Three Novels That Are Better Than The Movie

I recently wrote a blog about some films that I enjoyed more than the books they were based on. I think typically we tend to enjoy the book more than the film, but not always. And the three I discussed in that blog far surpassed the story in the book for me. But that’s not typically the case. Today I was thinking about a particular book and it’s film and it inspired me to write this blog. These have been around quite awhile, so not new information, but they were three easy examples for me to write about. As usual, I will try to give my opinions without giving anything away about either story so as not to ruin them for you if you’d like to go back and visit them.

The Tommyknockers

The first is one of the first Stephen King novels I ever read. This was probably over 20 years ago. As you can see, my copy has some wear and tear. This is a fairly scary story, and one that I recall being a page-turner. I read it fairly quickly and really loved it. So when the movie came out I was really excited to see how it translated. I really loved the interpretation of The Stand – but if I recall correctly, that movie is 6 hours long. It’s not easy to get one of King’s books to translate well because the things he puts into your head are far more horrifying than I think can be brought to life at times. Not only that, but his stories are incredibly lengthy sometimes, and it’s tough to get all of that information into a movie. Even knowing all of that, however, and not expecting a miracle, I was sorely disappointed in the movie. I just didn’t feel it was that well done, and it didn’t do the novel – or its characters – any justice.

Beloved

I love Toni Morrison’s books. No one writes like her and her stories truly take you on a journey. I cried reading Beloved – I was so moved by the characters and the hearbreak. The fear and the uncertainty. This novel moved me so much that even now, over 20 years after reading it, I think about it from time to time. I only read it once. I don’t think I could take reading it a second time. I keep it in my library at home though. It’s one of the most moving things I’ve ever read. So when I learned a film was coming out, I was beyond excited. Hearing that Oprah would be in it made it all the more exciting. At the time, I loved Oprah. We went to see it in the theater. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. It’s not that it’s a bad film. But as you often see in interpretations, things get lost. The film isn’t bad, but the book is so, so much better. The emotions and experiences are easier to absorb when you read Morrison’s words – with this one something is definitely lost in translation.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark is 100% one of my all-time favorite books. It is truly horrifying. The stories are terrifying and the illustrations are so disturbing that more recent publications feature newer, less unsettling imagery. Apparently someone decided it was too scary for its intended audience – children. I read it when I was in 4th grade. I couldn’t ever remember seeing anything like it. I wasn’t like most kids though. I was a fan of horror films and looked everywhere for scary books too. This one blew my expectations out of the water. Years ago my brother bought me this one, with all of books in one. Luckily he got his hands on it before they changed the illustrations. Our favorite part. So you can probably imagine how excited we were when we learned that a film was in the works. We were curious how the would take a bunch of short stories and poems and turn them into a movie. Well, it turns out, they didn’t. They chose a few of them and built a story around a group of kids. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to give anything away. The movie just came out in 2019 and my brother and I went to the theater to see it. We were definitely not disappointed. It is a well-done film. The acting is good and it’s just scary enough. I even let my kids watch it at home, on DVD. But there is no possible way to truly capture the horror of those original stories and illustrations. I just don’t think it’s even possible. In this case, I did like the movie. Enough to go and buy it even though I’d already seen it, and I’ve watched a few times. Of the three discussed, this is the one film that, while it didn’t live up to the book, it definitely didn’t disappoint. In fact, a second movie is in the works with the same writers and director signing on and I absolutely can’t wait to see it!

Three Films That Are Better Than The Novels

I’ve always been a bookworm and I’ve always been a cinephile. So there is a real intrigue and joy for me whenever books are made into films. I know that typically people believe that the book is always better. It’s the way the story was meant to be told, and sometimes that is lost in translation when it’s turned into a screenplay. Maybe we feel the characters were miscast or the storyline was butchered or the beauty that belongs to the book is simply missing from the film. But recently I watched a film interpretation that was far better than the book, and decided to share a few with you. I’m going to try not to discuss the storylines too much so as not to ruin them for you if you’ve not read or watched them yet.

The Devil Wears Prada

This one is fairly obvious because, by now, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t at least heard of this, even if they haven’t seen it. I read the book many years ago and, while it was an interesting read, I didn’t really like it. The book version of this film was dark. It was sad and depressing. The characters weren’t as shiny and vibrant and the plot wasn’t as bold. Without ruining it for you in case you haven’t read it and want to, I’ll just say that it was much darker, especially for Lily, than the film was.

On the other hand, the film is many things the book is not. It’s bright and beautiful. It’s funny and endearing. The characters were portrayed in a far better way and were so much more alive and interesting to me. They were more relatable. Not to mention that the perfomances, as we now know, by Streep and the other actors involved, were incredibly well done. I only read the book once, but I’ve watched this film several times. I’d love to entirely replace the negative feelings that the book gave me with the good feelings that the film does. They say that a good writer makes you feel. What those feeling are can really vary and, in this way, you could say that the book was well-written because it made me dislike it. But for me, that doesn’t mean a book is good. I look more to how the story makes me feel and what I take away from it. And in this case, the film did much more of that for me than the book ever could.

A Simple Favor

I’m just going to be honest here, even though it’s going to be brutal. I hate, hate, hated this book. The only reason I finished it was because I had started it and I wanted to see it through. But I literally found myself procrastinating so I wouldn’t have to read it, and audibly sighing while I did. The characters are detestable. I mean: Every. Single. Character. The only characters I didn’t hate were the children, though I did feel sorry for them. I was hoping at some point social services would arrive to remove them from the unstable environment and idiotic adults in the novel. None of the characters were likeable. More than that, they were loathsome. I couldn’t invest in any of them and didn’t want anything good for any of them either. I just hated them so much.

When the movie came out, I was leary. But I do like Blake Lively. She piqued my interest with her involvement in the film, and I did think it looked interesting, so I decided to give it a try. It was enjoyable. I loved Lively’s portrayal of Emily. I also found myself incredibly surprised by how much I liked Anna Kendrick in the film. I’ve never really been a fan of hers, but I loved her in this movie. She was likable and funny, and made me appreciate the character of Stephanie far more than I did in the book. In addition, I really liked the end of the film more than I liked the ending of the book. Books can describe something, but ultimately the visions are formed by the reader. And for me, the movie was far more beautiful than the book as well. The glamour of Emily, the beautiful scenery and sets, the gorgeous clothing – the movie was lovely to watch, and that helps too. Like with the former, I’d happily watch the movie again, and gladly burn the book.

The Girl On The Train

Unlike the last one I discussed, I didn’t hate reading this book. I did find the storyline compelling, and I did want to know what had happened. However, like A Simple Favor, I didn’t love the characters. I couldn’t stand Anna. I think she was the worst one for me, and whenever the book switched to her point of view I was irritated. I trusted Rachel’s narration and really wanted to like her. I guess I did, in a way. I felt sorry for her and I wanted better for her, but it didn’t really like her. I also wasn’t a fan of Scott or Megan’s or Tom’s, and by the end I felt largely disappointed. I suppose all along I was hoping for an ending that would be more interesting or uplifting than the one I got. I was left feeling as though something was unfinished for Rachel and had hoped to see her in a better place.

I just watched the film last night and I’ve found that I did enjoy it over the book, though not quite as much as I did for the others. In the film version the story moved much more quickly (as is often the case when a long novel becomes a film) and I really liked it better that way. In addition, without being able to know Anna as well as I did in the novel, I found that I liked her much, much more. I still didn’t love her character, but I didn’t hate her. The biggest difference for me was Rachel. The Rachel of the novel was irritatingly frustrating. It was hard to read about her mistakes and choices occurring over and over again. But in the film I felt much more sympathetic towards her. It was still hard to see her in so much pain, but it was easier to forgive her missteps.

Oftentimes a film loses so much of what the book intended that it’s nearly impossible to tell the same story both ways. And if you are going to try to then you might find yourself with a 6 hour mini-series or film like Stephen King’s The Stand. Many times the books are altered on purpose in order to deliver a happier ending or a less depressing story because that’s what people like and that’s what they will pay for. Novels are often changed for their film counterparts in order to appeal to a wider audience. And I’m alright with that. Because I’m able to keep the film and the novel separate, I don’t mind seeing another interpretation. Books and films are both magical to me and I enjoy seeing stories told through both mediums. In these three cases, however, I would say it’s safe to go ahead and watch the films and skip the books if you are the kind of person who enjoys a lighter form of entertainment.

Start A Book Club

Last year some of my best friends, women I’ve been friends with for over 20 years, and I started a book club. We all love to read, but as women who are married, working, and/or raising children, we found that we were not reading as much as we used to. Or we wanted to read but didn’t like taking chances on something we wouldn’t like. Years ago we had a book club. It had a few different people in it and It was short lived as we became busier with life, but we got to talking about it at my daughter’s first birthday party and decided to revive it.

Our book club works like this: We each take turns choosing a book, and that person also purchases copies of the book for everyone. This way, we can stay within our individual budgets. We meet once a month, typically on the last weekend of the month, and whomever chose the book hosts the gathering. We also purchase a gift for everyone that is either on theme for the book or the season, or has something to do with reading. For example, a Christmas ornament in December. Doing it this way allows us to choose any book we want a couple of times a year, and we don’t have to worry about the cost because we are choosing the books we purchase. We can decide on an expensive book, or a cheap one. This also introduces us to all types of different books that we might not normally have chosen ourselves.

And while reading is the central reason for a book club, it’s not exactly the real reason that we started it. We started it because we found that we weren’t spending much time together. Our book club meets once a month, every month. If, for some reason, we aren’t able to make it occasionally, that’s alright. If we didn’t have time to finish the book that month, that’s ok too. Because while we do want to read and encourage one another to read, the book club isn’t about books. It’s about self care.

Women are notorious for putting everything in the world above and before themselves. When we are sick, we still take care of our family. When things need to get done, we put completing those projects ahead of our own needs. We are nurturers, problem-solvers, and we are, if nothing else, dedicated. And I can tell you right now, our mental health takes a back seat almost every time. And it happens before you know it. Having this book club puts reading, something I adore, at the forefront of my thoughts. And so at night, instead of being on my phone before bed and researching things or checking my email, or getting caught up in some Twitter drama, I read a book. It’s far more relaxing, and I feel accomplished as well. I also just love getting lost in a story.

But beyond that, beyond reading or the books themselves, the point is that we make time for each other. We make it a priority. In this way, we remember how important it is to take care of ourselves, and that then remains in the forefront of our thoughts throughout the month. For example, about a month ago my life got pretty hectic. My son started school, both the boys started soccer, and our tenants who lived in our rental home vacated without warning, leaving a mess in their wake. During that time I did what I always do and put my focus on what needed to be done. I stopped working out (a venture I had begun only two weeks before), I stopped reading, and I almost skipped book club. But instead, I remembered that book club is the priority. And so, instead of spending a few more hours cleaning our rental property, I stepped out of the madness and spent time with my best friends. Making that the priority reminds me to make myself a priority.

Our book club is more than just a book club, and that’s what makes it special. I encourage you to start one with the people in your life who you love but don’t seem to make time to see. We started our club a little over a year ago, and in that time we’ve spent more time together as a group than we have in many, many years. And in doing so, we are not only making time for each other, but we are taking time for ourselves. We get one night a month to be together, take a break, eat great food, laugh, tell stories, vent our frustrations, share our dreams, and relax. And sometimes, we even take the time to actually discuss the book.

Here are our picks so far, if you’d like to know what we are reading. Note the incredible variety in the novels we’ve chosen. I’ve enjoyed them all and would recommend them as well!

The Joy of Reading

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My favorite collection. From the 1800’s

I’ve always loved reading. I’m not sure why, though they do say that children who are read to have a great chance of becoming avid readers. I don’t remember much about my early childhood. My mother died when I was 5, and they say that tragedy can sometimes block memories. Perhaps that’s why I only have a few memories from that time. I do, however, remember being read to. I also come from a long line of readers. My dad and his mother, my grandma (when she was still alive) are adamant readers. I don’t know if my mom read, but my stepmom is an adamant reader as well.

I remember a dear family friend of ours, her name is Amy Carr, reading Bible stories to me. I remember her helping me try to understand my mother’s death. Helping me to be optimistic that she wasn’t truly gone forever. I remember someone, not sure who, reading the book Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman, to me. And I remember being read several Golden Books and Sesame Street books. And my favorite Golden Book, Where Did The Baby Go? by Colleen T. Hayes.My favorites are still here, in my children’s library.

But most of all, I remember being read to by my cousins, Gretchen and Elizabeth. They would read me my favorite books, Haunted House by Jan Pienkowski and Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. These books were later purchased by me, to read to my children. Once my oldest could read, he read Shel Silverstein books until the pages literally fell out and I had to replace them.

As a young girl I still loved to read. My Aunt Toni would send me care packages, and with them, more books. Some of my favorite books came from her. Behind The Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassidy is probably my favorite book of all time, and it’s one that she sent to me. During that time, I also loved the Sweet Valley Twins book series. I can remember my parents taking me to the bookstore (I know I said my mother died, so not to confuse you, my dad did remarry when I was 10 lol) and letting me choose a book to buy. Sometimes we went to used bookstores, and sometimes we went to new ones. When we went to new ones I could get the next Sweet Valley Twins book. I can remember how excited I was. I’d go home and read the book in one sitting! I can remember my dad telling me to pick a longer book because I’d read them so quickly.

As a teenager, I kept reading. I moved on to teen books. I moved from the Sweet Valley Twins to the Sweet Valley High book series. I also read every book by Christopher Pike that I could get my hands on. And once I was old enough, my stepmom let me start reading her books. My favorites were by V.C. Andrews.

As an adult, I just kept reading. My library continued to grow. I read a lot of Stephen King. I love mystery and horror. I love Toni Morrison. I love Charles Dickens. I love reading. In general.

But over the years, as I focused on my career and then building my family, I stopped reading somewhere along the way. I just stopped having time. I would still occasionally buy a book, thinking I’d get to it eventually. But for years, I never did. Until recently.

My daughter’s first birthday party arrived, and all of our loved ones were there. Including several of my friends whom I don’t see regularly. We were talking and one of us said something about starting a book club, and the others remembered the book club we had started many, many years ago. I don’t think it lasted too long, maybe a few months. But it was a great idea. A book club. A reason to get together with my very best friends once a month. A reason to read again.

I wasn’t sure I’d have the time, but I committed – because I wanted to have the time. I get lost in books. It’s like a vacation for me. I love everything about reading. I really do. And it’s not just the stories that I love, it’s the books. I have zero interest in a Kindle. I want to feel the weight of the book. I want to smell the fresh paper. I want to view the cover of it every time I pick it up.

And so, the first month of our bookclub began, and I read that book in record time. I started making time for myself. Time to read. Time that, I may have used to clean out a closet, I instead sat down and read. Instead of rushing through a shower, I took a bath and spent 15 minutes reading. I started giving my kids playtime in their room for half an hour when the baby goes down for a nap. I sit right outside their room, and I read while they play.

I read the book so quickly that I felt like something was missing. So I got another book. And that’s the one I’m reading now. It’s a paperback, and when I opened it, it was like I’d stepped back in time. The smell of the book took me back to when I was 9 years old, coming home from the bookstore with a new book my parents had bought for me. Sitting down in my room, excited to read the story. The smell was the same. They don’t all smell the same, but this particular one smelled just like that.

And so, I read. I will continue to make this time for myself and to relax and to do something I love. I will continue to make reading a priority. Sometimes we let life get in the way. It’s not that we aren’t choosing ourselves, but we allow the importance of other things – our jobs, our spouses, our children, our duties and obligations – to take extreme precedence over ourselves. To make some time for yourself is not a bad thing. I am still struggling with that. Even now, as a grown woman who can make her own decisions, I feel guilty. Guilty reading when I could be cleaning. Doing laundry. Planning meals. But at the end of the day, I know that not making time for ourselves, not allowing ourselves to relax and enjoy something, is incredibly unhealthy.

So find something that you love to do. And then do it. And don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t feel like choosing yourself occasionally is a bad thing. Making time for yourself is actually the best thing you can do for yourself, the people you love, and the world. Because someone who never does that isn’t healthy. And is too stressed. And can become short-tempered, have difficulty sleeping, and are unhappy. And if we do only get this one life, I think we should make it a good one.

My library, and some of my favorite collections.