I'm a huge proponent of the phrases, "The book is always better" or "Read the book first". I love books and I've often been guilty of taking books with me to movies to read before the movie or during if the movie sucked. My parents often caught me under a nightlight as a child in the wee hours, reading. When they got wise to that and ushered me into my room, I read under my covers with a flashlight, like most kids. Everyone in my family reads and everyone in my husband's family reads so I never lack for recommendations. My father once told me when I got my first job that he wouldn't be paying for movies, games, comics, et cetera anymore because I was gainfully employed but no matter how old I was, he would always pay for books if I couldn't pay for them myself. While I haven't taken him up on this offer because I like paying for my own stuff, the sentiment is what's important here: my family and I are a bunch of damn book nerds and it is awesome. We all have our own things that we like, too, which is the great thing about books is that they're so multi-faceted it's hard to find someone who doesn't have at least one favorite tome. I, myself, like a good story and I'm very story-driven when it comes to my book preferences but I'm open to just about anything as long as it's well-written.
With the emergence of technology like Kindle, I've been able to have whole worlds unlocked for me at the push of a button, which I think is lovely. Yes, there's also the nostalgic feel of a real book that you just cannot replace but when you're traveling or in line at the DMV, having your library in the palm of your hand isn't a bad ace to have up one's sleeve. When I need to do something, like housework, gardening, or working out, I'll throw on an audiobook, which I think is another great invention of the technological age for readers on the go.
When I encounter an internet troll, I let them know that "books exist" to admonish them for misusing their time being a dick on the internet, all while self-deprecatingly acknowledging to myself that I could heed my own pompous advice and pick up one also. I'm painfully self-aware of my own bullshit and will try to take steps to rectify it but I'm only human. If I'm getting in a heated debate with someone online (and it's happening less and less as I grow older because who the hell cares?), I mentally pinch myself and remind myself that I have books I could be reading at that very moment.
Outlander is a book series I haven't read all the way through but I fully intend to do so – it's just that, at the time I started getting into the book series, I was unable to read and the show gave me a welcome respite while I was in the hospital. You try to read on heavy doses of morphine after 3 surgeries in 3 days and let me know how you fare. And the show is really damn good so if you have access to STARZ, I recommend it.
But, and this is where the secret is revealed so hold onto your hats, there is one book series that I have no intention whatsoever of reading before, during, or after the viewing of the show/movie/whatever: Game of Thrones.
This makes me a terrible hypocrite but at least I'm acknowledging what an asshole feel like so maybe that makes it better? I doubt it. But (and this is crucial), I think I have a pretty damn good reason for not finishing the book series: I DON'T WANT TO READ THEM.
God, that sentence sounds so horrid just on its face. I like the show so what on Earth could possibly make me not want to read the pages from which the television program was gleaned? I could go into how it's largely been reported where the show and the books differ that's pissed off some fans but that's never really bothered me in any show/movie based upon a book. I know that screen time is finite and there's only so much you can show. There's usually a lot of things going on internally with the characters in books that's hard to convey on film, unless the actor is just that damn brilliant. There are certainly very good adaptations of books to film/TV that I enjoy and it's simply due to the fact I don't get too nitpicky if the book and the film medium aren't mirror images of one another. If you don't have impossible expectations, you'll probably rarely be disappointed (although I have had a lot of book to film adaptations prove me wrong there). I have expectations that the theme and core story should be conveyed well in a film adaptation and that's about it.
When I say that the book is better, that doesn't mean that I think that films/TV based upon books are inherently bad just by existing. I take it on a case by case basis, largely. You're just always going to get a more vivid picture with words than with television or film, in my opinion, but that doesn't mean that phenomenal stories cannot be told on the screen.
My reason for not wanting to read the Game of Thrones books? I don't think they'll ever get finished. This sounds cynical and morbid at first glance but I don't think that they'll get done before George RR Martin dies. This is no disrespect to Mr. Martin at all and absolutely no ill-wish for his health or wellbeing. I don't want him to die – let's make that very clear. This isn't even a specific comment upon his health because I'm not a doctor and, more importantly, I'm not his doctor; I'm not really even saying he'll meet an untimely demise so much as just voicing that, with that and many other contributing factors, I don't think he'll finish the last book.
I'm a completionist and I like things to have a beginning, middle, and an end. I think Sopranos ending their show mid-sentence was total horseshit. "Well, what do YOU think happened?" No. Fuck you. Finish the damn story – I'm not doing your job for you. I liked the first book (which I did read), but I honestly think the story translates better on film. This isn't to say that the book isn't better than the film medium here (I'd never say that) but more to say that the story is more consumable en masse as a show than a book series. I think that sounds confusing so let me put it this way: sometimes I'm more in the mood for a Happy Meal than a 4 course gourmet dinner. The Happy Meal is palatable to me, I get a cool toy, and it's the perfect amount of food I want to eat. The gourmet meal, while better in style, taste, and ingredients/preparation, is probably not something I could get through without horrible indigestion. Make sense? I hope so. There are so many damn characters at this point that you kind of need the succinctness of an ongoing show to encapsulate everything at once. My mom has read the books and she says that she has to go back often and re-read parts of other books to remind herself of certain characters, who has died, et cetera. You could literally have a whole college electorate course on the history of Westeros. I don't have that kind of time and my GI Bill has run its course, unfortunately.
What happens if the books do get finished? I've thought of that, as well. At this point, whether you're a fan of the books or enjoy the show or a mixture of the two, you're pretty heavily invested in this world and have an idea of how you want everything to play out. Imagine if Martin decides, in his last book, to say "fuck it" and kill everyone off? What if he gives a happy ending where everyone comes back to life? What if the bad are punished and the good are rewarded? No matter how he writes it, there's going to be a good chunk of people that flat-out get pissed off about it because it's not what they themselves envisioned, being so entrenched in the ongoing story. In this vein, I'm kind of glad that the HBO writers/creators are taking it in a different direction than the books because they're taking accountability for the final product and it doesn't all fall at the feet of Martin for the end result.
This brings me to my final thought/conclusion: Hollywood, stop making movie/TV adaptations before the damn book series is finished – you're setting writers up for failure. Thank you.