Monday, March 3, 2014

Based on the Book

Last spring, I had a blast with my informal Book Talk series.  Not only was it fun to discuss reading quirks and choosing books to read to kids  or when to quit a book, but I also looked forward to the discussion in the comments.  This month, I'm starting another fun, easygoing series about books and movies

The book is always better than the movie version, right?!  Well, not always.  In this series, I will discuss books that I thought were superior to the movie knock-offs and books that fell short of the movies they inspired.  We'll even talk about instances when both the book and the movie were excellent...and books to read in anticipation of movies coming out this year! I hope you'll join in with your opinion, too. 


There are endless possibilities when discussing books that were made into movies.  I started making a list and never came to the end of my brainstorming.  Today, I want to discuss 4 great books that fell short in movie form.

The Book Was Better
{All book titles are Amazon affiliate links.} 

The movie version of  The Wizard of Ozby L. Frank Baum is a classic, but until I read the book to my kids last year, I had no idea how much the two differed.  The book was full of witty dialog, plus the story arc is longer and more complicated and there are lands outside of Oz to explore.  The Wicked Witch only earns a short mention, but there are other villains to watch out for, too. The basic premise of the story stays the same, but the ending is entirely different, and forget the part about the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow being farmhands.  It's not in the book.  

Plenty of movies alter the plot of the book, but when we watched the movie again after the reading the book, none of us were impressed. 

I read  Holesby Louis Sachar on a whim and was totally sucked in.  I couldn't put it down because the story was so intriguing and I needed to know what was going to happen at the end.  I expected to enjoy the movie, too, but got bored before an hour had passed. 

In the movie's defense, Brian never read the book and he thought the movie was really good.  Maybe it's because the movie stuck closely to the book and since I already knew what was going to happen, I felt like I was wasting my time.  {I'm kind of like that.  I get bored or fall asleep if I don't do something-- laundry, mending, snacking (ha!)-- while watching TV!}

I realize I'm saying I didn't like the movie The Wizard of Oz because it varied too much from the book and I didn't like the movie Holes because it was so similar to the book that the was nothing new to keep my interest.  I realize that, but  this is all about opinions, right?!

Confessions of a Shopaholic
by Sophie Kinsella might be a poor choice for discussion because the book was not excellent.  It was fluffy chick-lit and not great literature. However, it was a lot of fun to read and yet the movie version was sort of blah.  I watched the movie before I read the book and was not impressed.  I watched it again after I read the book, thinking I would enjoy it since I knew the characters better.  I still wasn't impressed.

The Helpby Kathryn Stockett is probably another poor choice because I actually thought the movie was superb.  Still, the book was even better.  In fact, it is one of the best books I've ever read.  I've heard the book criticized for rambling.  I've also heard it criticized for the fact that a white female author wrote the story in a vernacular of a black female housemaid.  For me, it all worked perfectly.  I may have been intimidated by the thickness of the book, but that was until I cracked it open and was captured by the characters and their daily life.  I wish the movie hadn't altered a few minor plot points, but overall, I was happy that the filmmakers maintained the integrity of the story. 

Let's start the discussion!  What books did you like better better than their movie counterparts?

And don't miss it week when we'll talk about instances when the movie was better!


  1. I think the Chronicles of Narnia books are far superior than any of their movie renditions. Probably because I "knew" in my mind how everyone is supposed to look and sound in the books, and the casting directors didn't consult me! ;) Plus, I get irked when movies change plot details.

    1. I never watched the Narnia movies, but my husband did. He agrees with you!

    2. I definitely agree that these books are better than the movies, even though I thought the movies were well done. I felt like some of the plot changes actually changed the integrity and like-ability of the characters.

  2. Two disappointments come to mind immediately when considering movies based on books. The first is The Last of the Mohicans. I can understand why sometimes a director will add some dramatic elements to "sell" a movie (even if I don't like the changes), but this movie changed such little details that, to me, seemed pointless. (For example, why reverse the characters of Cora and Alice? What did that accomplish...except maybe to confuse someone who had read the book?)

    The second was Paddle-to-the-Sea based on the book by Holling C. Holling. I was thoroughly disappointed in the fact that the places on the journey were not told in order. They were actual points on the map! How can you change where things are geographically located?

    I know there are many more, because once I read a book, the movie almost never measures up to my expectations. I am a hard sell, I guess. :)

    1. I had forgotten about The Last of the Mohicans! I loved the book and was mystified as to why they would switch the characters names for the movie. I can even see why some movies leave out characters for simplicity, but why switch their names?!


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