Who’s responsible for YOU being spoiled? A discussion about book blogger choices.

Spoilers and I have a sordid history. Early in my book blogging career I found 3 bloggers discussing one of my reviews on twitter. According to the ringleader I had x amount of semi-major spoilers and x number of minor spoilers. Her message to me: I was to be avoided in the book community.

Since then I’ve worried over spoilers. I obviously had a very different view about what constitutes a spoiler. That review she criticized? Yeah when I re-read it to check, I didn’t find a single spoiler. To this day I don’t believe there was one. But what it taught me is there isn’t a finite definition of spoilers in the book community. It ranges according to what each individual book blogger believes.

Is that really a spoiler?!

I do believe if a reader chooses to read a review about a book then it stands to reason there are some topics that will be talked about. For example, love interests. I try really hard not to touch on anything to do with the romance in my reviews that I would consider shocking or unexpected. But I do talk about the love interest. That isn’t a spoiler!

But my discussion today isn’t to debate what a spoiler is or isn’t. Many wonderful book bloggers have written posts about spoilers, some in the last 6 months alone that touch on spoilers in profound ways. (If you want to link your spoiler discussion with your comment that would be excellent!)

I want to talk about book spoiler responsibility.

Back in October while I was in the midst of learning some terrible news about a loved one’s health and going in and out of the hospital with this person… I received a very nicely worded message on twitter from a lovely book blogger accusing me of spoiling them on Goodreads.

The message started out so apologetic that I was very shocked and surprised that I made this blunder and spoiled this book for this lovely person. As they started to explain I became quite confused. Apparently there is a small link on each book page in Goodreads that will show you all the status updates from recent readers of that particular book.

And if you choose to click on that link, horrible offenders, like me, may have included a spoiler in their status update. Irregardless of whether what I posted was really a spoiler or not…

Why the hell are you checking status updates about a book you haven’t read yet… but plan to soon?!

You’re so worried about being spoiled but you check out this obscure link where you know you’re getting updates from all of Goodreads and not just from your specially curated list of friends. What did you expect?!

Nevertheless I was truly sorry this book blogger felt spoiled. While I disagree that what I wrote were spoilers I know that what constitutes a spoiler is different for everyone. It didn’t change this person felt spoiled.

#1 – Are you reading about a book where there could be spoilers?

If the answer is yes, then you’re responsible for your spoiling! Places like reviews, Goodreads book pages, and book articles could have unintended or intended spoilers. (I don’t know who would include deliberate spoilers without a tag but you never know.)

Other places you choose to go that may have book spoilers is twitter and Instagram. I personally don’t have experience with this one…? But random messages from twitter aside, you curate who you follow. You can also choose to avoid twitter around the time of a major book release. On Instagram don’t click into pictures of books you’re anticipating.

The risk isn’t worth it. But remember you chose. No one is forcing you to look.

#2 – Don’t fret if you are spoiled; spoilers are about context.

Fred Weasley killed Professor Plum in the conservatory with a poisoned chocolate frog.

Yup, I’m mega pissed off! That is a major twist I never saw coming. I won’t be able to forget that little fact. It’ll haunt me the entire time I read the book. That is a spoiler. It has specific information with all the context you need to understand how it fits into the story.

I was shocked at who the murderer was, his method was too ingenious!

This isn’t a spoiler because it lacks enough facts to determine anything concrete. It’s totally the opinion of the reviewer. There is no context. And because there is no frame of reference it’s easily forgotten too. Read a couple other reviews and all you’ll end up remembering is that one reviewer seemed to enjoy the murder mystery. It may register with you strong enough for you to be intrigued as to whether you’ll be shocked too. But that is quite the gifted reviewer.

#3 – Try not to spoil others. But also remember it’s your review. It’s your status update.

Being consistent is the best service to others. If you don’t consider talking about the love interest as a spoiler then go for it. Those reading your reviews will pick up on what you write about. Own your opinion. You can’t please everyone without totally white washing your reviews. No one wants to read reviews that say nothing!

Any experiences with spoilers?

45 comments

  1. Spoilers are so tricky! I try not to write specific things that happened in the plot of a story, but I will talk about characters, their relationships, and my thoughts on the plot and ending. It’s hard pleasing everyone, and I agree with you that it’s most important to write about what you want. If you are worried about being spoiled in regards to a specific book, then, like you’ve stated, I think you should stay off of the internet until after you’ve read the story. I can’t believe people contacted you to complain about spoilers in your review! Wow, that would irritate me. Great discussion topic Dani!!!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • I like to hope we all try not to spoiler anyone. I’m so glad you agree about wanting to talk about relationships. I think that’s the most surprising to me when people call spoilers. Thanks Lindy! I so appreciate you sharing your perspective. ♥️

  2. That’s such a great discussion post, Dani! 🥰 I usually mark big spoilers, but especially information without any context (I’m often vague about certain aspects and discuss them as best as I can without revealing too much) will always come up in reviews. I also don’t mind when people say that a book contained a big plot twist, as this doesn’t tell me what exactly has happened.

    • There seems to be a differing of opinions about saying there are twists. Some think it’s a spoiler and some don’t. I’m with you on the don’t because I feel like most books are looking to have a twist. Thanks for sharing what you do Caro, I’m always curious about that. ♥️

  3. I dislike spoilers, but I also can’t believe you’ve had multiple people complain about or to you about spoilers, unless you’re out there plastering things like “Dumbledore dies” all over the Internet. 😉 I think what counts as a spoiler does vary among readers, and if someone really doesn’t want to know anything about a book at all, it is on them to not read reviews or status updates until they read the book. I agree it’s not possible to adequately discuss or review a book without saying SOMETHING specific about it that could give away part of the plot. Even things like, “I didn’t like the ending” can hint to me that the character dies if, say, it’s a book where the main character’s sister has cancer or something, so even “being vague” is not going to help readers avoid 100% percent of spoilers. In my reviews, I mark things that I think “most” people would consider a spoiler, but I certainly don’t mark everything or put spoiler warnings on every review.

    • Yeah spoilers have this muddy grey area where opinions differ and you can’t please everyone no matter how much you really want to. It’s like what you wrote about twists. I see your point of view, I really do. But I do talk twists at times in my reviews and don’t consider it a spoiler. I guess though it’s about context. Thanks for sharing your perspective Briana, I really appreciate you sharing.

  4. Your post gives me food for thought- as I tend to be spoilery in my reviews. I’ve been writing *spoiler alert* in more of my reviews, as I’ve been called out for it twice on Goodreads but never on WordPress.

  5. I feel like spoilers will always be a hot button topic in the bookish community. There’s no way you’re ever going to please everyone with how you structure and what you say in your reviews 🤷🏿‍♀️ Great post! I am one of those mentioned bloggers who have written posts about spoilers in book reviews, so if you want to see what I had to say, here’s the link 💕 https://bit.ly/35bJQZT

  6. Spoilers are definitely a big topic. I agree with a lot of what you say in this post. You can only spoil yourself if you willingly go out of your way to see read reviews on a book you haven’t read. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read a review if you’re uncertain about reading a book, but you definitely should be aware that the possibility of finding out even a small detail from the book does exist. I know you and many other bloggers make sure to keep spoilers from our reviews, but sometimes they slip through the cracks because we just don’t think they’re spoilers. It’s about perspective in the end. Great post, Dani! 😀

  7. 99.9% of the time, I accidentally spoil myself. I either click on reviews or I keep reading even after I realize that I should stop. On the bright side, I have a lousy memory and tend to be so far behind in my TBR that, by the time I get to the book I’ve spoiled myself on, I’ve forgotten the spoiler. Hahaha.

    On the flip side, a long-time friend of mind got on Facebook the other day and demanded no one spoil her on the new Star Wars movie. Um… IT IS THE BIGGEST THING GOING RIGHT NOW. If you don’t want to be spoiled, get off the internet. Not just social media either, all of it. LOL But then, I’ve known her for 35 years and haven’t ever known her to even be into Star Wars but… now that it’s hugely popular again, I guess she’s a fan. *shrugs*

    Anyway… while I’m sorry that some people feel that you’ve spoiled them, I also think it’s a bit much to call you out on that. It’s not life and death, move on.

    • Thank you Aymee! I think that is the most concise statement of the entire situation. We spoil ourselves. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t go where people might be talking about it. And if you are spoiled it’s okay, you’ll live. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻😁♥️ I’m feeling under the weather and totally appreciated your comment. It made my day.

  8. Hear hear! I agree strongly with all these points – especially #3. I was just thinking about this when I wrote my last review post. If I wrote about X, was that a spoiler? I have a friend who considers ANYTHING about a book (that’s not in the blurb) a spoiler. That’s frustrating. For my reviews, I only explicitly label ‘spoiler’ if I’m discussing something that I imagine the author wouldn’t have wanted you to know before you read that part, if that makes sense. That’s usually when I’m discussing what happened during the climax or conclusion. The point of having Goodreads/a book blog is to share my thoughts on what I’m reading…that will likely include ‘spoilers’!

  9. I agree that what constitutes a spoiler varies depending on the person. If I’m really looking forward to reading a book and know that I plan to read it, I usually don’t read peoples’ reviews. But if I’m hesitant about reading a book, knowing a little bit more about the book through other bloggers’ reviews can help me decide whether or not to read it.

  10. I always wonder what to include and not include in my reviews too, because some people are definitely more sensitive than others as to what constitutes a spoiler. Like I think I’ve said something along the lines of ‘I loved the twist’ before, and been told that saying there’s some kind of a twist is a spoiler. But personally I don’t feel like that’s a spoiler as long as I didn’t say what the twist was (but maybe I’m wrong?).
    It can be tough, but I think you’re totally right: it’s your review, and whilst you shouldn’t blatantly spoil huge reveals and how it ends etc., you can say what you want, and if someone chooses to read a review before reading a book they should know they are going to learn basic facts about the book characters and storylines. If you want to go into every book completely blind, you probably shouldn’t even look at any reviews until you’ve read it.
    Great post! 🙂

    • I have to agree with you about twists Laura! I don’t think saying there is one is a spoiler. Publishers use them all the time to hype up a book. In fact many genre authors focus on making sure theirbooks have twists. I’m glad I’m not the only who who sees talking about twists being okay! ♥️

      • I actually think saying “there is a plot twist” can be a spoiler because it leads the reader to “look for” the twist. Like, if I didn’t know there IS a twist, I might believe the villain is just the villain. If do know there’s a twist, suddenly it becomes obvious to me that the villain is actually the hero in disguise or whatever. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes there’s only really one thing that COULD be the major twist, and knowing it exists allows me to predict it. I will say that everyone saying “You’ll never guess the ending of We Were Liars!” 100% made me guess the ending of We Were Liars, when I probably would not have if I weren’t expecting it to be “something I wasn’t expecting.”

        That said, it is kind of hard to review a book and not mention there’s a twist, I guess.

      • I can see where if you specify what kind of twist it makes it really easy to spot. Like if you mention the end or the villain. But many times twists take other forms. And honestly what book isn’t seeking to have a twist? If you can guess the twist many times it’s not really that good of a twist. That happens to me all the time and I didn’t even know about the twist ahead of time.

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. 😉♥️😅

  11. I am sorry this happened to you. I agree, that your status updates are just that, your updates. They come out of context for people, who have not read the book, at least mine do. I had done a post about spoilers at one point, and what we figured out, as a group, is that there are blatant spoilers, like your example above, and things that are more subjective. It could be a spoiler for one person, but not another. I have read synopses with information I considered a spoiler once I read the book, but the information was not considered spoilery according to the person, who wrote the synopsis.

  12. I hadn’t considered that Goodreads readers would click from the review to the status updates if they were worried about spoilers. I mean… what’s the point of status updates if not to make comments about specific events that happen at a specific point in the book? AKA spoilers! Argh. That’s really frustrating.

  13. Wow, yeah, I’d have to agree that the person went out of their way to get to your updates. And then went out of their way to complain to you about it??? I guess it’s good that they were nice and apologetic about it.

    I basically try not to read reviews for books that I’m planning to read soon because sometimes I do end up feeling slightly spoiled when the reviewer obviously didn’t mean to be spoilery. For instance, if a blogger says, “Oh, and I was so blown away by that twist at the end,” I find myself guessing the twist (often correctly) and I sometimes wish I hadn’t read that. (However, you’re absolutely right that being spoiled in that sort of basic way doesn’t necessarily ruin the reading experience—sometimes it even enhances it because you’re left wondering how this thing happens.) But I would never blame the reviewer for something like that—it was my choice to read the review, and I expect that a reviewer will talk about stuff like that, at least in general terms.

  14. I skim some book reviews for books I highly anticipate to avoid spoilers, because I know they can happen. How else are you supposed to write a review? I try to avoid writing them, but it can be hard to become passionate and review the book properly without explaining what moved you.

  15. Lovely post Dani!
    Damn did that really happen? I feel like I was there at the time and definately heard about that twitter drama… while having absolutely forgotten about that. Your reviews are honestly one of my favorites and you’re one of thoses bloggers I can really trust!

    Ohh how i’m guilty of that one 😂 leaving spoilers or quotes in my GR updates.. mostly to remember them when doing my review or just, i don’t even know — I guess I don’t think people read thoses? People seems to react to spoiling like one would in retail; you went in a place, on purpose, that could hold spoilers… and yet you are pissed.. eh?! 🤔 I don’t understand that one.

    I personally don’t care one bit about them..thus me overthinking of *what* is or isn’t one 🙊 I do try my best, but some may slip me once in a while

Let's talk in the comments...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.