Social, intellectual enrichment through books, film

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Opdyke
  • 97th Intelligence Squadron
Winter is the perfect time for many to cozy up with a book and cup of hot chocolate. Why not be inspired by a movie and mind-expanding discussion with others while you share perspectives on books that have been made into movies?

An opportunity for social enrichment is offered at the Thomas S. Power Library, here, the first and second Mondays of each month at 11:30 a.m. during Offutt Books to Film Society meetings. Books selected each month are available for check-out at the Offutt library through an inter-library loan program.

"Everyone is welcome and the discussions are always intriguing," said Frankie Hannan, base library acquisitions and special programs technician as well as Books to Film Society coordinator.

She noted that it is healthy, developmentally and intellectually, to not only read, but to share contrasting views and observe different takes on literature.

"We really seem to take a lot more out of a story when we consider each person's judgments or biases as we read a book or watch a movie, if we don't we can totally miss out on some very interesting aspects," said Ms. Hannan.

"By reading a book, watching a movie, and then discussing it with others who have done the same, multiple takes on a particular literary piece are discussed," She said, "and conversations that result are very interesting and intriguing.

"The types of videos and books we review are suggestion-based and unlimited, as far as our licensing agreement allows," said Ms. Hannan.

Some of the books discussed include thrillers, fiction and crime drama.

"Before I found that the base library offered different reading groups I was looking for a local reading group to join," said Mary Ann Cook, wife of Staff Sgt. Jeffrey E. Cook, 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"When I discovered the Women's Reading Group, I was extremely impressed by the library staff. They go above and beyond to coordinate, advertise and reserve all the books to make the club possible," said Ms. Cook. "Joining the Books to Film Society was easy and enjoyable because of the great experience with the Women's Reading group. I also love the idea of a reading group that gives you a different perspective of the book by adding the film to critique."

Ms. Cook explained that there are even benefits to seeing a movie before reading a book.

"You can pick up the attitude of the characters along with the visual world that those characters live in," she said. "For period films and books or titles with a specific geographic location, it can be interesting and helpful for a movie to place you in the right setting."

Ms. Cook said she enjoys sharing a myriad of views on a particular book with her fellow group members. "I enjoy these opportunities to discuss books and films, because of the people who are dedicated to the group and bring their opinions and experiences to the discussions," she said.

"With any book club, when we come together each one of us has a separate perspective of what we read and what we watch," Ms. Hannan said. "There are some members in a group who can really hone in on something another person may have totally missed."

Ms. Hannan described an intriguing conversation she had during one of the club's meetings about a book, written by an author from Afghanistan. The book followed the chaotic lives of two women, in Afghanistan, and how their lives intertwined. Many of the readers present were raised in traditional Christian homes. One of the readers, however, recently converted to Islam.

While the majority of the readers could only see how the women were treated harshly, the young lady who had converted to Islam was looking at it from a perspective of her new religion and her customs. Given these different cultural perspectives, the other readers found a very contrasting view that broadened their understanding of the culture in the book, according to Ms. Hannan.

"Let's face it, sometimes we try to take our values and customs and place them on other people; it's not fair because it's not the way they think nor what they do and this social interaction taught quite a few of us to step back and think about things from a different point of view," said Ms. Hannan.

In order to compare a book to video, the books to film society discusses character development, the sequence of events in a book or film, what they feel is important in a book and what changes were made or what was left out.

"There are certain aspects that change the tone of a story a bit in either a book or a movie," Ms. Hannan said. "Mostly it's about character comparison and how well actors project the images we've developed from reading a book."

However, Ms. Cook stressed that sometimes readers will have difficulty finding a balance in contrast from book to film.

"How we create a character in our minds and how we perceive them on the page, based on where the author leads us, can sometimes lead to disappointment when we view a film," she said.

There are stories in which some of the readers will have a difference of opinion with the choice of actors because they don't seem to fit the description of the character in the book.

Ms. Cook explained that reading and comparing books to film is a passion.

"I have always liked reading books before seeing films, what was different and which movies follow the books," she said. "The great thing about this group is that we discuss both the books and the films. It seems like the big questions are, how reading a book affects watching a movie. Was the movie disappointing because the ending differed from the book? Did reading the book make the movie better? Did you like the book better than the movie? These are all topics we have discussed with each book and film we've reviewed.

"The book to film society gives the Offutt community a chance to gather and discuss wonderful literary topics and compare an author's work with Hollywood's interpretation of a particular novel," said Ms. Cook.

The opportunity to enjoy a social setting for lunch and discuss contrasting perspectives of books and film with an open mind is available at the Thomas S. Power Library, Jan 4.

For more information about the Books to Film Society, call 294-2533 or visit the library Web site at http://www.offuttbaselibrary.org/.