Book or Movie?

Which was better: the book or the movie?

Paperbacks, hardcovers, eBooks any would suffice as each allows the reader to physically hold the emotions, thoughts, and secrets of a character that becomes so vivid in description and personality that the reader gradually becomes attached to this worded character. They become the ideal friend, someone who is always there at the turn of a page yet gone with the slam of a cover. As the reader continues and the series progress, friendships are born and lost, settings come and go, and the plot twists and turns, yet one aspect remains the same: the loyalty of the reader. By now the reader is not only attached but invested, he or she desperately needs to know how it ends, but even more importantly they do not want the characters that they have grown to love end. This fact is reality for many avid readers and is evident across all age spectrums as readers cling to the stories and characters that helped them grow, such as Franklin or the Bernstein Bears, and to those that grew with them, such as The Hunger Games or Percy Jackson. They now know these characters from the inside out, their emotions, actions, and features have been put on full display, and the reader has grown accustom, and loyal, to the fact that these characters will never leave them. They are so wonderfully concrete in the mind of the reader that when watching the movie, the reader’s favor has already be set. They will side with the book no matter what, after all, the book is what they fell in love with.

Though there has been the occasion when a film or series, like the ever-popular Chronicles of Narnia or Divergent trilogy, is able to jockey with its counterpart for public favor, this seldom happens as physical, or real-life, characters do not meet the fantastic measures that were made through beautifully threaded words on the page. The settings may not be true to description or the people true to character, but when the plot line falters from its printed course it is as if someone has poured ice water down the reader’s back. The reader realizes that the story they have loyally clung to and spent sleepless nights reading has suddenly betrayed their trust, their imagination of how things were, and in this cold moment of disappointment and disillusion, the usual comment quickly takes root in the reader’s mind. The book was better than the movie.

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Therefore, the task of making a book into a film tends to fade into the abyss of ‘so so’ production, and it seems that to even attempt a book-based movie is to mark one’s self for failure.

However, could it be, perhaps, that we have been asking the wrong question? Should it be which did the story justice or which was more prominent? Should we watch the movie without bias or remember that somethings have to be changed due to time restraints? Should we read the book after the movie or even watch it all? Many do not realize that some of the most successful movie franchises were first books but now bear almost no resemblance to the actual plot line or characters.

Like most, I too fell victim to the cliché assumption that books never make for good movies; however, it was not until last November as my mother and I were Christmas shopping in Barnes and Noble for a good read, or, as I prefer to call it, the perfect Christmas gift, that I happened across a wooden display stand decked from top to bottom in thick, hardcover classics.

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Each cover was laden with a different intricate and vibrant design, and though you can never tell a book by its cover, I have to admit that, during that moment of basking in the dazzling glow of dozens of glossy, limited editions, I was tempted to drop what I was holding and feverishly grab all the books that I could carry, the books- the true classics- I had always wanted to read but never had the time. There was a light beige and red anthology of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most prominent pieces detailed with wispy, stylish flappers dancing carelessly across the cover that begged me to open it. A dark blue, brooding set of Agatha Christie’s most renowned mysteries, and a golden book of legendary fairy tales. The sight was overwhelming, for it was as if Christmas had come early and all of my literary dreams had suddenly come true.

I happily browsed each level of the tall stand, languishing in a book-lover’s paradise, until a black, white, and blood red image abruptly caught my eye. There on the second level was a large, pristine copy of Michael Crichton’s famous Jurassic Park.

Partly confused and partly intrigued, I thumbed past the enticing cover of a overly animated skeletal T-Rex surrounded by a thick red and black jungle expecting to find a mediocre copy of the movie in print, but what I found was quite surprising.

Like most young, loyal Jurassic Park fans, I was always under the impression that it had begun as a movie-a very successful movie-yet I was surprised to find that Jurassic Park’s humble beginnings had stemmed from a thoroughly researched and intricately constructed book. Tempted beyond my budget and vow that I did not want to know what any of my presents were that year, I had my mother buy the book, and I waited for weeks eyeing the glittery, red package underneath the tree that was my book, patiently waiting to find the answer to that age-old question that had prompted me to open the cover in the first place: was the book better than the movie?

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And to honestly answer that question, I actually found both to be equal in quality and quantity. Though the book was far more detailed in the background and process of Jurassic Park’s origins and the characters were visibly different from the ones projected on screen, I found a story that was just as ‘good’ as its movie counterpart. While I will not risk spoiling the book for those who aim to read this famous series, I must say that it is worth one’s while to find out exactly how Jurassic Park came to be.

As a result of reading this book, I have decided to forego ever asking the aforementioned question again, because I have realized that movies and books were never made to compete as they are both separate yet complimenting works in their own right.

Therefore, while the cliché question of which was better may never disappear, one needs to remember that movies and books are like eyebrows: they are sisters not twins, not every detail should be perfectly aligned.

So, the next time you read a book then watch the movie or vice-versa, ask yourself this question. Why does it have to be a competition?

Sarah Barefoot is an English major and junior at the University of Mount Olive. She lives surrounded by golden fields and six imaginative siblings in the outskirts of Pikeville, NC. She has had two works of fiction published in Wayne Community College’s literary magazine, the Renaissance, and currently writes super-short stories in her spare time.

Assigned Reading vs. Reading for Fun

pexels-photo-4Growing up, my favorite thing to do was read. I loved learning in general, but choosing an interesting story and getting lost in it was my favorite part of school and my favorite pastime. This is the main reason why I became an English major – reading has taken me to magical places and has taught me so much, and I want to be a part of the world of literature forever.

However, when I got to high school, I started getting assigned reading material in my English classes that wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. One of the first times this happened was when I had to read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I realize it’s a classic piece of literature, but I remember being so utterly bored by it that I vowed to never pick the book up again after I finished itI couldn’t connect with it, and I found it difficult to talk about during discussions.

I would rather have been reading something of my own choosing; I loved just “reading for fun.” I started getting frustrated with novels that were painful for me to get through and authors that weren’t connecting with me. I thought, what’s going to happen to my love for reading?

I knew that in college, I would not be able to choose books that I could read just for pleasure. So I started to really listen to different points of view in my English classes when we would discuss a book I didn’t really enjoy. I would learn about how my classmates saw things differently than I did, and I realized that the beauty of literature is not about just “reading for fun.”

Sure, some of us really enjoy reading, and there’s nothing better than picking up a book that takes you out of reality and takes you to a whole new world. But, as I learned in high school, you can take something away from every single piece of literature that you read if you’re willing to open your mind to new ideas. I may not love everything I read, but I can strive to appreciate good work. I didn’t love The Scarlet Letter, but it introduced me to Nathaniel Hawthorne, and now I really enjoy his short stories like “The Minister’s Black Veil” and “The Birthmark.”

I believe that reading is the best way to become more empathetic towards others. You can read about a character who is completely different than you or anyone you’ve ever met, and you can still learn to see things from their perspective and truly feel a connection with them. Becoming open-minded while reading something that may not have been my first choice is the best thing I could have done in this situation. On the surface, I could not relate to Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter. But I learned to empathize with her, and I was able to see things from her point of view. You learn something from everything you read, and you may find a treasure in the story along the way.

Now, as a senior in college, my favorite part of studying English literature is the way we all can get something different out of a text. Something that speaks to me may say something different to you, and that’s great! We all open a book with different life experiences and different attitudes, so of course we’re going to see things differently. But these differences actually bring us closer together. The more we open our minds to new perspectives, new ideas, new genres, and new connections, the more we realize that reading for a deeper understanding of the world can be just as enjoyable as “reading for fun.”

Meredith Futrelle is a senior English major at the University of Mount Olive. She has lived in the town of Mount Olive her whole life. Futrelle is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, and she works as an intern for UMO’s Public Relations department. In her spare time, Futrelle loves to read, watch movies, and spend time with her friends and family.

Dreaming of Days Gone By

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I was four years old when I first saw Gone with the Wind. My mother had the movie on VHS and she let me watch it in the living room while I was home sick from school. As soon as the camera focused on Vivien Leigh in a white dress with ruffles and a red belt about her waist, I was in love. I sat in front of the television with a blanket around my small shoulders, a stuffed animal sitting on my lap, angled just perfectly to see the television also, and a bag of tortilla chips in front of me.

As a four year old who still had a few months before starting school, I never could discern what it was that I was drawn to. Could it have been the ball dresses and the casual elegance of work clothes? Was it the accent so close to my own that I could mimic and speak for hours within? Possibly it was the setting of life in a time period that has always been fascinating to me? Perhaps it was a mixture of all these things; the clothes, the accents, the antebellum setting.

I read the book for the first time five years later.  I was a short, hyper fourth grader with a penchant for choosing books that were as big as I was. My Mother would take me to the public library before I had to go to dance and I would have to be physically pushed out of the library by her. When I spied the spine of the book entitled with the name of my favorite movie I nearly jumped high enough to reach it. Once I realized how high above me the book was on the shelves, I grabbed one of the stools that only the librarians were supposed to use and climbed to grab my prize.

It took me two weeks to get through the book. I read it in class, hidden inside my small burgundy desk, during lunch at the table in the cafeteria, and during recess on the swings.  My teachers were concerned about my fixation on this book that I was reading when I should be socializing. My mother was just happy that I was so engaged in the book.

I have read the book 2 more times since then, once in ninth grade and once in twelfth grade, and while the power hasn’t changed to me, the message has.

When I was in the fourth grade, I read the book under romantic, rosy glasses. I read about the balls and barbeques, the music and melancholy, and the dresses and dreams. I was enthralled by the amount of love shown in the novel, Scarlett’s infatuation with Ashley in spite of his marriage to Melanie, her love for Rhett, which she realized too late. There is Melanie’s unconditional love for Scarlett, her sister-in-law that almost hates her. There is so much evidence of love in the book, no matter how unconventional.

When I was in ninth grade, it was the way that Scarlett wormed her way into people’s hearts and was able to accomplish anything that she put her mind to. She used the things that she had, her looks, her wiles, her connections and she exploited them to get the best outcome for her life. The idea that even in a time when women had little to no rights, that Scarlett was able to run a mill and own it. She was able to be a successful businesswoman in an era when women either stayed home or, if they did work they made money in quiet ways; women did not own businesses.

When I read it again in twelfth grade, I was escaping from the stress of applying for colleges, the SAT, and all the other things that high school seniors need to worry about. Scarlett’s worries were calming to me; I could convince myself that worrying about college applications and exams that would help me get into college were nothing to worry about compared to wondering where food was going to come from or who was going to pay the taxes so I wouldn’t lose my home. I could tune out my world by immersing myself into Scarlett’s.

Now as a twenty one-year-old woman, I am listening to the audiobook. The words are familiar, the landscape an image saved in the back of my mind, the characters are old friends stepping back into my life to give me a hug and offer me solace from my life. I will always love Gone With the Windand I will always be grateful to the book and Margaret Mitchell for giving me a place in the literary world to stop and forget my worries. Because, as Scarlett says, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Rachel McCullen, an English major and junior at the University of Mount Olive was born and raised right here in Mount Olive, N.C. She has been reading and writing her whole life and recently has begun her own blog (afarmgirlsfancy.wordpress.com). This is her first time being published.

The Old Library

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At four in the morning on May 5, 2018, we found ourselves, after what felt like an eternity of waiting, in Ireland. We flew out of Boston the day prior and with restless anticipation, unable to sleep through the five and half hour flight. We did our best to get settled in our Airbnb and take a nap before we took on the city of Dublin. We got a map and didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do first. I had a bucket list of course and decided to tackle as many things as we could. I knew that on the very top of my list was the Trinity College Library. As an English Major, I have a profound sense of appreciation for literature and its history. In school, I have learned so much about the history of literature, learning about how the oral story first started becoming the written word. In the heart of Dublin, the Trinity Colleges magnificent Old Library houses the ninth century gospel manuscript—The Book of Kells, kept at the Trinity College since 1661, a literary treasure.

Despite the jet lag, the day was perfect. 21 degrees Celsius (which is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit), smooth baby blue skies, and warm sunshine. I wore an old pair of black vans across the cobblestone streets of Dublin; I walked with all my senses peeled so far back that my bestie, who was with me on this the trip, kept having to snap her fingers in front of my face. I was so hyper-aware of everything else around me that I wasn’t hearing her talk to me. The architecture, the millions of voices reeling off so many different languages, a world so new and intriguing to me—I  felt overloaded with wonderment.

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We left the cobblestone streets and blue skies and entered the exhibition for The Book of Kells. There is so much information that you could easily spend hours scouring the vast quantities of historical material. Once you get through, you enter the Long Room. The Long Room houses 200,000 ancient books cased in towering oak bookcases that rise up along each side of you as you walk: a perfect long room. Glass cases center the room, while on each side, sections of books are roped off by thick red velvet ropes. Each alcove of books has one large window pouring in natural light, tall ladders in order to climb to the second-floor shelves. There are marble busts of philosophers and writers that sit on pillars between each section: Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Socrates, Homer, Johnathan Swift, and William Shakespeare among many others. In a glass encasement, you can read the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Also, to be admired, a harp (the emblem of Ireland) that dates back to the fifteenth century sits in the center of it all.

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We learned that since the beginning of the 1800s, the library was privy to receive a copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland. The barrel-vaulted ceiling allowed for the towering upper gallery bookshelves. Walking down the Old Library, smelling the oak bookshelves, and being surrounded by so much history, gave me goosebumps. I knew how lucky I was in that moment, to be standing there in that packed room with so many other visitors, to be seeing something that I never truly imagined I would.

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After leaving the Old Library, we walked back onto the green. A length of grass in the center of the college. We laid down, tired and relaxed under rolling white clouds, listened to the chatter of the people around us, the busy voices of tourists like ourselves. Despite having much more to see, I knew that I had just experienced one of the best parts of our trip. From the very beginning, this trip was already completely worth every penny I had spent to get there.  

J. Frances De La Rosa is currently enrolled as a student at the University of Mount Olive as an English major with a minor in Creative Writing. She writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is a veteran of the United States Air Force, enjoys reading, exercising, and cooking. She has three beautiful children who fill her life with constant motivation and joy.

A Future With Books

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From the second I laid my tiny hands on a book until I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to have a future that involved books. Everything about them entranced me, from the smell of the pages to the way some of the covers shimmered in the light. I loved the way I could run my fingers over the snapped spines and imagine the people that read it before me. Once I learned to read the words on the pages, I never set them down. I can’t recall a time until college that I didn’t go through at least five novels a month. Every one of the happiest memories in my life can be recalled with my nose half buried in a book while the world moved around me.

I spent my junior and senior years being eaten alive with anxiety. I was a book nerd, there was no doubt in my mind, but what could I do with that? When I looked out towards the world, towards my future, there were so many options. Too many. I spent many sleepless nights looking over them.

There was the obvious choice of freelance writing but that was too risky for my soul to handle. The next option was teaching, which didn’t interest me at the time. I had seen how poorly teachers were treated and had no intention of living my life like that. After that, the options came and went faster. I thought about going to school for criminal justice, psychology​, forensics, and finally, to become a librarian.

It wasn’t until a few weeks before my graduation that my one true calling hit me in the face. Literally. My boyfriend and I were in the last stages of writing our final papers for English class when he asked me to look over his work. I did; it was littered with mistakes, which I circled in red ink. I added some funny comments on the side, and when he threw the crooked white paper back in my face, we both laughed until we cried. After that afternoon, I took the time to look over the rest of my classmate’s papers and helped them make corrections. I took a lot of pride in knowing that they had bettered their grades because someone had helped them catch the mistakes they couldn’t see.

After a little bit of digging, I found out that being a professional editor was a career. It had never occurred to me before that someone had to be looking over works before they were published. Not long after, I signed up at the University of Mount Olive to be an English major. Being an Enlish major left wiggle room for me to change my mind after I graduated while still allowing me to focus on literature. That kept my childhood dream alive and kicking. I added on the publishing minor, and briefly, a creative writing minor. With that, my heart is content and I know that one day, I’ll be doing what I’ve loved since I was old enough to understand what books were.

The Death of Writers​ Block

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Death has always been something different for me than the rest of my family. Sometimes it’s like standing on the outside of a glass bubble. I can press my hands against it, feel it, and deny its there all at the same time. This can also be applied to the way I feel writer’s block, something that’s been plaguing me for months.

My mother passed away in May of 2018. In July, my grandfather joined her, and at the beginning of August, my other grandfather also passed. The glass bubble grew thicker with each person. Instead of breaking, my heart lost itself in a maze of denial, of nights spent staring at the ceiling thinking of everything and nothing all at the same time.

Before everything, when the world hadn’t broken apart, I had considered myself a serious writer. I’ve completed three novels; an accomplishment for someone who’s only nineteen, or so I’ve been praised. Currently, I’m in the middle of my fourth, the second book in a series that has defined my life for years. After I lost my grandfather, it all came to a screeching halt.

As writers, we learn that we can fix things. It might take some planning, some painstaking backtracking and replotting, but we can always fix it. It is our work, it stems from a part of us, and we can always control where is goes. Death, however, isn’t something that can be bandaged back together by changing tenses or fixing verbs. It permanent, inked into skin like a tattoo. There is no rewriting. There is no backspace button, no second chance at fixing the plot.

Since July 30th, the last day my grandfather took a breath, I haven’t been able to write a single word in the book he was so proud to see me putting together. It’s like choking on air, the same air that used to keep me going when the rest of the world seemed so hopeless. It makes me ashamed to know that I don’t have the energy to spit out even a couple of sentences. When he left, he took my words with him.

But I know I’ll make do. I’ll survive, just like I always have, with a couple of notebooks and a good pen.

I’m learning how to use words again. They aren’t the same ones I could muster up two months ago. I’ll need to go back and fix everything I’ve written up until now. It’s hard, so painfully hard, but writer’s block is a monster in my closet that I intend to rip apart with creativity. I’ve written more in my life than I’ve spoken. I have file after file, journal after journal, all filled to the brim with words that have defined me over the years. I’ve spent sleepless nights raining my wrath down on a keyboard with the desperation of being heard and my voice will not be silenced because I can’t break through a stupid bubble.

So in short, the world will keep going. I will keep going. I have plans to finish the book before the end of 2018, during NaNoWriMo and during December​ when school lets out. Writer’s block is something we all face in different circumstances in our lives, but as writer’s, we have to learn to get passed it. That is the hardest part but it is also the most satisfying thing in the world once we succeed. Break the bubble, the one in your heart and the one on your page, and push forward.

Heather Berglund

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