Going In Blind AKA The Most Beautiful Gift In Reading

You know what one of my favorite things in the world is?

Picking up a book that you don’t really know that much about — maybe you got a recommendation from a friend or just saw it around a lot but you really didn’t read the description or know much about it — and your mind being ABSOLUTELY BLOWN.

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That’s happened a few times this year and two of these books ended up on my favorites of 2012.

1) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. My dear friend Anna texted me and said READ THIS BOOK and so I did. I literally, in full definition of that word, had NO IDEA what that book was about. It could have been about flying monkeys flinging their poop at humans and I would have not even known. I just found myself so blown away by this book truly.
2) The other book this happened with was Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I picked it up on a whim after getting it for review and obviously knew it was some sort of Peter Pan retelling but that’s about all I knew about it. I had heard a few murmurings of it and just figured it was a fun retelling. I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into and that this book would have all the FEELS.

There’s been countless other times this has been the case but I just wanted to use these two as examples as they made it on my best of list.

I will be honest — there are sometimes Iย  honestlyย don’t read the description of books but just pick it up because of other people saying how good it is. I may know what genre it is but that’s about it. I do it A LOT. I love going in blind sometimes. (Obviously there are some times that it hurts you and you are like hmmm maybe I should have read the description to know it was about paint drying?)

It’s so refreshing to go into a book with NO expectations whatsoever sometimes. To enter into this story or meet characters that just blow your mind and you have no standard to which you expect to emote, fall in love with the characters, or race through the story. Going in blind and having your emotions unattached to anyone’s opinion. Not expecting Best Book Of The Century like so many people are saying or Book That Will Keep Kleenex in business — because sometimes all that KNOWLEDGE gets in the way. Ever had that happen? Read a book that was highly hyped (urm hello Hype Monster) or just even had a few positive RAVES from people you knew telling you how strongly they felt and then just NOT. FEEL. ANYTHING. to that magnitude? I hate when that happens!

Don’t get me wrong — I love reading about books and what you all think and you all have SAVED me a million times from reading a book I know I wouldn’t have loved or turned me on to a book I would have never picked up and it turns out to be a favorite. And obviously, I do read descriptions most of the time so I can know which books to add to my TBR list. But I have to say I’m so thankful for some of those more unexpected books that I went in blind with and came out with a truly amazing experience.

Let’s Chat: What books have you gone in truly blind with and it blew you away? As someone who frequently ignores descriptions, I’m curious if you ever pick up a book without reading the description? Have you ever had the experience where you thought you were going to FEEL ALL THE FEELS or be blown away by how different it was because everyone kept telling you but you never quite hit that place? Possibly because you knew too much going in?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I don’t remember ever going in completely blind, but often I’ll read the description, put it on my TBR, and then read the book much later without reminding myself what it’s about. I do sort of like that sometimes, when I don’t know at all what is coming.

    And then there are also books where the description only vaguely tells you what it’s about. I recently read Gone with the Wind, knowing it was about the South during the Civil War, with two characters named Scarlett and Rhett, and that was it. And, yeah, it sort of blew me away.

  2. This is SO true — sometimes it’s better to have no expectations, rather than reading a million five star reviews, and then being so disappointed you can barely finish the book. My “Going in Blind” book over the past year was Brodi Ashton’s Everneath. All I knew about the book going in was that it was some type of mythology re-telling, but I ended up being really impressed by the book.

  3. I never go into book without knowing what to expect, I always read the blurb because I like to get a feel for what the book is about but going in blind definitely sounds like it has its upsides, especially with how many times I’ve been let down and disappointed after having such expectations for a book! The thing is, I know most books so even if somebody rec’d me a book I’d probably already have an idea of what it was about. I might look into this though but it would have to be recommended to me by someone’s taste who is simialr to mine otherwise it could end in disaster mode ;D

  4. I avoid blurbs for this reason. For most of my reviews, copying and pasting the Goodreads synopsis for my review is the first time I’ve read the blurb. And also why I tend to skim reviews for books I haven’t read but am planning to.

    Usually I’m like “oooo, that person likes it!” “ooo, that has an awesome cover!” and then I borrow it.A brief mention is all it takes for me to pick up a book. I picked up Mystic City because Christina over at Reader of Fictions had it in her book haul vlog and I was like “OOOO!! SHINY COVER! I WANT IT.” I am so superficial, I know. I also did that with Lost Girl (Christina had a giveaway where she would buy herself and the giveaway a book from her list of TBR books–or something like that, and The Lost Girl was chosen, thus it showed up in her book haul vlog.) No idea what it was about, but it had a spiffy cover. So I picked it up, didn’t have any expectations (because I stopped hearing buzz for it after the book was released,) but it blew my mind.
    I think Christina has no idea her vlogs influence my book selection more than her reviews. lalalalalala

    But then, of course I’m not blind to hype. And I’ve had my share of disappointing moments because of it. Which includes me hiding under a pillow wondering why I didn’t “get it.” I’m looking at you, Insurgent and Delirium. I’ve gradually accepted that hype is something that publishers create, and with good PR, any book can be turned into the best thing ever.

    And when I do “accidentally” know more than a book than I want to…I try to forget it. Which often entails be waiting an uber long time before picking it up.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

  5. Yes it’s so much better to read a book if you have no expectations and don’t really know all that much about it. But, it’s also so easy for me to ‘check GoodReads real quick’ before deciding if I want to buy a particular book. I shouldn’t do that so much because some of the books I loved where books I just bought on a whim.
    Something I do is that whenever I read a synopsis for a book that has yet to be published and I’m VERY excited for it, I put it on my to buy list and I cannot look at the synopsis again. This way, there are a lot of books I’m excited for in 2013 but what I know about them is very vague! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I just did this when I read The DUFF. It had been on my TBR list for a long time, just because I really enjoyed one of Kody Keplinger’s other books (Shut Out), but I realized when I started reading it that I didn’t have any idea what it was about. I loved it, and I think I was better off having no idea what to expect from it.

  7. YES. I do this as much as possible. A lot of my reviews start with me saying “for some reason I thought this book would be about X, because of the cover, but it wasn’t. Guess who didn’t read the blurb!” I like having no idea what my books are going to be about. I’m doing that now with The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. I know everyone loves it, but I have no idea what happens. I now know there’s an airport!

    Going in blind, I have no preconceived notions of what the book should be, and that frees me to enjoy it for what it is. A good example of how that can poison a book: Giselle and I both read Renegade blind, but Jenni read it having seen our reviews for it, and she didn’t get what she thought she would based on our reactions. Sometimes it just happens that way.

    It’s really difficult to go in blind. That is one nice thing about reading ARCs really early, though the downside is that if you hate the book, you’ll get a lot of attention for your review, since it’s the first one posted.

  8. Doesn’t happen often with me. I’m a bookseller, so almost everything I request to read is because I thought it sounded good or because I thought it was a book I could probably sell if I read it. But this year I read a book called The Dinner, to be published by Hogarth in 2013, and it was translated from the Dutch. It wasn’t even up on Goodreads yet when I started it. But what from the first chapter seemed to be a pleasant and light tale of bougie people turned out to be dark and twisted and utterly fascinating.

  9. I love going in blind! I love hearing what other people think of a book, but a lot of times I’m much less disappointed when I don’t have any expectations for the book. This JUST happened to me with Under the Never Sky. I had absolutely no clue what it was about, and though I was a little thrown off at the beginning because I was so confused, I ended up absolutely loving it!

  10. Before I was a book blogger, I used to do this a lot – kind of pick up a book in the bookstore and see what would happen. It also helps that I used to live above a major bookstore, so I would treat it like my library – I would pick something up, take it upstairs, read for awhile, and if I didn’t like it, back to the bookstore it went.

    The biggest books where I got the FEELS and the OMGs were Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes – that book made me fall in love with YA again. And then I picked up Ann Brashares’ Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and pretty much died.

    My latest blind read was Anna and the French Kiss. I knew nothing about it, someone recommended it, and I was like, “OMG, my heart is squeezing!” Sadly, I haven’t had this experience in awhile – I’m a lot more picky about my books now because sometimes, I get sent stuff for review and I don’t end up liking it. Then all I want to do is curl up with a book I *do* like.

    I do miss it, though. But I think a big part of the “gift” of a blind read is not knowing when it’s going to turn up next, and that it doesn’t happen often – if it did, I wouldn’t cherish it so much! =P

  11. I love going in blind, but I’m so obsessed with reading about books and I devour the goodreads newsletters, I am not afforded the opportunity very often. I started a bookshelf on goodreads called “Random Library Find” for this purpose. One book I just picked up that I LOVED was the YA dystopian book, Birthmarked. Highly recommend it!!

  12. I love that feeling to! This happened to me with Siren by Tricia Rayburn–one of the most underrated YA books ever.

  13. Yes!!! I actually try to go in blind on ALL of my reads (as much as I can). I never read any book jackets because even there or in Goodreads descriptions, sometimes there are stupid little spoilers that take away the exciting anticipation of certain events.
    Reading The Sea of Tranquility was amazing. I had no idea what it was about and what I was getting myself into (in a good way) and I was blown away!!!
    See also: Sweet Evil, Just One Day, Meant To Be, If I Stay, The Sky Is Everywhere

  14. Melissa @Harley Bear Book Blog says:

    For me it was Under the Never Sky, Divergent, and Shatter Me. I liked the covers and didn’t even read the descriptions really. I was sooo blown away and was so happy I read them! I agree that’s the best feeling in the world when you find a good book by accident. I love goodreads bc getting reccomendations from others is awesome. great post!

  15. Revived by Cat Patrick is the number one case where I was able to simply only SEE THE COVER and read the book. That was it. I will now read everything Cat Patrick because of how original this story was. It was truly great, and like you said.. it was wonderful not having any expectations. Another one this happened to me with was Evolution of Mara Dyer – I had heard ::omg Noah Shaw!:: other than that.. I skipped all the reviews and just READ the book. AND MY MIND WAS BLOWN. Michelle Hodkin is amazing.

  16. Crystal Lynn Kamm says:

    I completely agree that jumping into a book without expectations has the potential of being rewarding, and more than that, I love taking recommendations! I hate sitting there staring at the library shelf or at the Kindle book store TRYING to figure out what to read next. I just want to read something GOOD. Thank you for these recommendations, and I will definitely check them out!

    The books that I went into blind were “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield, “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” by David Wroblewski, and “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand. No idea what they were about, and yes, MIND BLOWN. Especially by the latter.

  17. It’s definitely rare where I go into a book completely blind as to what it’s about. I’m a “shelfer” I have them for all kinds of stuff in my goodreads so when I add something I immediately read the blurb and then categorize it so that I can find it easier.

    I have to say that all the good things I’ve heard about Tiger Lily is changing my mind – I read the summary on it and someone mentioned the Peter Pan retelling and I kind of shrugged and said nah… but it’s getting so much love that I might just have to go back and pick it up.

    I think the last books that I kind of went in sort of blind – in that I didn’t skim reviews and none of my friends had read them were My Life Next Door and The Sea of Tranquility.. both of which made my top 10 of 2012 this year. BUT I find that when I pick up super hyped books I am very often disappointed because I’ve heard so much good about them and then I’m just not as crazy about them (See The Edge of Never LOL) I personally try not to read full reviews before going into a book simply because I don’t want any kind of influence on my opinion.

    Great post!! Happy Wednesday!
    xo
    jaime @ Fic Fare

  18. Going in blind is one of the greatest feelings. It really conjures up all those emotions I had as a kid, that books presented a new and different and exciting world that I was the first person to step foot on. And I’m so glad I haven’t lost the ability to feel that way. That moment of serendipitous discovery has happened to me twice this year:

    #1. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: It was recommended by a friend who had an ARC, so I read it before there was much on Goodreads or anywhere. I didn’t expect it to be hilarious. And then, because it was hilarious, I didn’t expect to be heartbroken at the end.

    #2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: In my review of this book, I state that I think it was mismarketed. It’s not a book about books, or bookstores, or someone named Mr. Penumbra. It’s about technology and the tension between the old guard and the new – which is a fence I straddle in my daily work as a digital scholarship librarian. I had heard the hype, but not really read a synopsis, so I was prepared to like it – but not as much as I did in the end.

    I’m so glad that there are so many comments here – serendipity for everyone!

  19. I’m kind of spoiler-phobic so I created my own feature called Blind Reads, where I just go into the library and pick a book solely based on the cover, and read it! I’ve only done it once so far but I hope to do it often! Here’s the link to my feature: Blind Reads. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. I have to know what a book is about before I read it, but I know so many people that hate doing that. Maybe it’s just a personality type. I am a planner, so I like to know what to expect.

  21. My most recent reads I’ve read completely blindly were based exclusively on the fact that I loved their covers and have this strong urge to support interesting and unique cover designs (we’ve all got to have our principles, you know): Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (loved it!) and, like you, For Darkness Shows the Stars (loved it!). Unfortunately, the “ooh! pretty cover!” strategy doesn’t usually pan out that well, but I keep trying it anyway.

  22. I rarely read the blurbs on a book and I rarely read reviews before hand. If I do I just read the first initial thoughts and that’s it. I hate spoilers and would much rather go in blind. I just need a few basic ideas to see if it is up my alley. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. I’ll be honest, going in blind really scares me. I don’t like reading spoilers, but I always read the back of the book or the Goodreads blurb. The only time I can remember going into a book blind was when I picked up The Night Circus. I was at my school library and it was up on full display and obviously it caught my eye (you’ve seen the cover of the hardback, right?!) so I picked it up. I was about to open it to read the inside cover description when the librarian said to me “Oh, that one is amazing. You will love it!”. By this point I had been in the library and seen her many times over the past few months so I figured I could take her word for it. I checked it out, sat and started reading it (without ever looking at the blurb) and absolutely fell in love. I read the blurb afterwards and likely still would have read the book had I seen that first, but it was a nice surprise.
    Okay, looking back, maybe I should try going in blind more often… Thanks, Jamie! ๐Ÿ˜›

  24. I completely agree. When I start reading a book I don’t really know anything about, and it ends up being amazing, it is such an amazing feeling.

    One book that I fell in love with, but really didn’t know much about this year was Pushing the Limits. I know it has since gotten a lot of hype, but I read it months before it was released, and way before reviews started showing up. I received the book from netgalley.

    Anyway, I just requested it because I liked the cover, and, although I did read the description, I wasn’t sure if this book was for me. I thought it might be a little too soap-opera-y for me. But I ending up loving it.

    I tend to rate books a lot on what I am expecting from it. Not on what other reviewers have said, but if I read a description and am expecting a certain type of book, and then I feel that it wasn’t delivered, that really frustrated me. It sort of feels like false advertising, you know? But going into a book with no expectations is awesome! Especially when that book is AMAZING.

  25. ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of my all-time favorite novels have been books I knew nothing about, save the title and an extremely vague idea as to the plot. Having a book surprise me like that is such a wonderful feeling.

    Lately I’ve come to prefer going into books blind. There’s just too much hype surrounding certain titles/authors/whole genres and I’ve been horribly let down in the past.

  26. My favourite book this year was The Art of Fielding, which I picked up on a whim at the library after reading a short review of it in the paper. I was in the middle of uni assignments at the time and told myself there was no point in even borrowing it because it was so big and I wouldn’t have the time to finish it anyway, but I’m so glad I borrowed it anyway because I adored it. I got so caught up in that world and the characters’ lives, I read it in a day or two.

  27. Oh no, I LOVE a good blurb! I’m a bit of a control freak like that. I also refuse to watch a movie unless I’ve read a bit of what it’s about. My boyfriend, in contrast, will say, “It has this-and-this actor” or “it’s by so-and-so author” and watch/read it regardless.
    I did read Daughter of Smoke and Bone without having a clue what it was about, but in general I do prefer having an idea what I’m diving into.

  28. It was kind of the same for me with For Darkness Shows the Stars. I knew it was based off a classic by Jane Austen, but I’d forgotten how the story went, so it felt like I was rediscovering it as I read. I was also surprised by Tiger Lily because the only Peter Pan I knew was the Disney version, and you know how Disney changes things up! One really big one that I was surprised with though was Hemlock. I had an inkling of what it was going to be about, but I didn’t realize just how awesome it was going to be until I was a couple chapters in and hooked on it ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. I love going in blind and I try to do so as much as possible. I try not to read reviews of books that are already on my TBR. Usually it’s a matter of “oh this book had fairies (or whatever)? I want to read it!” and I don’t bother to learn anymore after I’m originally hooked in. A similar thing happens with covers I love or recommendations from trusted places.

    Some books that I have gone into blind and loved were Something Strange and Deadly, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen

  30. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING TO ME. Remember that next time ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. I usually, but not always, read the blurb on the book, or at least try to find out where in a genre a book is. For example, I love fantasy, but I’m not into the whole vampire and zombie craze. So I really like to know ahead of time what sort of story I’m getting into. But I try to never read other people’s reviews. I’ll take recommendations, but I try not read what other people have to say on sites like Goodreads. I know that everyone has different tastes, and they might love things that I hate and vice-versa.

    Two books that I loved that I went into blind were Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones and Paper Towns by John Green. I read both because they were recommended to me, and I really had no idea what they’d be about. And they both turned out awesome! Another book that I read with only a vague idea of what it was about was Lord of the Rings. I’d read The Hobbit so I knew about Middle-Earth and hobbits and Gandalf, but I didn’t know anything else about LotR except that they were making a movie trilogy. I decided to start reading it before seeing the movie, and it is now my all-time favorite book!

  32. So true! This recently happened to me with The Sky Is Everywhere. I didn’t recognize the title, and the cover my library had was different than the blue/heart one I had seen several people mention. I just thought it sounded pretty good and dove right in, only to be BLOWN AWAY.

    As for your other question, I never, ever pick up a book without reading the description first unless it’s an author whom I frequently read and love.

  33. I LOVE going into a book blind. Before I became aware of the world of reviewing and book blogging, before I made so many friends who had opinions on books, I would pick things up based on (a) how the covers looked or (b) what the title/cover made me think it was about. Sometimes, this worked out not-so-well, and I ended up regretting it. But most of the time, I ended up meeting characters and traveling into worlds that were absolutely AMAZING and UNIQUE and AWESOME.

    Though, like you, I appreciate getting opinions from other people and sidestepping books I may not necessarily like, there’s definitely still an amazing joy to be found into going into a book completely blind.

    (P.S. I am reading Tiger Lily soon (ish) because I got it as a gift!)

    (P.P.S. This may be my favorite discussion/opinion post you had this year.)

  34. I can’t remember the last book I did this with, but I totally know what you’re talking about. Sometimes I hear that a book is good or I know it’s dystopian so I’ll probably like it or it’s an author I already know I like and I don’t really bother with the description because I’d rather be surprised. It works pretty well sometimes ๐Ÿ˜€

  35. Blood Red Road by Moira Young. I just don’t like that cover and I thought it would be a weird story but I’m glad I was wrong.
    And I hate blurbs because for some reason I just don’t want to know anything about the book before reading it.

  36. I LOVE books like this! The Gemma Doyle series was like this for me–I wasn’t a book blogger back then; I just went to Borders, fell in love with the title (A Great and Terrible Beauty) and cover and took it home and LOVED it. And then shared it with my friends. There’s so much pleasure in being happily surprised by a book!

  37. I do this with just about every book. I love going in blind. Although there have been a few books where I am like, “blah, does this get any better?” haha

Trackbacks

  1. […] The catalog labels this as science fiction and the description sounds ripe with creatures and some sort of journey or quest. It doesn’t really give much beyond that but I kind of like that — you know, sort of like going in blind. […]

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  6. […] Going in Blind @ The Perpetual Page-Turner […]