Are We Harder On Books Than Movies?

Are We Harder On Books Than Movies?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Recently I've been attempting to read more horror and it's really got me thinking. I read some short stories from After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones out loud around a campfire while I was camping, because I'm rustic like that. I enjoyed them as creepy literary fiction, but I found myself getting mad that I wasn't horrified when it was a book sold to me as horror.

Later, I was reading When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord, another book categorized as horror, that ended up being just kind of weird literary fiction and sort of YA. I didn't get scared at any point.

When I'm reading horror novels that are genuinely scary but are poorly written or have questionable character development, I get frustrated and want to get out of the reading situation. But I often find myself defending sub-par horror movies to people criticizing them for the same reason. When it comes to horror movies, I don't necessarily need the writing or acting to be amazing as long as the scares and atmosphere are delivered.

Is it just because books are more of a time investment? Is it because I need to use more brain power while reading a book than watching a movie? Or is it because, subconsciously, I hold the written word to higher standards? And why is that?

Even outside of the horror genre, it seems like perhaps movies are more easily forgiven for their faults than books are. Shouldn't authors be cut a little slack, considering it's (generally) one person plus one or more editors?

Perhaps, especially when it comes to horror, the writing needs to deliver a lot more, considering I have to create the world in my head. I have to spend time immersed in that world and that makes me pickier. It's easier to tune out of a movie you're watching than a book you're reading. I'm not sure if this means my harshness is justified or if I still need to keep it in check.

Do you think you're harder on books than you are movies? Is it the time investment, the "literature" factor, or something else? Should I be approaching horror books more like I do horror movies? 


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