I have a confession to make. I don’t read a lot (blogs excluded).
But I used to.
In fact, one of my earliest guilty pleasures was indulging in the Baby-Sitter’s Club “junior” series spin-off, the Little Sister series. By 9-years-old, I knew I was way too mature for these beginner chapter books about 7-year-old
Karen Brewer, but I devoured every single one I could get my hands on. My best friends, “The Twins,” and I would sometimes sit on the floor of their small bedroom and each read an entire book. For years, I read a new book every single day. Friends’ parents would always ask, “What are you reading now?” when I came over.
When I was 13, they made the Baby-Sitter’s Club into a movie. I called up my oldest childhood friend, and slightly shame-faced but excited, we met at the mall to see it. By then we were way too old for that stuff, even though the baby-sitters in the movie were our age. We loved it.
By 13, I was definitely aware that you were ‘supposed’ to read the books first, and felt superior every time I fell into that category. Books were for smart people and movies were for…less smart people. Right?
As I got older, and books appropriate for my age became more and more dull to me, I rarely read anything. I worked at a book store in my late teens, and when people asked for recommendations, I pointed them to Oprah’s book club list and fed them lines from other customers. I hadn’t read any of the books on the counter, and I was constantly ashamed. Reading was suddenly a chore, something I’d need to do to prove I was smart, or worthy of intellectual conversation.
Then, of course, HE happened. I’m talking Harry Potter. Then David Sedaris. Bill Bryson. Twilight. Percy Jackson. It became easier and easier to allow myself to read what I wanted to read, just as I had done when I was 9-years-old. If it was popular, unpopular, meant for teenagers, I didn’t care. I naturally gravitated towards fantasy and humorous memoirs, and I gave myself permission to give up on a book whenever I wanted to if it wasn’t gripping. Oh, the freedom! I read more, but only when I wanted to, just as I do today.
Two weeks ago, I saw The Hunger Games and I loved it. I’ve never read any of the books. And guess what? I was GLAD I didn’t know what was going to happen. It was exactly what a movie-going experience should be; I was emotionally invested within the first 5 minutes, even though I had only just met Katniss and her younger sister.
I think both mediums, books and film, can produce magic. There are plenty of movies that inspired me to go back and read the book (and vice versa), and I’ve enjoyed them both for completely different reasons (The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll is a perfect example).
But I’ll be honest. I still carry a little of that old ‘The Book Is Best’ prejudice. Right now I’m reading The Help, and am enthralled. I won’t let myself see the movie until I finish.
I’m dying to know, where do you fall on the book vs. the movie argument?
Photo credit (Little Sister book): http://childrenofthenineties.blogspot.com