Life in a Nutshell: Books vs Movies

I've never been a big fan of reading and I finally figured out why. I blame school for my dislike of reading. I realized that it's not that I don't like to read but that I don't like to read novels and that is all you read in school growing up. I have read many unnovels in my life and have enjoyed reading them... and by unnovels I mean books that actually teach you something of importance like How to... and A Brief History of Time. These books are great because you can get a lot out of them while novels are meant to purely entertain the reader. Let me tell you, if I'm going to be entertained it's not going to be from a book.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words which means that a movie, at 24 frames/sec is worth 24,000 words/second. No one can read that fast. A highly trained speed reader can read about 1000 words/minute, which is about 17 words/second so watching a movie enables you to read 1411 times faster than the fastest speed readers which is why movies aren't 2 weeks long. Could you imagine watching a movie that lasted 2 weeks... wouldn't you get bored? Exactly.

So the question is why do people still read novels? Is it because they like taking weeks to do what they could do in one sitting or is it because they enjoy the boredom that comes with reading novels? Neither of these sound appealing to me; I'll stick with movies.


Stefani said...

Ah, see...this is an easy one.

Novels require imagination. You can argue that movies might as well, but while they require you to put yourself in an entirely new situation, they also say, "And this is exactly how it is." With a novel, it's all up to you. You choose what the characters and scenery looks like, what voices sound like; suddenly, you're in this completely different world.

In addition to all of that, novels are so much more detailed than movies are. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words. But there are some things that you cannot entirely grasp from a picture. With books you can know the characters thoughts, something that movie directors have a very difficult time portraying. Voice-overs can only go so far.

I'll admit, novels are not for everyone; however, the inevitable "boredom" that you suggest is so very far from the truth. :-)

Boz said...

There is some fallacy in your logic. You are basing your equation off the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words. You forgot to take into account a few things.

1) Just because one picture is worth 1000 words, doesn't mean that these words are not redundant. One image from the next changes very little. Our interframe compression algorithms try to make the most of this idea.

2) Not all words are created equal. The brain cannot process 24,000 words/second, so information is being thrown away at an immense rate. It is quite possible that you are taking in more useless information, while allowing to important "words" to pass through your mind without even noticing.

Please revise your argument to correctly portray the audacity of your statement.

Having said that, I do think that Dumb and Dumber would not be such a classic in the form of a book.

German said...

From an artistic point of view, novel and films are very different mediums. You do not necessarily do one instead of the other.

Books require a lot more time than films, true. That's why when a book is turned into a movie, it needs to be considerably shortened and adapted to a new medium. Complaining that books should be the same size as movies makes no sense, they're different mediums. If you think reading a book is boring, try reading a film script. Quite a bore.

In books (or novels, rather), the author is in complete control of your attention. The author can focus you on the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters. It's also a medium that lends itself better to contemplation and meditation. Complex thoughts and themes len themselves much better to books.

Film is much more reactive, its main focus is to cause an immediate emotional response. That's why they seem more exciting, it's the medium's nature.

People will never replace films with books becasue they serve very different purposes. I suspect a reason you do not enjoy novels is because you were probably forced to read "the classics" in school and found them old-fashioned and boring. There is very exciting and imaginative literature available from all over the world, not just escapist material found in bestseller lists. My personal favorita is Latin-american magical realism.

You should find an avid reader who shares some of your interests and ask them to recommend a good book. =)

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