Why read when we can stream movies on our phones?Why read when we can stream movies on our phones?
Why read at all? Reading, as opposed to viewing, is an active process as each person brings to a text an individual history of experiences and ideas. As Emerson wrote,
For only that book can we read which relates to me something that is already in my mind.
When people read, they bring themselves to the text and interact with this text, gleaning a new perspective, an enrichment of thought, a delight that they hitherto have not had. After reading a novel of interest, many people have remarked that they feel as though they have left a friend. But, when people simply watch a film, they are passive, being exposed to the interpretation of screenwriters and directors. For the most part, too, viewers are given mostly plot with little real character development. Certainly, the thoughts of the characters are rarely conveyed in cinematography. And, of course, movies must eliminate much of what is in the novel because of time limitations.
Literature is the recording of the human struggle, the setting down of man's philosophies, conflicts, yearnings, loves--all that makes man a sentient being. There are no substitutes for books, the true recordings of souls. For, it is the printed page, the tangible effort of a single person, that is genuine. It is the printed page that sends its message to the heart of those who feel as the author does, or those who think and can learn from this human being. It is the printed page that is a work of art with its beautiful prose, its symbolism, its poetry, its insistence upon communicating, not just its feeling and message, but its historical context.
Books are undistorted; films make alterations. Only the truth is in the author's words. Clearly, reading is vital to learning, for it teaches readers' minds to analyze, and it teaches readers their language and its structure. One only needs to speak with a reader as opposed to a non-reader to note the difference in language acquisition and knowledge. The more that people read, the more developed are their minds and language skills. Soon, then, they can find more and more books that touch them.
The independent mind does not want Hollywood to interpret and simplify and alter. It wants the primary experience of reading in which it can be engaged and formulate its own judgments and acquire private experiences of its own, thus developing imagination and logical thought. Why read? Why, indeed, would an independent and curious person not want to read?
[Source: Reading and Writing from Literature, Houghton Mifflin Company]
When I read, I can become involved by allowing my mind to make its own interpretation of what the characters look like, what the setting sounds and smells like, and so forth. My imagination can take part in the experience, and when I need to stop and give it time to explore and consider possibilities or react to what has happened or just been realized, all I have to do is put a finger or other marker in the pages to keep my place.
I understand that a movie on your phone could be paused if you wanted to stop the action to think about something, but I'm betting most people don't do so. When the movie presents you with a picture of the location, shows you what the characters look like and are wearing, and graphically portrays every detail of the action, most viewers accept this as being "all there is" and don't try to add more through the power of imagination. This is why most movies are not as fulfilling as the books upon which they are based - there isn't the depth of personal involvement when you're watching someone else's version instead of creating your own.
Essentially, what you're asking follows the same logic as asking, "Why eat strawberries when you can eat chocolate?" There is no direct correlation between the two: the one does not mutually include nor does it mutually exclude the other. As most people read (because most people have some formal training in analyzing literature), it is an intellectual process that fires the emotions and the imagination. As most people watch movies (because most people have not had formal training in movie analysis), it is a pleasant (or otherwise) entertainment that fires the emotions and imagination. They are entirely separate kinds of entities and neither precludes nor includes the other. You will have a distinct set of reasons for reading and a different equally distinct set of reasons for watching movies, whatever the streaming or other source.
Reading can enhance your life. You can learn so many things by reading: vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar. You will become a better writer by reading. No matter what anyone does in life, written expression is vital. Whether it be an on-line class, a blog, an essay, a proposal, or a letter, you need to be able to clearly communicate your point.
You also need to use your imagination when reading. A movie, compared to a book, takes away your need to think and imagine. In order to be successful in life, one needs to be able to think, whether it is analytically, critically or chronologically. Reading is fundamental and one can learn so much more than from watching a movie.
I can't understand the choice to watch movies on a tiny screen... The cinematic experience is compromised to an extreme. I suppose if you don't have a room of your own or a place to sit quietly and enjoy a movie on a regular sized screen then watching on your phone almost makes sense.
However, coming from a person who loves the art of narrative cinema as well as reading, I would always choose to read instead of watching a movie on a 3 inch (or 10 inch) screen if given the choice.
In the end, if you are at a coffee shop or on the bus, you can have a complete (or nearly complete) and engaging reading experience but you cannot have a complete and uncompromised film experience.
For one thing, not everyone really wants to shell out for a smartphone and the sort of data plan that you need in order to watch movies on your phone. But mainly, I think that reading is more fun. You get to imagine things on your own instead of having to see how someone else imagines them. You also get more interesting things rather than having to sit through long action scenes that got stuck into movies because the producers think they're needed to capture audiences.
Of course, I'm old and so my tastes are going to be different than those of a lot of people your age.
Reading also helps improve your vocabulary and spelling in ways that movies cannot. Movie adaptations of books require certain changes and omissions. Reading a book allows you to discover new words and read them in context to determine their meaning, which may be different today than when the book was written. Understanding the correct context in which to use a word makes you a better writer and speaker. You can also avoid the trap of misusing words when you "thesaurasize" (which is not a word) a paper to try to make it sound better but use words in the wrong context.