Differences between reading and watching

Lex E. Darion

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#1
It occurred to me the other day that I have a dichotomy between what I read and what I watch on TV/films.

I will watch ANYTHING Sci-Fi on the screen and can't get enough of it, yet don't read it! I also enjoy the odd rom-com but would cross the road to avoid romantic novels (except Pride and Prejudice).

I tend to read fantasy, crime and historical and will also watch those genres but think I've read fewer than a handful of sci-fi books.

Is this an anomaly on my part, or do others find this too?
 

Overread

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#2
I think the act of watching allows us to indulge it at different levels more easily than reading. We can casually watch something as a background noise through to watching every single frame. Books also encourage us to go back and read a bit again that we just read over; whilst most people watch films/TV in one go and will rewind very rarely.

I think its easier to turn our brains off for moving media which opens it up a lot more to diversity in quality and content; meanwhile for books we can't really turn our brain off as easily. Sure we can ignore inaccuracies and get swept along with the story; but its a much more thinking level of interaction.


thus is not a surprise to me that you and indeed myself and others, can enjoy a type of drama or show that we would find dull or which is a different genre to what we'd read. I don't read "rambo action" novels but I will watch them on the TV. Similarly some very heavy wordy things can be done well on the TV, but often come across soo much better in written text .
 

Brian G Turner

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#3
It's a good question to raise. :)

I guess a big difference is that you can zone out something on TV you don't like. A novel, however, demands your full attention - and for a far longer period of time.
 

Lex E. Darion

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#4
Yes, I did wonder if that was it myself. Sci-Fi, especially, tends to have a lot of descriptive text about aliens, spaceships, worlds which require more brain power than just seeing them on screen and getting an instant image.

So basically I think I'm just lazy! Fabulous ;)
 

Droflet

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#5
Two totally different dynamics. I took like to watch, but all too often the book is better. Shrug.
 

Lex E. Darion

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#6
Two totally different dynamics. I took like to watch, but all too often the book is better. Shrug.
Oh I completely agree with this and generally try to read the book before I watch the film/TV show (mainly because one of my favourite past-times is pointing out the discrepancies much to NO2 daughter's annoyance but that's a different thread ;) ) but it seemed strange that I hadn't even realised that my favourite genre for watching was not even in the top 5 for reading.
 

logan_run

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#7
Reading is al
Yes, I did wonder if that was it myself. Sci-Fi, especially, tends to have a lot of descriptive text about aliens, spaceships, worlds which require more brain power than just seeing them on screen and getting an instant image.

So basically I think I'm just lazy! Fabulous ;)
little more engaging takes more brain work.
 

dask

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#8
In general but not always I tend to prefer reading sf rather than watching it, watching horror rather than reading it, and 50/50 with fantasy. Not sure why but rather than make up a bunch of reasons I'll just chalk it up to brainstem personal preference.
 

psikeyhackr

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#10
I don't like reading. It is like a -2 experience. So any book has to be a +3 or greater.

I will watch most Star Trek episodes and have tried about 5 books over the decades but I have given up on the books. I haven't seen the last two movies either. I tend to think my SF movie standards are lower than my SF book standards but they are very different media. The acting, the music, probably even the lighting affects my reaction.

But some stories are so bad the medium doesn't matter. Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy is in that category. I forced myself to read it just so I would KNOW what I didn't like. I couldn't watch the movie. The book only got an occasional weak chuckle from me. I think it is just dumb.

I have looked at The Two Faces of Tomorrow by James P. Hogan graphics novel. It looks like they changed the story to shorten it. I presume graphic novels are for people that don't really want to read. Why not do audiobooks? I use text to speech to create audiobooks from public domain texts in Project Gutenberg.

psik
 

The Crawling Chaos

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#12
I think its easier to turn our brains off for moving media which opens it up a lot more to diversity in quality and content; meanwhile for books we can't really turn our brain off as easily. Sure we can ignore inaccuracies and get swept along with the story; but its a much more thinking level of interaction.
It is a common misconception, and one that I myself was guilty of having several years ago.

How many novels have I browsed through, reading every single word on its pages and yet having no memory whatsoever of the previous 5 pages at any given time? It is just as easy to read a book without reading it than it is to watch a movie without watching it. Whenever I'm in bed and reading a book, I often find myself reaching the end of a page to realise that I have absolutely no idea about what that page was about (because I allow my mind to wander or am concerned about tomorrow's workload, or paying the bills, or whatever else...). The words enter my field of vision, I let their rhythm lull me to sleep, but I am not reading anything.

Reading a book "properly" and watching a movie "properly" demand just as much focus on the part of the reader/viewer. There is just as much subtext in a good movie as there is in a good book, and I often give out to people who claim to be cinephiles and consume 2 to 3 movies a day, but whenever they actually insert a Blu Ray into their player or - worse - turn on Netflix and play whatever happens to be the recommended movie of the day, they simply let the movie wash over them to play games on their iPads or use the movie as background noise. That is not what watching a movie is.

But in a society that has accepted movies as nothing more than "plots" read by pretty faces on a screen, I am not surprised that most people would have the notion that movies are to fast food what books are to 3-star restaurants.

In truth however, if you are not allowing the cinematography, sound design, production design and editing of a movie affect you (I am not saying you should be conscious of them and dissect the movie as you watch it, I am saying that you should be focused on the movie for these elements to have the effect the filmmakers designed them for), you are not truly experiencing the film, you're just following the plot (and in that case, why even bother to watch the film? Just read the script).
 
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psikeyhackr

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#13
It is a common misconception, and one that I myself was guilty of having several years ago.

How many novels have I browsed through, reading every single word on its pages and yet having no memory whatsoever of the previous 5 pages at any given time?
When a book has that effect on me I quit reading it. To me reading is a slightly negative experience so a book must suck me in to keep reading. I find it easier to watch a mindless movie.

psik
 

The Crawling Chaos

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#14
I understand what you mean, but I was specifically referring to books that are enjoyable but that I find hard to concentrate on because of my own state of mind (personal worries or finding the book so exciting that my mind starts to think about writing my own projects, etc.).

Basically what I meant is that regardless of the quality of the material, it is as easy to let your focus slip when watching a movie as it is when reading a book. I find it terribly easy to simply "read the words" without allowing them to have any sort of lasting impact on me.
 

maeda

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#15
The difference is huge, in my case a book demands more from me than a movie, for start, i must visualize a world described by the author, a movie creates that world for me.
Books are more intimate, i'm directly reading another persons thoughts, on the other hand, a movie has more tools to create and more senses to influence.
Books are kind of a lo-fi media, and since i'm surrounded with new technology 24/7 it gives contrast, maybe that is one of the reasons i still buy physical books, to balance
McLuhan tried to define/explain media in his hot/cool categories.
 

Emphyricist

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#17
I'm precisely the opposite of the OP. The only "science fiction" series I've really enjoyed are Firefly and The Expanse, and there's not many science fiction movies I've really liked, but I read all the classic SF I can get my hands on. Part of the issue is that Sturgeon's Law applies to the screen as well as it does to books, and there's a lot more books.

But that doesn't explain why I don't like series such as Star Trek or Babylon 5, which have generally been viewed positively. I think that there's at least three things going on there: 1. There's a strict length requirement, 2. there's strict time constraints, and 3. production costs are much higher, meaning things like rubber forehead aliens are much more popular. A screenwriter therefore has many more constraints than a book writer does. And I generally find that as a result, I lose immersion in TV shows in a way I don't with books. Plus, as mentioned, books force you to engage with your whole attention, which also helps with immersion.

But I'm fairly sure that the author is in the majority, that there are far more people who watch SF than read it. I'm pretty sure that, except perhaps with some books that are required reading in most public schools, this is the case for movies and TV vs books generally.
 

dannymcg

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#18
I think one difference is the time and place you do your viewing.
If you're at the cinema you've paid your pricey admission and costly snacks/ drinks so you wanna get your money's worth. Unblinking concentration at the silver screen absorbing the plot and dialogue as soon as it starts.
Viewing at him you can pause to make a phone call, see to the dog or whatever.
Likewise with a book, the bookmark gets replaced too often by outside elements distracting you.
I resent being asked to "pop the kettle on" when I'm gripped in a book and my family are watching a soap. "But you're only sitting reading" is a typical puzzled response to my protests.
Somehow, in such an instance, reading has less value than chatting whilst gaping at mindless pap.

God I'm getting bitter and twisted nowadays! Haha
 

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