Sunday, June 16, 2013

Read Books and reap the Benefits

Dear readers,
The photograph above shows three of my favorite novels. Starting clockwise at 12 O' Clock they are the following: The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway, The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. I am sure you have all heard the old cliche that "reading a great book is like watching a great movie," but I, for one, happen to believe that reading a great book actually supersedes watching a great movie. While I must admit that I enjoy watching movies as much as the next guy, and there are certain movies such as The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, and Tombstone which I will never grow tired of, I happen to believe that reading has the ability to spark our imaginations in a way that Hollywood films simply cannot. When we read a novel, we have more control over the story than we do when we are watching a movie. We are able to picture and visualize the characters and scenes for ourselves. For me, the 2008 western film Appaloosa is a great example of how the characters contrived in our imaginations, from the stories we read, do not always resemble the characters that appear when the same story finds its way onto the big screen. 

In Appaloosa, Ed Harris plays Virgil Cole, the main protagonist of the movie which is based on the novel of the same name, and Harris also directed the movie and co-wrote the screenplay. Although I think that Harris is a great actor, I did not picture him as Virgil Cole, but visualized a character who was more akin to the actor Sam Elliot instead as I read through this Robert B. Parker masterpiece. I must admit, however, that I still really enjoyed watching Appaloosa, and I thought it was a well done, and faithful, adaptation of the novel.  

There have also been many instances when film adaptations of novels have been less than faithful, and material we have enjoyed from the novel gets left behind when the book becomes a movie. For example,  in the 2003 film Dreamcatcher, which is a film adaptation of Stephen King's Sci-Fi thriller of the same name, and tells the tale of four lifelong friends who encounter extraterrestrials on their annual deer hunting trip in northern Maine, the characters are not nearly as fleshed out as they are in the book. Furthermore, we are also robbed of seeing the character Beaver's shoulder length "hippie hair," which is described in the novel, as well as the character Henry's "owl like" horn-rimmed glasses. Furthermore, if I may cite another example, for as great as the Lord of the Rings movies are, Tom Bombadil, the enigmatic character from the LOTR novels, is unfortunately omitted from the film trilogy.     

I would like to encourage anyone who may be reading this post to begin reading more novels. Take a movie that you enjoyed, that was based a novel, and if you have not already done so, go out and read the novel and then compare and contrast the movie to the book. 

I would also like to take a moment to further explain the title of this blog post. One of the reasons I wanted to advocate reading is because in addition to helping our imaginations, I happen to believe that reading is also beneficial to our vocabularies. It introduces us to new words, and consequently, having an enhanced vocabulary allows us to become more eloquent speakers. I believe that all of us should strive to be intelligent, articulate, and well spoken and I believe that reading more novels is a great way to help us achieve this goal. Moreover, talking about books you have read almost automatically makes you appear more intelligent, and you may very well be asked to name the last book you have read during a job interview someday! 

Till next time my friends and happy reading!