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Why Reading Novels is More Enjoyable Than Watching Movies/Series Reading gives readers an advantage because it allows them to learn the inner motives of characters in greater depth than can be conveyed by watching a movie

By Chandan Sen Gupta

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On 19th December 2018, E.R. Braithwaite breathed his last at the age of 104. His famous autobiographical novel is, "To Sir with love,". The Guyanese-born, British-American writer's mastery over the English language, as he went about describing human emotions in a racially-prejudiced society, stimulated me intellectually right through the book. His appropriate choice of words enabled me to read into the minds of the real-life characters in his story and conjured pictures like nothing else could, not even the much-acclaimed movie that was made after it.

The Philosophy

"Show, don't tell," is the motto that any good writer lives by. His words stir the reader's imagination, thereby transporting him to the described scene. This is what makes a novel so engrossing. On the other hand, the visual impact of a movie is straight cut, leaving no scope for the viewer to form his own image of the situation. Scenes like the leper's island, in Henry Charriere's novel, "Papillon," where the author befriends a group of disfigured men round a bonfire,or the remote island in the Atlantic Ocean where he falls in love with a young Red-Indian girl, while trying to escape from a Godforsaken penal colony in French Guyana, continue to haunt my mind to this day. The movie, though a blockbuster, failed to recreate the scenes that the novel had presented so well. On the other hand, directors often take recourse to extremely violent scenes in their works and these serve to make the movie repulsive. Movies, first and foremost, look toward a commercial success to recover the enormous expenditure involved in its making. A novel, by and large, is a work of art that has a sublime influence on the reader.

Why a Novel?

A novel is more accessible than a movie. One can pick up a book from the bedside table and read it before falling asleep, or he may bury himself in the work of his favourite author while rolling through the countryside on a train. A reader can afford the luxury of enjoying a novel at the time of his choice – when he is mentally alert. Not so with the movie. One can come home dejected even after seeing a good picture, simply because he wasn't in the right mood.

Reading keeps one mentally alert, even in old age. Particularly for writers, it serves to enhance their creativity. Like the noted American author Stephen King puts it, "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the skill to write." Not surprisingly, dwelling into the finer aspects of a novel – the choice of words, phrases and proverbs – gives me added pleasure, which a movie can't. Which worker doesn't enjoy sharpening his tools, after all?

A novel conveys best the message its writer wishes to share. When a movie is made about a book it undergoes multiple interpretations and significant creative license is usually taken. A novel is the product of a single man; a movie is the output of hundreds of people. Hence a movie usually dilutes the message of a novel.

The Wonders it Does

Reading gives readers an advantage because it allows them to learn the inner motives of characters in greater depth than can be conveyed by watching a movie. The understanding of such inner motives has practical application in real life. Consider that reading Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather bestows on readers the ability to understand what motivates many in real life. While the movies based on Mario Puzo's novel are epic, the books reveal, particularly to those who interact with and manage a large number of people every day, what motivates people and also offer deep lessons on human psychology.

The most successful leaders have excellent interpersonal skills yet they often continuously cultivate such skills through reading. Writers have an excellent understanding of human nature and interpersonal relations which is shared with the world in fictional stories. A good writer understands and reveals hidden depths of interpersonal relationships in his or her novel. When such novels are read, they reveal great insights into human behaviour and as a result, many young would-be leaders are able to acquire wisdom and maturity that serve them well in their professional career.

My write-up on Bahrain and its people won the 1st prize in creative writing and was published in the coffee table book, "Best of Bahrain," in 2012. My first book, also a thriller, named "Land of two seas," published in 2015. It is a fiction woven around facts that takes off from a daring air-raid during World War 2, by the Italians, to bomb the oil refinery of Bahrain. The book has been very popular in Bahrain. "Unforeseen: A battle for his daughter's life," is my second novel published in 2018. 

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