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The book was better!

As a librarian I always think the book is better than the movie, but I have been guilty of watching the movie before reading the book. Watching the movie first is like reading the summary of a book. Reading the book that the movie was based on fills in gaps that the movie didn’t cover. The characters are always richer and the story seems to make more sense. I find it hard to sit through a 2-hour movie, but can read a 500-page book over a period of time without missing any details. To me, reading the book is a more fulfilling and rewarding experience than watching the movie.

Morgan Allen is librarian at the Demopolis Public Library. She may be reached by email at morgan.grimes@demopolisal.gov.

We are lucky to live in an exciting time where our favorite characters are pulled from the pages and their stories are told on screen. Each year more and more books are being adapted into films. You don’t have to invest money buying a whole series of books, buying movie tickets and expensive popcorn, buying DVD’s or renting them. Our library thrives to offer the book and films once they are released to DVD-for free!

Below is a list of books to read before watching the movie in 2017:

1. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by Diane Ackerman. This true story follows the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, who helped to save hundreds of people from the Nazis in World War II by smuggling them into empty cages of the zoo.

2. “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. This young adult book tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a boy who is born with a facial deformity, and his struggle to fit in at a new school.

3. “The Circle” by Dave Eggers. A young woman, Mae Holland, takes a job at a Google-like tech company where she quickly climbs the corporate ladder. This book is suspenseful and raises questions about privacy and democracy.

4. “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon. In this young adult book, two teens — one of whom suffers from a rare disease that makes her allergic to nearly everything — fall in love. This book has been flying off our library shelves.

5. “The Mountain Between Us” by Charles Martin. Two strangers on a charter plane crash in the wilderness and have to depend on each other to survive.

6. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. Two sisters in France end up in different positions during WWII; one fights with the resistance and one becomes a prisoner. It celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of women.

7. “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. This memoir chronicles her unconventional and sometimes bizarre upbringing and relationship with her parents.

8. “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. This is the true story of the unsung heroes of NASA — the black female mathematicians who quietly enabled the biggest achievements in space in the 1960s.

9. “Before I Fall” by Lauren Oliver. In this high school-set thriller, popular teen Samantha keeps reliving the same day over again following a car crash seemingly caused by a mysterious, outcast student her friends have been torturing.

10. “Same Kind of Different as Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, this true story also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love. **This is one of my favorite books!

Reasons to Read the Book First:

1. Better Character Descriptions: It’s rare for a character in the movie to be better than the character in the book. Books have more time to give greater details and descriptions of characters. This helps you understand the plot more and creates a better story. Plus, you have the added bonus of letting your imagination run wild when you picture the characters while reading about them.

2. Scenes are Cut: It’s hard to fit a 500-page book into a 2-hour movie. Directors have to be ruthless when cutting scenes. Often important details are cut that are vital to understanding the whole story and plot. This may end up making the movie hard to follow and ruining it. People who read the book first often wonder why certain details were left out and why others were created and added.

3. Plot Change: It’s hard to watch your favorite book turned into a film when it’s given a completely different ending. The sad part is that people who only watch the movie have no idea about the brilliant ending that the author wrote in the novel.

4. More Suspense: When scenes are cut and the story line is shortened, it often leads to less suspense in the movie. Reading the book can be intensely suspenseful as you follow the author over a longer period of time.

— Morgan Allen is librarian at the Demopolis Public Library. She may be reached by email at  morgan.grimes@demopolisal.gov.

(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, May 3, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)