For a few weeks, I have been reading this amazing book – Eat, Pray, Love, and I haven’t been able to shut up about it. A memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, the book was written with all the creative energy I can only wish to have. It has taken me to distances, both emotional and physical, that I haven’t gotten close to in reality. Being that I have not really been a fiction person, I honestly haven’t had any reason to say so much about reading well coined stories. However, an autobiography gives almost the same feel of fiction; only that it’s real.

Interestingly, this book happens to have a movie adaptation. I took a few minutes to watch clips from the movie, including its official trailer, and I really did feel bad for those who watched the movie and didn’t read the book. I mean, I haven’t seen this movie yet – particularly because I haven’t completed the book, so the last thing I want to do is talk ill of the film. However, with every four-minute long clip of the movie, I have about ten thousand words worth of information to assess it with.

Through 2016, there were several books that were adapted to movies. The 5th Wave, Allegiant, The Jungle Book, and The Queen of Katwe, were some of the books that made the big screen in 2016. Knowing that more would be made this year, the last thing you want to do is ruin the experience of the book for yourself, by watching the movie first. The books are, arguably, always better. But if you need to watch the movie, reading the book first, might just redefine the experience for you this year. Here’s why.

1) Creative imagination

On watching the official trailer of Eat Pray Love, I was startled for the first few seconds. The lady was Julia Roberts! I mean, Julia Roberts is a great actress. But then, the woman in my head was…different. If I watched the movie first, I’ll end up reading the book with the director’s idea at the back of my mind. Imagine reading with the director’s imagination for a whole month – not fab. When reading a book, you are open to a whirlwind of options. You create the protagonist and picture what he or she looks like, the actors are your pawns, and you have that freedom to think of exactly what you want your movie to look like. It is one of those moments where everything seems perfect, because it is truly yours. The problem with the movie, is that you are constrained – badly. This is the first, and most important reason to ready first and watch later; let your creative imagination live and put your imagination ahead of that of the director.

2) You get the full story

The plot in a movie can only be as complex as it can fit into two hours. A movie can be beautifully created, with the right cast and the right feel. But the entire plot of the book would not be able to fit into the movie no matter how hard the director tries. Reading the book first gives that fuller plot. You know what really happened, and you can tell why certain things happen. You get the entire plot, and the backstory would offer impeccable insight and understanding. It will almost come off as a déjà vu. With the full story, you would have the opportunity to put pieces together and go in depth to story with its own history. This richness is what makes the story come alive, because suddenly it seems real. It is relatable, and it becomes as rich as life itself.

3) You get the full character descriptions

While reading a book, you relate better with the characters. You can literally read their minds and understand their every action. A movie would certainly not give you that. It shows you only the scenes that are directly relevant to the plot. In the real sense, these somewhat irrelevant pieces sometimes are the very things that gives the characters life. We get to relate better with them and develop a sense of connection with them and their minds. In movies, you can fault them for the actions they make very easily, because you don’t understand the rationale behind them. The characters are rigid, and can only impress you so much. Their backstories are almost extinct, and you are left with a very tiny piece of information to hold on to. At the end of the day, you end up asking questions that the book would have given you on a platter of gold.

4) The movies could be altered

One very common challenge that comes up, is that the movies lie far from the story of the book. The thing is, the movie is entirely the directors’; hence, his idea of it might be different, and that is what he would chose to show. The plot could change as well. The director can decide that the original ending of the book doesn’t just make sense and devise his. “Whatchu’ gonna do about it?” At the end of the day, the book remains your only source of truth. You get to see the real ending, and the original idea the author had for it. After this, there is really no loss if you choose to see the movie. You still know more than the average person about it.

5) Translation Lapses

Words have this ability to embellish details in the most mentally pictorial way possible. “He stared at me with his brown fiery eyes from across the room, and it hit me like rays of the morning sun”. Words take you to that one point of nirvana that only your mind can get you to. However, translating all of it to a movie is not only impossible, but highly illogical – all the details just cannot be placed in the same movie. Hence, some important scenes get cut off, and a lot of salient information get lost in translation. When you’ve read the book, it would be easy to put the missing pieces together. You would probably help everybody else understand the story as well.

6) The movie can come out wrong

There is nothing more annoying than a great book with a poorly acted movie. Maybe the actors were wrong for the movie, maybe they didn’t just connect well with themselves, or maybe the director just did a really shabby job. Whatever reason the movie ends up bad, the last thing you want, is for it to ruin your perception of the book. Even worse is that the movie can end up getting bad reviews. Very few people would want to spend any time at all, trying to figure out if the book sucks as much as the movie does. If at all, the negativity you already associate with the movie, would distort the reading experience for you. On the flip side, if you read the book first, you have nothing to lose and a lot to say about the dangers of poor production.

7) The book is just always better

Even though a handful of people would disagree with this, the truth is that the book would always still be better – unless the author did a really bad job, then the book wouldn’t even have the chance of being adapted to a movie in the first place. When you read, you escape into the book or novel for a while. It is almost as if you’ve lost your bearing in the universe, and you are stuck in this time loop somewhere in your ever so beautiful mind. Books develop our thinking as well. The reason you start every day, looking forward to the time you can squeeze out of your busy routine, is the disconnect reading can offer you. For a short period, you are in a wold of your own and nothing can ruin it – even if its thirty minutes on the bus ride to work, it always just seems worth it.

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Ejiro Lawretta Egba is a young chartered accountant and writer from Nigeria. She holds a degree in Accounting and is a qualified member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. She is currently a Financial Analyst for a private equity firm in Nigeria, a ghost writer, and a writer/contributor for a number of websites and platforms, both home and abroad. With an immense passion for knowledge acquisition, she seeks to contribute her own quota to the African community and beyond. For info and inquiries, contact via: lawrettawritesbookreviews@yahoo.com