Discussion

Is Reading the Book Before Watching the Adaptation Necessary??

Okay, so I’m typing this in a hurry mainly so excuse me if this is a rather short discussion. However, I still did want to talk about this since it is something very important to me, and I feel it affects my decisions and my feelings quite strongly.

So, the question I’m discussing today is : Is watching the adaptation before reading the book acceptable? I’ve heard loads and loads and loads of people talk about how they don’t watch a tv/movie adaptation because they haven’t read the book of it, or they try hard to read a book in time for the adaptation – which is insane to me. Okay – maybe not insane – but it’s just something I don’t understand.

I get that reading a book then watching the movie is good in terms of when you want to compare the two, but I feel like there is some pressure regarding this? And even more than that, as if there is some kind of shame attached to the fact that one hasn’t read the book of the adaptation.

I feel like when watching a movie/tv show adaptation, keeping and judging the book and adaptation separately serves us better. Of course, comparisons are bound to happen when two forms of media originate from the same thing, but judging the movie/tv show in terms of the book is so wrong. Why can’t we just consider the adaptation a separate entity and enjoy/criticize it solely for what it is?

Also, I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how an adaptation often changes a part of the book, and no matter whether the changed part is good or bad, most people simply complain about it. I don’t know about you, but I personally feel that even if an adaptation changes something of the book, it need not necessarily be bad. It can be appreciated as a separate entity altogether.

The whole concept that one has to compare an adaptation to its movie is slightly ridiculous because why can’t you just enjoy the movie as its own thing and consider the book completely separate? As far as I have noticed, not reading the book doesn’t bring down my level of enjoyment of the adaptation even for a bit. Like, I recently watched the TV show of Big Little Liars and I’ve never read the book (mainly because I wasn’t interested after being disappointed by the author’s other novel The Husband’s Secret) – but that didn’t make me any less interested in the TV show and thankfully I watched it, because I absolutely loved it. And I don’t mind one bit that I never read the book – Big Little Lies is like just another TV show to me.

So that was it for my discussion! What about you guys? Do you watch adaptation? If yes, then do you always read the book beforehand? What are your favorite bookish adaptations?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27 thoughts on “Is Reading the Book Before Watching the Adaptation Necessary??

  1. If the book sounds good to me I try to read that first before watching the adapation. However if I don’t have an interest in reading the book but the adaption sounds great than I have no problem just watching the adaption. Not every book is “for me” so I don’t force myself to read the book first. However if I have interest in the book I do like to read it first because I find that I don’t enjoy the book as much after watching the movie. The “I’ve already seen this ” feeling takes the enjoyment out of it for me.

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    1. Exactly! A book which sounds appealing to me – I’ll obviously try to read it but for me, reading it before watching the adaptation is not much of a compulsion. An example is The Handmaid’s Tale – I really want to read the book, but I’ll most probably just start the show since I know it’ll take me some time to get to the book. Though yes, I agree, the “I’ve already seen this” feeling sometimes takes out the enjoyment from the reading :)

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  2. When I read a book and watch the film adaptation I look at how the film has brought the book to life for me. It’s not necessarily about having every thing correct, its about having the same feeling I had when I read the book and keeping the characters with their personalities. I want to be able to watch a movie and feel like the differences are things that feel like they could have happened in the book. I want the characters to feel like they have the same personality types instead of being changed for popularity.

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    1. Yes, I do agree that it’s a strong point. Sometimes movies just don’t bring out the same intensity or the feelings like the book did. However, I don’t mind if the movie changes a few things and those changed things are equally good (though not similar to the book).

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      1. I feel the same way and I think that is why the majority opinion is that movie adaptations fail. There are a few good ones out there, but it seems like producers are more worried about popularity then keeping the feeling from the book. I’m totally okay with changes if they give me the same feelings the book did though.

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            1. I think definitely the Harry Potter movies, the Hunger Games was good, Big Little Lies (TV show), The Maze Runner (though I hated the book), Never Let Me Go are the ones which come to my mind now. What about you?

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            2. I liked the Maze Runner movies and am waiting for the next one. I have not read the book yet. I liked the Harry Potter movies, but again have not read the books yet. Shhhh. I agree with The Hunger Games. I thought they were pretty true to the books. My favorites are Red Riding Hood and The Host. City of Bones was a great adaptation in my opinion, the show I am not a fan of. The Help I thought was better than the book!

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  3. When the adaptation comes from a book, there’s automatic expectations. For people that know it’s an adaptation, it’s usually hard to compare without referring to the book.

    I can never tell if a movie is from a book unless I’ve heard of the same name before, so that helps me.

    If I’ve read it and there’s a movie, I can look at the movie as separate only cause I’m forgetful, lol. Idk what happened in the book entirely so whatever happens in the movie is cool by me. Can’t completely say the same for others. I understand where you’re coming from though.

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    1. Expectations are pretty obvious, but I think it’s very much possible for a movie to completely shine out, and also that it’s not always necessary to read a book before watching the adaptation. A lot of people make a compulsion out of it, and it often makes me feel absurd for not minding one bit whether I watch the adaptation first or read the book.

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      1. Yeah I see what you mean. I can’t speak for the compulsion of others cause I haven’t seen enough of it, but I can say I see both sides.

        I see why some want to read first and why some don’t care. I’m more in the don’t care spectrum with you. There have been instances where pressuring seems to be happening though. Maybe you can talk about that, too, if you’ve seen enough of it.

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  4. Hmm, I definitely try to read the book before the adaptation for some movies, but sometimes I think watching the adaptation before the book might actually be better seeing how we’re less biased towards the book haha. It would be nice to just watch an adaptation without worrying or thinking about how it relates to the book! That often leads to many complaints and disappointment. 😂

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    1. Oh yes! It;s quite nice to watch an adaptation without being biased by the book, and judge it solely according to the movie. I watch a lot of adaptation like this, and I’ve noticed that for the book in which I’m really interested in – I always go around and read the book, no matter whether I’ve already watched the adaptation or not.

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  5. It’s true that if I’ve already read the book the movie often can not be as detailed as the book and sometimes just isn’t as good. But I don’t necessarily go out of my way to read books just because the movie is coming out. But I’m usually glad I read the book first, I honestly wouldn’t read the book if I’ve already watched the show/movie.

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    1. Yes same, even I don’t go out of my way to read books before watching the adaptations. I do however, in cases of books I’m really interested in, make it a point to read the book regardless of whether I’ve watched the adaptation or not :)

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  6. I do watch adaptations, and I typically read the book first, but I don’t feel like there should be shame if readers/viewers don’t feel like doing this. I did watch The 100 for a few seasons, but I couldn’t get into the book at all. Also, and this was a conversation I was having with someone recently, when translating a story to a different medium, there are things that will work better given said medium. Adapting a book with first person narration provides a specific set of challenges as well, since filmmakers cannot film in first person.

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    1. Yes exaclty, there absolutely shouldn’t be any shame of compulsion attached to this whole thing. Sometimes a book might not appeal to you too much, but the movie attracts you more. In fact, I feel like a good adaptation often pushes me to pick up a book I might’ve otherwise ignored. And also, yes, sometimes things in books cannot be directly translated into a different medium.

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  7. I’ll admit that I’m really obsessive about only watching an adaptation after I’ve read the book, BUT like you, I can enjoy the adaptation even if it’s different from the book. I don’t ever expect a movie/TV adaptation to be exactly the same as the book was and I’m honestly fine with most changes. As long as the same overall story is there, I don’t mind if some things are changed. If really major things are changed it can be annoying, but that’s rare. I think a lot of people (dare I say most?) get a little too intense about the movie and book needing to be exactly the same, haha.

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    1. Exaclty, a book and an adaptation are hardly ever EXACTLY the same, and often there are quite some changes. I usually always judge an adaptation separately as its own thing, though I agree sometimes comparisons do crop out. But then again, I watch a lot of adaptations without reading the book so it’s okay xD

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  8. I only read the book if it sounds interesting. If not, but the adaptation looks good, I’ll watch without reading the book. Pretty Little Liars is a good example. I tried reading the first book after I watched the first season but it wasn’t really my style so I stopped reading it and just enjoyed the show. 🙂
    I agree that changes in adaptations are not always a bad thing. People need to remember that books and film are two different media. What works in a book might not work on screen and vice versa.

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    1. Exactly! I never make a compulsion out of it – read the book only when interested, otherwise watch the adaptation if its appealing to you. A lot of times, reading a book which doesn’t interest you puts you off the movie (which you might have enjoyed a lot). Big Little Liars is a big example for me, because I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the book, but ended up loving the show.

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  9. I get what you mean about not viewing the two versions as the same thing, and enjoying them separately. I kind of feel that way about the Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies. I loved it on it’s own, but if I try to think of it as part of the POTO storyline, it doesn’t necessarily fit so well. No matter whether I read or watch the adaptation first, I inevitably end up comparing. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy both versions, but I always end up comparing the two. I think the difference is that most adaptations are advertised as, or generally assumed to be, the same as the book so it’s a bit jarring when the ending is suddenly changed (My Sister’s Keeper, for example). It’s always seemed a bit strange to me that companies would get the rights to adapt a story, presumably because they liked it or think others would like it, and then think “Well, we can tell this story better!” and change things. I can understand changing some scenes around or skipping parts of the sake of time and better fitting the medium used, but I’ve always found it strange when they completely change the direction of the story itself. In that case, they should at least be clear and say it is “loosely based” on the original.

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    1. I think comparisons are valid, but this notion that you necessarily have to read the book beforehand is so wrong. There are quite a few adaptations I’ve watched before reading the book, and I don’t consider myself any less for not making a point to read the book first. Also, I don’t mind changes in adaptations because sometimes certain things are not possible to adapt on screen, but even if the adaptation changes something, as long as it makes sense and complements the overall story, I don’t mind. If there are major changes made, then of course, ‘loosely based’ is a mroe reasonable phrase to use.

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  10. While reading we have our own imagination and we try to visualize things as we feel like. But that visualization gets distorted once we watch something on TV or cinema. Personally if I see a cover with a film adaptation, I can’t help but see that actor as the character.

    I think this why some people don’t like to see the adaptation before they read. Well, I don’t mind that much, but if I have to choose I will choose to read before I watch, not the other way round.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

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