the death of his wife. I enjoyed the film, but had I known anything about it, I probably wouldn’t have picked it. Its certainly not the kind of book I would read either.
Interestingly I didn’t opt to watch any of the shows I have read the books of. For example I’ve stayed well away from The Handmaids Tale, even though everyone I know adores the show. And while I’, usually a fan of all the BBC adaptations I’m not remotely tempted to watch Normal People, based on the book by Sally Rooney as I really like the people I’ve created in my head. Maybe n a couple of years, when my memory of the book get looser I’ll give the show a go.
My curiosity led me to conduct a quick twitter poll to see how others feel about books and movies. Surprisingly only 9% of people preferred movies over books (less surprising I suppose when you consider my small corner of Twitter #booktwitter) over on Instagram I asked my followers what they thought was the best book to movie adaptation and I got a whole host of responses, from children’s Classics to Harry Potter (which I must admit I’ve not seen the movies or read the books!). Graphic novels that have led to the massive success of superhero movies to foreign literature that has introduced both movies and books to a whole new audience.
I’ve always considered myself as someone who prefers books to TV shows and movies, but actually the truth is more nuanced than that. I really enjoy adaptations of the classics, Bleak House and Pride and Prejudice, both created by the BBC, being two of my favourites. I really enjoy mysteries, horror, thrillers and comic books that have been given the silver screen treatment, interestingly these tend to be the genres I’m less likely to read. Two of the books I’ve read this year have already started production to become TV shows, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam and The Confessions of France Langton by Sara Collins, both I’m looking forward to watching.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on books and movies and if you have an adaptation you especially love or one that your looking forward to. Leave a comment below as I’d love to read and watch some of your suggestions.