Books to Movies to TV Shows

November 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm (Reviews, The Whim)

I’m a bibliophile – a crazed book junkie.  But more than that, I’m a sucker for a good story.  So, admittedly, when it comes down to it I can enjoy a well-crafted TV Show storyline just as easily as a classic like Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.

I grew up with the token line “read the book, its always better than the movie.” I lived and breathed this credo, I pushed it on others as a bookseller.  Up until recently, I’d vow that it was complete and utter truth.

But has anyone noticed how crafty these TV Show writers have been getting?  Look at Lost, the whole nation was hooked.  And then all the  over-rated vampire dramas… True Blood, I must say, was pretty fascinating.  The book series counterpart by Charlainne Harris, uuuhhh, cute and funny – but not something that would keep me going back for more except for the fact that I can’t stand being that person that has watched the show or movie and not read all the books, being that person hurts my soul.

The whole phenomenon of liking the show better than the books threw me for a loop.  I’m not that person – I always enjoy the books better.  Look at The Scarlet Pimpernel: God only knows I adore Jane Seymour, but nothing compares to just reading it all for myself.  Jane Austen renditions I could eat up day after day, but you’ll never get me to concede that I’d take any of the movie versions over the books ever.  East of Eden, Nicholas Nickleby, Wuthering Heights, Harry Potter, my list of loves goes on and on,  and as fabulous as some of the movie versions get they just can never compete with the books.

Until lately.  I saw White Oleander and despite its major differences from Janet Fitch’s original work, I loved it, and will re-watch the movie long before I’ll re-read the written format.  Girl Interrupted… I adore Susanna Keysen, but man, Angelina Joli and Winona Ryder did such an awesome job, I was riveted.  And finally, to my shame, I have a closet addiction to the TV Show The Vampire Diaries.  Its lame, I know, the whole ‘I’m in highschool and I’m doomed to love this vampire from first sight’ business is such a racket and mostly I hate it.  (The Twilight book series stressed me out beyond belief, I didn’t really care for it although it was entertaining – but overall, pretty awful.)   Yet, here I was this week, hooked on the Vampire Diaries (thanks to Netflix) and I thought: The books are bound to be even better, after all they are books.

So, I bought the first two.  I’m reading them.  I’m HATING them.  How did a TV Show screen writer write such riveting stuff based on a book that is not remotely riveting at all?  The books are so young, and in comparison the show is so much older.  The Elena of the book is so shallow and a huge jerk so far, completely obsessed with herself and her status, and the Elena of the show is actually a bit lovable with the makings of a heroine.

I ask my fellow book readers: How has this happened?  Has book quality gone down so low?  Has the technology and budgeting of the movie and television industry risen so high to make a lame storyline become something fascinating with visual stimulation?  Is it a combination of the two?  Does any other book lovers find themselves in this hypocritical dilemma?  I love my books.  I love discovering the latest Simon Winchester, I love diving into ancient classics, I love studying history and researching ideas and philosophies of the past, I even love my bubble bath reads (the books I call cotton candy for the mind and soul).  And sometimes, I find myself loving the movies and shows just a tad bit better.

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