Let’s Talk About Spoilers

spoiler warningSpoilers. I hate them. Perhaps it’s because I love mysteries so much, and spoilers for mysteries are especially ruinous to my enjoyment of the book, but I get so frustrated by knowing too much about a book before I read it.

But where do you draw the line?

When I wrote my review of Sense and Sensibility, I included some plot details that are spoilers, but related to my thoughts on the book. Because I do try to be so cautious about it, I marked them as spoilers so anyone who hasn’t read the book can skip that part.

And yet, I felt a tiny bit silly marking a spoiler for a book that’s been published for over 200 years. I’d never read any Austen and still much of the plot was familiar to me – cultural osmosis? Had I heard people talking about it before and not even realized it? Was it really necessary to give a spoiler warning or was I being overly cautious?

What about other classics – I read Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery last week, and knew the solution even though I’d never read the book. Did I read about it somewhere? Hear it mentioned? Or did I just manage to figure it out? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m not going to risk spoiling it for someone else by posting whodunnit.

What are your thoughts on spoilers? Are there time-limits where of course they should be observed, and time-limits where anything goes? Does it matter the book’s genre? Does it matter where in the book the spoiler is located? First half and it’s ok to spill it; last quarter is out-of-bounds?

My feelings? Genre matters. Mysteries, no matter how long ago they were published, should always come with a spoiler warning. If what you’re possibly spoiling is essential to the plot, slap a warning on it if you’ve just gotta share it. Especially if it happens in the last part of the book – let people decide for themselves if they want to know in advance. If it happens in the first few chapters? Share away. Otherwise, proceed with caution. And lots of spoiler warnings.

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  1. Mysteries should definitely have spoiler warnings! Sometimes knowing who did it really does spoil me for wanting to keep reading. But other genres, I think, would be okay without warnings. Like classics, or historical novels. Genres that don’t rely on suspense to keep the story going.

    • In many ways I think mysteries shouldn’t even rely on spoiler warnings – don’t share the ending! But if for some reason you have to, give huge spoiler notifications and lots of blank space. Maybe make it a click through, something so people can’t inadvertently read the spoiler.

  2. Spoilers in a book review are nice at times so that you know what you might be getting yourself into and I only click on those reviews when they say spoiler if I’m really uncertain about the book. Spoiler people though — Aargh! I hate when people tell me more than I want to know (like the whole book!)!

    • There are times when I’ve gone looking for more in-depth info on a book I’m considering reading, so I know what you’re talking about there!

      I’m fortunate – none of my reading friends overshare when they talk about books with me, so that I’m left feeling like there’s no need to read the book at all. That would drive me CRAZY!!

  3. I don’t like hearing anything passed the halfway point. I want to be surprised!

    • That seems like a pretty safe guideline to follow – it’s unlikely that revealing anything from the first half of the book would be that detrimental to enjoying the entire book. 🙂


  1. […] Last month I posted about spoilers, and when was something fair game to share, and when it should be kept quiet so you don’t spoil the book for new readers. […]

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