There’s a widely-held belief that book people always read the book first, and that they will more often than not insist that said book is better than the movie/television/stage/whatever adaptation. And many of us book people have been led to believe, ourselves, that this is, in fact, how we should be.
But fuck it, y’all!
The truth of the matter is, there are no rules here. I love books, and that is a fact. I also love movies and TV, another fact. And when it comes to adaptations, I’m not gonna worry about the “correct” order in which to consume them, thank you very much. For me, watching the movie first feels better, and here are some reasons why:
It’s a pretty good screening process
I personally don’t have the physical ability to DNF a book. (And I know, I know — this is a problem in and of itself but whatever, let me do me.) It’s a lot less rare than I would hope that I get stuck with a book that I don’t love for months on end just trying to finish the damn thing.
So if there’s a movie adaptation of a book I’m somewhat curious about, I’ll totally watch it to gauge my interest. If it draws me in and I find myself wanting more, I’ll definitely pick the book up and enjoy the deeper dive into that world. On the other hand, if I am feeling really done by the end of the movie, then I lost two hours instead of however long the book would have taken to read, and no harm done. Bye, book!
Aside: Television adaptations are another beast in and of themselves because of the time commitment. (As you may have guessed, I can’t DNF TV shows either.) So these are just a gamble. *Shrug*
Visuals can be helpful
I’m not sure what it is about the way my brain works, but I absolutely can’t comprehend anything unless I have a well-established visual first. It can be an imagined visual in my mind (I don’t literally need visual aides in front of my eyes at all times), but it does mean that the written word can take a few tries before a good image is fully constructed in my head. Many a time I’ve gotten stuck reading a description of someone walking through a house over and over just trying to create a mental blueprint.
On the other hand, if I get to see an adaptation first, I can fly through the description of the house and actually get to the story much more quickly. Even if the portrayal in an adaptation isn’t perfectly accurate, it’s a starting point that I can make adjustments to as opposed to starting from zero.
I know we’ve all experienced that thing where we’ve been reading a word all our lives without ever having heard it in real life, only to discover years later that we’ve been saying it wrong in our heads this whole time. And even more than that, what about all those difficult, made-up names fantasy writers use? Let’s be real, if I hadn’t started watching Game of Thrones before picking up the book series, I would have been staring hopelessly at “Daenerys Targaryen” for a good minute and a half.