My father has this theory that the only reason people usually say that the book is better than the movie is because they encountered the book first. If you read the book and then watch the adaptation, you’ll be caught up with what got left out of the movie and thus find it wanting. Whereas if you saw the movie first, you’ll be more likely to agree with the filmmakers that the book is overstuffed with unnecessary characters and superfluous scenes. I usually try to get to a book first myself, because I don’t often like reading books after I’ve already seen them on screen. But I’ve always been curious about Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, the source material for one of the greatest movies ever made.
Well, for one thing, there’s a lot more in the book about Johnny Fontane’s vocal cords. And way too much talk about Connie Corleone’s maid of honor’s… um, female anatomy. Seriously, compared to the movie, Puzo’s novel is much more comprehensive, in ways that are always interesting though occasionally bewildering. (Did you know that when McCloskey socked Michael in the jaw it screwed up his sinuses? Probably not, and I bet you don’t care either.)
With that said, just about everything you love on the screen is right there in the book. Puzo’s imagination may have lead him to some strange places, but he built a whole world and populated it with vivid characters. Though you may struggle to avoid picturing Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall while reading about them.