Is the book really better than the movie?

Is the book really better than the movie?

The important thing should be our pursuit of knowledge, our thirst to know more.

Have you got friends who whine, “the book was better than the movie”?. If you don’t, chances are, you are the friend. In some cases, the book is definitely better than the movies. (*cough* Percy Jackson *cough*) Recently I have been thinking about it a lot. Why do people not read books if books are better? Why do people watch movies instead? I don’t have many friends who read. I also don’t have many friends, so that might be just me. But I think we can all agree that books are way less popular than Netflix. And as a reader who is still trying to read more books, this baffled me. Why don’t more people read?

After all, reading helps us unlock our imagination, opens up new worlds to us, and improves creativity and vocabulary. That’s not all; books often put us in someone else’s shoes. Personally, it has made me a lot more empathetic. It broadens the horizons of our thoughts. Reading a first-person narrative of the struggles of a victim of racism puts a different spin on it. We go through a character’s thoughts, their memories, feel their pain, see their weakness and vulnerabilities. It makes everything a lot easier to understand. So if books are so good, why are people not reading?

If you think about it reading is an elitist hobby. Before you bite my head off, stay with me on this one. Reading is time-consuming. Let’s take Harry Potter books for reference. It takes an average reader about 60 hours to read the entire series. All eight movies can be seen in about 20 hours. Do you see the problem here? Reading the same series takes thrice the time you need to watch the film. This is roughly the same with any book and movie scenario. Unless you are reading Lord of the Rings, then it gets worse. If you are thinking, sure, reading is time-consuming, but everyone has the same 24 hours, you’d be wrong. A college student who has to attend classes for 6 hours, an employee who works for almost 10 hours a day or a person who has to do the chores and work for 10 hours daily may not have the same amount of time. Many people barely scrape through; they clearly don’t have enough time to invest in a book. Especially if they can find the same on Netflix, which takes one third the time, guess what they’d choose?

Reading is an expensive hobby. Whether you read paperbacks, hardcovers or digital books, reading is far more costly than, say, a Netflix or an Amazon Prime subscription. You can easily enjoy a months worth of Netflix for the price of a single book. If you read using an e-reader, it still costs a good amount to but it initially. Not everyone is privileged enough to spend so much on a hobby. Not everyone has a sheltered life. There might be people who are struggling to make ends meet each month. They won’t even consider buying even second handbooks because that would shake up everything.

Reading usually begins at a young age. Most of the people I know have started reading as kids. They all have their parents who bought them their first book and read bedtime stories to thank for it. Not a lot of people had parents who bought books for them, not a lot of children have a happy childhood. They may not talk about it, but their parents didn’t come home with books in their hand, and they don’t have sweet memories of bedtime stories. This is not to say adults cannot develop a reading routine, of course anyone can start reading  at any time. 

Reading requires education, at least to an extent. This may seem obvious; you actually have to know how to read to have reading as a hobby. According to a recent study, 32 million children in India have never been to school. Let that sink in. So obviously, it is not an option to read if you can’t read. However, movies and other forms of media win this round. You don’t need to go to school to watch movies. Not to mention the fact that with the technological advancements we have made in the past decade alone, other forms of media and communication has become more accessible than books. I find it strange that we consider books to be a source of knowledge. Seems a little, dare I say, old fashioned. I mean, sure, that must have been true some 50 years ago. You might learn just as much by watching a 30-minute video as from reading for two hours. The important thing should be our pursuit of knowledge, our thirst to know more.

So the book may be better than the movie, but the film is not less than the book. Not many people have the privilege of reading. If you do, by all means, enjoy the book. Just don’t look down on people who enjoy movies alone. And don’t ruin the film for them by griping the book was better. Come on, be better than that. Don’t judge people who don’t read. That obviously goes without saying. Sometimes people forget that other people have a very different life from theirs. As a reader, it might be easier for you to put yourself in their shoes for a moment before you judge. This is not to say, don’t read. Reading is incredible, just that it’s okay if you don’t read. The movies are good too. Whatever works for you. The world is big enough for bookworms and cinephiles. Don’t you think?

PS: I am a little salty about a little spat I had with someone, which prompted the whole book versus movie debate. So that was my main motivation behind this post.

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