Shelf Life: Which is better, the book or movie?

·2 min read
York Public Library will be offering a new "Book to Movie Club" that will meet every month, virtually for now.
York Public Library will be offering a new "Book to Movie Club" that will meet every month, virtually for now.

I’m a librarian and I love books. But I have a confession: movies and TV are my real passion. You know, the arch-nemesis of print. So, when asked if I wanted to organize a book club, I pondered how I could do it in a way that really appealed to me. That’s when I stumbled upon the new library phenomenon of “Book to Movie Clubs.” A place where I can satiate my love of words, watch a good movie, and have an excuse to make everyone and their cousin watch “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.”

This new book club will meet every month, virtually for now, to discuss a book and a related film. This can be a little time consuming, so if you only have time to read the book or watch the movie, that’s okay too. For now, all of the books and movies are available via our online catalog (also known as Minerva). We are also mulling over the possibility of showing the films associated with movies in the future. For our first round, though, I wanted to make sure the books and films we chose weren’t limited by performance rights or ratings. Titles will be chosen based on critical or popular success, and, perhaps most importantly, have a book that is less than 350 pages long.

Our first title, “Practical Magic,” is one that I’ve always wanted to read and see. The film and book were immensely successful, although the former not critically so. I’m a fan of Alice Hoffman and Sandra Bullock in general, although I'm curious how Bullock will represent the former’s work. I typically associate her with more of a more lighthearted film, and my previous experience with Hoffman’s work is that it skews more fantastical. It will be interesting to see where the movie follow’s Hoffman’s work and where it diverges.

Hopefully you will be able to join us for our first meeting on January 24th, at 1:00 to discuss it. You can register and get the Zoom link on our website at

Now, while I earlier confessed how much I love my screen time, I will also admit that when a written work goes up against a film, the source material is almost always better. As a film lover though, I’ve compiled some movies where I think the film does, indeed, provide a better experience than the book.

“The Princess Bride” (Metro-Godwyn-Mayer Studios Inc, & Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

“Coraline” (Pandemonium Films)

“Stardust” (Paramount Home Entertainment)

“The Shawshank Redemption” (Warner Home Video)

Devin Burritt, Reference and Technology Librarian for York Public Library

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Shelf Life: Which is better, the book or movie?

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