Let’s Talk Spoilers

discussionLet me make something perfectly clear right from the start: I HATE SPOILERS. It’s one of the things that can absolutely ruin a book (or a movie) for me, even if it’s just a minor turn of events. I know a lot has been said on this topic, but I want to vent a bit because I got spoiled for a classic book I really meant to read recently and I was just so mad.

jane-eyre-charotte-bronteI was reading a post on a fantasy topic (not even remotely connected to Jane Eyre, which is the book in question), and there it was. A big, fat, end-of-book spoiler that immediately bumped the book from about #5 on my classics TBR to #55 (at least, ugh). If you’re wondering what I read, it was: *spoiler in white* that Rochester is really married and has a wife stashed somewhere *end spoiler*. And I thought: HOW COULD YOU?! How could you just assume that because a book is 160 years old, everyone knows the story?

And then I thought: but hey, I’m doing exactly the same every time I assume everyone’s read The Lord of the Rings or Harry PotterBUT! Butbutbut – if I’m writing a review full of spoilers, I’ll always (I hope!) add a note about it. I know there was one review where I accidentally spoiled someone a rather important bit of plot because I didn’t know it was a spoiler. I figured a plot twist out so early in the book, it didn’t even occur to me that there was a “big reveal” somewhere around the 80% point. Ugh. But I really, really try to avoid ruining the reading experience for anyone reading my reviews (I mean, it’s not like I can afford to lose readers by making them hate my reviews!). There are other, more elegant ways of hiding spoilers than coloring them white, but I’m not that good with code, so I’m sticking with what I know.

Also, I don’t think there’s a time limit for spoilers. Can you really claim that because The Picture of Dorian Gray, which just so happens to be one of my favourite classics, is a 100 years old, it’s ok to tell you that *spoiler in white* Dorian doesn’t age because his portrait bears the marks of his age and sins *end spoiler*? I really don’t think so. Nobody can read every book out there but they should have the right to read a book like it’s still fresh from the press. Also, saying that “It’s such a big part of the culture anyway” is incredibly self-centered in terms of belonging to a dominant culture. There. I said it. srcek

That said, I’m starting to be a little paranoid when it comes to reading spoilers myself:

  • I stopped reading reviews of books I definitely intend to read (like Queen of Shadows). I even skip those that claim to be un-spoilery. I often bookmark them and come back to them later – sometimes even after I write my own review so I’m not influenced by another opinion. Yes, I know, I sound crazy but there you have it. I obviously still read reviews of books I haven’t read yet but am unsure about – that’s how I find most of my recommendations and also why my TBR keeps growing (and growing).
  • I stopped reading blurbs. This is more problematic because they’re … umm … pretty important. But I’ve read SO MANY blurbs that contain plot twists that occur in the middle of the book! And then I just keep waiting for THAT to happen and this anticipation ruins my reading experience. Am I even making sense anymore? Anyway, I’ll usually read the blurb for book 1 of the series, for example, but never for the later books if I liked the first one.
  • I shout at people who try to tell me what their current read is about in the fear that I’ll eventually want to pick that book up and read it (the same goes for movies and TV shows). This behaviour is usually answered by a wide-eyed look and a hasty: “Okay, okay!”
  • When I’m recommending a book to someone, I just say: “You have to trust me. This book is made for you and I can’t tell you anything more.” Amazingly, some people actually do trust me (with their reading choices). Weird.

Oh and if you’re one of those people who reads the last page of the book first, I’m going to have to politely ask you to leave (joking … but how can you do it?!).

And a tiny confession to finish: when I was younger and the Harry Potter books were just being published (you know, when we actually had to wait to read them), I always called dibs on the book and read it before my brother did. And then I would tease him – I never actually spoiled anything for him, I think, but he’d yell at me all the same. Ah, the good times.

srcek

What’s your take on spoilers? Do you think there’s a time limit for them?

Have you ever intentionally spoiled a book for yourself? Or for someone else (the HORROR!)? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • For me, it depends how invested I feel. Game of Thrones, for example, I actively go out and search for spoilers online. My fiancé gets so mad at me because I know all the secrets before him (I also like to tease him). BUT! If you spoil me for Once Upon a Time, we will have a problem.

    As for books, if it’s something I want to read, I hate being spoiled. A few months ago I was watching a video on YouTube about avoiding spoilers and the person spoiled the ending for a series I was thinking about reading. Who does that?!

    I have a few book series that I know I will never read, so I’ve actually looked up spoilers on Goodreads (Queen of Shadows, for example). Also, such a good point on avoiding blurbs. So often they give away too much information. I hardly ever read them, as well.

  • Yes. I. Hate. Spoilers. Like you, I completely try to avoid them in ALL of my reviews, regardless of how long ago the book came out. I also avoid reading other people’s reviews on books I’m planning to read soon so as to NOT get accidentally spoiled OR have their opinion influence me. I also avoid blurbs but only for sequels if I haven’t read the first book(s) yet. It’s tough and the drastic measures we take can suck sometimes but I’d rather that than rage when I get spoiled^^

  • MissBookiverse

    Haha, I always bookmark reviews for books I want to read soon, too and come back to them after I read the book :D Sometimes I also feel spoiled when reviewers mention stuff like “a big plot twist” because then I’ll be reading the book looking left and right for that big twist and that sort of ruins it as well.

    Also I hate it when classics are mentioned or woven into contemporary books because the character has to read it for school or something and then the plot is explained or a key scene OR the ending which just sucks. I try to skip those parts.

    I get why people think some books have a time limit for spoilers, especially if they were turned into successful movies but a little heads up would always be nice, even if we’re talking Harry Potter.

    PS. Just discovered your blog through a recommendation a few days ago and I’m having a blast reading through your past articles. What a lovely, thoughtful blog :)

  • Soudha Parsan

    OMG I hate spoilers with a passion. I was spoiled for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and I’m sure you can guess which part I’m talking about. That made me really mad. I’ve come to avoid blurbs too because like you said, they sometimes contain crucial plot twists. Interesting post :)

    http://ofstacksandcups.blogspot.com/

  • Maraia

    Ugh, spoilers are so tricky, because everyone has a different definition. I’ve seen endless discussion about whether LGBT relationships are considered a spoiler or not, for example. It’s really easy to be the one on the spoiling end – intentionally or not – but it’s horrible to be the spoiled one. For me, my level of caring depends on how devoted I am to a book/series. Intentionally spoiling is completely inexcusable, though, whether or not it ruins a book for someone.

    As for a time limit, I think the only spoiler exemption is Harry Potter. Even if people haven’t read them, everyone in the world with access to Internet MUST know the big spoilers. Still, I do think it’s common courtesy to let people know there will be spoilers in your post.

    I think the main person who spoils books for me is my dad, because he is SO oblivious. I can’t think of any situation in which a specific spoiler completely ruined a book for me. More often it’s a general impression of a book – ACOTAR, for example. The reviews I read before the book ensured how I was going to feel about it myself. I must admit, I LOVE reading spoiler tags in blog posts (I resisted the urge in this one), even if I haven’t read the book. I don’t do it for books I really want to read, but if I’m iffy about a book, spoil away! I rarely end up reading the book after that, though.

    I think I probably do spoil books for people unintentionally, just by reading and talking about them so much. Obviously I would never do it on purpose, but I know it happens. A few months ago, I innocently mentioned something about there being a plot twist in particular book, not realizing it wasn’t something people had been talking about.

    My reading retention is so terrible that I will read blurbs 10 times before starting a book and STILL not remember what they say. I think that’s why it’s hard than average for me to be truly spoiled (unless it’s a death or something). It’s also why I can enjoy reading books over and over.

  • I hate spoilers. Like you, when I have spoilers in my reviews, I do the “highlight to read”.

    A BIG spoiler that happened to me last year was with Game of Thrones. I was reading it and talking with a friend who had read all the books. However they though I was further along than I actually was, so they mentioned a certain character death, which had not happened yet :/ It was a honest mistake, and those do happened, so no need to get upset about it. It’s when people think their being “funny” by spoiling shows and books on purpose… THAT’S what I hate.

    The Game of Thrones show does worry me a lot though. ASOIAF is my favorite series of all time, but I actually don’t like show! (Blasphemy, I know) Didn’t even get through three episodes. I bring this up because of that “it’s a big part of culture”. Granted the show and book maybe 100% different or only slightly – but it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to hear what happens. Say everything that happens in the show WON’T happens in the book. Good, right? No spoilers? Wrong. By me knowing something definitely won’t happen in the same as knowing it will.

    But, not knowing how much of the show will be like the book is just as bad too, because it will inevitably alter some theories or expectations that I already have or will have later on. I don’t mind hearing and seeking other people’s theories out, but only from those who are basing it on the book – who have the same story as me.

    But on other hand, if someone did mention a spoiler to me about what happens in the show – unless I mention I am a “book purist” and not to discuss around (which people get mad about when you tell them that) – I can’t get mad at them, because for the most part, I follow that unwritten culture rule too. I mean, does anybody not know who Luke’s father is? Does anyone not know about Dumbledore?

    When I do talk about show or movies or books, I try my best to recognize if I am about to spoil something, and stop and ask if they have seen or finished it yet. I don’t like to spoil and don’t want to spoil unless they want to.

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  • SAME. I hate spoilers SO MUCH. And like, I agree with you about them, and even the time limit to an extent. It’s so hard because I would never KNOWINGLY put a spoiler, no matter how old the book, but sometimes it’s almost like, a cultural reference in a sense? And I can’t *really* fault the person for writing it, even though it’s kind of spoilery? If that made any sense hahah. Basically, I am not mad if someone spoils Harry Potter, because I could have read it by now. BUT no one should ever even THINK of spoiling anything that’s even remotely recent. TV, movies, books, WHATEVER.

    And seriously, WHAT is with publishers/authors spoiling their OWN BOOKS with blurbs!? I have had that happen so many times. I stay away from them now too. Same with reviews. The worst part is, sometimes you can’t even like, LOOK at the Goodreads page for book info without some jerk’s spoiler front and center. I just wanted to see how many pages it was, and BAM, now I know the end. I need to read Queen of Shadows ASAP, because I have already been minorly spoiled :( Don’t want to make it worse!

  • I hate spoilers too, but I think sometimes it’s hard to quantify what a spoiler actually is. For me, it’s revealing a huge plot twist or the ending of the book, but for some people it can be a lot smaller than that (like simply knowing that there is a twist, for example), which is why I always really worry that my own reviews could be considered spoiler-y (not that that’s a word!) by some people.

  • I don’t like being spoiled, but I don’t hate it. At least, I’m not upset if I read spoilers in reviews or whatever, if I actually care about avoiding them then I don’t read reviews for that book. I have occasionally googled things to find out what’s happening, I am not a fan of reading the last page of a book (you never get enough detail for it to be worth it).

    I do get annoyed at people spoiling movies and TV for me. The phone team at work are always talking about movies and TV shows and some I haven’t caught up with yet and I continually get annoyed at them for talking so loudly about these things.

    I have accidentally spoiled books for people, like you, revealing things I thought were quite obvious, but no one else seemed to. It’s hard, though, because once you’ve finished a book and know what happens you can see the hints that came earlier in the book and so it does seem more obvious looking back than when you’re reading.

  • Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    I hate spoilers with a passion. I do my utter best to avoid them but sometimes they are just unavoidable. I got spoiled for a book on instagram once. Instagram! WHY? I’ll never understand why people choose to do that.

    And I sometimes avoid blurbs too! There is nothing worse than having read the synopsis and being 80% through a book and the thing you know will happen hasn’t happened yet -did that make sense? How hard can it be to keep two paragraphs spoiler-free? Seriously.

    I got spoiled on the ending of the Infernal Devices after reading the first book in 2013, and I haven’t picked the sequels up yet. Sometimes, I just feel like “what’s the point?” I already know what’ll happen anyway…

  • I completely agree with everything you’ve said here Kaja. I just don’t understand why people post spoilers either – there are so many other options and ways to get their emotions out of their systems without spoiling people who haven’t read the book – DMing, writing, etc – are all more productive ways to do that than simply spoiling everyone.

    Sometimes books are so reliant on twists at the end to really make them complete (lots of mysteries and thrillers come to mind), and sometimes, as a result, spoiling people can almost ruin the entire book.

    Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous discussion! <3

  • Oh I’m so with you – I hate spoilers!! I stayed off Goodreads the whole time I was reading Queen of Shadows as I just knew there would be spoilers in my feed. I went back after and looked – yeup there were!
    Like you, I really try not to include spoilers in my reviews. As a result some of my reviews are pretty short and basically say “just read this”.
    It really sucks that you were spoiled for Jane Eyre, especially in a seemingly unrelated post. I’m definitely going to keep that in mind in my future posts too, I’d hate to do that to someone.
    Unrelated, but I love that Jane Eyre cover! x

  • YES as someone who barely picks up a classic or read overly hyped books, I feel that people are very disrespectful/insensitive when it comes to spoilers. I would be so pissed if I was a GoT fan because of all the crazy spoiler GIF that appeared all over twitter within 1 week of the last episode’s release.

    Similarly, I already know endings to all the classic books and popular titles like TFIOS without actively searching, just because this is the internet and people can’t keep their thoughts to themselves. Avoiding spoilers for Queen of Shadows was like fricking warfare!

    OMG I use to have reading speed competition with my friends when a new HP book came out – and I would always gloat about my knowledge of the ending when I finish first. I was a terrible child.

  • Holly

    I HATE spoilers too. But man, it’s such a fine line, especially since we all have different ideas on what contains a spoiler. I read a discussion post once that came pretty close to what I think defines the word (sharing it, if that’s cool: http://www.therewerebooksinvolved.com/discussion-spoilers-do-you-seek-them-out/). I pretty much agree that, if it’s something that should be revealed IN the story in its own time, then it’s a spoiler if you mention it and don’t say anything. But should there be a time limit? I don’t know. How can you stop people from talking about books from so many years ago? It’s so hard, and you’re definitely allowed to feel angry about being spoiled for Jane Eyre. But I feel like it’s one of those things that just can’t be sidestepped (which doesn’t help, I know).

    This whole thing is actually why I stopped reading reviews of books I KNOW I’m going to read (even if it takes me 1+ years). I once read a review of a book that I, luckily, read beforehand. The person had spoiled the big twist without including a spoiler tag, without mentioning anything about it. And it made me wonder how many people stumbled upon that review, read the book, and realized everything had been ruined? Some people don’t care when they’re spoiled, but most do, especially if they don’t actively seek them out. So people REALLY need to be more careful.

    However, when it comes to TV shows, I don’t care about being spoiled. UNLESS IT’S THE 100 AND THEN I’LL FIGHT YOU. (ok I really won’t, but seriously, this is why I stay away from Twitter until I can watch the new episodes after everyone else has). I don’t actively seek them out, but if they happen (like with GoT), it doesn’t bug me. On the other hand, spoil a book and I’ll hate you forever. I feel like I already know so much about some popular series I haven’t read and it sucks, because now my reading experiences are going to be clouded by other opinions and the fact that I know things beforehand. But I can’t ask everyone to stop talking about them. That wouldn’t be fair. I guess I just need to hurry up and read them? Gah! So little time for all the books.

    Whoops, this got a bit long. Haha. Lovely post!!

  • Omg so I HAVE unintentionally spoiled something. BUT IT WASN’T MY FAULT. I was moaning and writing my review for Allegiant and my sister came and was reading over my shoulder. And I didn’t say “um, stop there are spoilers”…I JUST DIDN’T SAY IT AND I DON’T KNOW WHY. Least to say she saw spoilers. But then again, it’s not strictly my fault because she was reading over my shoulder. XD BUT STILL.

    I hate spoilers. HAAAAATE THEM. I had the end of The Maze Runner series spoiled for me. That’s like, STUPID. I get that everyone puts out spoilers for Harry Potter and TFIOS and The Hunger Games. It’s annoying if you haven’t read them but they ARE famous, so I’m willing to let that go. xD But not for obscure books or series!! IT’s JUST NOT FAIR. WAH.

    If a book gets spoiled for me, I don’t even feel like reading it anymore. :(

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

  • I don’t like spoilers at all either. I read blurbs for books I’ve discovered – but not for sequels in a series. I read reviews if I’m deciding whether to read a book or not – but I always skip over any plot summation and only read why they liked it or not. I actually try to find the negative reviews because “I loved it!!!” can be so subjective. “I didn’t like it because the plot was shallow or obvious or the writing was all description or…” are easier to weigh if that thing, whatever bothered the reviewer, would also bother me or not.

    Mostly, though, if I know I’ve already decided I’m going to read a book I won’t read any reviews until after. Because it’s not just that I don’t want to be spoiled – I don’t want someone else’s impressions of the book, someone else’s ideas of the heroine or the setting or the writing to color my own.

    I want to discover books and movies and tv shows myself. And then talk about them with other people.