In the March 2022 newsletter I asked readers if there is a TV show or movie adaption of a book, do they take the time to read the book prior to watching it?

Here are the responses:

Neil: I read Chestnut man because I heard it was thriller from Denmark. I enjoyed the movie with subtitles but my wife found it hard to follow. A lot going on and the book probably necessary to follow the movie.

Christine: For the most part I prefer reading the book first and then watching the movie since the book is normally so much better than the movie due to the fact more detail can be covered in the book vs. a 2 hour movie. I also think it is fun seeing if the casting is who I was visualizing for the characters — sometimes it is spot on, and other times it’s, “What were they thinking?” However, in the case of the Starz Outlander series I saw the show first since I hadn’t heard of the books, and then when they left you at a cliff hanger part way through the season I could not wait to see what happened so I got the book in order to find out. I have to say they did a wonderful job with the things they pulled out from the book and with the casting! On another note, one book I read first, Wicked, I thought was kindof weird, but I loved the Broadway Musical and loved how the screen writer pulled out all the best of it. But bottom line, I prefer reading first, and then seeing the movie/series on film.

Jessica: Hi. I try to read the book first before I watch the show or movie. But sometimes I read the book after I watch it. My mother has been bugging me to watch some of the movies and shows that Harlan Coben has on Netflix. I keep telling her I want to read the books first. I’m still stuck on The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. I am determined to finish it by Christmas. lol I’m on chapter 19 now.

Ayesha: Hope all’s well with you. I don’t usually go out of my way to read it first if sthg is adapted to big/screen, but if I like the movie or show enough I read it after 🤣

John: If it’s a genre I really enjoy, I’ll try my best to read the book before I see the movie. One of the greatest sensations is seeing the film, with actors and locales exactly as you imagined them! That is so cool! I had that experience several times: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Godfather, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Then I can enjoy the movie even more. Thanks, and stay safe, everybody.

Ron: I usually will read a book before I watch the movie or adaptation. But you are right, if it is a series I will usually watch and then read. My latest watch and then read is Peter Temple’s Jack Irish series. Really fun to watch and to read!! I highly recommend this series.

Christine: I don’t read a lot of “new” books, which is mostly what gets adapted, and I hardly ever go to the movies any more. (It costs too freakin’ much and breaks up my day.) But if I knew of a book (older, like back when everything wasn’t sex, blood, and profanity) and had it on my I-want-to-read list, I might read it first and then see the movie. On the other hand, the movies they make nowadays, they probably wouldn’t care to adapt anything less recent than the last 10 years…

Pat: Hi – love your emails and “yes” – I definitely go back and read any book that I will watch a TV/movie of – I re-read all of Michael Connelly’s books that are based on a season of Bosch, before I watch the season

I love the Karin Slaughter books and was not aware a movie was made of Pieces of Her – I will most certainly re-read it before I watch it on Netflix

Chris: HI Graeme. That’s an interesting question–if I had enough time, I would probably read the book first before seeing the movie or series. That’s because a book almost always provides depth and background to the story that’s usually not available in the filmed version. If I like the book, I always look forward to seeing the movie or series. If I see the movie first and liked it, I then want to read the book. In almost every case, the books are better, in my opinion. In other words, if I could only have one, I would choose the book.

AJ: I had read “The Help” before going to see the movie, and was then so disappointed by all that was missing that I vowed never to see a movie based on a book I had read. This is made easier by the fact that I really only watch sci-fi movies and never read sci-fi books. I don’t know why – just the way things have worked out over time. I am considering watching the new Reacher series, but am too afraid of being disappointed – plus I would rather spend my time reading something new than watching something old

Diane: Thanks for the March newsletter, as it started me on two more searches; I began watching “Pieces of Her” last night, and got so interested I had to make myself stop bingeing and go to sleep.
So now I will read the book, as I’ve never read any of Slaughter’s books. Usually the books are more interesting, in my opinion, than the shows.

I did watch all of the first season of “Reacher”, because you mentioned it was coming to TV. I LOVE the Reacher books, and now I’m going to start all over again reading them. The show was well done, good acting, interesting, and of course it always helps to have the book author involved in the production.

My son suggested I see the new “DUNE” movie, and it’s great. I am so glad they finally did it well. I own the books, have reread them to the point of memorizing parts, and this new movie is worth the wait, if you get it as I did from the library. Usually I enjoy a movie more if I’ve read the book, but sometimes, as with “Pieces of Her” I see the movie, and will perhaps then find the book. It has to really catch me, though. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Queen’s Gambit” show, but still have no desire to read the book; I feel that I got enough from the show.

As mentioned above, the second search you’ve inspired is the Lady Justice books. They sound like fun, so they are on my “books to find” list.

Bette: I have done that on several occasions but two experiences stand out for me. I read “Rosemary’s Baby” when it came out and then saw the movie. Because the movie couldn’t have everything that was in the book, having read it first explained some of the film ambiguities. The other book was “The Exorcist” and I only made it through about one third of the movie…..the film depictions of the written word were just too much for me.
I don’t make it a practice to read the book before the movie; however, there have been a few times when a movie has been released long after the book and I will see it. Generally, I do not want to see the film especially if I really liked the book – I don’t want to see it with portions missing or changes in the direction of the story. I think the first two examples I cited probably colored my feelings on the subject and most probably because they were both horror-type movies which I cannot stomach. My exception in today”s world would be if a David Rosefelt book were to be made into a film or series… me, his protagonist Andy Carpenter is the modern day Perry Mason from the Earle Stanley Gardner series. I would watch that faithfully just as I did Perry Mason!!!!!!

Linda: I do not do audio books at all. I don’t think they would work for me. I get too distracted, so I need my eyes to be on my subject or they roam.So I much rather read books in print or on my kindle. I am almost finished with “The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes” by Diane Chamberlain. It is one of those page turners that keep me up at night. This is an excellent mystery/murder/thriller. The characters are very well designed and make you feel their hurt and passion. I have read one of her other books and she is a terrific author.On the subject of stand alones, I love them. But I also love series books. The one thing I enjoy about a series is finding an old author and old series, then being able to read them all at once. My favorite series seem to take too long to get to the newest book. Usually about a year. Once again enjoyed the newletter and all the comments and recommendation. Have a beautiful spring .

Tom: Hello. Over the years, if I saw a movie and liked it, I would check to see if there was a novel written for it. I will still read the book even if I have seen the movie beforehand. I have been watching the TV series 1883 and looked for a related novel. There is none, but the guy who produced this wonderful show said he wanted the script to read like a novel. As they say in Canada…keep on trucking.

Sven: Watch the movie or TV show first and then read the book. The reason for that is that the shows and movies leave so much out that is in the book. I’ve read the book and then watched the show and I’m going ‘where is that part or that wasn’t in the book?’ A lot of movies use the title and the characters in the book and nothing else. The later James Bond movies are a good example! Stroker Ace was a good book, the movie was terrible!

Sue: I never listen or get a review on books unless it personally recommended. People know what I like to read so if someone suggest I usually do read it. Since I stumbled on your website and now get your newsletter I can’t wait to read your opinions cause it definitely worth reading if you say something to. I would have never tried Nick Petrie till you made a suggestion. I enjoyed the series. I had a whole library which I have told you in previous email but due to unforeseen circumstances I had to get rid of them. So now I just borrow from the local library and I just have got back to reading in the last month. I haven’t read in 8 months read and enjoyed your newsletter but just couldn’t sit down with a book. I like to read a book before watching the movie. It just more real in the book I find.

Sue: Not only do I not hurry to see a film adaptation of books I have read, I mostly stay away.

I have been so disappointed by these adaptations; I find that mostly they make so many changes it is almost unrecognizable. They use the character name and bare bones of the lot.

I have, however seen a TV or Movie showing of something I really liked and found out it was adapted from a novel and then read the novel. about 50/50 for honoring the book.

For example, I have read most of Lee Child’s Reacher series. When I found out that Tom Cruise was playing him in a movie, I refused to see it and told everyone I knew that likes that genre what a travesty that was. There were others over the years. The book that started me doubting adaptations was The Firm by John Grisham (yep, it goes back that far).

Renni: One of my earliest pleasures was getting my first library card. My world became
whatever book I was reading. I was in that book, a real part of it, I knew all the characters, what
they looked like, what they sounded like, how they felt.

So when the powers that be started creating series or movies from books I was most often
disappointed. They were not the people I knew!

I have in mind The Harry Potter movies – I think I am the only person I know that didn’t like them at all, the magic was missing for me.
The Spencer TV series – Robert Parker’s longest created character. The softness, the sarcasm, the toughness of Spencer, all missing.
I didn’t agree with any of the character choices for Hawk, Susan, the Boston detectives. They were not the
characters I created. The Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum movie – a total miscast of characters, in my opinion.
The two Reacher movies, I like Tom Cruise, but like the rest of the Reacher fans around the world I felt that the mark was totally missed.
The new Reacher series – On the nose, the BEST!

I learned that if I haven’t read the book, I should wait, that worked with Bosch. I watched the series before I read any of
the books and I was much happier. The series created the character and I could live with that while reading the books.

For me, if I haven’t read the book I’d watch the series first.

Phoenix: You asked if I went out of my way to read a book before I watched a tv adaptation. I think the answer, for me, is probably no. Usually, the book is better, but sometimes the adaptation is just so perfect you don’t even care that you haven’t read the book. For example, I recently watched “I, Claudius” on Netflix. Oh my goodness. Derek Jacobi was positively brilliant in that. I mean, stunningly brilliant. I’ve not read the books, and I don’t think I care. I got enough from watching the series to know the story, and I was absolutely mesmerized by watching Jacobi’s performance. On the other hand, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books were ever so much more complete than the series. Entire storylines were left out of the movies, probably because there just wasn’t enough time to put them in. Ditto Harry Potter. I enjoyed the movies, yes, but I could lose myself in the books, and isn’t that what we read for?

Pat: Do I try to read the book before the movie/TV show? In general, yes, as I find the book can give you so much more insight into the story. The author usually describes what is going through the character’s mind and their inner feelings. It’s often hard to portray that on screen.

Jenny: I read a lot, don’t watch TV, and seldom see a movie. If I do watch a film and then realize that it was based on a book I haven’t read I feel cheated out of a good read. I won’t want to read it now if I just saw the movie.

Kelly I am a bit of a movie buff along with being an avid reader so my response to that would probably vary depending on the book and author. If it’s an author I already read, then chances are I’ve read the book anyway. I would definitely try to get a book read if I haven’t already, before seeing the movie in this case. If it’s someone new and the movie version was interesting, it sometimes prompts me to grab the book after. I don’t normally read the book before. Because I read as much as I do, I am often disappointed by the movie version. I form the pictures in my head as I read and it’s hard to then transition to a version on screen that doesn’t match. Ex. Reacher- glad they improved with the new series. I love a good gripping story whether in a book or on screen, but books will always be my favorite. One thing a good screen version will do for me though is that it may prompt me to read other books by an author. I’m excited to hear about the Karin Slaughter show. I’ve read most of her books so it should be good. I like these short series that are being made from books rather than just a one shot movie. It allows for more development and we don’t lose as much from the book.

Kat: yes i would read the book if i thought i would like the movie
sometimes i dont know there is a book associated with the movie and if i like it i will read the book after watching it. sometimes they do a ok job with the movie, but the book is usually better. i dont like it when they change it…

Janice: I will try to read first-even if I have to wait a while to see the film. I know I will enjoy the film more, and get more out of it, because I can then recognize the choices the director, actors, and cinematographer made in bringing the book to the screen. Whether or not I like how they did it, I usually come away from the movie with more appreciation for the movie and for the original writing- for the challenges, creativity and constraints of each way of telling a story.

I’d also rather form my own mental images to bring to the film than impose the filmmaker’s images on my reading, which might affect what I take away from the text, in ways the author did not intend.

A special pleasure is watching different film adaptations of the same story over the years, whether it’s a Shakespeare play or Jane Austen, Little Women or Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, etc. Doing so has made me more aware of the ways a film can enhance or (even unintentionally) betray the author.

Donald: I always try to read the book first if I can. If it is a movie for a genre that I am not interested I don’t bother of course. I had to read the Cole and Hitch series before the movie came out. It was almost word for word from the book and that made the movie much more enjoyable. There are too many to list, or remember at this point in my life. but Cole and Hitch stands out.

Christine: With regard to film adaptation: I rarely watch new movies any more, except for Marvel and the Potterverse; they’re all full of blood and sex and dirty language. Still, if there were a new Western or fantasy by an author I know I like, that was adapted to screen, I’d certainly think about it, depending on the rating (I don’t do R movies). On the other hand, movies are so expensive nowadays, I’d almost be more likely to wait till it came out on DVD!

Dale: I have been reading science fiction for over 60 years and The Expanse (yes all 9 of them) is on my top 3 list(it is a lot of books and a long complicated story but GREAT). I watched the first tv episodes on the Syfy TV. I didn’t realize what the show was based on. ( if at that time I had been reading OrderOfBooks news letters, I would have been aware of the relationship between the tv show and the books 😊) So, when I started reading the first book of the series, I thought I had already read it but then I realized I was familiar with the story because I had viewed the tv show. Anyway in my opinion the books and tv show are very close to each other. I can’t speak to the show after it switched to Amazon tv.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Read the Book Prior to Watching TV Show / Movie?

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