When the Movie is Better than the Book (My Top Ten List)

I tend to agree that in most cases, the book is better than the movie. However, there are exceptions–or at least there are for me. Since I have been too busy to get the site updated and organized yet (really going to try to have this complete by next month, perhaps with a giveaway to perk some interest in the new site?), I thought this might be a fun topic to write about.

Here’s my list of movies I thought were better than the book:

Picture Sources: Wikipedia.org, horror-movies.wikia.com

1. JAWS (Book by Peter Benchley, Movie by Steven Spielberg)

Jaws is one of my all time favorite movies. In fact, I love the movies so much that before the Jaws Ride at Universal Studios in Florida closed down, my fiance’ surprised me by taking me there. I’d seen the movie before the book, but since I was young at the time, I found it to be boring. I read the book during my college years but wasn’t particularly impressed. I didn’t even really like any of the characters.

However, I watched the movie several more times, and before I knew it, I was in love. It’s now one of my favorite movies. I believe the movie is better because the characters are more likable, the shark is scarier, the music score by John Williams is oh-so-wonderful and really puts you in the mood, and the cinematography is great. I cringe at the thought of this movie being remade.

Picture Sources: books.google.com, moviegoods.com

2. The First Wives Club (Book by Olivia Goldsmith, Movie by Hugh Wilson)

I’d watched the movie several times before reading the book. In fact, the fact that I loved the movie (the three leading actresses make the movie, in my opinion) is the entire reason I picked up the book.

However, the characters in the book just weren’t as likable to me like they are in the movie. I feel for them deeply in the movie, but in the book, it was much harder. It was a much darker story, and I don’t mind darkness, but I just didn’t like it as well as the more lighthearted movie version. I also felt that at times, the book was very long-winded.

Picture Sources: bookhurricane.com

3. Practical Magic (Book by Alice Hoffman, Movie by Griffin Dunne)

I’ve watched the Practical Magic movie while growing up. A few years ago, I also discovered it was based on a book, so of course I had to read it. Like The First Wives Club, I found the book to be less engaging as the movie. I just couldn’t get into the book as much, and like the more “magical” story in the movie. I also liked the movie’s character’s better. The book wasn’t bad, but I prefer the movie.

Picture Sources: wikipedia.org

4. Memoirs of a Geisha (Book by Arthur Golden, Movie by Rob Marshall)

Like most of the others, I watched the movie version of Memoirs of a Geisha before reading the book, and my love for the movie led me to reading the book. While I found the book to be very informative and interesting, I still found the movie more engaging and the character’s more likable. The book got dull at parts.

Picture Sources: helensbookblog.com, wikipedia.com

5. Where the Heart Is (Book by Billie Letts, Movie by Matt Williams)

Another movie I saw before realizing it was a book. Like the above, I felt that the characters in the movie were more likable and the plot more engaging in the movie. However, I still enjoyed the book a lot, and it’s pretty close to the movie. I still prefer the movie.

Picture Sources: chatanuga.org, headhuntershorrorhouse.wikia.com

6. The Amityville Horror (Book by Jay Anson, Movie by Stuart Rosenberg)

This month we watched this movie for the month of Halloween. I’d seen it growing up several times, but this is the first time I REALLY enjoyed the movie. So I was excited, as usual, to discover it was also a book. After reading it, I became very disappointed.

I like the movie better because, like I have discovered on this list, the movie is more engaging and the characters are more likable. Now, the book is almost similar to the movie, but it reads like a documentary. The writing is dry and sometimes gets long-winded. It was a real challenge just finishing it.

I also really learned nothing new about this story since everything covered was in documentaries. I can see why the book would be more popular in the late 70s (17 re-printings within a year!), but I think the movie does a much better job than the book with the overall story.


Picture Sources: kristens-booknook.blogspot.com, wikipedia.org

7. The Devil Wears Prada (Book by Lauren Weisberger, Movie by David Frankel)

I’m starting to realize that so far, all of the movies here were watched before reading the book. A part of me wonders if this may be the reason I don’t like the book, but then I think of other movies I’ve seen books based on that I felt the book was better (Flowers in the Attic, for example) and decide that it’s probably not the reason.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve read The Devil Wears Prada. Back in my college years. I hardly recall anything about the book besides the fact that I had a hard time getting through it and the characters weren’t really likable. I watched the movie shortly before then and remember enjoying it more because, though I keep repeating myself, the plot was more engaging and the characters more likable. Hmmm. Maybe this is the recurring pattern on this list?

Picture Sources: quinnsbooknook.wordpress.com, wikipedia.org

8. The Princess Diaries (Book by Meg Cabot, Movie by Garry Marshall)

Oh, a book I read before the movie! I read these books back when I was in high school, I believe. I’ve always enjoyed Meg Cabot’s writing, and I believe I was really into her books during my high school and college years. Anyways, I’ve always enjoyed the movie better. The people who played the characters just made it into an even better story. I believe the plot is a little different as well, but I believe I liked most of the changes (besides the dad being dead in the movie, I didn’t care for that).

I re-read this book about a month ago and didn’t like it as much as I once did. Why? Because the protagonist, Mia, seemed so judgmental and a bit of a brat. I guess I have changed since I first read the book, but this really got on my nerves. Which sucks because the writing is cute and witty, and the story and other characters are cool, but Mia’s rants kind of got in the way of all that.

I would have liked her better if that had been toned down (it’s one of the things that sometimes bother me about Emma Nelson from Degrassi!). Yes, people have opinions. Some people are really outspoken about them. But please don’t preach me about them!

Picture Sources:  msbsclassblog.wordpress.com, movieberry.com

9. I Know What You Did Last Summer (Book by Lois Duncan, Movie by Jim Gillespie)

I read this book a long, long, time ago, and liked it, but I enjoyed the movie better. The only difference between this book and some of the others on the list is that I almost felt as much for the characters in the book as I did in the movie.

Picture Sources: wikipedia.org

10. Dolores Claiborne (Book by Stephen King, Movie by Taylor Hackford)

Stephen King, I’M SORRY. But this is one of your books that I didn’t enjoy. I really love most of your work, but there are some that I just don’t care for. This was one of them. Yet I watched the movie two years ago, and liked the story better. I believe the plot moved at a better pace in the movie (I remember trudging along in the book, sort of bored out of my mind) and of course, Kathy Bates was in the main role, so how can you blame me?

However, I may plan to revisit the book one day just because I have matured a lot since I read it during my college days. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I do.

What movies do you think are better than the books? Do you disagree with my choices? If so, why? (Please state your opinion in a respectful manner).


One thought on “When the Movie is Better than the Book (My Top Ten List)

  1. When I saw the title of this post, my first thought was Practical Magic. I also saw the movie first and fell in love with it. Watched it several times. So, I read the book, but I didn’t like it very much. Less “magic,” like you said, and far too much (depressing) realism from what I remember. However, if I had read the book first and then saw the movie I may have felt differently. I think that happens a lot: seeing a movie before reading the book seems to significantly increase the chances of liking the movie. I do have to disagree with you though on I Know What You Did Last Summer. Granted it was ions ago that I read the book (and almost as long since I saw the movie), but I loved Lois Duncan when I was young. I saw the movie, but really have no recollection whatsoever of it; however, I had read the book before seeing the movie. Such a fun topic! Thanks for sharing!

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