When Books Become Movies

Josie Leavitt -- March 18th, 2014

I can’t help but be curious how the Divergent movie is going be when it opens next week. I have not seen reviews yet, but judging from the increase in book sales last week, I have say people are getting excited. As a bookseller I love that the movie’s release is driving folks to the store; as a fan of the book, I can’t help but be nervous about the book’s adaptation.

When books get made into movies things change. Sometimes for the better, though this is rare. In fact the only time I think a movie has been better than the book was Ordinary People. Other than that, I usually leave the theater angry that so much has been left out or outright changed. There is a condensing of the book that has to happen, but often the parts that are left out were the ones that added richness to novel. Adapting a few hundred pages of a book into a something Hollywood thinks will work as a movie cannot be easy.

Customers are still mad at the changes in the Hunger Games films, although I thought they did a really good job of capturing the essence of the book.  Same thing happened with Harry Potter, although the general consensus is those two franchises did a really good job of keeping the book’s integrity and not jettisoning the quiet moments that made the books so good. One thing that I’m really enjoying is the rush to read, or reread books “before the movie ruins it,” as several customers have said.

So, readers, I’m curious: what are some of your favorite movie adaptations, and which ones are your worst?