Movies to Read, Books to Watch

Movies to Read, Books to Watch

By Contributor

Courtney Guth has some movie adaptations and novels to recommend—and her opinions may surprise you! —Sparkitors

People often say the book is better than the movie inspired by the book. They are frequently correct, but sometimes the movies are just as good. For those of you with some spare time left this summer, I present four movies you must read, and four books you must see!

Movies You Must Read
Good: 21 (movie)
Better: Bringing Down the House (book)
The glow of neon lights, a group of brilliant college students, and a plan to take Vegas for millions sounds like a Hollywood drama straight out of the mind of some genius producer, but it actually happened! This book details the true story of a student who began counting cards and ended up winning millions of dollars. The movie condenses the events into the span of a few months, whereas they actually took place over several years. The action stretches beyond Vegas to other well-known casino towns and resorts, taking the reader for the ride all along the way. With as much action, drama, and suspense as any film, this piece of nonfiction reads like a novel.

Good: The Last Song (movie)
Book: The Last Song (book)
I’ll admit that I have recently become a Nicholas Sparks fan. Even English majors can get swept away by sappy, sad, beautiful romance novels. The Last Song was my first exposure to Sparks, and I devoured it within two days at the beach. When I saw the movie, I was very disappointed, not so much by Miley Cyrus’s lack of talent, but by how much was cut from the story. As often happens with books transformed into movies, important details were skipped over, and central characters were downgraded to minor roles. I recommend reading the book to experience all the glorious cheese properly.

Good: Water for Elephants (movie)
Better: Water for Elephants (book)
OK, so I haven’t actually seen the film version of this novel, but that's partly because it's such a fantastic book. I loved it so much that I don’t want to ruin it. When I read it, I couldn’t put it down—I was actually scolded for reading it at work. Whoops! I could easily see this book becoming a future classic, so you simply must read it before your teacher makes you and takes the fun out of it.

Good: The Wizard of OZ (movie)
Better: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (book)
This film is just as much of a classic as the book is, but the book wins out. I did enjoy the movie, and I wanted to be Dorothy when I was younger. However, the novel gave me more of an appreciation for the story. It’s actually a whole series. They once tried to make a sequel to the movie, but that didn’t go over too well. Stick to the series instead if you want to learn more about Oz.

Books You Should See
Good: The Notebook (book)
Better: The Notebook (movie)
The book is significantly lacking one thing that is prominent throughout the film version: Ryan Gosling shirtless. Print is great, but those rock hard abs are amazing. This film is the ultimate chick flick. Unlike The Last Song, this movie plays out beautifully. While some parts are omitted, nothing is lost. It’s still a story of timeless love and devotion, so go ahead, pop the popcorn, and grab the box of tissues; you’ll need them.

Good: The Handmaid’s Tale (book)
Better: The Handmaid’s Tale (movie)
After reading this novel last semester, I watched the film in class. My professor showed it to us because it’s an accurate portrayal, and remains fairly true to the book. Some relationships are amplified for the film, but the message remains clear. Although the film offers a different ending, it makes an excellent discussion point.

Good: The Great Gatsby (book)
Better: The Great Gatsby (movie)
Please don’t hurt me for putting this one out there! While I'm not sure how I feel about the forthcoming 3-D version, the original is also a classic. The actors’ portrayal of each character is so fitting and well done. Robert Redford with all his charm and appeal makes the perfect Gatsby. All the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age play out beautifully on screen. Read the book for sure, but see the movie too!

Good: Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Novel and Three Short Stories (book)
Better: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (movie)
Audrey Hepburn stars as Holly Golightly in this iconic film. The narrator in the novel does a great job of describing Holly, but nothing compares to seeing Hepburn portray her. Hepburn’s Holly is slightly different than the one in the book, and more likable. The movie also shows the visual glories New York City, and the fashion fun. And it includes a very satisfying ending, which the book lacks.

We're shocked that Courtney liked the boring old Wizard of Oz novel (all that stuff about the gold standard, zzzzzz!) better than the movie. Do you agree with her picks?

Related posts: Books Over Bikinis: An English Major at the Beach

Topics: movies, recaps and reviews, the daily trials of an english major

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