So you still read for fun and go to the movies?

Tracy wonders if other moms and dads have lost sight of these precious pastimes in the hustle-and-bustle of parenthood

By Tracy Chappell
So you still read for fun and go to the movies?

Photo credit: ladybeame via Flickr

Do you have your advance tickets to The Hunger Games? No, me neither. Then again, I was never one of those line-up-around-the-block fans for big releases like the Star Wars prequels or Harry Potter either. I value sleep far too much for that.
I was, however, a bit of a film junkie in my pre-baby days. I remember the thrill of wanting to see a movie that eagerly. I remember getting butterflies in my stomach in the days leading up to the Toronto International Film Festival each year. I used to revel in the discovery of a brilliant new director’s work. I’ve spent many, many a late night camped out on the couch with my favourite DVDs (or, pardon my age, videos).
I just purged a bunch of said VHS tapes, actually. It’s something I never thought I’d do, but I hadn’t watched any of them in years and they were just collecting dust (I kept my absolute faves). I still love going to the theatre, but most of the movies I’ve seen in recent years have left me disappointed, to be honest. But maybe that’s because the movie is chosen by which theatre/showtime combo is most convenient for babysitting purposes. Or ensuring I’ll get to bed before midnight. Yes, I am a wild party. I feel silly for squandering all the wonderful film-viewing opportunities I have in my area, but mostly, I’m just tired. I’ll get back to those quaint little theatres someday.
I’m also just starting to get back into reading, something I loved to do before kids, but have not found much energy for since. I miss reading books for leisure. So over the past few months I made the effort to read some of the popular books being made into movies, just so I didn’t lose all of my cultural sensibilities by learning these stories through the movies alone. We all know the books are much better than the films!
I started simple: The Lorax. OK, I’m kidding, but I did buy the book for Anna and Avery when I heard the movie was coming out. I was surprised we didn’t have it. Anna loves this book and it’s opened up some wonderfully rich conversations for us with its simple narrative about protecting nature. That Dr. Seuss sure knew how to gently, humourously and effectively drive a message home. I took both girls to see the movie last week. Anna (age six) loved it, declaring it her new favourite film (“of all time!”). Avery (three-and-a-half) wasn’t into it at all. I was happy we went to an AMC theatre with flip-up armrests so she could stretch out on my lap for most of it.
Next up was The Hunger Games series. Everyone I knew was freaking out about these books, so I asked Sean to buy me the trilogy. I was surprised by the level of writing because I thought they were complex adult novels. Who knew they were all the rage among our youth? (I know, that’s another story, but if you have kids reading, how young do you think is OK?) I agree that the first book was pretty addictive. I definitely wanted to continue onto book two, but wasn’t quite as smitten. I could have abandoned book three at any time, but figured I’d better see the trilogy out, knowing they’ll all be made into films. Good news — the movie is getting pretty amazing reviews, so I’ll look forward to seeing it after the crowds die down.
Then I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was warned it was hard to get into at the beginning and “not to get hung up on all the names,” which was good advice. I was pretty hooked by this story, but more than that, loved snuggling up with a compelling novel on several cold, snowy evenings in January. I was eager to see the film until we actually had the opportunity; knowing how dark and disturbing the novel was, it wasn’t how I wanted to spend date night, and we passed up the opportunity a couple of times. Eventually we saw it. I thought the performances were wonderful, but felt the film lacked much of the book’s intrigue and suspense (I thought it was just because I knew the story, but Sean agreed).
Sean is reading the Game of Thrones series right now, and that definitely isn’t my thing. He hasn’t been a big reader, though, so I love watching him become so engrossed in a story, even if I think it’s not my taste.
Most of my friends are voracious readers, so I’m working on getting back in good standing in their book conversations. However, most of them don’t get to the movies nearly as often as they used to (or would like to). How about you? And are you as irked by book covers changing into movie posters when an adaptation hits theatres? I don't know why, but it always bugs me.

Photo by ladybeame via Flickr

This article was originally published on Mar 22, 2012

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