Thursday, June 09, 2011

I Don’t Want To Know: What Influences Your Reading From The Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop

This week, Meagan at the Blue Bookcase asks and answers her own question: “What other outside influences affect your reading experience? Do you think these influences enhance or detract from the experience?” Meagan goes on to describe how she came to watch the movie The Secret Garden then read the book. This changed her experience reading the book and enjoying it as it was intended.

I try to never watch the movie before reading the book. Most times, if I’ve seen the movie, I don’t end up reading the book, even if I’m told how amazing it is. I’m not going to read a book if I know the ending. It takes away from the experience for me. I like to be surprised. I like to not know who’s going to end up together, die or be the villain. I hate knowing the ending, whether it’s a book or movie. Someone ruined the endings of The Sixth Sense and Fight Club for me. So I haven’t actually watched either of those movies, even though I know they’re great and I haven’t read Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club either. I’ve been told that reading/watching Fight Club more than once let’s you pick up on new things you didn’t notice the first time, but I didn’t get a first time and now I think I’m bitter.

The only exception to this rule (and I’m not excluding future exceptions) is Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. I watched this movie before I read the book. My husband (then boyfriend) had the books, but they were so overly hyped, that I didn’t bother with them. Then I saw the movie with him and loved it! So I read the books and I happily jumped onto the Harry Potter bandwagon. The movie did influence my reading of the books, however. Though I tried, I had a really difficult time not imagining the actors as I read the books. It was different if I was reading about a character that I hadn’t seen in a movie yet, but I think I will always imagine Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.

Honestly, hype influences how I read a book too. I go in expecting them to be great, but initially I’m resistant. I didn’t read Harry Potter when it first came out because of the hype. It took me ages to read The Hunger Games trilogy for the same reason. Hype, I think, falls into the “Others’ Opinions” category. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games had positive opinions, but when I was a teenager, I was against reading Margaret Atwood. I had some friends who had read Cat’s Eye, The Edible Woman and The Handmaid’s Tale in high school. Somehow I missed all those classes and never read one of her books. These friends of mine hated them. They couldn’t stop talking about how bad they were. So I never picked one up. It was only until I was assigned The Handmaid’s Tale in University that I realized what I was missing. Now, Atwood is one of my favourite authors.

I think that you should try as best you can not to let outside influences detract from your reading of a book. I can’t really think of any that have enhanced my reading experience, except that a good recommendation can often lead me to a book that I otherwise would not have picked up.

I also thought about non-bookish outside influences, like culture, history and personal experiences. There’s also noise, quiet, mood, etc. Then I looked at how long this post was and decided to just say, I try to be in as much of a cocoon as possible when reading, so that I get the full experience of the story and I try to be objective. Does this always happen? No.

Do you let outside influences get to your when reading?


  1. Anonymous10/6/11 06:15

    I'm the same, I don't like reading a book after having watched the movie. What I like about reading, is that you can make up your own picture in your head of what the setting is like, the people, etc. A movie "spoils" that for me. Afetr a movie I can only see the story in the book in my mind's eye the way it was in the movie. Nah! Not nice.

  2. I definitely agree that hype can be a strong influence on what we read, sometimes in a good way (the Millennium series) and other times not (Twilight). As for the movies, you'd be surprised how much depth the novel tends to add to the story that the movie doesn't or can't possibly show. For example, The Time Traveler's Wife. OMG :D

  3. I try to avoid the movie if I plan on reading the book. If I didn't plan on reading the book I don't care if I see the movie first. The one exception was The Lord of the Rings. I saw the FotR because my brother made me and loved it and read the book. I was very "meh" on the book so I held off reading the others because I'd rather the movies surprise me.

  4. hype tends to be a major put off for me,even if I like the idea of a book, if it's promotion is ubiquitous it tends to go on some mental backburner till things calm down.

  5. I didn't think of this writing my post, but it just came to me reading yours. One of the positive effects that recommendations have on me is that I learn about the recommender as I read the book. It is interesting to learn about a friend's likes and dislikes through reading.

    I totally agree that seeing the movie before reading the book ruins the experience.

  6. leeswammes, Exactly!

    Teacher, I'm not saying I never read the book after seeing the movie and you learn things about the characters you might not have known otherwise, I just don't think it holds the same excitement for me as if I read the book first.

    Red, I'll avoid a movie too if I plan on reading the book.

    parrish, most of the time I avoid books that are overly hyped, but sometimes I give in to the peer pressure and I can think of a few instances where it was worth and the books deserve the credit they were getting.

    LBC, I never thought of that, but I agree.

  7. You're so right about the influence a movie can have on the reading experience. I have some DVDs here waiting to be watched because I haven't read the books yet.
    I also rarely read a book if I seen the film; although I actually picked up The Hours by Cunningham because I enjoyed the film so much. I think I still preferred the film after though.

    For me, it is not a question of knowing the ending, but of ruining the imagination...
    Very good example!

  8. Em, I loved The Hours, which was an interesting experience for me. I had to read it for a class, but I was so excited about the book, I read it before the class even started. Then I saw the movie and because of the assignment, I ended up reading it again. It let me see a depth into the film and book that I don't think I would have otherwise.

  9. I think it is also the kind of book/film it doesn't really matter if you know the ending...