What’s Better? The Book or the Movie?

Movie Book.jpg

A huge source of debate among avid readers is whether the book is better than the movie, or the movie is better than the book.

I didn’t start really engaging in these debates until I was finally able to read/watch Harry Potter. It wasn’t until 2010 that I got to finally sit down and read the series from start to finish. There were 6 movies out at the time I started reading them, and I vowed to read every single book before watching any of the movies.

I finished them all, and then we binged the first 6 movies JUST in time to hit up the midnight release of Deathly Hallows pt. 1.

Naturally, the book fresh in my memory still, I couldn’t help but compare the two against each other. And like most people, at first, this was how I felt.

Probably didn’t help that it was only part one, but eh

I finished the series and originally just felt kind of blah about it. Sure, the movies were great, but….

The BUT is the problem here. On its own, that sentence should say “THE MOVIES WERE GREAT.”

The problem with comparing the book and the movie is that they shouldn’t be compared. 

I feel so passionate about that sentence I’m going to post it again.


Look, I get it. The movie is based on the book. It has the same title, same characters, same basic plot, etc. But the big term here is based on. Nowhere does it say “direct adaptation of Catching Fire” anywhere on the movie poster.  I took a cinematic adaptation class and wrote a direct adaptation. There’s a huge difference.

It took two wonderful film classes in college for me to really understand why this is a big deal. But ultimately, books and movies are completely different mediums, and they are each capable of different things.

Books can create these amazing stories and characters that are built upon things that are either very difficult or simply impossible for the movie to portray.

But I think the movie can bring so much more to the table as well. It creates potentially a different depth of emotion, because you’re seeing it instead of reading it. You can visualize this world/area that’s been set up in the scene.

My personal favorite addition to movies that books don’t have is the soundtrack. A fantastic soundtrack can make your movie so much more amazing!


Yes, I’ll agree that there are some movies that are just absolutely terrible in comparison to the book. The Hobbit series for example.

But as another personal example, I’ll admit to having watched several movies based off of Nicholas Sparks’ books, and it wasn’t until I watched The Last Song and then immediately read the book that I finally woke up to this revelation (that is, again, don’t compare the movie and the book).

The movie itself I loved. I’m no movie critic, and I’m quite a sucker honestly. But whatever, I loved the movie. And when I read the book for the first time a few days later, I loved them both even more.

Because on its own, the movie stood up really well. And sure, the book had way more detail, even went several chapters past the ending of the movie, but I realized that those details were some that weren’t necessary to the movie. It’s hard to realize I think when you’ve read all of these in depth details that just maybe the story would be fine without them.

I’ve now got myself to the point where I don’t read a book that is now a movie without seeing the movie first. I’m finally getting around to reading The Hunger Games (after I finish the books I need to review first), I really want to read the If I Stay series (that movie was great!), I’ll probably read the Divergent series after the last movie comes out, etc.

Because it IS really hard to separate the two, especially when the book is almost always more in depth than the movie.

Maybe it’s a personal preference. I know there are lots of bloggers out there who dedicate their posts to comparing the book and the movie, but I can say that will never be me. To each their own though of course. 🙂

I’m super curious. Do you compare the book and the movie?


13 thoughts on “What’s Better? The Book or the Movie?

  1. I would agree that they shouldn’t be compared. I’m thrilled when I find that I can enjoy them both. I loved the Hobbit movies as much as or even more than the book, though I heard plenty of people say the opposite, and that’s fine. Everybody’s experience of the movies — and the books on which they’re based — will be different. It makes it fun and interesting to talk about them afterward to see what each reader or viewer got out of the experience. 🙂 Great post!

  2. Good thoughts! Hmm, I would normally default to assuming the book is better, but I’ll be honest – I could not get my head around Lord of the Rings until I watched the first film. The images and music of the film helped me to understand the novels in a way that had eluded me. Others, too, like The Secret Garden or Jane Eyre… Beautiful books, yes, but the film adaptations are just wonderful and incredible works of art.

  3. If I’ve read the book I’m usually disappointed with the movie. I think mainly because I’ve already pictured in my own mind the characters, scenery etc. I find myself quite critical of the movies – which in itself is unfair. Interesting post 😊

  4. My kids love to play, “would you rather”. A game where they think up 2 equally disturbing possibilities and then make me choose. Why should I have to choose between switching genders every time I sneeze or not being able to tell the difference between a cupcake and a baby (and with my love of eating cupcakes that’s puts babies everywhere at risk) Similarly, I don’t see the point in choosing between books or movies. The only difference is I love reading a book first and then watching the movie as a visual guide. At this point of our life I read age appropriate series to the kids and then we have a family movie night. Obviously we started with Harry Potter, but have since enjoyed the Shadow Hunter series, Maze Runner, Percy Jackson, Coraline, Miss Peregrines and Ender’s Game and many more…always looking for good suggestions

  5. I tend to prefer the book, because if book alternates time periods, by say 100 years, it can be confusing to put it together as one smooth storyline as a movie. And usually in this predicament, important deatails are skipped or a new character is introduced who was non-existent in the book or something that ruins the plot. Then there’s other reasons, of course.

  6. I probably shouldn’t compare, but… I do. Jaws the movie is much better than the book. World War Z the book/audiobook is much better than the stupid “oh Brad Pitt save us” movie. For Harry Potter and The Hobbit I do prefer the books but enjoy the movies. And then there’s rare gems like Howl’s Moving Castle and The Magicians, where I enjoy both the book and the movie/tv show for their separate merits. So I feel like it’s totally possible to appreciate both, but everyone’s standards are different.

  7. Haha I’ve actually thought about doing a post about movie adaptations of books that I actually like, since I feel like people are always bashing movie adaptations––and there are quite a lot that I really like! I even love some that are very different from their source material *gasp*!

    I like that graphic you posted, and I think it captures my feelings on the matter. Books and films are different means of telling a story, and that doesn’t mean one is “deeper” or “better” than the other. For me, it doesn’t matter that much if the film adaptation strays from what happens in the book. As long as the movie is still good and the changes make sense, it doesn’t bother me much.

    That said, there are definitely some movie adaptations I loathe. But that’s mostly because they’re just bad movies. 😛

  8. Great post. The knee jerk reaction is usually to compare the two then justify one’s opinion to other and often argue vehemently. But people can lose sight of why they got invested in the source material in the first place. A disappointing remake shouldn’t erode one’s emotional connection to the core story, characters, etc.

    For me, Fight Club was a great movie and a great book. It’s a relatively short book, so that helps greatly with the adaptation. Only so much story can be told in a movie of course. For movies based on longer books, do they cut out big chunks or split into multiple movies? Or make a TV series instead like Game of Thrones or Dexter? These are tough decisions that can make or break the remake.

    What great books are out there that either haven’t been made into movies or TV shows or the adaptations were disappointing and a better remake could be brought to the screen? Have movies and TV changed the way that many author’s write novels because they are so ingrained in our minds?

  9. Many times I do compare, but also try to keep in mind that they are different mediums, and they tell stories in different ways. Overall I am happy with series like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit should have been like 2 movies, but I still enjoy them.

    It’s when movies are terrible that really makes me go “how did THAT come out of such a great book?” The Dark is Rising or Blood and Chocolate, for example. The latter I couldn’t get through more than about 15 minutes. It’s just a terrible movie. That’s where the movie industry really needs to do better.

  10. I have found the same thing as you, when I see the movie and THEN read the book, I’m able to love them both. (The Notebook was a prime example of this). It’s harder to go from the book straight to the movie. I love your suggestion that rather than comparing them we should see them as two different experiences. A 2-hour movie is never going to cover as much detail as a 300-page book, nor should it – we’d probably get bored. Because most of us don’t have time to sit down and read a whole book in one sitting, we get little pieces of it at a time. And I agree – being able to actually SEE something played out, ESPECIALLY with good music layered into the story, can create a very powerful experience that books can’t.

  11. I try to take things on a case by case basis. I will give two examples.
    The TV series Longmire. I started watching that show because I had a thing for one of the actors. I loved the show. I would binge watch each new season as it came out on netflix. Then somewhere after season 3, I discovered the show was based on some books. So I read them. The books were so different than the show, the plot, the people, the subplots all different in ways that made it impossible for me to watch the TV show. I could no longer enjoy the show because my brain was so busy going but he didn’t do it the book, wtf?
    On the flip side: World War Z. I picked up the book one day in the library because it was on the good reads shelf next to check out and my son was being such a snot I couldn’t focus on finding books for myself so I just grabbed WWZ (the previous day I had seen a FB thread about how the book and the movie were nothing alike, so it was in my mind, name recognition.) I read it. Loved it. A year later I watched the movie because it popped up on my netflix channel. Liked that too. They are nothing alike. And because the characters in the movie aren’t in the book at all, there was no conflict in my mind.

  12. I wouldn’t say, don’t compare books and movies, because it can be entertaining and enlightening. But one should be aware that they’re different mediums. Many people snobbishly say the book is always better (which is not the case), and I used to think so, too.

    They’re both art forms, and their worth is very subjective. Not two people read one book the same way, and the same goes for movies. It is always interesting to see, what was changed, what stayed in the story, the kind of music and costumes that were chosen. Comparison is a good thing if one keeps an open mind.

  13. I do compare… BUT…. generally as long as I feel like a good faith effort is made to stay true to the characters and the spirit of the story, I can go with the flow… then there’s Percy Jackson, that just broke my heart!!

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