Should Game of Thrones Fans Wait to Read the Books?

By Radissen Ramoutar on Nov 20, 2014 to Game of Thrones


If you haven’t read A Song of Ice and Fire (of which I am guilty), I am certain you are tired of seeing “SPOILER” in an article/video and immediately having to stop viewing. It takes quite a bit of mental strength for me to turn away or click the close button because of one main reason: I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! Yet despite the fact that answers are a few hundred pages away, I wait.

Originally, I thought to myself, ‘Who cares if I decide to wait and not read the books?’ But some people do care…oh yes, they care very much. You see, I have particular group of friends that I watch the show with (because you can’t watch this show with just anyone). We like to watch episodes right when they premiere on Sunday and we will usually gather at whoever’s house is cleanest…and has HBO. My GoT friends are a mix of those who have never read the books (two of us, the last holdouts), those who have started reading the books because of the show (they are currently reading or finished), those that I refer to as the diehards (they have read all the things GoT and worship at the altar of George RR Martin) and finally, the boyfriends (who really just want to watch Sunday Night Football but suffer through GoT for an hour to support their significant other).

We’ve been watching together for a few years now. In the beginning, it was good. Only one of us had read the books and the rest had just discovered this great new show. And then, it slowly started to happen. One friend decided to start reading ASOIAF for the fun of it. Then the looks started to happen. For all those who have not read the books, you know the looks I speak of; that (hopefully) silent exchange between ASOIAF readers during an episode. That infuriating look that says, “That! That was an important moment! That is connected to ________ and I know all about it! These fools have no idea what is coming. I cannot wait! (cue maniacal laugh)” Eventually, the others in the group started to get tired of the looks and decided to read the books as well. Two seasons later, one friend and I are all that is left of a once peaceful and oblivious viewer. Our weekly watch parties have become a flurry of looks from ASOIAF readers and a personal quest to avoid spoilers. Minor arguments about why I have not read the books take place almost every week.


Despite all of that and my urge to know more, I have held on. It was hard for me to explain to my friends why I have chosen this when they first asked. It was the combination of a feeling and my own laziness at first. But through our many arguments, I have managed to figure out exactly why I wait.

You see, I’m an avid reader. You point me in the direction of a good book (especially a fantasy like ASOIAF) and I am there. Due to this, I found myself almost always reading a book or a book series before the inevitable movie adaptation came out. That normally did not stop me from enjoying the movie but it did give me a different lens to view it through. I already knew the major plot and the only surprises for me would be whenever they changed something (which happens in almost every movie adaptation). Game of Thrones provides me with something that I have never experienced – the option to first watch a TV show and then read the book series it is based on. I know TV series that fit this criterion have existed before Game of Thrones but it is the first one I have encountered. Since every season gives us almost 10 hours of GoT, I think that this would be a large advantage over movies (which normally have a runtime of less than 3 hours).  With less being cut out and changed, you get a different adaptation than you would normally see. So now, I get to watch this fantastic TV series first and then look at the books that they are based on (which makes me ridiculously excited!)

You know those moments in GoT that make fans film other fans’ reactions? I love those. Remember that big moment in Season One that happened in the square…that’s when I knew I was completely on board. Another reason that I want to wait is that I don’t want to give up those moments quite yet. It happens very rarely on TV (in the specific way that GoT rips what you love away) and I secretly love it. Also, my book friends take more pleasure in watching my reaction than in the scene itself and how could I take that away from them? ;) When something give me a true surprise (like someone crushing someone’s head or someone turning purple), I’m the kind of person that doesn’t want to give that feeling up just yet. I also think that it would be curious to see if these surprises are different for people who only watch the show than those who read the books.


But probably the biggest reason that I hang on is because of the fact that we’re all waiting. Fans of the books may know more than we do right now but they are still waiting for answers (since that final book still has to come out). So I would still be waiting even if I caved and read the books. I have had a theory that my book friends really want me to read ASOIAF so I too can suffer with them…but it’s most likely because they just want to talk about ideas without having to worry about spoiling things for me. But since everyone is waiting anyways, we can always throw this point in arguments with ASOIAF readers (until the final book comes out…then we are in trouble).

I have no doubt I will read the books one day (in fact, I may have had a moment of weakness and read the first few chapters of book one…but I stopped! Mainly due to crying.) But for now, I am happy to get into arguments with my ASOIAF reading friends, constantly avoid spoilers and hope that there are a few more like me out there.

Let us know below if you are a waiting or if you have read ASOIAF and why.

  • Eleonora Iafano

    I’ve read all the books. I am the only one in the circle of friends that gather every Sunday to watch Game of Thrones who has read them and trust me, I get a lot fo questions and looks….”Give me a hint!” or “OMG OMG……Ele…..what’s going to happen next…?” I keep a poker face. It’s hard. What makes it even more challenging is when the writers completely omit or change something and you are left reeling or stymied. I am an avid book reader and once I get into a series, it’s hard for me to stop. I keep telling myself that “Winds of Winter” will be out Winter of 2015. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Other than that, I say if people want to read the books, awesome. If you’re not into reading the books, no problem. But there is so much that you’re missing! Just my two cents’ worth.

  • Cindy James

    I read the first two books well before the beginning of the show, and because of that I have continued (and will continue) to read the books as they come out. I am eagerly awaiting both the next book, AND the next season.
    I can say that there are parts that I didn’t imagine quite so ….mushy…or purple.

  • draper

    I like how the author says, “…and finally, the boyfriends (who really just want to watch Sunday Night Football but suffer through GoT for an hour to support their significant other)…” but GoT and Sunday Night Football schedules have zero overlap. I say that as a thankful fan of both.

  • I’m waiting. I kind of don’t wanna spoil the show, because, as you do, I love those suprising mindblowing moments that catch you off guard! Another reason is that he is still writing the books. Usually when I start to read a book series that is under development, and there are a few years in between the release of each book, I often can’t resist starting to read the series from the start before the release of the book, so that everything is fresh in mind. Did this with Harry Potter, and I can safely say that it takes a lot of time… I think I’ll just wait ’till they’re all out, and read everything then.

    (and then, a some years later read everything again)

  • peter pan

    Unless readers have some extraordinary, consistent imagination, that is they can imagine the ENTIRE world of ASOIAF and retain every image they picture, It is extremely difficult to create the same world GRRM had in mind. Since GRRM adds his feedback to the creators of the show, you can be sure that what is being shown on the screen, is as close as you can get to what he imagined when he wrote ASOIAF. The actors such as Peter Dinklage truly bring the characters to life and make you attached to them. Not to mention the heart-clenching music that queues whenever there is a wedding (Yes Sigur Ros, i mean you). The human mind (99% of us, by opinionated statistics) cannot retain and imagine EVERYTHING, that is the music, actors (voices and looks), locations and plot. The TV-series adaptation reduces this difficulty and lets the viewer focus on what is important, that is the current events (imagine having to imagine the entirety of the red wedding, and having to deal with the cluster of puzzled thoughts).
    I personally find the TV-series more attractive to watch (in all its aspects). Ill probably still read the books eventually, but for now, im sticking with the show only.

Find an HBO Series

More HBO

Subscribe to HBO
Countries HBO Is In
Watch Game of Thrones Online
Watch The Leftovers Online
Watch Silicon Valley Online
HBO Premiere & Air Dates
True Detective Streaming
Other Streaming Television
HBO Boxing Live Stream
Game of Thrones on DVD & Blu-Ray
Watch Cinemax Online