Books as Movies or TV Shows: A Debate

15 Feb

My posts this week have really focused on books being turned into movies and TV shows. Books being made into TV shows is a more recent phenomenon that I’m getting on board with. Obviously, Game of Thrones has been wildly successful. I’m also a fan of other series such as Z and The Man in the High Castle on Amazon and I’ve heard good things about The Handmaid’s Tale and the BBC adaptations of the Cormoran Strike novels. Since the way we’re watching TV is changing, the way books are turned into a visual medium is changing, too.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the first book to be turned into two movies. This was followed by Breaking Dawn and Mockingjay and I’m sure many others. It seems obvious that the reason for this was to give more of the book’s content time to come to the screen, an effort to keep more of what readers loved and turn it into more for movie-only fans to love. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a nice cash-grab for the studio as well!

TV shows are taking that even further. Instead of one of George R.R. Martin’s massive books being squeezed into one 120-minute movie or even two, we get ten episodes, 600 minutes, in the first season. Some series have had to go beyond what’s in the novel (The Man in the High Castle is a prime example) because fans are asking for more content than the book provided. Now, instead of cutting material, the problem is adding it.

Either way, we’re never going to get a page-for-page, line-for-line adaptation of a book to a movie or TV show. Someone will look different, speak differently, or be cut because books cannot realistically be turned directly into a visual scene. Some are better than others, to be sure, but none are perfect.

If I head a favorite book was going to be made visual, I’m not sure what I’d prefer. Is it better to have some things cut, maintain the main plot line, and see a movie that’s over in 120 minutes and I can pass my judgment at that time? Or should I hope for a season of 15 45-minute episodes that will add unnecessary characters and change the main plot to something that takes the main character well into season two to solve? Which is better? Is either one?

I’m personally a fan of the TV adaptations. I’m a big TV binger so I enjoy getting to see my favorite books as bite-sized-yet-bingable chunks to enjoy in my PJs while eating ice cream on my couch. (You are welcome for the visual.) I’m excited at the idea of a Lord of the Rings TV show. I hope I can stream it.

What do you prefer? Is there a ‘best’ way to see your favorite books come to life? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Until next time, write on.

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20 Responses to “Books as Movies or TV Shows: A Debate”

  1. Zuky the BookBum February 15, 2018 at 10:53 AM #

    The Hobbit was turned into 3 movies!
    I prefer books to TV series because you get so much more out of them! Film are good and all, but I love being able to binge watch 😛


    • Sam February 15, 2018 at 12:03 PM #

      Haha I forgot about The Hobbit!! That was a bit much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zuky the BookBum February 15, 2018 at 12:05 PM #

        Definitely! They drew that out too much! 🙂


  2. LFBooks February 15, 2018 at 12:01 PM #

    It all depends if the book is a long series or a single. There have been some great series and some great book adaptations. I couldn’t really pick.


    • Sam February 15, 2018 at 12:04 PM #

      I’d hope that a series would get as many movies as there are books in the series at a minimum. More is usually better. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LFBooks February 15, 2018 at 12:05 PM #

        True but when a series is like 6+ books. That a big risk for a producer to take.


      • Sam February 15, 2018 at 1:23 PM #

        Very true. We’ve seen a number of series not finished. I’m still waiting for the last Divergent movie!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. BB&Y February 16, 2018 at 9:34 AM #

    I love seeing books turned into a movie or tv series. I just wish more was done to point out that the film or show was inspired or based from a book. I know some people hate hearing “The book was better ” but the point is the inspiration was because someone read a book!


    • Sam February 16, 2018 at 10:15 AM #

      I see some that say ‘based on’ a book and others that say ‘inspired by.’ I agree that an inspiration might be way different. I feel the book is almost always better because the details are richer and there’s so much that has to be cut for a screen that adds depth. It’s the depth of character that I think makes the books better. Happy reading!


  4. Becky February 16, 2018 at 11:34 AM #

    Honestly, for me it depends on the book they are adapting. I think book series lend themselves better to TV just because there is more content to unpack, and standalones are better on film. There are always exceptions though. Also, I think a good adaptation for me takes advantage of the film/tv medium.


    • Sam February 16, 2018 at 1:13 PM #

      Great points! I have enjoyed a few multi-installment movies adapted from series but I understand that can be a big financial commitment for a studio. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. siderealday February 16, 2018 at 12:17 PM #

    I think it really does depend on how long the book (series) is. Some books could probably be turned into like a mini TV show, 3-5 episodes, while others could more reasonably be longer shows (GoT) and still others might be manageable as movies.


    • Sam February 16, 2018 at 1:14 PM #

      Very true. Intend to be weary of single books adapted to a full TV series. That’s when I feel too much content is added. Happy reading!


  6. Ryan February 17, 2018 at 7:32 AM #

    I’m reminded of something I read in the book Eisner/Miller, which transcribes an interview conducted with two legends of the comic book medium Will Eisner and Frank Miller. One of them brought up how a lot of modern comic book creators seemed to see getting their work adapted into a movie or a show as completely “making it,” rather than appreciating the publication of their work as success on its own.

    I wonder sometimes if this trend of books and the like getting adapted for the screen will skew the way writers craft their work–ultimately finding themselves disappointed if success doesn’t lead to a film/TV deal.


    • Sam February 17, 2018 at 11:10 AM #

      I really hope not. I think there are some wonderful books that wouldn’t make good movies. Some literary fiction is so good because the prose is amazing and getting inside the character’s head is so rewarding. That doesn’t always come across well on the screen. Maybe for action films, that might (unfortunately) end up being the case, but I hope it doesn’t hold true for all writers. Interesting point. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jodi Fisher May 27, 2018 at 2:16 AM #

    I tend to prefer books being turned into television series instead of movies, most of the time. I just feel that there is more time given to be able to completely tell the story better. Last year, Big Little Lies was my number one favorite show. It was a nearly perfect adaptation of a great novel. The Handmaid’s Tale was also another example of a wonderful book to tv adaptation. Currently, watching Sweetbitter on Starz. Only seen the first two episodes, but so far a pretty decent adaptation. The book was one of my favorites that I’ve read recently. The most recent book adaptation of a movie that I have seen was The Girl on the Train. Great read, and not so great movie.


    • Sam May 27, 2018 at 11:08 AM #

      One of my fears with the TV adaptation is how long it will be renewed. Do they do the whole book in one season? If they do, what happens in season two? It makes me nervous. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jodi Fisher May 30, 2018 at 12:58 AM #

        I get that adaptation fear, lol. It seems like for the most part in recent tv to book adaptations is that the first season is pretty much from the novel. Whereas, more seasons than that tend to be creative licensing for the writers of the show. A show that I absolutely loved was The Leftovers on HBO. I started watching the show before I got into reading again for just the fun of it. The Leftovers is based on a novel. From my understanding the first season was adapted from the book, but after that it was up to the writers of the show to continue that story. This is probably the best situation of a show outliving the initial story from the book to tv series. Since the show is over now, I plan at some point of finally reading the book to compare it to the show. Sorry, to go on and on about The Leftovers. It was literally just one of my favorite show of the last few years on tv. I even wrote all about The Leftovers on my blog, lol. Happy Reading to you as well!


      • Sam May 30, 2018 at 7:52 AM #

        I’ve read the book but I haven’t seen the show so I’m the complete opposite of you haha. I’d love to see the show sometime. I thought it was on STARZ, not HBO. I should be able to watch it then which is going to eat away at my weekend haha. Happy reading!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jodi Fisher May 31, 2018 at 9:03 PM #

        LoL, yes it is a highly interesting show that will keep you wanting to watch more. At least, it was that show for me, lol. I definitely plan on trying to read the book over the summer. Although, I changed my mind like a thousand times before I can decide on what to read next usually, lol, so who knows when I’ll actually start to read it. I hope you like the show!

        Liked by 1 person

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