In high school, I had to write an essay on whether books are better friends or humans, and like the antisocial bookworm that I was, I chose books. How wrong I was?
Books are one of the earliest modes of communication. They have entertained us, taught us, and kept us company for thousands of years but they can never replace talking to a human, discussing the book itself, or telling stories to each other.
In recent years movies have gained a lot of notoriety as a new form of storytelling many teenagers would rather watch a movie than spend their time reading a book. Because of the popularity of movies, many of the books have been adapted into movies and thus a new dilemma entered my head. Are books better or movies? Let’s dive deeper into this debate and try to come up with an unbiased answer.
First, let’s look at the reasons why the majority of people think books are better than movies.
Books Aid in Mental Development
A person can truly enjoy reading a book if they have a great imagination. Visualization is a big part of reading as one has to convert the author’s words into vivid images in their head. Reading books helps our visualization as it aids in our mental development and they also help develop empathy in us which makes us better human beings. Some people say that people who read are less likely to have diseases like Dementia in old age.
There have also been some studies that show that people who read books land better jobs and hence, earn more money. This can be because when you read a book, you are subconsciously learning new words, formulating sentences, and correcting punctuation.
Books Provide a More Complex & Lasting Experience
It is common sense to know that books last longer than movies. While most movies last for approximately 2 hours, books can last for days, depending on the reading speed of the person. During this time the reader’s imagination is enchanted as they imagine the setting, the appearance, and even the voice of the character. Due to the length of time spent with a book, a reader absorbs the story more and relates with the characters on a much deeper level.
A reader creates a mental image of the character and the different scenes, this will be different for everyone and give each of them a unique interpretation of the story. The reading experience is also spiced up because of the authors writing style and also the story is more personal to the reader as the character is molded and is multidimensional in the many pages a book has to tell the story.
Books Are More Detailed Than Movies
Since movies are shorter than books, no matter how much the directors and producers may care about the book, there is only so much they can fit in the 2-hour movies (sometimes even less). Even if the movie is made with love and cares for the source material, it is very difficult (mostly impossible) to fit information worth hundreds of pages in just 120 minutes approximately.
This leads to some lines, chapters, and even entire characters being axed from the movie. Plus, the directors want a big return on their investment which causes them to change some aspects of some books just to make them more commercial so that they sell more tickets.
Just because it is not an original idea and is inspired by a book, that does not mean that all movie-to-book adaptations are bad. Some adaptation stays true to the source material and at times are even better than it.
Movies Are Shorter
One of the reasons why people nowadays prefer to watch a movie is because of its length. Like mentioned above a movie's length is between approximately 90 to 120 minutes which makes it much easier to go through all the story beats and arrive at a satisfying resolution more efficiently.
With the ever-growing choices of content to consume available today, the attention span of people is shortening day by day. This is why many people choose movies, they can go out and socialize with their friends while watching a movie, and a book just cannot allow that quick fun experience.
Movies Are More Stimulating
We have talked about how books help you with your imagination but what about those people who are not good at it? Reading a book will be harder for those people because they are only able to imagine bland images of what’s happening and not enjoy it as much as someone who can have a realistic and vivid image in their heads by just reading the text.
For such people, movies are a better option than books because they can imagine for these people. Movies have an advantage over books – where in a book the author can only rely on his words and the reader's imagination, a movie has many more mediums in it such as visuals and sounds. This enhances the experience of watching a movie and sometimes even provides a different interpretation of the events.
Movies Bring Characters to Life
It is a weird feeling when you go to watch a movie adaptation of your favorite. You are excited to see the characters and the world come to life but also you are afraid that the movie might just run it for you. A lot of this has to do with the actors and how well they perform. A bad performance can ruin the movie and even the book for some people but a good performance by an actor can make the movie a hit. In some cases, the actor is so dedicated to the role that they end up making the character their own.
Some great examples are Forest Gump is a great example of this, no one can think of anyone else but Tom Hanks in the role, or Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, these are characters engrained in our minds and we cannot imagine anyone else playing the parts.
With the points discussed above you can come up with your conclusions but here's what I think is better.
Books or Movies?
Even though movies have a lot of advantages to them, many teenagers are flocking to the theatres to watch them and I do enjoy a visual spectacle, selfishly I will have to go with the majority and choose books.
This is because books are more beneficial. Even if the book and the movie tell the same story, the person who reads the book gains more from the experience. The person learns and grows while reading a book, they relate to the book on a much deeper level and carry the lessons taught in those books within themselves for a long time.
In the end, I would leave you with a quote by Isabella Jones from a report she published about why she thinks books are a better experience than watching a movie.
“Readers are leaders!”
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