Personal Blog, Reading

Books Versus Movies

Books versus movies? Which would you choose? What are the benefits of each, and what are the downsides of each? That’s what we will be discussing in today’s post. I’ll begin by saying that I don’t watch many movies, and I do read many books, so I may be slightly biased. Let’s look first at the advantages that books have over movies.

Benefits of Reading

  • Books can be more detailed or graphic
  • The reader can imagine what is happening
  • You can read almost anywhere
  • Books don’t require a lot of time
row of books | Books versus movies

Books can be more graphic or detailed.

Now, I don’t mean that books are never too violent or gory. They can be. And for this reason there are some books better left unread. But what I do mean is that you will be less likely to be disturbed by reading something violent in a book than by watching it in a movie.

One example that comes to mind is of a movie that is based on a book about the Spanish Inquisition. I have read the book several times, and while the torture described isn’t pleasant, it’s not terribly disturbing to me.

The movie on the other hand, well, I have never seen it. Family members have, but I haven’t. I have no desire to watch it. I don’t want that visual image in my mind, because once you have seen something, you can’t un-see it.

Books don’t play on our emotions as much as movies do. I am a lot more likely to cry over a movie than I am a book. There is one movie I’ve seen about the Civil War that I know before watching which two or three scenes will make me cry. There aren’t many books that I’ve read that made me cry.

Actually seeing something take place before our eyes is different than hearing about it or reading it. And I would say that we can handle more from books than we can from movies. That is as long as we haven’t watched so much that we are desensitized, which is something we need to be careful to avoid.

Open book, candle, and coffee mug

The reader can imagine what is happening.

When reading a book, you get to imagine how people and places look. Of course there are location and character descriptions given in a good book, but there is still a lot of room for imagination. I’m sure we could all read the same character description, but have a slightly different mental image of what the character looks like.

With a movie, there isn’t an option to imagine how things are or how people look because you actually see it. The work is done for you, and you know longer get to visualize the setting and the characters in your mind as you do with a book.

Have you ever watched a movie based on a book you had already read? How did the actors compare with the mental images you had of the characters? There may have been some similarities, but there were probably some differences as well.

And when you went back to read the book again, you probably did not see your mental images anymore. Instead, you imagined the way the characters were portrayed in the movie.

Two books and a cup of coffee

Some people might not think this is a big deal. But what it does is it limits your creativity and imagination. Especially in children, this can have a negative impact, where their ability to think for themselves is hindered. Now, I’m not saying that watching an occasional movie is going to have this serious of an impact, but too many movies will.

Books on the other hand, encourage imagination, which is an important part of being creative. And without imagination, would we have all the wonderful inventions that are available at our fingertips?

Open book, candle, and coffee mug | Books versus movies

You can read almost anywhere.

Unless you have a good internet connection or plenty of data, you can’t watch movies much when you aren’t at home. But with a book, you can stuff it in your purse or carry it along with you pretty much anywhere you go.

If you’re waiting for your mom at the grocery store, you can read a few minutes then. If you’re taking a fifteen minute break from work, you can read then. Or if you’re waiting at the dentist’s office, you can read while you wait (if you’re not too worried about how many cavities the dentist will find).

It’s not very practical to watch movies when you’re on the go, but books make great traveling companions.

Open book, candle, and coffee mug | Books versus movies

Books don’t require a large block of time.

How many of you pick up a book and read it straight through without stopping except for maybe a short break? Probably not very many. But how many of you will sit down and watch a movie all the way through? I’m sure more of you answered yes to that question. I did.

When we are watching a movie, we usually watch it in its entirety, unless some sort of interruption comes up (which can be annoying). With a book, you can read a few minutes here and there as you have time. You don’t have to devote a whole evening to reading (unless it’s the last night of the month, and you’re trying to finish a book for the reading challenge. With movies, they usually do take a whole evening because we don’t like stopping until we’ve reached the end.

Open book, candle, and coffee mug | Books versus movies

Books versus Movies? We’ve made the case for books. Now we’ll move on to the benefits of movies, because even though I prefer reading, I will admit that movies do have their benefits.

Benefits of Movies

  • Movies take less concentration
  • Movies have a more-lasting impression
  • You can watch movies in a group
  • You can get the whole story quickly
  • Movies are less likely to be a distraction
Video player | Books versus movies

Movies take less concentration.

Some books take a lot of thought and concentration, but movies do not. If you’re tired and don’t feel up to reading, you can watch a movie, and that won’t take as much brain power.

One of the main times that we watch movies is when we are sick. When you’re sick, you don’t usually feel up to reading, but a movie is something you can just lay there and watch. It doesn’t take a lot of concentration, and it helps you forget about feeling bad.

Open book, candle, and coffee mug | Books versus movies

Movies have a more-lasting impression.

If you read a book once, you may not remember a lot about it after awhile. But you can watch a movie only once or twice and remember a lot of the story and even some of the lines. I’ve never read a book so many times that I memorized it.

But one time, my siblings and I set out to see if we could quote a particular movie (my favorite one). Except for a few scenes that were more challenging, we quoted (probably not word perfect) the entire movie.

Movies stick with you longer than a book does. But this can also be a disadvantage, if you watch something that you shouldn’t. This is an area where we all need to be careful.

Open book, candle, and coffee mug | Books versus movies

You can watch movies in a group.

Unless it’s read-aloud time, reading a books is quite exclusive. There’s nothing an absorbed reader dislikes more than being interrupted while reading. But, in my opinion, half the fun of watching a movie is watching it with others. You have someone else to enjoy the story, the suspense, the emotion. And after the movie is over, you can discuss it. If it has a good lesson, you can talk about it and how it applies to your own life.

Unless someone has already read the book when you finish it, you don’t have anyone to talk about it with. And when it’s been a really good story, you want someone to talk to, at least I always do. I want someone to know what I mean when I say, “Wow,” as I close (or sometimes slam shut) the book.

“A book is an activity to do when you’re alone;

a movie is an activity to do in a group.”

Hannah | More Than Just Reading
Open book, candle, and coffee mug | Books versus movies

With a movie, you can get the whole story in a short amount of time.

Treasures of the snow book and movie | Books versus movies

The book and movie Treasures of the Snow is what comes to my mind here. The book is over 200 pages, so it can’t be read very quickly. Even a fast reader would need several hours to finish it.

The movie is just under 2 hours, so it doesn’t take near as long to watch it. While the movie does leave out some minor parts of the story, it gives the watcher a good understanding of the story.

Movies are usually not as in-depth and thorough as books, but it does not take as long to get a complete story with a movie. If you want a full story in a short amount of time, then movies can fill that want better than a book can.

Open book, candle, and coffee mug | Books versus movies

Movies are less likely to be an on-going distraction.

Most people just watch a movie in the evening, after work or school. Because we like to watch a movie in its entirety, we aren’t as likely to be watching bits and pieces of a movie throughout our day.

But with books, if we are in the middle of a good book, it is easy to pick it up and read snatches here and there as we do our various activities. And sometimes we intend to read only a little bit, only to find that a lot of time has passed and we haven’t accomplished what we intended to do. This is something I have been guilty of.

Since most people don’t watch movies throughout the day, with movies they are less likely to fall prey to this potential time-waster. Now, I know there are some people who are addicted to movies and watch them all day long, but the average person isn’t going to be so obsessed with movies that they watch them here and there all day long, as a lot of us readers do with our books.

Bonus: Movies are an excuse for popcorn!

Everyone knows that popcorn and movies were made for each other. You can eat popcorn while reading. I was just doing it last night. But I had to be careful that I didn’t get my buttery fingers on the pages.

We generally watch movies most in the winter, so it is nice to curl up under a cozy blanket with a large bowl of popcorn to watch a good movie!

Open book, candle, and coffee mug


So what is the verdict? Books versus Movies: which one wins? You might disagree, but I am more in favor of books than movies. My family has always had a high criteria for the movies we watch, and the ones we do have, we rarely watch, well, except for the one I almost have memorized. And even that one we don’t watch very often. There are a lot more good book options than good movie options. And books are better for relaxation and creativity.

But with both books and movies, we need to be sure that our choices are pleasing to God, that they fit the standard of Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”



  1. Carolyn

    Very, very good and thought provoking thoughts. Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Mom! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

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