the Little Red Reviewer

How movies got me to read more

Posted on: March 30, 2013

It’s Ok.  I saw the movie first too.

How many times have you said:

That movie was awesome! what? you say there’s a book? Dude, I can’t wait to read it!

So many times have I seen a movie, loved it to pieces, learned there was a book, loved *that* to pieces,  and went on to have a simply lovely time.  This has been going on my entire life. I give movies and TV all the credit for getting me into science fiction. A child of the 80s, I knew who Han Solo was before I knew who Isaac Asimov was,  I thought Carl Sagan was just that guy who did the cool outer space PBS show, I knew David Lynch had something to do with this weird epic scifi movie that made no sense but looked and sounded really neat, and I stayed up late to watch reruns of Star Trek (back then it was just Star Trek).

The best thing about seeing the movie first? Since you don’t know what you’re missing, you’re probably not going to walk out of the theater saying “that movie sucked”.  Well, maybe you will, but it won’t be because they didn’t follow the book.

Here’s just a few recent examples of movies that got me to finally pick up the book:


Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones’s famous children’s book gets the Miyazaki treatment. I admit it, I’m shallow.  A few minutes into the movie I was madly in love with Howl’s voice. An hour and a half later I was in love with the entire movie Sure, Miyazaki played fast and loose with the characters and put his own spin on the ending and on Howl’s “secret”, but it’s such a pretty movie, and certainly one of my favorites from Studio Ghibli.  After watching the movie a few times, I read the book, and greatly enjoyed it.

john carter of mars

Disney’s John Carter of Mars/A Princess of Mars – panned by critics, I actually really liked this movie. It was well paced, the CGI martians were cool, I liked the premise, I liked the opening. Other than a plot that didn’t make much sense, it was a fun adventure movie. (also, I’m shallow. I have no idea what color his eyes were. My attention was umm, elsewhere.) I downloaded an audio version of A Princess of Mars, and it’s awesome! I don’t agree with all the changes they made when adapting the book to a screenplay, I do understand them. Had I seen this movie after experiencing the book, I probably would have panned it too.

lord of the rings movie poster

Lord of the Rings trilogy – yes, I suck, I’d never read these until about a year ago. But I liked the movies! Nice visuals, great music, excellent cinematography, great acting, what wasn’t to like? After ten years of my other half (who loves The Lord of the Rings almost as much as he loves me) nagging me to read them, and me giving him lame excuse after lame excuse, it was my enjoyment of the films that finally got me to read the books. Doing it as part of a read along with some other bloggers didn’t hurt either.

hunger games

The Hunger Games – that was one damn good movie. my family loved the book and have been bugging me to read it for a while. I will. . .  eventually. It’s going to get me addicted to this super trendy YA post apocalyptic stuff, isn’t it?

Dune 1984

Dune (1984) – yes, that one, and you had to know this was coming, and okay, this isn’t so recent.  I was ten or eleven years old the first time I saw this on T.V., and it was love at first sight. Mind you, I had absolutely no idea what was going on, or why it was important, but I was fascinated by the imagery and the epic music.  I read the book as a teenager, and took my first step in a life long love affair with science fiction. And yes, the book is a zillion times better than the movie. But I had to start somewhere, didn’t I?

now it’s your turn.  What movies or tv shows got YOU to finally pick up the book?

45 Responses to "How movies got me to read more"

Great discussion topic. Neverending Story by Micheal Ende, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle, and A Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson are the ones that pop into my mind right away. I watched them all as a kid and later learned there was this book that came before the movie. Which I had to dig up and enjoy thoroughly.


I totally need to read The Neverending Story. That was one of my favorite movies as a kid.


As above, Neverending Story and The Princess Bride, plus:
I am Legend
Stir of Echoes
Fight Club – which I haven’t read but will do shortly
The Once and Future King
OMG – I could go on like this all night – and, I always used to say I wanted to read the book first and if I saw the film first I wouldn’t read the book – but I’ve got over that a bit now. Actually pleased to see Dune on your list and for once I actually read the book first! Howl’s moving Castle is on my list – I loved that movie. John Carter – don’t know why that received such a slating. Okay, it’s not earth shattering, but it was highly entertaining to watch.
It gives me mixed feelings, like the chicken and the egg – only not ‘what came first’ but ‘what should come first’. So, should you read the book before seeing the film. I confess I like to have read the book first because you pick up so much more characterisation that way, people’s motivation, etc. Not to mention you use your imagination more (and we know how the imagination likes to be given freedom – Emoticon!) But, I’ve watched a few films that I’ve loved already and now gone on to read the book – such as the Princess Bride. I love that film and thought the book was also amazing. I suppose it depends on how well the movie is made and if it manages to get the story and feeling across – because then you can go to the book afterwards and still enjoy it. Not to mention good casting is paramount because once you’ve seen the film you better be damn sure that those actors voices will be running through your mind the full time you read the book!
Anyway, essay over. I’m boring myself now!!
Lynn 😀


Fight Club was a book first? welll…… damn. you learn something new every day! that would be an insane book to read!

Sometimes it’s better seeing the movie first. You get a feel for the story and if it’s something you’d like to read. And when I finally do sit down to read The Princess Bride, you know I’m going to hear Cary Elwes’s and Wallace Shawn’s voices in my head!

ahhh John Carter. that movie was a ton of fun. I rarely buy DVDs of movies, but that’s one I’d like to own.


I have kind of the opposite opinion on this one – in most of those cases I thought the movies were better – especially in the cases of John Carter and LOTR (I know, I know, I’m a bad book geek…) Though I haven’t read Howl’s Moving Castle or Dune… yet. 😉 I don’t know… I think that in some cases, stories are better told through film than on a page, and the examples here are probably the ones I’d have chosen. The LOTR movies just blew me away, and John Carter/The Hunger Games/Howl’s Moving Castle were immensely enjoyable too. Though, now that I’m reminded of it I will probably have to pick up the Howl book at some point … 😉


I don’t think you’re a bad book geek – with all the films I mentioned above I also haven’t read the book – except for the Princess Bride – which I saw the film first and would be hard pressed to decide which one I prefer – and I am Legend – which I read the book after and actually prefer the book (although I don’t dislike the film I just prefer the book’s ending). I’m going to pick up Howl’s Moving Castle too at some point. I love that film and want to see how the book compares.
Lynn 😀


Oh, I totally agree that Lord of the Rings movie was better than the book. I’m sorry, but those books for the most part bored the crap out of me.

stories with a lot of action are definitely told better through film. And with A Princess of Mars, you need to like Burroughs’ writing style to enjoy the book, and it’s just not a style a lot of people are going to go for, so I can totally understand that plenty of people liked the movie better. Philip K Dick stuff too – i can’t stand how he writes, but I’ve enjoyed all the movies that were made from his books & short stories.

you should give the Howl book a try sometime. It’s fun and a quick read. veers off in a different direction than the movie.


Well, I still haven’t read Melville’s Moby Dick, though I did enjoy the Gregory Peck version.


I haven’t read that either. But I did read Les Miserables. movie is way better. even the Liam Neeson version.


Where to start with this? James Bond, Trainspotting, Stardust, Jurassic Park, Lukyanenko’s Night Watch, The Exorcist, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, just off the top of my head.

I’ve also got a second category, where I read the books first, but only prompted because I knew the movies or TV series were coming out soon and I didn’t want them to spoil the books. LoTR, ASoIaF, I am Legend, and the The Road all come under this one. Lynn touched on this above – while I don’t think that books are *always* better than their movie adaptations, they *usually* are and a lot of the ones in this category fall into ‘classics’ territory so it didn’t seem worth the risk, somehow.


ooh, I forgot about Jurassic Park, Night Watch and The Road!

I was a kid when Jurassic Park came out, I saw that movie in the theaters like 5 times, this was back when a movie ticket was like three bucks. read the book when I was a little older and loved it. Nightwatch I’d read before realizing there was a movie (the book is better), the movie is so bizarre! cool,but really weird. I’m happy i read the book first. I still can’t make myself watch the movie of the The Road. I survived the book, not sure i want ot spend 2 hours watching the desolation.


I’m guilty about all of the above, except The Hunger Games, and a couple Dune sequels I read, Children of Dune, and Dune Messiah, although I skipped reading Dune. So often I end up watching the movie of something before I ever realized it was a book, especially with anything classical fiction. I always get sucked into those British, Masterpiece Theater adaptations of Dickens, or Austen, but I have yet to actually read any of them. I feel like one of those kids in school who was too lazy to read the book and just rented the movie.

My biggest problem with the more modern titles, like the one’s you mentioned, is with so many books on my to-read list, if I’ve already seen the movie, I’m less inclined to read the books. Why spend all that time on something I’ve already experienced, when there are so many newer, more exciting options? If I’ve read a book already, then I might watch the movie, but it’s usually frustrating because of all the changes they usually make (cough* The Count of Monte Cristo *cough*). It’s surprising just how many movies or tv series are based on a novel or short story, and I pay a lot more attention to that now.


you read Children of Dune, Dune Messiah and a few prequels and skipped the actual original?? get thee to a library!

shhhh…. don’t tell anyone – I watch plenty of Dickens and Austen movies too, and enjoy the movies, but have less than zero interested in every reading the books. they just look like a cure for insomnia.

oh, The Counte of Monte Cristo was soooo good! that was another movie that got me interested in reading the book, and the book was even better than I thought it could be!

It does take a ton of time to read the book. the movie is like 2 hours long, but it takes a week to read the book! If it’s a movie I really enjoyed, like John Carter, then I want to spend a whole week enjoying the story and spending more time with the characters. The way you are sometimes with books vs movies, i get that way exactly with Manga and Anime. If i’ve read the manga, and the anime follows the story word for word, why experience the same thing twice?


Re “Count of Monte Cristo”, I do hope you got an unabridged edition (most published versions are heavily condensed). Yes, it’s a looong book, but the story is all about the elaborate machinations that Dantes puts into motion to exact his revenge. Abridged versions leave out entire subplots and characters (sometimes different ones from version to version) and they just aren’t as satisfying.


Goodness, it’s been so many years since I read The Counte of Monte Cristo that I don’t remember what version it was. I was part of an ad-hoc book club where we’d pass the same paperback around the club until everyone had read it, and then we’d discuss the book. So it was someone else’s paperback version. I liked it enough that I’d absolutely read it again, and I’d be sure I got a copy of the full version.


I tend to read the book first buuut… Battle Royale got me to get the book. Blade Runner got me to get Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The movie Casino Royale got me to read the book. The Hammer Horror version of The Hound of the Baskervilles got me to read Conan Doyle’s classic. I saw the movie Ringu and it’s sequel and they inspired me to get the books which turned out to be completely different in tone but still great.

Maybe this is the film blogger in me but as much as I like the books I prefer the movies 😉

I want to watch the anime Mouryou no Hako but I have to read The Summer of Ubume first because that is the first novel in the Kyogokudo series while Hako is based on the second…


Hey Jason, just as a matter of interest did you prefer Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep or Blade Runner?
Lynn 😀


I preferred Blade Runner to the book. It stripped the story to the core ideas – how technology comes to define life and what is considered a life form, paranoia – and wrapped it up in a lovely cyberpunk noir coating with Ridley Scott’s excellent eye for aesthetics.


oh good, I’m not the only one who preferred Blade Runner to the book. I did read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and I rememer thinking it was good, but that I didn’t really enjoy reading it. Dick’s writing style just does NOTHING for me.


[…] your brain is appropriately sized).  Anyway, on the back of this thought provoking article over at Little Red Reviewer which I really enjoyed (and is spot on because there are so many films out there which I enjoyed […]


First of all: It’s wonderful that you say it is OKAY to have seen the movie first. A lot of book nerds seem to think of the book as some sacred thing and if you say you’ve “seen the movie” you get sidelong glances.

But especially during childhood we are exposed to so many movies while our books are mostly selected by our parents. I also saw The Neverending Story as a movie before I read it. Same with Howl’s Moving Castle and, most especially, Fight Club.
Ever since I saw that little line in the credits “based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk”, I have been a huge fan and read almost all of his books. Without that movie, I don’t think I’d ever have discovered his books!

The Last Unicorn, of course, was also one of my first-movie-then-book experiences. I think I still know that movie by heart. 🙂

In addition to these, there are a lot of movies based on books that didn’t make me want to pick up the book at all (Silver Linings Play Book was the last example). Not my cuppa tea, even if everybody says the book is better. But yeah, I also think it’s okay, even with Lord of the Rings, to see the movies first. After all, books are a much bigger commitment than a 3-hour-movie.


it was always easier for me to see the movies as a kid, for the same reasons you mentioned. My Dad loved going to the movie theater, so he’d take me to see whatever PG13 movie looked kid appropriate, and movies were always on tv, with violence and bad words edited out. movies were just so much more accessible.

I was a total snob with my nose in the air about A Song of Ice and Fire. When all my friends were wathcing it on TV all shocked at what had happened, I was like “yup. no surprise for me. not even the end.”. but now they are filming seasons faster than i can catch up on my reading! shit!


My boyfriend called me the “Game of Thrones hipster” for an entire year. Just because when I met him, I told him those books were my favorites and he witnessed my eager anticipation of A Dance With Dragons…

Most of my friends are like yours, they saw the TV show first (some don’t intend to ever read the books), and I can’t help but smirk whenever we talk about GoT because, we DO know a lot of things that are going to happen. Hearing my friends speculate always makes me chuckle. If I had come to the show first, I would have had those books in my hands after episode one. 🙂


Definitely been there! 😀 Howl’s Moving Castle (I’m dreadfully jealous of all the people who’ve seen it with Christian Bale as Howl, although I prefer the Japanese version every time), LotR, Brokeback Mountain. Nowadays I do my best to read the book first though – that is, if I’m aware that there *is* a book, which is not always the case. And I did not attempt Les Mis before the movie. I’m sure no one can blame me for that.


Christian Bale makes an insanely hot Howl. just sayin’. 😉 Also, that scene with the hair dye gone wrong? his whining is hysterical!

When I was younger I’d always want to read the book first, and sometimes I was a little snot about it. These days, i wanna read what I wanna read, and if it’s easy to see a 2 hour movie, I’m probably going to do that and read the book after.

somehow in high school I got dared to read Les Mis. and I did it. and all I remember is there’s like 200 pages about Napoleon’s freakin’ horse. seriously, just watch the movie. it’s way better.


My goal is to try and get the book read first – hence I have yet to see any adaptation of Wuthering Heights – but sometimes I just can’t be bothered. 😛 If the story doesn’t seem absolutely fascinating, I’ll just watch the movie.
I haven’t meant to read Les Mis, but I’ve slowly started thinking I probably should. If for nothing else, then the revolution stuff. (And it definitely helps if there’s 200 pages on Napoleon’s horse! 😀 I can take pretty much anything with Napoleon in it. And horses. There’s that brilliant horse race scene in Anna Karenina. Perhaps my favourite scene in the whole book!)


Oh, Lord of the Rings absolutely did it for me. I had never succeeded in getting through Fellowship of the Ring until I saw the film, and then I read the next two books and loved them. And now I love the trilogy a very great deal and own them all in hardback with a slipcase, so obviously it worked. 😛


i do have to thank those movies for finally getting me to read the books. and the books were ultimately just OK for me.

good thing though, that I read The Hobbit before seeing the recent movie. That movie wouldn’t have made me want to read the book!


The top one that comes to mind immediately was True Grit. I saw the movie with my in-laws, really liked it, and then got the book through the library and loved that too! In that case, though, the adaptation is so accurate that you probably don’t need to experience both.

Oh, here’s another that hasn’t been mentioned. The first Harry Potter movie got me to go back and read the books, after I initially gave up on the first one. (I still kinda like the first 2 or 3 movies better than the first 2 or 3 books…)

I do think that being very familiar with comic books is sometimes a hindrance going into certain super-hero movies (X-Men3 and Dark Knight Rises, I’m giving you the special side-eye) because all I can think watching them is ‘this character is so much better written in (story arc)’ or ‘they adapted this plot from (graphic novel) but took out everything that made it awesome’. Other (better) movies, of course, it’s fun to spot the little touches that are snuck in for the comic fans.

I usually don’t have that problem as much with straight novel adaptations (for example, Hunger Games I think the movie did certain things better than the book and vice versa, for me LOTR the books and the movies are related but separate experiences, etc. so it didn’t hurt to be familiar with the book before the movie.) Oh, and I had read Princess of Mars and I still enjoyed John Carter for what it was, which I think was flawed but still super fun.


I was surprised at how much i liked the movie True Grit. It’s not at all the kind of movie I usually like. maybe I’ll give the book a try sometime.

With Harry Potter, my family loved the books so much that I did actually read all of them before seeing the movies. Even the fat books are fast reads, because it’s nearly all dialog.

I have very little experience with comic books, so I’ve done OK with the newer reboots of super hero movies. I really liked the newest Spiderman movie, which I heard fans of the comics didn’t care for. Same with the most recent X-Men prequel thing, even though that rebooted stuff and messed up some later storylines.


Oooh you must read The Hunger Games. It compares so well to the movie. 🙂
I honestly don’t read a lot of books after I’ve already seen the movie…I feel like it ruins the reading experience for me. However, I did read Jurassic Park after seeing the movie, and I thought (in terms of detail) that the book was much better…though the movie is an action classic all it’s own!


i’m like the last person on earth who hasn’t read The Hunger Games. I should just get the entire trilogy out of the library and read it all in one go, cuz you can’t just read the first book, right?

the Jurassic Park book had so much wonderful scientific detail that’s glossed over the movie. It’s been like 10 years since i read it, but I remember reading it a handful of times during high school and college. just a damn good book. a completely different experience from the movie, which is yes, such an action classic!!


That’s a great list! I can think of a couple: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (I watched Blade Runner first), and We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (Total Recall) by P.K. Dick. I watched the movies first and read the books later. The books were different from the movies and I appreciated both for different reasons. I also picked up the Harry Potter books after watching the first movie and enjoying it.

I’ve seen trailers for Games of Thrones and think I will FINALLY pick up those books. But I have not watched the program because I want to read the books first.

PS: The book Dune was also my introduction to science fiction. I caught up with the 1984 film version of Dune later and absolutely LOVE it! I’ve watched it countless times. 😀


alright! another Dune (1984) fan! it’s such a strange movie, but so much fun to watch. Hubby makes fun of me when I watch it on TV, and I just tell him to shut his face.

I do want to read PK Dick’s We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. I haven’t seen the newer version of the movie, but the Schwartzenager one is fun and silly. I imagine the written story is quite a bit more serious.

Game of Thrones really is a good read. i know it’s a big fat doorstopper of a book, but it’s mostly dialog. it reads really fast. but be warned, you won’t be able to stop at just the first book in that series!


The only one I can think of it I am Legend. Love that movie. Just started reading the book/story it was based on today. Already it is very very different, but I always figure it is key to think of movies and books as two completely different peices of art.


I still haven’t seen that movie, but I really want to. Here’s a deal for you: if I run into the book before the movie makes it to the top of my Netflix list, i’ll read the book first.

that is the best way to look at it: that the movie and book are two completely different ways of experiencing the story, and sometimes they are very different stories. If they are exactly the same, it’s like “eh, been here already.”


Shit. I haven’t had a chance to respond to all these beautiful comments. You were all so kind to comment with your thoughts. I will make time to respond, I promise.


I sincerely hope you make time to respond to this beautiful comment! I had forgotten about Princess Bride and Blade Runner. I’m not a massive movie consumer, but I can toss an anime example in: Nausicaa is a great movie and an even better manga.
This may eventually happen with the Harry Potter books, if my kids decide they want to see the movies and I like them more than the first. I thought I had more, but now I can’t think of any. Maybe I will comment again later.


and you left me such a beautiful comment. 😉

I saw a manga of Nausicaa at the library, and i flipped through it but it seemed exactly the same as the movie? But it think it was a Miyazaki manga-ization of the film. Who did the original manga? I’d love to track that down.

the first 2 Harry Potter movies are excellent. after that, sure, the movies are fun and all, but the books are way better.


I don’t remember the exact sequence, but both the manga and the movie are Miyazaki. The movie is basically volume one of the seven volume series; the movie seems like a complete story until you read the whole manga and realize that Miyazaki had much more to say.
The above link was screened for spoilers, but there isn’t much I can do about the quality of writing. It was an early attempt.


There are definitely advantages to watching the movie first–mainly because if I read the book first, I hate how they change things!

That said, I’ve loved A Princess of Mars for years and years, and still liked the movie too.

The Horatio Hornblower movies got me to read the books…and oddly enough, the movies were better.


Yes, that’s the best thing about seeing the movie first! you’ve nothing to compare it to, so the film can stand on it’s own merits, instead of us grumbling under our breath how they’ve changed things.


Don’t listen, people! The Hornblower books are wonderful and I’ve re-read the whole series multiple times. For me, in the same class as the Heinlein juveniles and Bujold’s Vorkosigan books. The Ioan Griffud TV movies are quite good too of course and the Gregory Peck version is worth a watch as well if you like the books.


Sorry, I know I’m, like, years late leaving any kind of comment here, but OMG! 1984 Dune was the movie that got me reading scifi too! John Carter of Mars and Howl’s Moving Castle are favourite movies of mine that led me to the books that are now favourite books of mine. I loved this post!


Hi bookforager! I’m happy you found this post and that it put a smile on your face. Rereading this post, it reminds me that I really want to watch John Carter of Mars and Howl’s Moving Castle again!

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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