Some of the greatest movies were adapted from books. We’ve all heard the saying, “The book was better than the movie.” According to BCPL staff, here are a few instances where the book is of course better than the movie, but the movie is worth it too!
Liza Vance, Local History Associate – Frankenstein
Everyone knows the story of the eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein who is successful in bringing life to a being of his own creation. However, this creature is not what the doctor expected but rather a grotesque monster who yearns for human interaction but ultimately rejected by his creator and mankind in general.
For a world history course during my undergrad, I had to read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and then compare it to the 1994 film. There are a number of film adaptations of the novel (my personal favorite being the original 1931 version with Boris Karloff as the Monster). And while the 1994 version follows the book fairly well, in this face off, I have to choose the book over the movie. Both went into great detail about the Monster’s struggle to fit into society and learning to speak, read, and write by secretly observing a family, all the while facing constant rejection. However, I think the original novel does the best job of bringing the story to life (pun intended). Through the novel, you empathize with the Monster more than fear him. It is still one of my favorite books of all time!
Micha O’Connor, YS Community Events Liaison – Wonder
For family friendly options, I really enjoyed both the book and the movie Wonder by R.J. Palacio which is a heart-warming story of acceptance about Auggie, a boy born with severe facial deformities. After reading the book, I wasn’t sure that the movie would do it justice but was pleasantly surprised. The movie adaptation stars Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Auggie’s parents.
One of my personal favorite authors is Cheryl Strayed, who wrote the autobiographical Wild, which was fantastically adapted by Reese Witherspoon. The book follows Strayed as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail in search of herself after the death of her mother.
Kelly Bilz, Local History Associate – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (adapted in the movie (Love, Simon) is a love story between two high school boys who are both struggling with coming out as gay to their friends and families. I enjoyed the book and because several of my friends went through the same thing in high school and college. The main character, Simon, was hilarious and relatable. I liked the book best–of course!–because I got to know the characters better, but you really can’t go wrong.
Jennifer Gregory, Collection & Technical Services Manager – Practical Magic
Gillian and Sally Owens grew up in their musty ancestral home on the edge of a small town where everyone hurries past their door, whispering about witchcraft in Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. Raised by a pair of eccentric aunts, the sisters struggle with the weight of their family curse, where love and death go hand in hand.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie which starred Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. They turned in fabulous performances as the Owens sisters. Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest were equally good in their supporting roles as the crazy aunts. I saw the movie first, then picked up the book. As much as I enjoyed the movie, the book was just more. The aunts were a little nuttier, the relationship between the sisters more complex, the tragic family curse a little darker, and the funny moments even funnier.
Turning a book this good into a movie can be very tricky, but with this book, they pulled it off. I recommend both the book and the movie. Each adds dimension to the other.
And if you liked the Owens family, Alice Hoffman wrote another book, The Rules of Magic, about the eccentric aunts in their youth.
Suzanne Yowler, Circulation Assistant – A Simple Favor
I went to see the movie A Simple Favor, based on the book by Darcey Bell before I got a chance to read the book. I found the movie to be very entertaining with its twists and turns. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively both did an excellent job in their respective roles. I liked the movie enough that I definitely wanted to read the book. When I finished it, oddly enough, while I enjoyed the book quite a bit, I decided I liked the movie better. Both the characters of Stephanie and Nick were more likeable in the movie. Also, Stephanie is a much sharper, smarter character in the movie. In the book, she is rather naive, gullible and kind of dumb. The ending of the movie was also much stronger and more definitive than in the novel.
Regina Groeschen, Public Services Associate – Me Before You and How to be Single
Having the author as part of the screenwriting can determine the success of a book made into a movie. I love the book Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. What was supposed to just be a job as a companion and caretaker turned into something more, a beautiful friendship and love. I enjoyed the movie just as much as the book. Since the author was the screenwriter, the movie followed the book closely.
In contrast, when the author is not a part of the screenwriting of a film, the two can be completely different. For example, in the book How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo, the main character travels to several countries to learn what it is like for women to be single in those cultures. In the movie, the main character just learns what single life is like in modern day New York City. In my opinion, the book is so much better than the movie.
Taylor Rasor, Youth Services Associate – Me Before You
Like Regina, I loved the movie Me Before You. I mainly went to see it because Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) starred in it as Louisa Clark, a quirky young woman who falls in love with the quadriplegia man she is taking care of. The movie was fantastic, full of popular actors. I read the book by Jojo Moyes after seeing the movie and have since pictured Louisa as Emilia Clarke. I loved the book just a tiny bit more because it was able to give more backstory to all the characters and really let us see inside Louisa’s mind. It was also followed by two more books that round out the series. I recommend either the book or the movie to anyone looking for a sweet, yet sad, story.
Nadine Swinford, Circulation Assistant – Life of Pi
After my first attempt in middle school to read Life of Pi by Yann Martel, I didn’t get past the first few pages. But when I saw that a movie was being made, I was determined to read the book beforehand and now it’s one of my favorites. Although I think the movie is wonderful and did a great job of staying true to the book, I definitely think the book is better. I was more absorbed in the story and created my own unique view of the characters/scenery before the movie envisioned everything for me. Plus, some of my favorite scenes in the book didn’t make it in the movie!
Looking for more book to movie suggestions? Check out our past blog 6 books that are as good as the movie, according to BCPL staff