It wasn't as good as the book...

"If a book is good enough to read, it's good enough to make into a movie, so why would I ever waste my time reading?" That was my motto for years.

Before deciding to write a book, I never read anything.

My brother has a Master's Degree in English. He can read and retain a 500 page book in a weekend sitting while simultaneously tending to three children and an awesome Papa Hemmingway beard. When him and I talk about books, the conversations are usually one sided. He can recite Shakespearean poems, name every underground author who the Russians tried to kill in the 30's, and tell you everything there is to know about telling a good story. Sometimes I tease him about it, but that's only because I'm insecure with my own knowledge of books and sentence structure and stuff.

However, when I got my iPad I decided that reading really is important and that I should do it. I started with a few autobiographies and a couple Phillip Yancy books. Then I thought I'd take a stab at a fiction novel.

I’ve always thought I’d enjoy reading a novel, being that they often get turned into movies, and I love movies. This leads to the phrase, "The movie wasn't as good as the book," which is often said by people who want other people to know that they took the time to read the book before seeing the movie. I always hated these people. I found them pretentious, arrogant, and conceited. I really wanted to be one of them. When I heard they were filming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I said, "Now's my chance!" Finally I was going to be the one to let people know I was the smart one who took time to read books for pleasure by saying, "It wasn't as good as the book."

I downloaded the best-selling novel on my iPad. I avoided all spoiler alerts and synopses, knowing that no matter what, I was going to love this book - why wouldn’t I? It’s a best-seller. That’s like getting a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, right? Here I was, home on a Saturday night, relaxing, and reading a book - I felt like such an adult!

I read the first two chapters in one sitting without even stopping to check Facebook or my email. Because the Kindle app operates on percentages instead of page numbers, I got excited on the times I turned the virtual pages and the "percent read" would go up by one. I was moving along at a good pace, enjoying the mystery and how the story was told. I liked the characters. I liked the setting. And I was proud of myself for actually reading a novel. I was starting to have conversations like, "Have you read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? I started reading it the other night. It's really good. I hope to finish it before the movie comes out but I'm only 27% of the way through it right now. It'll be interesting to see how they do one certain part in the movie..." And then I would try to make myself sound even more intelligent by saying something like, "I wish I had more time to read," or, “I tried to fall asleep early last night, but I was so into a book that I just could’t put it down!”

And then something weird happened. A very detailed scene of sexual abuse came out of nowhere. My mind became plagued with vivid images of rape. I grimaced and read through it with squinted eyes, skipping as much as I could while trying to get to the end of all of the details. Finally I got to the end of the chapter. For days I couldn't get the word "anus" out of my mind.

I wanted to call it quits. I never wanted to open my kindle app ever again. But I didn't want to be a quitter. I didn't want people to ask me if I had finished it yet and get a "No" in response. I didn't want to see the progress marker in my home screen to stay at 47% and never move again. I wanted so badly to be able to mutter the words, "The movie wasn't as good as the book." So I kept reading.

The story moved ahead, and went back to being fairly tame. I began to enjoy it again. I would spend hours at a time reading, wondering what happens next... Then it happened again, on a much, much larger scale. More rape... Everyone got raped. Then they got raped again. Then the book ended.

I took a shower, trying to wash all of the grime from the snuff book off of me. Then I laid in bed thinking about the first fiction novel I'd ever read. "Is this all I've been missing?" I thought... "Hell... Next time I'll just wait for the movie."

Posted on July 17, 2012