Such is my ignorance that, up until a couple weeks ago, I did not know that True Grit was a book before it was a movie. When we had watched the newer version I looked into the differences between the story told in the older movie and the story told in the newer movie, and thus came to know about the book. I had been happy with the older movie, and scared of what the Coen brothers might do to mess up the newer movie (I especially feared they would find some way to sexualize the story). Now that I've seen the newer one, I'm very impressed by it and, on the whole, prefer it to the older one.
Now I have read the book. I believe the older movie stays closer to some of the details of the working out of the story told in the book, but the newer movie captures more of the true spirit of the book. Both movies are remarkably faithful to the book (something I rarely find myself saying; don't even get me started, for instance, on the terrible and needless change to Faramir's character in The Two Towers).
I liked the book and found it to be a quick read. It is clean enough that I am allowing my 8yo daughter to read it (I'm not sure she'll finish it, but at the moment she's excited to try). Several of the reviews quoted on the copy I read speak of the wide range of ages the book appeals to.
Interestingly, Mattie in the book is an outspoken Presbyterian, right down to directing the reader to look up several passages to prove the doctrine of Election. The movies kind of leave that out. Also, in the new movie the Indian who is hanged towards the beginning is not allowed to speak any last words (in stark contrast to the two white men who are being hanged at the same time). In the book he makes a sort of profession of faith: "I am ready. I have repented my sins and soon I will be in heaven with Christ my savior. Now I must die like a man."
I enjoyed the book enough that I am interested in reading the other books of Charles Portis. I also hope to add True Grit to my personal library. The old-fashioned language used in the book offers one of the chief delights of reading it.