I’ve always been a read-the-book-first type of person. If a movie is based on a novel, I feel it’s my duty as a reader to pick up a copy and get to know the characters on the page before heading to the theater. Of course, there can be exceptions to this, but in general I like to see the world as the author imagined it before experiencing it on the big screen.
Some people argue that the book is always better. I’m usually on this side, though people who argue that movies can be better sometimes (very very rarely) have a point. The truth is that books and movies are just completely different: neither has to be better; you can enjoy both the book and film version of a story without choosing one.
That being said, if you never read the books for an iconic series such as, say, Harry Potter, there’s a lot you’ll miss. Movies are shorter experiences, so if they’re based on a long book, they naturally have to leave a lot out. If you only watch the Harry Potter movies, there’s so much you won’t know about the series. And if you haven’t watched the movies or read the books, you probably feel a little lost when people start speaking about the characters as if they’re real (because let’s be honest, to us fans those characters are real). Here are some of the things you’ll only know once you sit down and read the Harry Potter books.
1Who Is Peeves?
Peeves the Poltergeist does not appear in the movies, but he's a pretty major character in the books. Peeves is a mischievous spirit who helps Fred and George cause mayhem for Headmaster Umbridge.
2What's A Squib?
Squibs are nonmagical children born to magical parents, and they are discussed at length in the Harry Potter books. The reason Filch is so angry all the time is because he's frustrated by his lack of magical ability.
3What's A Veela?
At the Quidditch World Cup, Harry learns that a Veela is a siren-like, entrancing female. Later, it's revealed that Fleur Delacour is part Veela, which explains her magnetic charm.
4What Is S.P.E.W.?
The plight of house-elves is discussed much more in the Harry Potter books series than in the movies. Dobby wants to be free, but not all house-elves are so confident, and Hermione starts the Society for Promotion of Elfish Welfare (S.P.E.W.) to advance equal rights for these creatures.
5Why Does Petunia Hate Lily So Much?
In the movies, the Dursleys hate Harry, but in the books you understand exactly why Petunia is so upset: she's jealous. She always wanted to attend Hogwarts, but she wasn't magical herself.
6Why Does Hermione End Up With Ron?
In the movies, Ron is clueless and rude, especially when it comes to Hermione. In the books, their relationship is much more complex. Though this is definitely a controversial relationship in both mediums, the books give much better context for their romance.
7Why Do Harry And Cho Break Up?
In a scene that didn't make it to the movies, Harry and Cho get into an argument when Cho's friend betrays Dumbledore's Army.
8What Is Voldemort's Backstory?
The story of the Gaunts doesn't appear in the films, but Voldemort's entire history — including the story of his parents' "romance" — is explained in the book series.
9What Happens With Dudley And Harry?
In a scene in the books (which was cut from the movie), Dudley and Harry come to a sort of truce at the end of the series. It's clear that Dudley no longer feels hatred toward Harry, and they part on good terms.
10How Do Harry And Ginny Fall For Each Other?
In the movies, Harry and Ginny's romance blossoms quickly — almost too quickly. In the books, there's a long lead-up; Harry feels conflicted about liking Ginny, as she's his best friend's sister, but eventually they kiss after a Gryffindor Quidditch victory.
11What Happens To Peter Pettigrew?
Peter Pettigrew just sort of disappears in the Potter films, but in the books he doesn't survive. He is strangled by the hand Voldemort gave him — a chilling representation of what Voldemort thinks about love.
12What Happens To Harry's Wand?
Harry gets rid of the Elder wand in the films, but in the books he actually mends his own wand first. This is incredibly symbolic, but it's also just plain practical as it explains how Harry has a working wand at the end of the series after getting rid of the Elder wand.
13Who Are The Marauders?
The Marauders' Map is a large part of the films, but the full backstory of it — and its creators — isn't discussed. You won't know the whole saga of James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, until you read the series.