February 25, 2013

Love the Movie? Read the Book. ~ Terri Tremblett


It’s the day after the Academy Awards, and everyone is talking about the movies.

I would like to remind you, however, that many of these movies started out as books.

I love movies, but in case you have not yet discovered this for yourself, there is nothing quite like being swept away by a well-written book. A good book is beautiful and treasured, just like a well-written blog, magazine article, or newspaper story that hits the mark.

In our busy, social-media-focused world, many of us rarely take the time to just sit down and read a book…we read quick snippets, we follow news on Twitter, we are great at scanning articles for what we need to know.

But there is so much more reading to be done!

Consider this: reading a book is one of life’s little pleasures, right up there with chocolate, tea, hanging out with your best friend or spending a relaxing day at the beach.

So, with a nod to Oscar, if you loved the movie (whichever movie it was) you should read the book.

I know, you think seeing the movie has you covered…you know the basic plot, after all you watched all three hours of it; you know how it ends…or do you? The movie is the condensed version of the story. However, while screen writers sometimes only make small changes when they adapt a book, other times there are so many changes that the book is barely recognizable in the movie version.

As an artistic kid with a vivid imagination, I pictured scenes in a novel coming to life as I devoured the pages—it was like creating my own movie version of what I was reading.  I remember reading past my bedtime, under the covers with a flashlight.

I have always loved the written word and its ability to evoke feelings and emotions from a simple page of type.

I have also always loved to write—the words and ideas need to be captured and remembered, even if I am the only one who ever reads them.

I can imagine that is how many of the great novelists have felt as they completed writing a novel…they needed to write the story, even if it was never read. I don’t expect their purpose in writing was to create an epic novel that would one day become an Oscar-winning movie. In some cases, movies had not even been invented.

At this year’s Academy Awards, there were several movies that came to life because of the beautifully-crafted words of a novelist…The Hobbit, Life of Pi, Les Misérables and Anna Karenina to name a few. As with all movie adaptations, they fall into one of two categories—they either do justice to the book or they do not. Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised, other times hugely disappointed.  I will not comment on whether or not the movies were as good as the books, but I will say that if you are wondering about this question…

Did I mention that you should read the book?

Reading an epic piece of writing is always a rare and special thing. Books by writers such as Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina), Victor Hugo (Les Misérables) and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit) are timeless classics. The relatively newer, Life of Pi by Canadian writer Yann Martel, was first published in Canada in 2001. It garnered the prestigous Man Booker Prize, among other awards and has proven its ability to stand with the classics.

The Hobbit came to life for me the first time when it was read aloud, chapter by chapter, by my grade seven English teacher. I read Les Misérables  in the original French text during my years in university. After reading other Tolstoy works, I recently read Anna Karenina and wished that Russian was one of the languages I could speak so I could read the original rather than the English translation. I read The Life of Pi when it was newly released and shared it with several friends.

Many of these books have been part of our culture for several generations. They have proven their ability to stand the test of time.

I wonder if the movie versions will share the same success?


Terri Tremblett is a freelance writer and editor who also works in finance and dabbles in various artistic pursuits. She is equally at home walking the beach or digging in the dirt but has not yet mastered the art of walking by a book store without going in. Her education did not end when she finished university, as her life regularly proves. She can sometimes be found behind her camera, often taking pictures of her kids, and learning about photography along the way.

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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