Thursday, January 26, 2012

Read It First

So just this month, I joined the Read It 1st campaign, pledging to read the book before I watched its movie version.  I've always believed in reading a book first for several reasons.  For one, I like to imagine things my own way, and when I'm reading a book, I don't want someone else's interpretation in my head.  Especially if theirs is awful.  Secondly, I prefer books to movies and TV shows, so there's always a likelihood that I'll never even get around to watching the movie anyway.  Third, a movie adaptation can be such a flop that it could turn me away from a book.  If I hadn't read Eragon first, only watched the movie, I never would have bothered picking up the book.  And finally, there are those rare occasions where the movie is actually better than the book.  It doesn't happen very often, but in the case of Princess Diaries and Under the Tuscan Sun, both books were absolutely awful.  I saw the movies, both of which I loved, and expected the books to be amazing.  Big disappointment.

So I prefer to read it first, but what about listening first?  I hadn't really considered the audiobook as part of the Read It 1st campaign until my brother told me something interesting.  One of his friends had been listening to an audiobook (I Am Number Four), and after listening to it, she told him that it was a badly written book.  I loved that book (gave it an A+), and I truly hate bad writing, so I tried not to take the insult personally  ;-)

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that an audiobook is no different than a movie adaptation.  It's someone else's interpretation of a book.  You're listening to how they think it should be read-- their vocal inflections, character voices, and emotional investment.  I can think of several times when an audiobook just didn't get it right, in my opinion.  When I was little, my parents had The Hobbit on tape.  The narrator completely turned me off from the book; thank goodness I decided to give it a try, but it wasn't until years later.  Another example is The Lord of the Rings audiobook from the library.  My friend Mary was reading the book before seeing the movie and I figured I would too, but I wanted to try the audiobook instead.  I gave up on that before a few chapters were done.  I'm a fast reader, and listening to someone else read at a snail's pace (to me) was incredibly off-putting.  And when I tried listening to a book I'd already read, that was even worse.  I bought a few Georgette Heyer audiobooks, and even though I loved Richard Armitage's voice as he read The Inconvenient Marriage, his interpretation of the main character didn't remotely match how I'd envisioned her in my head.  I had pictured her as a feisty, spirited heroine who laughed in the face of danger, and he read her as timid and frightened.

So I've decided that besides putting off watching the movie/TV adaptations until I've read the book, I'll also put aside the audiobook version as well.  I've also decided that besides following the rules of the Read It 1st campaign, I'm also going to go back and read the book versions of the movies I've seen in the past.  There are many that I hadn't realized were based on a book or story, and I've decided to see how they compared to each other.  Of course that does mean reading it second, but it also means the start of a new series on my blog.  During the year, I will be doing a series called Book Vs. Movie.  As I read a book and then see the movie (or read the book after having already seen the movie), I'll review them together.  I've made a list of as many as I could find, and it's seven pages long, so it looks like this will be a nice long series that may take me more than just 2012 to finish.  If my Netflix movies arrived today like they should, the first Book Vs. Movie review should be up tomorrow.  Enjoy!

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