Stop Trying To Make Me Read Game of Thrones (And Yes, I Know That's Not What They're Called)

Above: Daenerys by Phil Noto

I am a Game of Thrones superfan.

I cannot get enough, and it is on track to becoming my favorite television show of all time—right up there with The Wire, The West Wing, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer (and yes, I'm aware that one of those kind of doesn't belong). I love GoT so much, I am in some kind of super mourning now that I have to wait a year for the next season. I wear all black, I eschew sunshine. I look up invented languages on the internet in my spare time, and I even enjoy that stupid Time Warner Cable commercial featuring Drogon because I MISS EVERYTHING SO MUCH.

So you know what comes next of course. The endless and constant refrain from every person I know that I should "read the books."

But here's the incredibly simple reason why I'm not going to do that, and why y'all should stop hassling me:

It's easier for me to find books I love than television I love.

As a result, I am extremely hesitant to give up a near perfect, spoiler-free television watching experience (as Game of Thrones has been) no matter how good the source material may be.

Sure, we're going through a particularly lovely age of television — Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Girls, Veep, The Good Wife, House of Cards (I could go on) — but even in this golden age, it's still infinitely easier for me to find a brilliant book than a brilliant television series. And thus, quite simply, I cannot bear to have my existing Game of Thrones viewing experience taken from me.

I am extremely hesitant to give up a near perfect, spoiler-free television watching experience... no matter how good the source material may be.

Potential spoilers (for the television show only) from here on out.

I'm sure I'd still enjoy it — in fact, I'd probably enjoy it in a whole new way, but it would take away so much of what is utterly brilliant about the viewing experience. Watching the television show blind without any expectations preserves all of the plot developments, surprises, and the utter shock as the show delivers its fatal blows (and the occasional sweet one). While it's an interesting academic and critical experience to watch and speculate how they're going to handle things like cutting off Jamie Lannister's hand or The Red Wedding (gods, THE RED WEDDING...I WILL NEVER RECOVER), it's ultimately much sweeter for me to experience them for the first time in a visual medium.

I feel confident that knowing about these events prior to their execution on television (or them being lost on the cutting room floor) would diminish the purity with which I am viewing the show. At the same time, I also feel confident that reading the books after watching the entire series will still be a fantastic experience. Since the books are naturally more dense and layered, it makes sense to me that I finish experiencing this brilliant television show for what it is — a brilliant television show. And once I have completed that experience, I fully intend to experience the books for what I hope (and somewhat expect) will be a brilliant series of fantasy novels. Doing it in this order allows me to preserve all the best suspense and surprises of the television show and then later delve more deeply into material I already love.

And if I still haven't had enough of the world of George R. R. Martin I can rewatch the show and appreciate it on the more academic and critical level so many of you are enjoying it on now. What got cut and why, was it the right call, what do I REALLY miss, etc. In my estimation these things will only add to the experience. This is in no way intended to bash those of you that read the books before the show came out (you are of course the purest of all fans!) or those of you that chose to read the books once they watched (and loved) the first season of the television show (most of my friends and family).  It's just my own personal take on how I will best enjoy the show and the books...get the most bang for my buck, if you will!

Plus, I have to say, as someone who watched Game of Thrones Season 3 with my boyfriend (who has also not read the books, and like me intends to wait) and three other people who have all read up through at least Book 4, I can honestly say that my boyfriend and I are enjoying the show more. Everyone loves it (I mean, we were all going out of our way to get together on Sundays in one location every week for ten weeks), and mileage of course varies from person to person and episode to episode, but I don't think any of those five people would disagree that my boyfriend and I are pound for pound getting the most enjoyment from the show. And I just can't...I just WON'T lose that. Not when so much TV sucks and there are a billion brilliant books I can (and have yet to) read.

So, in the same way that I respect your decisions to read the books in little pieces before each season, or all at once in a massive binge, y'all need to respect my decision to wait. And please apply this to everyone in your life that you have been hassling to read the books — we're all pretty tired of hearing it, kay?

Kelly Thompson

Column by Kelly Thompson

Kelly Thompson is the author of two crowdfunded self-published novels. The Girl Who Would be King (2012), was funded at over $26,000, was an Amazon Best Seller, and has been optioned by fancy Hollywood types. Her second novel, Storykiller (2014), was funded at nearly $58,000 and remains in the Top 10 most funded Kickstarter novels of all time. She also wrote and co-created the graphic novel Heart In A Box (2015) for Dark Horse Comics.

Kelly lives in Portland Oregon and writes the comics A-Force, Hawkeye, Jem & The Holograms, Misfits, and Power Rangers: Pink. She's also the writer and co-creator of Mega Princess, a creator-owned middle grade comic book series. Prior to writing comics Kelly created the column She Has No Head! for Comics Should Be Good.

She's currently managed by Susan Solomon-Shapiro of Circle of Confusion.

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Stuart Gibbel's picture
Stuart Gibbel from California is reading Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez July 5, 2013 - 8:56am

Agreed.  The TV  show is fun, the books are a major comittment. I don't do committments (I'll have kids, but no tatoos).  

Andrewch7's picture
Andrewch7 from Philadelphia, NJ July 5, 2013 - 9:10am

As an entertainment guru and an avid reader, you have a leg to stand on with the argument that It's easier for you to "find books you love than television you love." But for most people, this is simply not the case. As the guy above me said, A Song of Ice and Fire is a huge commitment to begin... but if you ask anyone who has read the whole series, I doubt you'll find a single one who regrets it. So if watching the TV show gets millions of people to read a half a dozen tomes of a genre that they wouldn't have otherwise touched, then that's a good thing. So I think we should continue to keep tell GoT fanatics to read the book, because reading is good and opening your mind up to different literary experiences is even better.

Ghostword's picture
Ghostword from Cornwall is reading The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll July 5, 2013 - 9:13am

With me, it's a case of having a lot of other titles that I want to read as well.  Also why can't HBO just sell the episodes on Itunes or from their website after their inital UK transmission?  I wasn't able to see the series on transmission in the UK, got the DVD's of Season 1 and 2, so now have to wait till Feburary to see Season 3?  Is there some advanced leagalise speak as to why HBO can't just sell the episodes on it's website?  Ok end of rant.

1979semifinalist's picture
1979semifinalist from California but living in NYC is reading Joe Hill's NOS4A2 July 5, 2013 - 9:15am

Just to be clear, I DO fully intend to read the books, but not until the television show is over.

Andrewch7's picture
Andrewch7 from Philadelphia, NJ July 5, 2013 - 9:30am

@Ghostworld- The reason why HBO won't sell their episodes online is rather simple: hubris. Basically all their shows are the most pirated because they don't want their subscription rates to take a hit by offering downloadable content. Just dl them illegally and buy the DVDs or Bluray when they come out. I fail to see how that is unethical at all.

Andrewch7's picture
Andrewch7 from Philadelphia, NJ July 5, 2013 - 9:34am

There's also this HBO GO thing over here in the states which (I think) is like a free online On Demand for HBO Subscribers. Don't know how it works in the UK but that might be available to you.

Oroboros's picture
Oroboros from Earth is reading The Flowers of Evil July 5, 2013 - 10:53am

As a book reader of the Song of Ice and Fire, I'm glad that people are enjoying Game of Thrones, and I'm glad to have this discussion between the book readers and the TV only watchers. The most important effect the show's popularity is to help Martin hurry up and finish the last two books. :)

If you started with the TV show, I would not recommend the books - unless you could not wait 10 months for the next installment.

But if you are a blogger with a large audience, and you're talking about Game of Thrones, odds are you'll get trolled by book readers eventually.

A year ago or so, I was watching a very popular anime series that was adapted from a very popular light novel. In order to avoid spoilers, I did not read any blogs or reviews of each episodes.

So, in order to keep your TV experience spoiler free, and pure, I recommend a ban on Internet use in relation to the show or the books.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On July 5, 2013 - 11:14am

Thank you Kelly for showing I'm not the only one going through this. This feels exactly how it does when people try to foist their religion on me. But what truly drives my ape-shit is when people tell me to read the books, while at the same time bashing the show because it supposedly strays an angstrom or two from the text. There are dozens of books I can list off the top of my head that I'd rather commit to than any of Martin's (like yourself, I would love to read them someday because I understand they're truly well written and engrossing--but AFTER the show ends) right now--and that's not counting the unread ones I keep buying that are piled all over my house. I appreciate the readers that are into it and have read it before it ever became a show, but my docket's full.

rmatthewsimmons's picture
rmatthewsimmons from Salt Lake City, UT is reading I just put down 'A Game of Thrones' after 6 chapters....Couldn't do it. July 9, 2013 - 10:21am

Hmmm... I have a number of friends who are completely into GoT the TV show (myself now included - although only just recently) and only one has read all five books.

I just started the first book in the series and it's a good, fun read, but I have to say my enthusiasm is a bit lack-luster at best as IMO the TV show is so well done. But now as the Third Season has just finished, it is going to be a long wait for the next installment.

Not to change the subject, but I came across 'Vikings' on Amazon, which I guess is a show that aired on the History Channel earlier this year. A GoT's fan mentioned to me that it's quite decent and an ok filler for GoT's geeks. I watched the trailer, but haven't committed to buying the season yet as I'm still digesting Season Three. Anyone seen this program and is it worth spending the $16.00?

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder July 9, 2013 - 3:41pm

I have a signed first edition of A Game of Thrones! It's nice. 


Faith Michele's picture
Faith Michele April 30, 2016 - 11:25am

I haven't watched The Wire, but West Wing and Buffy are two of the most masterfully written series in the history of television, so "one of those" TOTALLY belongs.  Buffy is beloved by smart, literate people the world over.  Don't apologize for Buffy even for a second.