Looking at the list of books I posted in my book list post I realized that I have many different reasons for reading.
In the digital, TV-video-DVD age, it seems like fewer people read books. I don't know if this is true, but it sure seems that way. I know more than one person who will go see the Harry Potter movies but won't read the books. "I'm in and out in two hours with the movie, why bother with the book?" they say.
For heaven sakes, because with a book you have the most complete movie you could ever have, right there in your head. Am I one of the few left with a vivid imagination? When I read the rest of the world doesn't exist, and that is one reason I read. But to substitute a movie for a book and claim that they are the same is like saying that diet soda and sugar soda taste the same!
A movie can't give you every moment that a book can. Even more so with long books like the Harry Potter series and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. A book is an internal, personal experience. Movies are generally viewed with crowds, and a movie can seem either better or worse depending on how all those other people are responding to it. When you relegate a movie like Lord of the Rings, a movie that absolutely must be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated (another movie that comes to mind in that sense is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) to a television, you lose even more than just storyline, or personal moments of the protagonist that are in the book but cut from the movie. You lose a large part of what the movie has going for it, the huge canvas on which it is painted, a canvas that is calculated to inspire awe, terror, overwhelming beauty or spectacle. But the moments you lose in converting a book to a movie are sometimes not things in the book itself, but moments, hours, sometimes days and nights where something in the book turns a key inside you and opens a door. There is an interaction that I have with books that is very personal. The struggles of Bilbo as he staggers toward Mordor color my life when I'm reading The Return of the King. While reading East of Eden I had to put the book down repeatedly and calm myself, even go for a walk. You can't go for a walk when watching a movie in a theater.
Sometimes I'm very annoyed after seeing a movie. For instance, the character Hermione, in the Harry Potter books, is annoyingly over-acted by the actress in the movie. And yet now when I read the book, my own personal Hermione has been replaced by that girl. Sometimes I put the book down and try to erase the movie Hermione and get my own Hermione back, but so far I haven't been successful. It's like Mr. Whipple and Charmin. The ad-men did a good job on those commercials, because the set out to annoy us into remembering both Mr. Whipple and Charmin, and it worked. Hermione won't go away any more than Mr. Whipple will, damn it.
The question is, though, why do I read Harry Potter in the first place? At first I decided to read those books because I wanted to know what the kids I teach were reading. But the first book was so much fun that it was easy to continue reading them. It grows on you. At first the world Rowling creates seems contrived and alien, but either I'm getting used to it or she's getting better at it, or both. Now I don't care who is reading Harry Potter. I read those books because they are simply good fun.
For fun I read "easy" books: Harry Potter, the Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich, comic books (if I can get a few in a run), re-read Forrest Gump, the original book by Winston Groom (which I read years before the movie was a gleam in anyone's eye), and other books that aren't too dark.
To be continued....