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]