How Movies Get Me Reading

July 27, 2012 — 15 Comments

I’m not much of a reader. I mean, I love to read, but I don’t do it nearly as much as I’d like to, or even as much as I should. This year, though, I’ve read a fair number of books, at least for me. Weirdly, though, my book-reading often intersects with my movie-watching, and sometimes my TV-watching. It’s usually the movies that inspire me to read.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s like this. There are just so many books out there, and so many are considered great, and so many are considered classics; it’s difficult to know which books to read at any moment in time. That’s why inspiration is important. A little nudging. Sometimes it’s the nudging from a friend, or a teacher, or an employee at a bookstore. Sometimes you’re looking to your idols, trying to soak in the same books that influenced them. For me, it’s usually something to do with movies.

This year I’ve read the following:

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  • Blood Meridian
  • Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
  • The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex
  • It’s Only a Movie
  • The Sisters Brothers
  • Ablutions
  • A Game of Thrones
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Frankenstein

That’s a lot of books for me. Currently I’m in the middle of reading the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings. I’ve taken a break from that book, though, to read David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Except for two of these books, I can tie everything I’ve been reading to movies or TV.

The exceptions are Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Frankenstein. Except that even in the case of Frankenstein, I read it because I was really into the filmed stage play that director Danny Boyle put on and which I saw in a movie theatre. Of the others, three are non-fiction books about movies. Two have been adapted into a TV series I’m currently watching. One has been perpetually in development hell for a potential film, one has been adapted before but is being adapted once again, two were written by a working screenwriter, and one of those bears a striking resemblance to Charles Portis’ True Grit, which has twice been adapted to the screen.

I can’t help myself. When I look to the world of books, I need something to go off. Film is my reference point. It’s my muse. I’m reading Cloud Atlas, partly because I hear it’s good, but largely because I just saw the incredible 6-minute trailer for the film adaptation by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis. In fact, go ahead and watch the trailer if you haven’t already. It’ll probably make you want to pick up the book, too:

How do you choose what books to read? Do movies play as big a role in your selections as they do in mine? Let me know in the comments.


15 responses to How Movies Get Me Reading


    My sister is an English teacher, so she usually has plenty of titles to recommend. The books I’ve most recently been persuaded to read are the Twilight series (I survived) and the first ‘John Carter’ book. I used to read a lot in high school, almost a novel every month, but I also have discontinued my love affair with fiction and don’t read nearly as much as I would like. Mostly due to their film adaptions’ popularity, I am interested in reading The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter books, and the Lord of the Rings series. This would actually be my third attempt at finishing The Hobbit, a task I have never been able to accomplish. Hopefully I’ll get around to it soon and become inspired to get back in a routine pf setting aside time to dive in and enjoy more literature.


    Luckily, I have a long train commute, so I get some reading time everyday. I’ve just been going through the list of obvious great books. Right now I’m rereading The Sound and the Fury.


    Cogan’s Trade, Tess of the D’Ubervilles, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Anna Karenina, Great Expectations, The Hobbit.


    I’m reading Cloud Atlas for the second time precisely because of seeing the trailer. I want the experience of knowing the characters again without seeing actors’ faces. I’m hoping the film will be good, but there’s nothing quite like falling in love with settings and characters where you have to make up the images yourself.


    Oh and get your hands on the copy of Under the Skin by Michel Faber that I’ve been passing around. I think Sasha had it last. It’s being made into a film by Jonathan Glazer (and starring Scarlett Johansson) and you need to read it before that comes out.


    I try to read a fair amount, but I lack the time to. I don’t really know how I choose to read things that don’t have movies/shows based on them, but sometimes I just go to a used bookstore and grab something at random. Literally judging a book by its cover. I’ve had hits and misses that way.


    It’s funny that you post this because when I saw that trailer I immediately went to Amazon to find a copy of Cloud Atlas (the kindle version is more expensive than paperback, that’s a whole different issue I won’t get started on). I, like you, like to read the book versions of the movies before the movie comes out. This helps me with understanding the screenplay adaptation side of the business. What was left out and why, etc… Anywho, I did the True Grit thing, and the Cohen Brothers film is actually closer to the book than it was the John Wayne original… Also, what did you think of Blood Meridian? I loved it, personally. Isn’t McCarthy the greatest?

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