This weeks reading posed the question of what if you had a book that changed each time you read it? Imagine picking up your favourite novel and changing the outcome of the story based on your mood of the day. To me, that would be tragic. I love reading, and I love books. I always have. It doesn’t matter who it is, when I encounter someone that knew me as a kid, they say one of two things; I was the kid that was reading, or I was the kid climbing trees (and falling out of a few, too). My best friends mom even painted this picture of me for my 21st. I was just “that kid”, and frankly I still am.
There is a comfort in picking up a book you’ve read a thousand times and knowing it will be consistent. Mr. Darcy will always be a bit of an ass. The Time Traveller’s Wife will always raise the same questions of love and faith. Nicholas Sparks books will always fit the same romance book formula (girl has something tragic happen, works to overcome it, handsome man comes along and helps heal her wounds, blah, blah, blah, barf). That’s what makes books, books. They have a voice from their author and they are always true to it, no matter how much time passes. You can always pick up a Hemingway book and feel the vastness of alcoholism and depression (in a good way, I love Hemingway).
That isn’t to say I don’t love film adaptations or interactive stories. As a kid I also loved those CD ROM games (my favourite was one based on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and yes, I did just admit that on the internet). It was a challenge to ‘win’ the game, and complete the tasks it asked of you, while exploring the world someone else created. I think those kinds of games are good for kids, because they teach you how to work and celebrate achievements. The educational ones did, anyway (I also loved the Magic Schoolbus game!).
And while some film adaptations can take away from an authors voice, I don’t think they have to. It’s entirely possible for authors and filmmakers to work together to ensure a story keeps its foundations and its heart. Look at the Harry Potter stories or Game of Thrones. In both of those cases, J.K Rowling and George R.R. Martin worked hand in hand with the producers of the film/tv show, and ensured that they approved of any changes. That way, readers don’t feel like the story has been compromised, and a whole new demographic gets to experience the author’s world.
So for me, the idea of an ever changing book is not so exciting. But maybe that’s because we have the Internet, and doesn’t that change enough for us?
Douglas, J. Yellowlees. The End of Books — Or Books Without End?: Reading Interactive Narratives. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.