I was an avid reader when I was growing up.
I started by reading Enid Blyton’s children’s adventure books, then progressed on to reading fictional stories such as Roald Dahl’s The BFG and CS. Lewis’s Narnia series. Other genres included RL Stine’s teenage horror novels, the detective series of Sherlock Holmes, or even relatively unknown slice-of-life type of stories from books like The Cider House Rules.
Basically, I would read whatever book I could get from the local library or my school library. It was free stories anyway, and they were both entertaining and mind-opening.
The only thing I had to contend with was the smell of the books and occasionally, the suspicious food stains on some of their pages.
Reading was my hobby, I would read under the sheets before bed, while I was in the toilet, or on the floor of bookshops reading pages of a hand-picked book.
When I read a book, I would imagine the characters and the events in the stories on my own, given the detailed description written about them. From page one till the last page, the events in the book will be portrayed in my mind by the moving figures amongst the setting or landscape of the story.
Except for a few drawn illustrations, there is no physical representation of the characters or their surroundings, and we are free to make up the backdrop of the story in our heads.
And for me, that has always been one of the main selling points of reading novels versus watching a movie adaptation of it.
Characters are best imagined in our heads, and when their movie portrayal falls short of what we have built them to be, it disappoints.
Of course, there may be some television or movie adaptations that did well, but there are very few that met my expectations. Most of the time, I would always prefer reading the books instead.
The portrayal of the scenes in the story may differ from the books versus the movies. Not to mention the characters on screen may look completely different from what was described in the books. One notable mention is Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games, who was written as having dark hair and being relatively small in stature, looking scrawny and underfed. Whilst in the movie adaptation, Jennifer Lawrence was blond and tall.
Another limitation of movies is the need to keep the movie within an estimated length of 2 hours, hence the movies tend to skip some scenes and they also miss out on a lot of the finer details of the original story portrayed in the books.
Simply put, books are able to stretch the limits of the story and their scenes, while in movies and television shows it is much more limited.
It would work for those who have never read the original material in its full plot that was fleshed out in as many pages as it needs, and the funny, clever, or dramatic details in the words.
However, one clear advantage of watching the movie is the ability to squeeze in a story in a short time frame, and that means busy adults or people who do not enjoy reading will be able to get to know good stories, which if without it being translated to media form, they wouldn’t have heard of it.
Even for me, I have stopped reading books in my last few years, as life progressed and after work, kids, and other commitments, I have just enough time in a day to watch a show or write. Reading appears to have been a thing of the past for me now.
But occasionally I would recall myself being the young girl with thick-framed glasses, spending hours reading a book in a corner of a room or on her bed. I would like to think it was those reading habits that built up my imagination and even made me interested in writing today.