To Read or Not Read?

Or I’m going to watch the TV show instead.

The new season of Game of Thrones  is set to begin soon(July 16 in the USA) on HBO. And I have been thinking about why I have decided not to read George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Fire and Ice on which the TV series is based. And this is a controversial admission for me, a confirmed bookworm, to make. But make it I am and I stand by it, too.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
Courtesy GoodReads

I watched the series for the first time after my cable company offered us a free year of HBO. One cold winter’s night we decided to watch GOT since we had both heard so much about the most recent season. (Anyone heard of The Red Wedding episode? Thought so!) We really enjoyed it and were genuinely shocked by the death of Sean Bean at the end of season 1. (But we should have known since it is Sean Bean. The poor man rarely survives in anything he’s cast.) And I was enthusiastic enough about the series to read the books. So I downloaded the first book onto my Kindle and began to read.

And I liked the first book. There is a lot more to the story there. And there are characters that didn’t make it to the TV adaptation. It is a fun read. So, I downloaded book two to my Kindle. And again, its a good story. I enjoy it, too. So much so that I buy the third book rather than wait for the library copy to become available. And I begin to read. But. At about a 1/4 of the way in I stopped. And I stopped, according to my notes, because I just didn’t care about the book or the story it tells at that moment in time. I’m ready to read something else.

I had spent two months reading nothing but the first three books. I read the books late into the night and curled up in an air conditioned room during the day. I read no other book during this time. And I reached a point where I wanted to read something else. I have so many books that I want to read. So many other stories to become involved in that I put the book on my Kindle shelf and wander off to read something else. I fully intend to return to the book but I never do. Finally, about a year after closing the book I make the decision to not finish the book or read any of the rest of series. I decide to to only watch the TV adaptation.

And I’m okay with this decision. My husband never read the Harry Potter series and only watched the movies. And he is fine with it. He also has no interest in reading the Song of Fire and Ice series, either. The world and his reading life is still going forward. And we both know we are missing characters and story lines by only watching the TV show. And we are fine with it. And we are missing fun details like the trees in the North talking to each other, which my brother Scott tells me is a thing in the books. But I know this detail because he told me. and it makes certain scenes with the trees more interesting. But if I’m interested in some minute detail about the GOT world, there is a wiki where I can read all about it. Or I can ask Scott. Is it cheating? Maybe. But I’m fine with it.

At this point George R.R. Martin has yet to publish book six. But the TV adaptation has gone on. And I like that story lines are coming together and wrapping up in a, at least for me, satisfying way. And yes, I have debates with people (Hi Scott!) about whether or not this is the right way to consume this story. And I may at some point change my mind and read the rest of the series. But as of today I’m planning on just watching the TV show.

Have you ever decided not to read the book but only watch the adaptations? Tell me about it in the comments below.


12 thoughts on “To Read or Not Read?

  1. So I haven’t watched the adaptation and I haven’t read the books for the Game of Thrones series, but I had a similar experience with the Twilight Saga. I read the first book during a power outage. The second book I read in a week. By the third I just didn’t care about Bella and Edward anymore. I have since only seen the Twilight movies and I am fine with it. (Of course, Twilight does not compare in complexity to Game of Thrones.)

    I am telling myself that one day I will actually pull the trigger regarding Game of Thrones. I will actually watch the series or read the books, but at this point nothing has happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I just didn’t care enough to devote all the time and energy needed to read the books. I needed a cheat sheet to keep track of the story lines and characters. And that’s the beauty of the TV show. I don’t have to keep track of so much stuff!.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the TV adaptation of GOT but have no real intention to read the books. They are just really long and the shows good so why bother. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

    I’m exactly the same with Lord of the Rings. Love the films, don’t see any reason to read the books. Maybe it’s a fantasy thing and the fact I’m not keen on lots of description.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. I’m really not missing anything by not reading the GOT books. I’m getting everything I want form the TV show.
      I agree with you about The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. I’ve read all of the books, just a long, long time ago when I was 10-ish. The movies are enough for me since I have no plans to re-read the books. There is only just so much time left for me to read!


    1. I read most of the True Blood books sitting on beach. They were quick reads and fun to read while I was sitting in the sun. And I watched most of the series, too. I stopped be for the last season for the same reason I quit the books. It just got all too silly for me. I will confess when the last book came out a couple of years ago I followed my mother’s lead and stood in the bookstore and read the ending so I would know what happened to book Sookie. I was interested. 😎


  3. I read the first book, mostly because I don’t have HBO and wanted to know what the heck everyone was talking about. I actually bought it in paperback, rather than read it on the Kindle, because I sometimes get frustrated with longer books on the Kindle. It was a great read, and shortly after (or not so shortly? I forget now) I was able to watch the first season on DVD. So I bought the second book, and read a few chapters. And then I stopped. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, but more that my “for pleasure” reading time can be somewhat limited, and I just wasn’t sure I wanted to devote ALL of my reading time to this one tome. Because of all of the different characters and places that must be “kept straight” (and yep, there are more than in the TV series), I found I read slower than, say, I read Harry Potter. I still have not finished reading book two. This is odd for me, because I’m generally a firm believer in “read it before you watch it.” That said, I received a box set of the TV series (seasons 1-5) as a Christmas gift, and purchased season 6 for myself, so I’ve seen the series up to this point.I’m considering an HBO Now subscription so that I can watch season 7, because spoilers *kill* me. It’s possible that I’ll pick up book 2 again at some point, but I understand that the TV series doesn’t follow the books necessarily in close chronology, at least after book one, so I don’t feel like I’ll be cheated out of a solid reading experience if I do go back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robin, I understand completely. I love long, detailed books but there is only so much time in the day to read for pleasure. And I know how limited your reading time is due to work and your kid. So, for me, I’m completely satisfied with just watching the show. And I do like how, in the series at least, women are becoming the most important power players in that world.


  4. I broke off reading A Song of Ice and Fire waaay back halfway through A Storm of Swords and have no inclination to watch A Game of Thrones. I started watching True Blood, but quickly broke off as I far preferred the books which didn’t come across as nearly so gory or sexy – and I missed Sukie Stackhouse’s feisty first person narration. And again, I started watching Wolf Hall, but didn’t feel the need to continue as I knew what would happen and didn’t want to see Cromwell’s children die – the books were awesome and so was the TV adaptation, but there didn’t seem any point in watching it.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that they are two different forms of entertainment and should be treated as such – and given the choice I would rather read the book than watch it on TV…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think we all know ow Wolf Hall will end! Did you see that Hilary Mantel is putting off finishing the last book in the series because she is dreading the ending?

      And I agree with you in regards to True Blood! Book Sookie (at least the early books. I think the author became too influenced by the TV show towards the end of the book series) has a more engaging voice and presence than TV show Sookie. Tv Sookie is a bit of a ditz.

      And I agree with you about tv shows and books being different forms of entertainment , and I’d agrgue storytelling. And until fairly recently I always picked books over TV/movies. But more and more I think adaptations for TV and movies are getting better. And in some cases even better than the material that it’s based upon.There are a couple of film series that I’m thinking of particularly. 😎

      Liked by 1 person

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