Read the book first #3

Read the book first #3

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 adaptations coming to US movie theatres in 2014…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).

Outside of The Hunger Games, there were several box office disappointments last based on young adult fiction: Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments, and The Host all failed to gross $40 million at the US box office (for more box office information for last year, see my post, 2013 The Year in Movie Box Office in The Measured Circle). However, this adaptation, including Shaileene Woodley and Kate Winslet, has been getting a bit of buzz. The two sequels already have release dates booked, so you might just want to start reading all three books: The Divergent Series Complete Collection (at AmazonSmile). It’s a dystopian novel, categorized on the product page as Teen & Young Adult Romance.

Directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls), based on a six novel series for young adults. Features Sarah Hyland and Gabriel Byrne.

Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Jumper) directs Tom Cruise with a script co-written by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects). Sort of sounds like Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. 🙂

It’s nice to see this one on the list, being made from a book published three decades ago (rather than a currently popular title). Producer/screenwriter Akiva Goldsman directs Colin Farrell, Will Smith, Russell Crowe, and Jennifer Connelly in this fantasy romance.

Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel has sold literally millions of copies and won the Newbery medal. The cast includes Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift.

There are five…here is a list of some of the others:

  • The Maze Runner
  • Heaven Is for Real
  • This Is Where I Leave You
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Paddington
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  • The Hobbit: There and Back Again
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
  • Gift from Eykis

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

11 Responses to “Read the book first #3”

  1. Harold Delk Says:

    Would love to hear your take on movie vs book of “Slaughterhouse Five” and “The Little Prince.” I generally read the book first and usually do not bother with the film version.

  2. PJ Says:

    I am a 64 year old former educator and publishing executive and had no idea that some people actually hear dialog and visualize scences when reading. What a revelation! I am looking forward to checking this out with my friends. Thanks for giving me a new ideaa to think about today—-never to old to learn something new.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, PJ!

      I’m so glad you told me that! I have told that story previously in the blog, and I’m always a bit reluctant to repeat them. However, I know that many people encounter them for the first time when I do, and I don’t think people who have been exposed to them in the past mind encountering them again (or, in many cases, even remember it). As an educator, I’m sure you repeated explanations (and contextual anecdotes) for different classes, and this is similar.

      I think you’ll be surprised at how surprised many of the people are that you ask about this…I think most people just assume that everybody does it, and in fact, some believe it is inherent in really enjoying a book.

  3. Zebras Says:

    I have no problem going either way book first or movie first.

    I have seen you write several times before that you don’t visualize the book or hear the voices, and I hadn’t really thought about it much in terms of me before. But upon analyzing it, I realize I must do some visualization because I’ve been to places where stories have taken place, and I’ve compared it to the ideas I’ve had in my head. But as for hearing the voices? I don’t think I do. I remember the first time I hear my favorite book as an audio book, I really had a hard time with the character’s voice, because I think her voice was my own voice when I read the book. LOL That’s why I do enjoy audio books, but I won’t use the whispersinc and go back and forth between straight reading and an audiobook, because it would be like skipping part of a movie.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!


      When I do listen to an audiobook, it’s only when I’ve already read the book. Then, like you, I wouldn’t jump back and forth between them. It sounds like you did “hear” a voice, but it was your own voice. Do you think you had different voices for different characters? Did they all sound odd to you on the audiobook?

      • Zebras Says:

        My favorite book might be a bad example, as its written in the first person, and the beginning of a long series, and it was one of the earlier audio books i listened to, so it was a bit of a shock. So i’ve been analyzing my reading style tonight and i don’t think i hear characterisations in my head. Not even sure i hear my voice most of the time.

        Another observation about reading books after movies is that I deliberately waited until after all the Harry Potter movies had come out to read the boo k s and i got bored about three books in cause I knew the plots too well.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Zebras!

        I’m glad I’ve prompted you to some mindfulness…even though that can be distracting at times. 🙂

        Your observation on Harry Potter is interesting: to me, those books weren’t predominantly about the plot…I found the characters and the environment to be especially interesting.

  4. Melissa Says:

    I too don’t visualize characters when I read…and I’m the avid-est of avid readers, so it clearly doesn’t diminish my love of books. I can’t imagine having so much … connection? … to a written character as to have imagined the shape of their chin!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Melissa!

      I think it’s just a different type of processing. If I did visualize someone, I presume it would be with a chin. 🙂

  5. KL Says:

    If I’m going to read the book, I don’t watch the movie first. Like your SO, I picture the character and hear the voice in my head when I read. Seeing the movie first makes it very difficult for me to enjoy the book because I see and hear the actor instead of allowing the book to let me imagine it on my own.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, KL!

      Yep, that makes sense. It isn’t what happens with me, but I suppose there is some parallel for me with me not wanting to hear audiobooks if I haven’t read the book. I don’t hear the voices, but I don’t like to hear the actor’s interpretations.

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