To Read or Not to Read? (the book of the movie/TV show, that is...)

I've been thinking about this topic A LOT since Sunday night. On Sunday, for those of you who aren't in the know, "Game of Thrones" blew our collective minds with a major plot development (which I won't spoil too much here for reasons delineated later in this very post!). As a writer who understands foreshadowing, and as a person who has read books and watched TV and movies before, I was expecting something bad to happen—but what did happen shot my expectations out of the water. My husband and I actually watched the scene in question with jaws dropped, hands over our mouths—the kind of physical reaction to something shocking that almost looks fake, but is all too real. (If you've seen Sunday's "GoT" episode, look up the reaction videos on YouTube to see examples of the gasping, open-mouthed stares, and yes, cursing that this scene caused.) I dreamed about this scene on Sunday night. I woke myself up thinking about it. Now that I've recovered somewhat, and have seen everyone else's responses online, one of the most interesting things about this whole experience is that I managed to make it to that shocking scene completely unspoiled. Why is that interesting? The book that this season of "GoT" is based on came out in 2000. That's 13 years ago. And these books aren't exactly under the radar. I consciously avoid spoilers, but I've been burned before by people who couldn't wait to post their knowledge of "shocking" TV twists on Facebook. And yet, for this one big event—possibly the biggest shock in George R. R. Martin's entire Song of Ice and Fire series—it was like the people with foreknowledge simply agreed to let us non-readers find out as it happened. (And then film our reactions as their reward...)

That's pretty freakin' cool, if you ask me. The idea that people generally seemed to feel that the non-book-readers deserved to experience the same shock and awe and horror while watching that the book-readers experienced when they read the scene. The idea that some things are just too important to post spoilers all over the Internet. (Which is why I am not posting spoilers for this event here—in case there are any of you left who haven't watched and want to experience it, ahem, Unsullied!)

I usually like to read the source material first, before the movie comes out or the TV show hits it big. I like seeing how my favorite characters and scenes will be interpreted on film. I even kind of like griping that "the book was better." I started watching "Game of Thrones" mid-season-one, and didn't want to read as I watched, but read Book One between seasons one and two of the TV series. And then I stopped. While I enjoyed getting the backstory filled in, seeing the depth of George R. R. Martin's vision of the world he'd created, and even noting the things that had been changed from book to show, I wasn't in a hurry to read Book Two. In fact, it's sitting on my desk behind my computer as I type this blog post. I'll get to it. I will. But season three of the show has been so surprising, and I have been so enjoying not knowing what's coming next, that I think I'd rather stay behind on the books. At least for now.

But enough about me. (And enough about George R. R. Martin!) Do you read books before their movie/TV show comes out? Do you like spoilers? Or do you prefer to be surprised, even knowing that apparently everyone around you knows what's coming?