Read the book first #2

Read the book first #2

I know I’ve said many times how much I don’t like spoilers…my favorite thing in entertainment is to be surprised.


If I’m going to both read a book and see a movie, I want to read the book first. Oddly, I’ve never had a book spoil a movie for me, but I’ve had the reverse be true.

That might not be true for you. I know part of it probably is that I don’t visualize when I read. I’ve written about this before, too, but I don’t see the characters (or hear their voices) when I read. I also know that puts me in the minority (again). ;)

I remember when my Significant Other and I saw the first Harry Potter movie. My SO said Harry’s chin was wrong. I didn’t think that, because Harry’s chin hadn’t been described in the book. Messy black hair, glasses, and a scar…check.

The time when I found out that I was unusual in this was when I had read a book (back in the paper days), and then my SO was reading it. I asked my SO about how the book was going and I was told, “I’m having trouble reading it because when I hear this one character, I hear [the actor] Darren McGavin.” I said, “What do you mean?” “When I hear the voice, I hear Darren McGavin.”

Me: “You hear the character’s voice?”

SO: “You don’t hear the character’s voice?”

We had one of those classic committed couple “discussions” about which one of us was crazy. :)

Well, as you know, I like to do the research.

I was teaching different groups of people most days at that point, training computer software.  I started polling them.

It turned out that about fifteen percent of the people didn’t visualize the characters or hear the voices when they read.

So, that meant I was the weird one. :)

Actually, it varied quite a bit. In an advanced PowerPoint class, pretty much everybody would visualize. In an advanced Excel class, not very many people would.

I’ve had long discussions about this with people, and some of them seem to think it’s impossible for me to enjoy books without seeing the events. I get involved in it…it’s just all conceptual.

Oh, I do admit that sometimes I visualize a scene…if it’s poorly written. That surprises people, too…they think a well-written book is more likely to take you “into the scene”. For me, though, if something is not well-written, I may have to work out the logistics of the scene…where’s the window out of which that character jumped? Why couldn’t somebody stop that person…what was in the way?

The upshot of this long introduction is that, if I’m going to see a movie, I try to read the book first. :)

Here are some books that have upcoming (and early 2013) adaptations…in case you feel the same. I’m not listing everything, of course, and if you don’t see one, it may be because the publisher has blocked text-to-speech access in the Kindle edition (I don’t deliberately link to books which do that).

Beautiful Creatures (the movie) February 14
Beautiful Creatures (the book)

Warner Brothers probably hoped for the next Twilight franchise with this one, reportedly giving it a $60 million budget, and with a cast including Jeremy Irons, Emily Rossum, and Viola Davis. Unfortunately, it has not opened strongly in the USA.

The Host (the movie) March 29
The Host (the book)

It would be a surprise if this one doesn’t make a profit (especially with a $44 million reported budget). The novel was written by Stephenie Meyer (who wrote the Twilight series). Saoirse Ronan, while not a huge box office star, has a good reputation. The director/screenwriter, Andrew Niccol, isn’t normally a tentpole maker, but has done some interesting work (The Truman Show, In Time).

Alongside Night (the movie) July 12
Alongside Night (the book)

Originally published in 1979, this is a dystopian novel by J. Neil Schulman about the economic collapse of the United States and a counter-government movement. Since Schulman is also credited with the screenplay (and is directing), it sounds as though this may be a case of the author being able to revive a book which had fallen out of print, both through the Kindle platform and now a feature movie whose stars include Kevin Sorbo, Garrett Wang, and Jake Busey. I think there is somewhat of an audience for this, but I think it may be more of an arthouse picture than a mainstream hit.

Horns (the movie) October 11)
Horns (the book)

4.1 stars with 408 reviews at time of writing is a very good score on Amazon. This is a horror novel, but also has humor. Alexandre Aja directs Daniel Radcliffe, and the timing of the movie is good. I would guess we could be looking in the $60 million dogro (domestic gross) range for this one, but it’s always a difficult guess. 🙂

Carrie (the movie) October 18
Carrie (the book)

Actually, Horns had better make its money a hurry, with this movie right on its heels! This is a remake, of course, and the fact that it stars the magical Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore is a plus.

Ender’s Game (the movie) November 1
Ender’s Game (the book)

This could be the break-out non-sequel of the year…based on a book that is some people’s favorite book, with a great cast (Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfield). However, I do think there may be protests about the author of the book (Orson Scott Card), although that’s somewhat separate from the material of the book.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug  (the movie) December 13
The Hobbit (the book)

This is part two of the trilogy (!) of movies based on the prequel to The Lord of the Rings. The first one has made about $300 million just in the USA, and this one should also do well.

Well, those are a few of the titles…happy reading, and see you in the movies!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


7 Responses to “Read the book first #2”

  1. Peter Willard Says:

    I tend to be a very fast reader, fast enough that I can finish a several hundred page book in a few hours. I think one of the reasons for this is that I don’t “hear” the words as I read them. I perceive them as blocks of text. The down side of this is that I can sometimes miss things. There was a book I read years ago in which the name of something was a pun, and in the context of the book if said out loud it made perfect. sense. Since I didn’t “hear” the word it wasn’t until much later listening to someone else I actually got the joke.

  2. Phink Says:

    No spoilers in the following.

    I never thought about it and looking back on it I find it odd I never thought about it. But, I do not hear the voices nor envision the characters. I guess I am one of the 15%. My wife says she is in the 85% range. However, it’s odd that when you post this is the one exception to the rule for me. Perhaps there have been others and I simply forgot them but I am currently reading ‘Under the Never Sky’ by: Veronica Rosi. The reason I envision the characters in this book is because I looked at the book trailer and the description of the savage in the book does not line up with the book trailer. In the trailer he is clean cut but in the book it looks as though a brush or comb has not touched his hair in a year, or something like that. Other inaccuracies are small such as the patch is on the wrong side, it should be the left side, she is not wearing a medical suit as she is being escorted out etc etc. But that is picky I guess.

    This is off subject but I have recently discovered and learned I love book trailers. I wish every book had one. Just out of curiosity do you normally watch book trailers and why or why not? I mean if you have time to answer. I am just curious if others enjoy these trailers as much as I. My wife does not care for them.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Well, I think you are describing may be a bit of a different process. It sounds like you are remembering what you saw in the trailer and comparing that to the words (rather than envisioning the character from the words).

      It’s funny: I love movie trailers, but would not want to watch a book trailer. I think that would strike me somewhat the way an audiobook does…someone else interpreting the book for me. I’d rather have that discovery for myself with a book. With a movie, the trailer I’m seeing is going to be the same thing I see on the screen (although sometimes, scenes in trailers aren’t actually in the movies). For me, that’s different from interpretation.

  3. liz Says:

    Although I frequently have some of the same quirks as you, Bufo, in this case I actually do fall more into the 85%, BUT I visualize the characters only to the extent that they are described in the text (i.e. Harry Potter’s chin is indeterminate in my mind). I hear their voices when they speak, but without any particular accent; I think it’s probably my normal internal voice.

    Until I see the movie, that is. Then the characters look and sound in my mind like the actors who played them in the movie. So a movie can mess up my mental image of characters, if the actor doesn’t really look like the book’s description (I disagree with you that Harry is portrayed correctly – his hair is brown, not black and doesn’t stick up, his eyes aren’t green, he’s not scrawny, etc), Hollywood’s portrayal of a character fights in my mind with the book’s description of the character. And I would rather not have fights in my mind! 😉

    But if the actor agrees well with the book’s description, the movie can greatly enhance the reading of the book, since I don’t have to waste any effort on drawing the characters in my mind while reading – I just focus on the story. Probably if I am reading the book for the first time after watching the movie, I don’t even notice dis-similarities between the characters as described in the text. Hard to say, though, since I usually read the book before watching the movie.

    So, in Harry Potter, here’s how the main characters pan out for me:
    Harry – fight
    Hermione- ok, not great (teeth and hair are off)
    Ron – great
    McGonagal – perfect (but she had some indeterminate features in my mind before the movie)
    Dumbledore – fight
    Sirius – fight
    The Malfoys – great
    Fred & George – don’t match their descriptions, but I prefer the movie characters
    Ginny – big fight
    Hagrid – small fight
    Mr & Mrs Weasley – perfect

    Thanks again for coming up with yet another interesting topic!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, liz!

      I appreciate your thorough comment!

      On Harry’s appearance versus Daniel Radcliffe’s: I’m not big on color (I have some color vision deficiency), and I’ll take your word for it on the hair (I think you are saying that Radcliffe’s hair in the first movie was brown?). In this picture, for example, it looks black to me…I’m guessing it is a very dark brown…although I would think the sort of reddishness of the brown would be something I might not be able to see:

      Harry’s hair is described as black when he is a baby, I know.

      Oh, here is a description of Harry from the first book:

      “Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes.”

      Rowling, J.K. (2011-03-27). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Kindle Locations 396-397). Pottermore Limited. Kindle Edition.

      Hmm…I can see that the details of appearance don’t match (I wouldn’t call Radcliffe’s face thin, for example).

      In addition to the CVD, I’m not that visual a person…that might have something to do with “no fights”. 🙂

  4. Rick Askenase Says:

    For many books (not all) I “hear” the characters in my head. That means I get to play casting director and choose the actor (or real life person) to play that character. That is fun for me when I do it.
    I virtually always read the book before the movie- BUT, I didn’t do that with “Game of Thrones” which worked out very well for me. I think that is because the casting was so perfect.

  5. Round up #186: fewer publishers, fewer books? | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] seeing this right now with Orson Scott Card. I mentioned back in March that I thought there might be protests about the movie based on Card’s popular book, […]

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