Which is better, reading a book or watching a movie?

This question is not an easy one to answer, and it may be unanswerable because it centers around personal taste and subjectivity. There isn’t really a clear answer about it. It also deals with personal preferences: some people just prefer reading, and some people just prefer to watch movies. However, even with all of these caveats, let’s look at some of the arguments.

Read enough movie criticism and you will find this idea all over the place: film is a visual medium. “Show, don’t tell” is an admonition you will find about a lot of movies. Narration as a crutch, as an easy way to explain the story or setting of a film is something that drives lots of critics and filmgoers crazy. Film as it exists tells stories in a largely visual way, using images projected onto a screen to show meaning. Film is more than a purely visual medium though. Film also has sound, dialog, and music. You can be made to feel powerful emotions with the aid of music and sound. Sound in movies can also strongly link to memory and emotion, which can make remembering things easier.

Books are a medium that requires the use of the reader’s imagination. The story and the setting are written down in words, and you must imagine what the characters look like, what the places look like, and the visuals of everything. With books you can form the best possible version for yourself of the story. The characters can look in a way that is most appealing to you. You can read at your own pace and put the book down and pick it up later. Generally, the time required to read a book will give you more time to reflect on it. Books also allow for a much larger level of detail. The only limit is the number of words the author chooses to write.

Movies take much less time than books. A long movie might be around three hours, but books generally take much more time than movies. It is easy to relax while watching a movie. The filmmakers have done the work making all of the visual aspects of the movie, so you don’t have to work so hard imagining things. It is not possible with books; you have to read actively and imagine things as you go.

Well then, which is better? It depends on what you are looking for. If you have lots of time and a light source (for your book) reading can be really great. If you aren’t using an electronic book or a tablet computer, you also don’t necessarily need electricity. You don’t need to download or stream a movie or go to a theater. The possibilities of what you can do or portray in a book are nearly limitless; in a movie you have to visually represent things and it is much more difficult to do some things visually. If you love details and deep worldbuilding, books might be for you. However, movies take much less time. Movie theaters can be grand and beautiful and epic, and popcorn and snacks are delicious and fun. It is as possible to have a deep, thought-provoking movie as it is to have a deep, thought-provoking book. Do what you like and read the books and watch the movies you like.



subjectivity (noun) - being influenced by personal ideas, opinions or feelings, rather than facts
caveat (noun) - a warning that particular things need to be considered before something can be done
admonition (noun) - a warning to somebody about their behavior
crutch (noun) - a person or thing that gives you help or support but that you depend on too much
worldbuilding (noun) - the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe
thought-provoking (adjective) - making people think seriously about a particular subject or issue