The Bookshelf: Books or Movies?

The book versus the Movie

I recently (finally) watched Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. I loved the book. Loved it. Can’t read enough articles about Laura Hillenbrand. The way she tells the truth with vivid detail and no commentary or judgment is stunning.

I didn’t love the movie. I know I’m way behind the times here and most people warned me that I would be disappointed. I wasn’t really disappointed, I hadn’t expected to enjoy the movie. I don’t  enjoy most movies, I’m not a movie person. While my family watches movies, I read. So, my expectations were low and the film met those low expectations. It felt like just another movie about war and POWs and trauma. It was well done with that in mind but to me, it didn’t stand out from others in the same genre. Not the way the book did.

What I loved about the book were the redemptive elements and learning about the aftermath of the war. How did these men move on? How did they heal, or not? How did they continue to relate to one another, or not? How on earth did the main character, Louie Zamperini, make it out of the war and into the rest of his life with hope? The movie left all of that out.

So read the book. Again. Forget the movie.

What about other books vs. movies? I have already made it pretty clear that I will always love the book more than the movie. Also, these are mostly fiction and I’m not a big fiction connoisseur, so no expertise here. But are there any that are reasonably decent?

I’m going to say not really. And if you disagree, please post a comment. Keep in mind here that we have no movie theater in the country. That’s right. No movie theater. So I am way, way behind. I sort of catch up on airplane rides to the US which come once every year or two so yeah, way behind.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Book, lovely, sad, surprising and a light read. Movie? Totally wrong. Got it all wrong and so messed up the ending that I couldn’t even believe it. Changed it from a unique and surprising story to a run-of-the-mill story.





Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I enjoy this movie fine enough but it just can’t capture the humor and richness of the characters the book. The pride and the prejudice just don’t come through as vividly. Plus, in the most recent version with Keira Knightley I find Darcy a bit creepy and the kissing scene sort of weirds me out. Read it.




Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Another summer read that I flew through but the movie simply can’t capture the depth of wrongness in the character’s relationship and the horrible ways they treat each other and manipulate each other.






Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden. At least in the book you learn a little bit about Somalia. In the movie you pretty much only learn about blood and shooting and see Somalis (who mostly aren’t even Somalis) popping up and getting shot down like characters in that state fair game where you have to knock down the moles that pop up.





The list could go on and on. Basically my point is this: read the book. Unless you are on an airplane.


What I’m reading this week

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (listening)



The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence by Gary Haugen Can’t recommend this highly enough. Listen to this Ted Talk and then read the book. It is about the powerful and overlooked impact of violence on the poor.


The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer, National Book Award winner this year and fascinating.

African Friends and Money Matters: Observations from Africa (Publications in Ethnography, Vol. 37) by David Maranz for organizational meetings and discussion.

The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide: A light-hearted but authoritative manual for anyone accompanying their partner on an overseas assignment by Clara Wiggins

 What are you reading (or watching)?

*post contains affiliate links