Pages

9.11.2012

A Rant: Pet Peeves and Books

We all have things that make us tick (bookish and otherwise). You know, some people hate dogearing (yep, guilty), highlighting (guilty again) and hardcovers (I don't hate). And then in life, you know real life, some people dislike tardiness, or clutter or the sound of people eating. Ok. So I'm going somewhere with this. I was recently a little bored at work, which doesn't happen too often, and my mind began to wander. I started to contemplate some of the things that I just couldn't stand in the world of books. Maybe you'll agree, or not, either way, it is what it is.

Here goes:

Movie poster as new book cover.

Let's discuss this for a moment. Years ago I bought the book Four Feathers. After reading reviews, I headed to Barnes and Noble, only to find a shiny cover with Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley and Kate Hudson starting back at me. Now, I'll admit I thought they were cuties and she was also a looker, but I wasn't necessarily all jazz hands when I found that it was the only copy available. I bought it and ended up enjoying it (the movie too), but can't say I want to display it will all my other beauties.

Yes, a book shouldn't be judged by a cover, but I feel that this doesn't apply because the book is essentially being reprinted because the MOVIE has suddenly REINVENTED the novel. Look at these cool people endorsing this book that some weren't aware was even a book until A-LIST PLAYER was added to the cover. That probably means a lot of people are judging this thing by the cover. I don't like it. Not one bit.

Classic novel introductions that give away the entire story.

I may be in the minority on not knowing what every classic novel is about, so I apologize if this is a big, fat borefest. Thank you, Barnes and Noble Classics, for telling me exactly what occurs in The Woman in White before I've actually read The Woman in White (I finished it last year). Actually, I was smart enough to STOP reading once I realized I was heading into spoiler territory, and fast. Perhaps it's a no-brainer that the introduction contains the entire plot in 10 pages, but I was unaware and have suffered (fist shaking). I get that you want to introduce the reader to the work, break them in, bring them up to speed, but please explain to me why the entire storyline is divulged in those first pages?! I just don't get it.

Movie adaptations that rip the heart out of your favorite novel. 


A couple of years ago I heard that there were talks of adapting Nicole Krauss's The History of Love for the screen. Let's just say I was not happy about it. Ok, so I know some people would be overjoyed. And sometimes I'll admit that I am. But for the most part I really don't enjoy books as movies. Books like The History of Love would never translate well. It just wouldn't. This might be a case of bias because of it's one of my favorite books, but really, those who have read it agree. When I discussed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (another example of beautiful literature) with those that had the expectations of something that wouldn't shame the book, several expressed that many of the best parts of the book were cut. It just couldn't be done in a Hollywood film. I refused to see it because I loved the book and couldn't think about all those beautiful moments left in the cold. And while I did note that the latest rage, The Hunger Games, was not so different from the novel, I can't say I'm entirely convinced it's a good idea. I get it's an adaptation, but that doesn't mean sacrificing the most moving/essential bits to make a sale.



Thoughts?

44 comments:

  1. Ahem. Number 2. Jodi Picoult spoils THE OUTSIDERS riiiiiiight before the book starts. That killjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously, I think number two is the most puzzling. I get the other two to some extent, but can someone explain why the introduction would do this?!? It's like an oxymoron or something. And I know how much you love Jodi Picoult :) Only added fuel to the flame.

      Delete
  2. Number 2 bugs me. I've seen that happen on the dust jacket summary for classic books as well and I want to yell "Dude I get that most people already know this one, but please give me a heads up before you ruin it. I mean, I'm looking at the book so I'm TRYING to get up to speed"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I really want to know why that's ok to do with classics! Just because it's a classic doesn't mean that we know the whole damn story. If someone would have told me the biggest scenes in Jude the Obscure prior to reading it, I probably would have said something very nasty and imagined a kick in the pants. The intro should tell us about the author, set the scene up and let us do the reading. Sigh...

      Delete
  3. UGH NUMBER TWO IS THE WORST. I just read the introduction to Anna Karenina; Part I was helpful background, Part II was SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER and I stopped reading after that and only barely held myself back from throwing the book across the room. I'm still reading and enjoying the novel, but I feel like my entire experience of my first read is tainted by the fact that I know how it all ends.

    Ok, long rant about AK over (seriously though, spoiler-y "introductions" should be included at the END of classics as "additional reading" - this ain't rocket science).

    I also hate movie editions (I recently asked the guy at B&N to go hunt for a non-movie version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower to give to my sister); when the actors are on the cover, it forever taints my imagination of them.

    That said, I do underline and highlight and dogear and write all over my books... that one's not a pet peeve for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kerry,
      OMG. That's the best part of Anna K! How dare they.. I would be so upset. Like I said, I almost had the same thing happen with The Woman in White. I almost want to contact B&N and ask WHY?!?
      Yes, the movie editions practically come out before the movie does and then it seems to be the only thing left on the shelves (which leads me to believe that there are so many of us). My boyfriend expressed that he hated that even saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy because he could only picture the actors on a future read and forgot his boyhood imagination (brought a little tear to my eye).
      I underline, highlight, dog ear and read hardcovers. That's what happens :)

      Delete
  4. MOVIE POSTER ON BOOKS IS THE WORST. I'm not going to lie, I've gone home and ordered a copy with the original cover and waited a few days for it to avoid this because it is awful. I especially hate when they even make the back of the book look like the back of a DVD. As though people will get confused and not realize that they're buying a book. Ugh.

    I learned long ago to save introductions for when I've finished for that exact reason. Why can't they put it at the end?!

    And I'm sad to hear that about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close because I LOVE the book and kind of wanted to see the movie because I always try to see the movie even though I know I'll most likely be disappointed (the Hunger Games adaptation was actually REALLY good except for the documentary film style that made me seasick).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, I didn't even know that they made the back cover appear like a DVD jacket. That is just.. no words. I must visit a B&N soon to see this. I could understand ordering it so I didn't have to look at it. I actually won a copy of Jane Eyre that I didn't mind so much. It was more the shape of the book and the type on paper that I enjoyed, but the cover didn't irk me so much.
      Yes, no one seems to be able to offer a good reason for it!
      Yes, I haven't seen the movie so it might be decent (read the comment below) but I've heard it wasn't good. Yes, The Hunger Games is a great example of an adaptation done right.

      Delete
  5. I agree with all these, but especially #3. I was pretty pissed when they made the movie adaptation of "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close." I love the book. It's one of my favorites and so much of what I love about it (the flashbacks, the oddness, the pictures, Oskar's inventions) just doesn't translate well to the big screen. I was furious when I saw they had eliminated the grandparents' backstory.

    Eventually I watched (most of) the movie. I couldn't bear to sit through the whole thing though. It was a ridiculous, emotional tearjerker and nothing like the book.

    If you don't love the book and understand its beauty, please don't make a movie of it. You'll erase the bits that its fans most love. And plus, now millions of people who hadn't heard of the book only know it for the movie version (or the trailer/commercial) and don't understand how great it is. They think it's something entirely different :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Renee, That's what I've heard. My favorite parts of the story were those that featured the grandparents' relationship prior to Oskar's birth. The scenes featuring imaginary spaces?! Beautiful. I also didn't like the casting of Oskar; it just didn't seem like the right fit (this is, of course, based off the preview I saw). I heard that it emphasized the "manipulative" aspect of the novel. While I could see people making an argument that moments were manipulative, I could also argue that many novels work to evoke certain emotions and it certainly wasn't distasteful.
      I agree. I think what makes me most upset is that these writers devote so much time and energy to crafting a beautiful piece of literature, which is, in turn, turned into some shell of a movie to generate money. It's just a little sad. However, writers may not essentially see it the way you or I do. That's why we can vent about it here!

      Delete
  6. Oh god, movie poster book covers are one of my BIGGEST pet peeves. (And I work in a book store part time - so I have to stare at some of these covers for way too long!) It actually makes me kind of mad when all of a sudden a book is super popular and everyone wants it JUST BECAUSE the movie is coming out. I mean, I'm all for getting people to read, but it's like a lot of people aren't even interested in a book until Hollywood is.

    Movie adaptations make me so nervous. I secretly pray that they never make my favorite books into movies lol. I've learnt though, to go into these movies knowing that it will never live up to the literary experience and to not have high expectations. One of my biggest movie adaptation let downs was The Kite Runner - to the point where I wanted to race home and re-read the book just to erase the movie from my memory!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brie, I didn't know you worked in a bookstore. Do you love it? I often wish I could do that and take pictures and maybe make stationary. It would be all my loves in life! Yes, I agree with your statements. I love that people are introduced to the book because of the movie but I guess I just wish it wasn't such a huge introduction. I haven't read The Kite Runner because of all the hype despite hearing how wonderful it is. I'll have to look into that and not ever watch the movie.

      Delete
    2. I do love it, for the most part. I worked at the bookstore when I was in nursing school and still living in Alberta, and then when my husband and I moved back to Alberta from BC last fall, I told him I wanted to go back to it part-time for a few months - and here I am, still working there a year later lol. It's overwhelming at times because new titles are constantly coming in and I'm still trying (and wanting) to read older titles that I haven't gotten to yet. BUT, I love being around the books and being in "the know". The pay sucks though :(

      I guess I just wish there was some way that they could advertise that such and such movie is based on such and such book, WITHOUT having to reprint the books with the movie poster cover...

      Delete
    3. I could totally see wanting to buy everything, every time I worked. I've been in those environments and it never worked! But I've always wanted to work in a book shop and hope that some day it'll happen. It seems like the jobs that are the most fun are the ones that pay the least. Ughhhh.

      I agree. I just don't think it would gain the same amount of interest or money, as sad as it is. I think some people collect such books strictly because of the faces on the cover. Oh well.. I guess we can just continue to refrain from purchasing them.

      Delete
  7. OMG! I agree with you on all three - I guess great minds do think alike ;) What is with movie poster books covers? That is just an awful idea. I want to showcase my books, not have to hide them because the latest IT actor or actress is on the cover and for some reason I feel that brings the level of the book down (which sounds snobbish I know - ugh!). But I do judge books by their covers - such a bad habit! And, say what! They reveal the plot of the story in the intro? What is that about? Talk about ruining the book. As for movie adaptations - ugh! It is so annoying when they butcher the book to make the movie more relatable or something like that. Plus, half the time, the book is perfect as is and it can't be translated to film (which is why its a book!). So, right on! Your rant is spot on ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nadia,
      Yes! I realize that covers change (and I definitely can appreciate some beautiful design) but I just can't stand the movie poster covers. Glad I'm not alone! I almost thought my rant would get a ton of negative reactions! I generally think that many parts cut from movies are those that are a) too difficult to film, or b) just not enough "action" for a Hollywood film. I favor books over movies by a million so I'm probably being too harsh, but I just can't stand a bad adaptation.

      Delete
  8. I will not buy a book with the movie adaptation cover on it. It makes me grumpy. It's as if the marketing people think that people won't make the connection otherwise. "Hmmm...this book has the same title as that movie that I saw. Do you think they might be the same story?" A little credit to the readers, please.
    And then it irks me that, as you said, many times the movie didn't include everything from the book, so you are really advertising two very different things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lindsey, Haha. I actually didn't think about it from that angle- you know, people not recognizing it. Yes, the biggest pet peeve is cutting essential pieces from a novel. I know that's my opinion, or what constitutes essential, but I'm pretty sure many readers would agree that movie adaptations take out some stellar scenes to save on time.

      Delete
  9. I could not be MORE with you on numbers 1 and 2. I bought Water for Elephants recently and could not find a single copy in a SINGLE book shop that wasn't movie tie in. Not everyone wants to read a book because they have seen the movie, and consumers aren't so stupid that they forget there is a movie if the cover isn't the movie one.

    As for classic novel introductions, I've been burned and now only read them after finishing the book itself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam, Oh, I can only imagine. It's like you have to visit a thrift store to find the "old" copies! I imagine that was definitely all over the place and I just erased it from my memory :) I completely agree. I get it's a nice tie in, but I still don't like it!
      Ughhhh.. so I'm not alone!?! I want answers! Haha.

      Delete
  10. I HATE movie tie-ins used for covers as well. It feels like it takes away the fun of the book part of it. Also, as far as those classic intros that give everything away - I had an AP English teacher who told us to read the intros after you've finished the book; not only do you avoid the spoilers, but a lot of it makes much more sense and I can take away a lot more information after having read the book itself. I've been following my teacher's advice ever since and never looked back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brenna, I feel like it's the general consensus here. And why did I not receive this same advice on the intro thing?! I probably did and just wasn't listening because I tend to daydream. Anyway. I learned my lesson after reading too far into one. Never again. I still don't see why it's an intro.

      Delete
  11. UGH completely agree about the introduction giving away the whole novel. I feel this anal need to read all the introductions and forewords and end notes and so on, but I've gotten so I can't read them until I'm finished with the book for fear of too many reveals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! It's such a peeve. I understand wanting to read everything, but you definitely have to do so after you've finished the text; otherwise, there's no point in reading it! JK.

      Delete
  12. I generally don't like movie poster book covers, although once in awhile I like them. The latest one I really liked was the cover for a re-release of A Princess of Mars that had the image for the film John Carter on it. The cover was a beautiful, blinding orange, a favorite color, and aesthetically it really worked well.

    I know exactly what you mean about classic introductions. After reading the one in Murders in the Rue Morgue and having things ruined, I stopped reading them until after I've read the story. I don't understand why they do that, it is so annoying. Those essays should be in an afterward, not an introduction.

    I have done quite a bit of reading on film and it is really hard to adapt a book to a film without some changes. They just aren't structured the same. I knew there was no way they could do both story lines in Extremely Loud as it would make for too long of a movie, if anything. I didn't feel the tore the heart out of the book though. They focused entirely on Oskar's story and stayed away from the other storyline for the most part and it remained a touching, emotional film. I'd recommend them both. The book is far better, but I thought they did a nice job with the movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carl, I agree. I mentioned in another comment that I won a copy of Jane Eyre that featured the recent movie poster and actually liked it. Most of the time, though, I don't generally choose them over other copies.

      The introduction still baffles me. It's not actually an introduction but an analysis of the entire story. I need answers!

      I understand that adaptations will always be much different from the novels they're based on. With this example, I guess, as a reader, I was much more pleased with the other side of the story and not what the movie chose to emphasize (which also is the only way this movie would make sense). It might also have something to do with the fact that I'm not really a "movie person." I'm sure I'll end up watching it sooner or later.

      Delete
    2. Anymore I see those intros as little more than some know-it-all getting their two cents in. Now I don't entirely feel that way because I generally enjoy them if I read them after I've read the book. But like you I don't get the placing of these at all. Talk about needing spoiler warnings!

      I'm a big film person so I am sometimes more forgiving because of that, but can also be more brutal when I'm peeved about the way a book is adapted to film. Actually the way they did Extremely Loud the entire story was about Oskar's search to understand and connect with his father's death and life after his death and it actually worked to pull all those elements out of the book to make a movie about it. It is more one-dimensional that way in comparison to the book, but also shows that a book just about that storyline would probably have been a good book. Just not as good, not as deep.

      Delete
    3. I could see that. While they do offer some insight, namely the author's frame of mind going into the novel and so forth, I still don't see the need to dissect the plot prior to the reader making their own judgements first. It should definitely follow the story.

      I really think that's the only way the film could have been made into a movie. That part of the storyline was much more relatable/accessible considering the entire country was so shocked/overwhelmed/saddened by 9/11.
      I was a little irked about the casting, too, but you're definitely making me feel like I need to see it now.

      Delete
  13. So with you on the movie adaptation covers. I refuse to buy them. I don't necessarily judge books by covers, but I like pretty ones. Not commercial ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne, I agree. I prefer to find designer covers for classic titles. They have some really good artists work on many sold by Penguin. It's a goal to collect some for my growing library.

      Delete
  14. Perfect topic - I'm so late to the party though!

    1) I, too, can't stand movie poster covers, but despite that, I am super guilty of initially judging books by their covers, but then, certain styles will grab me, and many will not. Harlequin lettering and shirtless six-packed dude on the front? Probably not something I'm going to want to read. But, the cover - and/or the title - only get me to pick up the book initially, not necessarily commit to reading it.

    2) What's even worse is when an author of a book TOTALLY RUINS the end of a major classic - Kundera ruined the end of Anna Karenina for me in the very beginning of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. But, yeah, I avoid "introductions" for that very reason.

    3) Many, many, many books don't translate well into movies. That said, books like The Hunger Games do, even if much of the inner dialogue is lost. The gist was definitely there. I gained a new respect for adaptations after a writing class in college - it's crazy challenging to turn even a fast-paced, action-packed novel into a decent, watchable movie to be consumed in under 8 hours, preferably not much over 2 hours. I think that's why so many adaptations fail in many ways - you can't watch them expecting them to be exactly like the book. Then again, they can't expect movie adaptations to succeed if they change or omit major plot-movers.

    I really should have just written a post, huh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Catherine, I'm guilty of seeking out pretty covers and usually decide to read the jacket after considering the cover. I mean it really is an art these days. Designers can really throw some great stuff out there.
      I can't say that I've ever read a book that ruined another book. Actually, it's probably happened I just think of it at the moment. I don't even know how you would warn someone about that kind of situation!
      I really enjoyed the latest adaptation of Jane Eyre even though I thought integral parts were cut from the movie. It was beautiful but the film just didn't capture Jane's spirit and that's what made the book.

      Delete
  15. Some nut gave away THE ENDING to Anna Karenina in the intro, without warning that there'd be a spoiler! Not. Cool.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yes Yes Yes to all three!!!

    I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie that was better than the book (a few have gone close like Gregory Peck's To Kill A Mockingbird or the amazing re-interpretation that the movie did for The French Leuitenant's Woman.)

    Sometimes a movie will lead me back to the book (which I always end up preferring over the movie) and I go out of my way to find non-movie tie in covers.

    Don't get me started on Introductions!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The French Lieutenant's wife is on my Classics Club list so I'll keep that in mind once I'm finished!!! Thanks for the rec! It's crazy because I just went to Barnes and Noble and found a movie cover copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in the bargain bin. I guess others weren't buying it either but glad it's there and might appeal to someone that doesn't want to pay full price.

      Delete
  17. I agree about the whole movie-book covers. I recall when The Lord of the Rings first came out, all the books had film covers, and it horrified me, for some reason. As much as I loved the movies for their own merits, I thought the movie covers took something very vital and essential to the books away. Personally, even now when I read The Lord of the Rings, the only person from the movie I can tie in with the book is Gandalf...and Gollum, I guess. I feel one should leave the books alone for the readers' imagination to interpret.

    As for your #2...I'm really not one who minds spoilers. I think I prefer them because I can't stand suspense. However, I don't see the point in a spoiler for a mystery or thriller. Then the whole reading experience is simply lost!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, firm believer that the movie posters should never be the cover of the book, but I'm sure there are so many people that are just the opposite. I guess it's just what you prefer.
      I don't like spoilers because I like going into a novel without knowing much about what will happen no matter what genre. The mystery/thriller is probably worse though!

      Delete
  18. I am in 100% agreement with you about all three of these things, but especially the movie-adaptation covers. I HATE THEM SO MUCH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahah. It seems to be the general consensus!

      Delete
  19. I agree with every single one of your rants. Great post. Rule of thumb: unless and introduction is written by the author, do not read it until you've finished the book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna,
      It's so true! Glad you enjoyed this post :)

      Delete
  20. I also detest film covers. Back when I used to buy print books, I would avoid them because I felt like they shout "I'm one of those people who only read books that become movies." Even though, honestly, we all sometimes reads books because they're becoming a film. There are certainly some bad adaptations out there, but lately I've found myself advocating for the strong adaptations and saying I'll take the bad to keep the good. I recently saw a phenomenal adaptation: We Need to Talk About Kevin. It's a book I loved and thought had no business being adapted. I was so wrong; it was in great hands. I've also enjoyed quite a few films adapted from books I didn't like (Under the Tuscan Sun comes to mind.) Then there are the novels where I love them both as separate things.

    Also, I am a highlighted and note scribbling fiend, but these days it's all electronic:-) And I never did like hardbacks for either the price or the burden of carrying them around, so it's pretty obvious I was destined to be an e-reader.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I recently read a book in which the back cover blurb gave away the most important aspect of the book! It said something like; the trouble they think is coming isn't really that kind of trouble but is in fact this kind of trouble! That was purposely vague but the actual book blurb wasn't. I was like "Oh, great! Why should I even start reading this now?!" But I did and other than the giant spoiler it turned out pretty good. I also can't stand movie posters as book covers and I've found that if I see a movie before readingthe book its based on Ill enjoy the movie more but never vice versa. Ill actually like the book more if I see the movie first, too.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...