On books and movies.

3.13.2013

I've been dying to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower ever since it came out in theaters last September. I originally planned on seeing it with a group of friends for my birthday, but those plans never played out. I almost convinced Jason to take me to see it on Thanksgiving—again, due to a busy schedule, it just didn't happen. Which is why I was ecstatic when my friend let me borrow his copy to watch over spring break. I couldn't wait to spend a few hours vicariously reliving all of the fun and frustration of high school with the film's young, vibrant trio. And there's clearly an uplifting message, too! If I'm being real with you, the trailer is enough to bring tears to my eyes. Take a look:



Chills, I tell you. Chills. 

I was so close to diving in last night—at eleven o'clock, I was in bed with my comfy PJs on, my computer fully charged and ready to go—when I had a very unfortunate thought: if the movie is as good as I think it will be, the book must be absolutely amazing. 

Why was that particular revelation so disappointing, you may ask? Well, here's the thing. I have a very hard time reading books after I've watched their onscreen counterparts. For example, I trudged slowly (and somewhat painfully) through the first five Harry Potter books in the 10th grade because I had seen the films multiple times and already knew what was going to happen...but I gobbled up the sixth and seventh books with fervor, never knowing what to expect. During my first few months of college, I saw Water for Elephants in theaters and loved it, but when I tried to pick up the novel, I spent nearly six months reading a few pages here and there until I finally decided to put it down for good. Last year, I gave into seeing The Hunger Games with a few friends before getting halfway through the first novel, which is probably why the second book turned out to be my favorite. Without trying to sound like a complete snob, reading a good novel is simply not the same experience when I've already seen the story brought to life by Hollywood. That's their imagination at play, not mine—and I have hard time separating those images from my mind's eye when I'm reading. Plus, who wants to have the most riveting parts of a novel given away before they get their hands on it? In order to avoid such disappointment, I've learned to either read the novel first or not read it at all. 

I will say, however, that I really look forward to watching movies after I've read their corresponding novels, partly due to my curiosity (but mostly because of my love for the big screen). In that case, the movie can't possibly "ruin" the novel for me, because the novel has already been read and relished. Unlike most readers, I don't judge movies based on how closely they resemble the book. The way I see it, if a movie can stand alone and shine, it doesn't necessarily need to be identical to its inspiration. What are your thoughts on this? (You'd be surprised by the strong opinions I've heard before.)

Anyway, I'm sure you can understand my current predicament, however ridiculous it may be: If I watch Perks now, I won't be able to read the novel and fully enjoy it... And I really don't want to miss out on a great read. On the other hand, if I wait, I can look forward to reading the novel sans spoilers... But I'm not sure when I'll have time to read it, and the wait to watch the movie is killing me! Decisions, decisions. (Ahem, first world pains.) Is there anyone out there who's read the book and seen the movie? What do you suggest?

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