Thursday, July 8, 2010

5 Reasons Books Are Better Than Movies

There was a time, not so long ago, when an army of Internet minions was slavishly devoted to scientifically discovering the "Top 10 of..." just about anything. From "The 10 head-bangingyest metal songs of all time" to the more modest "Ten can't-miss pudding recipes" to the just plain strange "Top 10 places I've seen you, my darling" -- everyone's had the itch. But, somewhere between now and then, the collective attention span was unduly divided duly -- and half of ten is five. So, in regretful capitulation to the times here are the "5 Reasons Books Are Better Than Movies," a subject nevertheless near and dear to this blog's hearts and my own. And you'll let me know, won't you, dear Reader: is this post trite or recondite? (That's my new thing, see, meant to one day run in TV Guide alongside "Cheers and Jeers.") Please, please let me know. Now here's the list:

1 Books look good on the shelf - You can tell so much about a person, they say, from the books they have on their shelves. But what do you gain from perusing a movie collection? What, some guy has the third Godfather film but not the first two? He has the Star Wars Christmas special? Lame. Totally lame. But if he has the 60-volume set Great Books of the Western World? Class. Totally class.

2 Books burn better - All the hoopla surrounding the so-called "travesty" of book-burning is unfounded and unrealistic. Books burn at 451 degrees and humans only need 98.6 of that; so one book has the power to warm 4.574 people! Also: I can't help but think that the protagonist of the Jack London short story "To Build a Fire" would have been a-okay if he'd just had a copy of his own harrowing story within reach.

3 Some books are dangerous - I suppose you can kill someone with just about anything, but there is something beautifully appropriate about smashing a faceless enemy's face in with the complete works of Freud. I keep the standard two-volume set of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on the bedside table at all times just in case -- just in case I get an opportunity to crash a burglar's head between those two meaty cymbals and finally prove the relevance of Roman history.

4 Some books are harmless - Sure, the books of #3 contain dangerous ideas, and are big and heavy to boot, but there is another breed. Surely there can be no harm in a good (or awful) paperback presented to the inmates of our prison system. A paperback is nearly useless as a blunt weapon, and paper is a poor material choice for building a shiv, while to many a DVD or VHS tape is just so much sharp and pointed plastic. If nothing else, there's always item #2.

5 Books sometimes smell good - This just in: "" is still available!


  1. Books and films, huh? Well, 1 never judge a book by its cover, 2 can't argue with this, especially given so many beautiful musical intstruments were burnt in the cold winters of the 17th & 18th Cs - books would have been more easily replaced; I could go on, but seriously, books have so much more detail, more supporting characters with more chance to be memorable as such, they can transport one further for longer, they become friends and old friends, while even well-loved films remain too inflexible and always a little distant. I'm glad I found your blog, thanks for it, Helen D, SA Australia

  2. Hello, Helen D. Abe himself here.

    People do seem to put an extra lot of emotional attachment towards books -- "they become friends and old friends" -- so that book burnings become personal tragedies. I made light of the situation, I know, but every time I see photos of "good ol' fashioned" book burnings I get a major case of the heebie jeebies.

    In the age-old Film vs Books debate I obviously fall somewhere along your lines, but I warn you: they are stronger than you think. I can easily imagine a film nut (a whole platoon of 'em, actually) choosing to die rather than watch the very last copy of "Casablanca" burn.

    Thank you for reading, and thank you even more for commenting. (It gets lonely here sometimes!)