The age of machines: Literature vs. Movies and Series

Reading the book is better then watching the movie. Image from

I will be the first one to tell you I am a movie/series maniac! I love them, and honestly when I am stressed one of the chilliest things for me to do is to watch and episode of modern family, big bang theory, community, Mindy Project, or something light and funny that will make me laugh. Then when I want to think, I will turn to Elementary, Castle, Bones, Criminal Minds, or something that will captivate my mind and attention span for some time.

Reading the book is better then watching the movie. Image from
Reading the book is better then watching the movie. Image from

I have even read somewhere that for a writer watching the latest movie or series is not just entertainment but also research. This is so true, because as a writer you tend to be a people watcher in whatever form that may take. Be it watching a movie, reading a book, or literally just sitting down in a mall or café and observing other people go about their day. This not only gives you inspiration but also helps you understand people, making it so much easier later on to create people/characters based on reality.

The problem becomes when you focus on one aspect more than the other. We are living in a culture of electronics, which means that when a child who is eight years old or so has the option between a children’s book in front of them, and endless cartoons they will pick the endless cartoons. So that by the time it is an adult choosing between a captivating James Patterson book and a Jack Baur movie they will chose the movie.

There are a few reasons people will go for the movies and series over books, one being we are lazy. Yes, I am calling you out. Television does three quarters of the work for us in telling a story by showing us the picture and sound, while reading forces us to use our imagination. It forces you to actually create a profile of the character in your head, almost like you are mentally envisioning the story play out in your brain which is obviously more taxing.

Books help you use your imagination. Image from
Books help you use your imagination. Image from

Following that reason is that a movie is basically the shortcut of a book. I once got into an argument with my friend who doesn’t read and he said, “What’s the point of reading it when you can watch it and be done in like an hour and a half?”

He made a valid point though I disagreed with his viewpoint and still so to some extent. Recently there have been more and more movies made based on books than there have been in the past such as The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, The Giver, Divergent, Fault in our Stars, and many more. In my opinion most of the best movies ever made were based on books including The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, and Harry Potter for those who are diehard fans of it.

Yet when you talk to someone who has read the book and watched the movie, of any of these blockbuster films, they always say the books were better. That is a fact of life, no matter how good the movie is the book is almost always better. That is why they turn them into movies, because books are better, and I for one, have never heard of a movie being turned into a book; please comment below if you have heard of any.

Books have a way of transporting you into that time and place, of letting you be as much of the writer, creator, and director as your brain’s creativity would allow. Literature is more than just words; it is expression, love, laughter, anger, the essence of the human spirit and who we were created to be captured into the corners of your mind. Books tell the very intricate details of the story which can only be glazed over in a movie. I believe that is what unlocks your mind to observation, details, and a world of possibilities.

I for one do not think literature is a dying art; it has been the only way mankind has known to express themselves and leave a legacy for generations to come throughout history. I do however, believe that people are losing the value that should be placed upon it and degrading the standard at which it should be at.

My suggestion to the literature lovers out there is to incorporate literature into the day to day conversations. The same way you ask a friend if they have watched this and this movie, ask if they have read any book by a certain author. Look for a common place of interest in the genre of book to be bought. Buy books as birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and holidays in general because they are treasures worth more than can be described. Teach the next generation to read; read bed-time stories to your kids, give them reading assignments, and find out what kind of stories interest them so that they enjoy the process. Do book reviews, join a book club or even start one, challenge yourself to read one African author a moth or something of the sort.

Literature will live on past us, I would rather try to capture its life in the time that I have.

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Shingai is an upcoming writer with a passion for words and expression through writing. She lived in Zimbabwe as a child and has traveled to over ten countries. She craves adventure and hopes to be an inspirational writer. She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature with a minor in Psychology at Daystar University.


  1. Hi Shingai, just bumped into this article and I must say you’ve really hit the nail on the head. I once was an avid reader and would really like to get back to that. Can you recommend any good book to start with? It shouldn’t be too big lest I get bored early.

    • Hey Kevin thanks for commenting, it mostly depends on what genre you are interested in? Because I might suggest a sappy chick flick which you may hate? lol Though some great writers are James Patterson, Jefferey Archer, Agatha Christie is a classic for me (if you want to start small try her books), Joyce Oates is really good and Jodi Picoult, not to mention Jonathan Green, but again it all depends on what types of books you would be interested in 🙂