Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Bookish Dilemma: Book First, Or Movie?

Idris Elba as The Gunslinger in The Dark Tower

It's been just over a month since my last post, so I'm throwing myself on the mercy of anyone who's still following this blog. I am currently facing a bookish dilemma, and I'm hoping that readers will advise me.

My library has a book group that runs throughout the summer, and the next selection is Stephen King's The Gunslinger, first in the Dark Tower series. I love that the book group makes me read outside my usual genres, but I haven't read any Stephen King since waaay back in the 1980s when I read Cujo, which may have scarred me for life -- I went through a King phase in my youth and read most of his early stuff. I liked some of it but I'm an avid dog lover and Cujo killed any interest I had in reading any more of his works (though The Shining made for one of the best TV literary bits ever on Friends. Spoiler alerts if you haven't read The Shining or Little Women). 

But I digress. The book group doesn't meet until the end of the month, and normally, I wait until about a week or so before the meeting to start the book, so it's fresh in my mind for the discussion. However, I just saw the schedule for the upcoming movies at the movie theater nearby, and The Dark Tower starts showing on Friday. Movies here on the military base usually only run for about a week, then they come back about three or four weeks later for a second run, filling in at odd times like matinees and off-days. So if I want to watch the movie, I should try to catch it in the next week or I may lose my chance.

And this is my dilemma: do I read the book this week before I go to the movies, and possibly become disappointed because it doesn't live up to my expectations? Movie and TV adaptations rarely live up to how I imagine a story when I'm reading it, and if I see the movie later it nearly always changes how I picture it from that day forward.  I read the first four Harry Potter books before I saw the first movie (which I found fair to middling) and now I'll always picture Hogwarts and all the characters like the movie actors and scenes.

Or do I watch the movie first, then read the book just before the book discussion, like I normally do?  If I watch the movie first, I'll be picturing Idris Elba and all the other actors when I read the book. Of course, if I read the book first, I'll be prepared for any scary scenes. I don't think The Gunslinger is considered horror, but you never know with Stephen King. (I'll just make sure I have enough space in the freezer, just in case).

So here's my query: if a book is being adapted into a movie (or TV series), and you haven't read it yet, do you read it before watching the adaptation, or wait and watch the adaptation first? Does it matter? Should I just skip the movie altogether? And what are your favorite literary bits on TV shows? Does anyone really put scary books in the freezer?