How Do YOU Define A Spoiler?

You all know that spoiling a book is one of the ways you can piss me off as a reader but I don’t want to talk about that today. I want to talk about WHAT CONSTITUTES A SPOILER.

There are obvious spoilers. We all know them. We all have experienced them (probably). Hopefully we’ve all tried really hard not to drop them on unsuspecting people. Accidents happen though….says the girl who accidentally spoiled something for a friend. Careless spoilers or intentional ones to be a jerk though…just stop.

But let’s talk about some areas where I feel like people are divided…mmmkay?

Is it a spoiler if the book has been out for YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS or is so super popular and a part of pop culture?

Harry Potter. Twilight. Pride & Prejudice. Game of Thrones. I know, as someone who has never read Harry Potter (okay I read the first one), that spoilers abound like CRAZY and I have to be really careful to avoid them. On one hand I’m like WELL self…it’s been so long and it’s like only the most popular piece of literature EVER so kind of my fault? But on the other hand I’m still a little sad that I have to shield my eyes always. I haven’t been spoiled TOO much but I’ve been REALLY careful. And really, there are always new readers for every book so it kind of stinks if you discover it late or if you are younger and are discovering it for the first time.

Is it a spoiler if it alludes to a plot twist or some sort of mind-blowing reveal that might happen?

Okay, this one is a sensitive topic for me because it happens so often but I really do kind of count it as a spoiler. So, I read a book like way before it came out. There was a HUGE twist. I did not know this because LITERALLY nobody had read it except like authors and publicists. My mind was blown. When it came to talking about the book, I was really careful not to say OMG THERE WAS A HUGE TWIST but, as the book got in the hands of more people, others DID point this out. And then a lot of people went into it looking for that — knowing that something that completely changes the game happens. I don’t know if it’s a “spoiler” per se but I kind of see it as spoiling the reading experience in a way. I know many people were looking for something huge and explosive and that tainted their reading experience as opposed to mine which was one where I was completely blind to anything.

Can shelving the genre on Goodreads/talking about genre be a spoiler in some cases?

Okay I have two example of what I mean.

1. Once, before I started a book, I accidentally glanced at the shelving when I was on its page and saw it labelled as LGBT. That wasn’t something that was in the summary and as I read I realized that it was kind of supposed to be something that was gradually revealed about two characters relationships and it didn’t SPOIL it but it kind of did? I knew their friendship had another element as things were revealed.

2. I was reading a book that I thought was contemporary and I saw that it was marked “paranormal” on Goodreads and at first I thought, “Dummies!” but then I was like, “Oh…maybe it changes and there is a twist.” And sure enough the big twist was a paranormal one that I wouldn’t have even have HAD in my mind if I hadn’t seen the shelving for it.



lets-talkI’m all over the place. On one hand, I do see these things as spoiler-y in nature but I don’t know. Things like shelving the books are things maybe I can just not look at?  I’d love to know what you think about each “grey area” that I brought up! Do you see any of them as spoilers or no? What are some other “grey areas” when it comes to spoilers? Do you have any “spoiler” rules (ie. what constitutes a spoiler for you when you talk about books)? How do YOU avoid spoilers? Have you ever been spoiled but the person didn’t think it was a spoiler?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I’m VERY careful to leave out spoilers in my reviews, but if I do write about one, I’ll warn people before they start reading. And I’m also very careful about steering clear of spoilers. I actually don’t read reviews before starting the books, because I like going in blind (and staying away from possible spoilers–because some people don’t know when they write one!). Reviews for series enders like Ignite Me and Ruin and Rising are ones that I stay far, far away from.

    The second one, though! Agree so hard! I’m a reader who looks for the twists when I know a book has one, so I hate it when a book’s synopsis tells me there is one! Or people talk about it. I understand because it’s so hard not to, and it’s not like they’re actually spoiling anything. But it’s easy for that to ruin my reading experience.

    Holly @ Part of that World

    • Yes I think spoiler warnings are crucial in reviews! Sometimes it’s so hard NOT to talk about the spoilers and I get that but I always appreciate a warning (and that’s how I approach them…even if it might not be 100% sure if it is a spoiler I still try to say OKAY BABY SPOILER SORT OF haha)

      I typically l dont’ read full reviews of books I am wanting to read either just maybe little final thoughts or something or the rating. That’s why I have my post-it note review and my final thoughts for others who want to get the gist but don’t want details! And omg I STAY SO FAR AWAY from spoilers for major endings. Like I won’t even go on Goodreads if something just came out.

      Yes the twists one is hard because on one hand it’s your reaction like OMG I WAS BLOWN AWAY. I didn’t see the THING coming but on the other hand it ruins it in ways. Like the book I mention above definitely had a different vibe that made me not think there was going to be a shock-y twist.

  2. I love this post, because I try so hard to avoid spoiling books for people! I definitely identify with the first example … In the past few years I’ve found myself waiting for entire series to be published before I start reading them (Graceling Trilogy, Grisha, etc) so it’s really hard to miss spoilers if the first 2 books have been out for years. I understand people wanting to talk specifics, but if I need to do that I try to use direct messages or email.

    &&I think you make a really good point with your second example. Two books immediately come to mind: one I have told people there’s a bit of a twist (and I’m sort of rethinking doing that in the future) & the other I always try to be as vague as possible because it’s just so much better if you go in without looking for the clues along the way.

    How do you feel about status updates? That’s one that has gotten me numerous times. I scroll through the Goodreads updates and see someone saying they’re on page something out of something with an update similar to, “I can’t believe Lindsey died and Bob got framed!” and I’m thinking “WHY ON THIS GREEN EARTH WOULD YOU DO THAT?”

    Great post, Jamie!

    • Yes, that’s one thing that bothers me about Twitter is sometimes conversations get very spoilery. I mean, if I follow both people it comes up on my feed without me having control over that! Take it to DM is best if it’s getting specific!

      It’s so hard with the twists because that’s the thing we naturally want to talk about because sometime that’s what elevated the book for people. I struggle with this so much! I try to think about if it will ruin the impact of the book. Like was it alluded to in the summary? Is it obvious there is a twist? But if I think that a lot of the book hinges on the carefully calculated and revealed twist then I try to be quiet.

      OOH status updates omg yes. I’ve had people be very specific in their status updates and I unexpectedly scroll by it. GAH. I’m with you..THAT IS A MAJOR THUMBS DOWN TO ME!

  3. I am really persnickety in regards to spoilers.

    One thing that i really see as a spoiler, and you kind of touched on it when you mentioned twists is reaction. I just posted a review today and whited out my reaction because I see them as spoilers. If I go into a book that in no way looks sad, and then someone says: OHMYGOD I CRIED SO MUCH IN THIS BOOK … then it is spoiled for me. Especially since it takes a very special book to make me cry. So then I’ll be going into the book expecting something sad (that will probably not make me cry), and yeah. I feel crap because it was spoiled. So there’s a kind of odd thing to count as a spoiler, but I think it’s legitimate because it influences the way I read a book and it also tells me that *something* happens to make the reader laugh/cry/gasp in shock.

    I definitely think shelving on Goodreads could be a spoiler, but I tend not to look at shelves, so this particular form of spoilery has never happened to me.

    As for books that are old and popular – I think of it as my fault. I’ve only read the first two Harry Potter books but I know how they end. When a series is THAT BIG I don’t think there is any real way to escape the spoiler, unfortunately.

    • That’s a really interesting thought! Thanks for sharing that! It’s hard because we so much want to share our opinions and reactions (especially bc those reactions and emotions sometimes are what makes a book AMAZING for us). Especially because I am SUCH an emotional reader…so I tend to share those “OMG THAT GUTTED ME/I CRIED SO HARD” kinds of things. But I agree with you…on the surface it doesn’t seem like a spoiler but definitely a legitimate thing that can influence how you go into the book. Now I’m curious how I’ve handled it/if I’ve spoiled. I think I’m pretty good about if it’s, like you said, something that doesn’t seem like a sad book but there’s something in there that is surprising..I try not to be specific. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind for me as an emotional reader to make sure those emotions over a twist don’t get out of control and spoil. Hard balance though between just sharing your thoughts and emotions and potentially spoiling. SIGH. BOOK LIFE IS SO HARD BUT SO EXCELLENT.

  4. It’s hard to draw the line between informing people and spoiling them. Especially with the shelving system in Goodreads. Some people really don’t enjoy LGBT books, and I feel like I should warn them about it in some way, but it might be a spoiler for the story. This also often happens with books about mental ilness, which are often not about the thing they first appear to be.

    With th popular pop culture references I’m probably quite guilty of being careless with spoilers, especially woith Harry Potter. Everyone I know grew up with these books, so I kind of assume that people either read them, or didn’t read them and aren’t planning to. Game of Thrones spoilers annoy me to no end though, since people often talk about yesterday’s episode. I sometimes have to plug my ears in public.

    It’s hard to know what exactly makes a spoiler. My teachers constantly spoil the plots of classic novels and I’m like BUT I WANTED TO READ THAT

    • Sandy S. says:

      You made some great points about shelving in Goodreads. I totally agree with your comments about LGBT books and mental illness books. I use those shelving labels in Goodreads also and I realize that they may be a spoiler but they are also to prevent any reader who might not like those genres not to invest their time into a book they might not enjoy.

      • Yeah, especially because I’ve seen many 1- and 2-star reviews stating things like “this wasn’t what I was expecting” or “I didn’t know it would be a contemporary/paranormal/LBGT/whatever”. I think genre tags might be a bit spoilerish, but they are necessary. As long was we don’t make “main-character-dies-at-the-end” shelves it should be okay

    • Yes it is SUCH a hard line — because on one hand I need to be able to relay what is so great about a book but then the spoiler lines are so hard to decide sometimes. And YESSS the mental illness that one can be SUCH a spoiler if we aren’t supposed to know that initially. It’s hard, because like you said, there are some people who might not want to read about these things so what do we do. Also, I’ve found that sometimes there might be a sexual assault that isn’t part of the summary but it’s like do I put a trigger warning or is that spoiling it? SIGH.

      Ah and that would annoy me in your class if I wanted to read the particular book!!

      • Ahh yes, sexual assault is a hard one. So are other kinds of abuse – I usually do put warnings in my reviews about that, because not everyone can handle those kinds of scenes. I for example can’t stand scenes with animal abuse, and I’m VERY glad when someone mentions it in a review so I know what to expect.

        I think just flagging sexual assault or physical abuse isn’t very spoilerish, as long as you don’t mention the what, the who and the where. A simple “this book deals with A, B and C” is usually enough and doesn’t say much about the story itself. Then again, other people might feel differently about that.

  5. I think giving away a big plot twist is a a spoiler. I don’t shelve my books on Goodreads by genre just in case I could spoil it and in reviews I will put a notice if my review may contain spoilers because people have different ideas on what a spoiler is. The most recent book that I read that I think was handled so well was We Were Liars. It got tons of buzz and made me enthusiastic to read it without cony anything away. I wish more books coul be hyped up this way.

    • Yeah, that’s always my plan. Put that there COULD be a spoiler/some people may view something as a spoiler and let them do with that what they want.


      See, We Were Liars was the one I was talking about up there. I think people did a good job of not TELLING what in the world it could be but I think A LOT of people were looking for the HUGE twist because of what people said about it. I know a lot of people found it not as shocking because they were looking for it when they wouldn’t have otherwise done so because it just seemed like this story about this rich, dysfunctional family and this girl with memory loss.

  6. The plot twist stuff, that doesn’t usually bother me. There is one book that came out recently that everyone says is mind blowing, and that you should go into it with no knowledge what so ever. I purposely avoided all reviews but I already know there is a big twist. Just from twitter and other social media outlets.

    I completely agree on the shelving for goodreads. I’ve had that spoil a few things for me. There was a book I was reading where the paranormal character was not exactly known until the end. Well it was shelved under Weres’ and Fey. So before I even picked up the book I knew what the big reveal was going to be. Also… reading status. Even if I avoid reviews, I can’t always avoid seeing spoilers in my goodreads feed, or updated on twitter.

    If something is mentioned in the blurb, then it’s fair game to me. I know some people don’t read the blurbs, but if it’s part of the book description I won’t count it as a spoiler.

    Oh, and I don’t care how old a book is. It’s still rude to blast all the spoils. There are so many books out there, and just because you don’t get to them right when they come out, doesn’t mean it wont suck if it’s spoiled for you.

    This is an excellent topic. 🙂

    • We probably are talking about the same book re the big twist!

      YES that’s the kind of shelf spoiling I’m talking about. I mean, I guess it’s good if you don’t want to read about that and you see the shelving but MAN when you WANT to read sucks. I want to be surprised!! YES the reading statuses can be deadly. I’ve unfriended people on there who post spoilers in their updates — even if it’s not something I want to read because WHO KNOWS when they could do it for a book I’m interested in. That’s fine if you want to but I don’t want you to spoil something for me.

      I tend to agree with you with the book and how old it is…I mean, I know that being on the internet and in a book community means people are going to probably be open in conversation with others about HP and spoilers but it sucks when someone just posts a blatent spoiler. I mean, what about younger people who are just getting into reading…THEY haven’t read it…and it’s not their fault they weren’t like born yet hahah

  7. I think this is tricky because spoilers are subjective. I used to go into books blind before blogging, which was good, but because there are SO many books out there I want to read, I kind of have to look out for some deets so I know which ones are worth reading and which ones aren’t. I do tend to avoid reviews for books I really want to read, I might check out the rating, or skim the summary. To answer the first part about pop-culture and major hyped books – I think sometimes avoiding spoilers from those books is hard, and the onus probably isn’t on the reviewer to prevent spoilers – there’s movies/books/memes/fairgrounds for these places so it can’t be helped. Though when it comes to HP for example, I still tend to not discuss actual details. I’ll say I cried at a certain part, or didn’t see something coming, but I’ll not say what it is unless I’m discussing it privately and not on a public forum. Major spoilers are ones that give away plot twists or details that if you didn’t know about them, you’d audibly gasp/swoon/cry when reading the book. Minor spoilers are letting you know to expect a plot twist, but not telling you what the plot twist is. I’ve heard a million times that We Were Liars has some sort of major plot twist or explosive ending, but EVERY SINGLE person who has reviewed it has said “it’s better to go into it blind, so that’s all I’m going to say” – respect to them all. I do think reviews and posts should prepare the reader for spoilers of any sort, generally I try to stay away from them, and at a push will only do minor spoilers because mentioning them is integral to my review. I avoid majors all the time. Just don’t. It isn’t fair. As for things like shelves, I think it’s up to the reader to avoid those things if they think it will spoil an element of surprise, or part of the book. Super hard to do.

    Great topic, I can see this inspiring a lot of discussion!

    R x

    • Yes very subjective! Especially just scrolling through these comments you can see the variation!

      I’m the same as you with books I’m interested in — I won’t really look at much about it. I more so read reviews for books that I’ve read (to see if people enjoyed them or not) and I’ll read reviews for books I’ve never heard of to see if it should be on my radar.
      Yes, as someone who hasn’t read the whole HP series, I find it VERY hard to keep myself spoiler-free. I know a couple minor and two MAJOR (i think) things but I’ve done pretty good. But I do recognize, especially in a book community, people are going to talk about. I do appreciate when people aren’t super specific like HEY I WAS SO SAD WHEN THIS MAIN CHARACTER DIES.

      I think that’s a good point — maybe SAYING there is a twist is a minor spoiler but not a full blown spoiler. I like that distinction. And YES with We Were LIars..that was the book I was talking about above. There were a lot of people who did say OMG THAT TWIST or that they didn’t see it coming. I basically said GO IN BLIND bc that will make the difference and that the book gutted me. I didn’t allude to a plot twist because when I read it I had NO idea it was a twisty kind of book.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  8. Yes! Yes to all of this!

    For pop culture books – Something like Harry Potter (I did read it, but I can’t think or a better example right now) that has been out since I’ve been in middle school and all of the movies are finished and constantly air on ABC Family … I wouldn’t be mad if I hadn’t read it and heard a spoiler. I’m really good about talking myself out of spoilers – I think ok well that person could be really referring to ___, or remind myself that I still don’t know HOW it happened so it’s still worth reading/watching.

    However, shows that are currently airing, such as Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, I get really mad about spoilers from the books that are beyond where the shows are at. (I am also reading both of those series, but am not going beyond where the shows are because I enjoy the shows SO much and don’t want to spoil myself.)

    I have a feeling like for the plot twist book you are talking about We Were Liars. Amiright?? Because this has totally been my experience. I haven’t read it yet! I got in a very long line for it at my library and it only JUST became available for me to pick up but EVERY nook and cranny of the internet talks about some big twist and going by the title, I feel like I will go into the book not believing anything. This is an area that I call impression spoilers. I don’t mind if bloggers give a review of a book I REALLY want to read, I can choose to ignore it if I truly want to be impression free, which sometimes I prefer. I just bookmark it to read after I’m finished. So don’t edit yourself at all, but honestly if all my friends are reading the next big book and I’m not reading it right away, I do my darndest to scroll on past their GR reviews without catching anything. Especially for series enders!

    Very specific GR shelves ARE spoilers! I try very hard to shelf books based only on the genre that is presented in the blurb. I have read a contemporary that turned out to be paranormal and would have HATED if that had been ruined for me. Some people have shelves called ‘main character dies’, stuff like that is way too specific, and mean (imo).

    • Upon further thought, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned the specific book title for one of those because I’m technically just perpetuating the problem. But in my mind I was speaking to you and you already know the book. Sorry!

      Also, wow I am so long winded. :/

    • Yeah, I’ve heard a few things about HP but I’ve done pretty good too. And typically if I wait long enough I will forget minor spoilers! I don’t think I will be able to forget the two deaths I now know haha. I came across the one on Twitter and I wasn’t mad…but I was like DAMMIT WHYYYY DID I HAVE TO SEE THAT.

      OMg and yes I get so mad with current tv shows and people just blatantly posting spoilers esp on Twitter! On occasion I will live tweet something (my live tweeting is basically just like one or two reactions through the show haha) but they are so vague like OMG WUT #thewalkingdead. SO VAGUE. Esp for a show you know ALWAYS has something cray going on.

      And yes I was talking about We Were Liars!! Impression spoilers…I like that!! And yes, some books I don’t even want ANY impressions if I’m excited about it. Because sometimes with like series you KNOW who ws team so and so soooo their reaction will def be a spoiler!

      OMG yes those very specific shelves drive me nuts..esp main character dies kind of crap. It’s so tricksy with the genre ones. I get some people might not want to read it but I personally like surprises and I don’t want to read a book and know it’s a paranormal when it’s presented as a contemporary bc that takes the whole shock value out.

  9. With the Internet today, I think it’s really hard NOT to be spoiled. As for really popular books like Harry Potter, I know I’m in the minority for not having finished the books yet. So if I see someone talk about it on twitter, I try to look the other way. I don’t click links to websites that may potentially spoil something for me. But I won’t ever tell someone not to discuss HP for my benefit.

    I’ve been known to unfollow people if they openly discuss their opinions of a book that has yet to publish on twitter. To me, that is a spoiler. Hearing if you loved a certain scene, in great detail, or going off on a tangent why a character didn’t sit well with you — all of that factors into my own reading experience. Again, I won’t tell the person to stop, I’ll just remove myself from the situation.

    As always, great discussion Jamie!

    • It really is hard not to be spoiled. Like you really have to REALLY TRY HARD not to be spoiled. Esp for HP. That’s what I do with HP. I just look away if I see it mentioned and def don’t click on things. And same…I don’t expect people NOT to talk about it. I mean, I’d be pissed if they did in casual convo WITH ME knowing I haven’t read it.

      Yeah I think sometimes people forget (or just don’t care) that others can SEE their every reaction they are tweeting or updating.

  10. I try super hard to leave out spoilers as I absolutely hate them myself. One of my worst moments as a accidental spoilee was at book club when I accidentally mentioned something in the last Harry Potter book when we had just moments ago talked about how she was finally reading the series. I felt awful!

    I will agree with the marking of books on Goodreads can lead to spoilers. Same thing happened to me when I was reading a contemporary and saw that quite a few people had marked it as paranormal. It definitely changed how I viewed the book as I continued reading.

    An issue I sometimes have with spoilers is if they aren’t marked in a review. It’s happened once or twice to me where I’ll be reading a review and they start talking about something major without warning.

    • I think we’ve all been an accidental spoilee before! I always feel SICK!!

      I’m also big about trying to be as spoiler free as possible and if I CANNOT I will label it before I talk.

      DAMN THOSE SHELVING. I’m glad (okay maybe glad isn’t the word) though that I’m not the only one who finds this to happen and spoil it!!

      I HATE that when a review has unlabeled spoilers. GAH. If it’s a matter of that the person FORGOT to label them or didn’t see it as a spoiler I’m annoyed but can forgive. But hte people who don’t care?? *shakes fist*

  11. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who get upset over a spoiler for a book that’s been out for years and is part of the culture (as your first example mentioned). I STILL to this day have people getting PISSED at me if I mention Dumbledore or Snape’s death and the circumstances around both. Dude… if you haven’t read Harry Potter in 2014, what are the chances you’re going to eventually get around to it? And do so completely spoiler-free?!

    • Apparently somewhat minimal with you around.

      On the one hand, I do agree that HP is going to get spoiled for most people. It’s certainly popular enough that I think if someone’s spoiled by a random Twitter discussion they were watching, they don’t really have room to be mad. At the same time, though, I think it’s always spoiling if you KNOW the person you’re talking to hasn’t seen or read something and intentionally drop that bomb. Those are two different things, I think.

      • Yeah, I agree Christina. I mean, I know that IN A BOOK COMMUNITY ON THE INTERNET I am probably going to see people talking about HP. I mean, I will get annoyed (not so much at THEM) when I see stuff but it’s whatever at this point. I’m in a book community that I know will have convos about it bc it is like the BIG BOOK that pretty much everyone has read. My spoiler I saw for Dumbledore was just a person tweeting (not a convo) about how they still cry or something like that over him…I was actually kind of annoyed about that one. Like you don’t HAVE to be specific. I don’t know if I had right to be annoyed but I was. I didn’t say anything but I got offline and stewed haha. And then reallyyy started wondering HOW and WHEN. At least I don’t know that?

    • I’m sorry, but I find it incredibly rude that you spoil the book when Jamie clearly states she hasn’t read the series yet. You could have just stated your opinion WITHOUT adding that spoiler. Your opinion is yours, but you could have at least been considerate about not mentioning it HERE. Of course HP has been out forever and it’s going to be hard to read it without ANY spoilers, but to actually TELL her a spoiler? That’s very rude and inconsiderate and to be honest, I just can’t believe why someone would do that.

    • One of my biggest pet peeves is people who go out of their way to directly spoil someone they KNOW doesn’t want to be spoiled. You just did that maliciously, needlessly and with full intent. Way classy.

    • I read nearly every book the day they came out, and I’m still pissed at you for spoiling Jamie. She said up above in the post she hadn’t read the whole series but planned to in the near future. It’s only thing if people who haven’t read stumble upon the spoiler in the wild, where HP spoilers are totally fair game because, as you said, it’s been seven years, and it’s such a huge series that it’s part of our pop culture. But to go on someone’s blog and TELL them? When they just said they’ve miraculously remained unspoiled for a series? Uncool and very, very rude.

    • “Careless spoilers or intentional ones to be a jerk though…just stop.”

      Wow. Wooooooow. I can’t decide which one of those you are (either REALLY thoughtless or REALLY jerky), but either way, no. You purposely just ruined two twists for J. Not in a “Hey I’m talking about my favorite books on social media and you just happen to see, whoops,” kind of way. You KNEW she didn’t know what was coming and decided to steal the shock of those twists. Nice.

    • Hi Bear,

      Thanks for your opinion about spoilers re: pop culture/books that have been out for forever. It’s definitely a blurred line for people. Some think it’s absolutely still a spoiler and some think it’s fair game. Who is right..? I don’t know.

      I’ve only read book 1 and I’ve been spoiled to like one thing. Being in a book community I know that people talk about HP openly because it bonds people so that one spoiler I saw..I didn’t get mad…yes it was a bummer and it still IS debatable whether or not one should spoil a book consider there are always new readers (people who weren’t born when the series came out or people who just came into reading or people like me who totally were not into those kinds of books when they came out and wants to give the a try) but I don’t totally fault the person who said it because of the community and how important this book is.

      But what I’m speechless at is the fact…and seriously I rarely get speechless…is that you came on to my blog, after I specifically said I read book 1 so far, and posted a HUGE spoiler for me in MY comments section. Maybe you didn’t read that part where I said that (though it was like the first line of it) but I really want to give you the benefit of the doubt here. I knew the first thing you talked about but the second? Did not know! I’ve been VERY careful about spoilers with this series and avoid LOTS of things in order to be able to read it relatively unspoiled and I’ve never been upset at the incidental “spoilers” people on Twitter have said….this is the first instance where I’m genuinely upset about it. I read book 1 last year and the chances of me reading the series are really good.

      I appreciate your opinion because it’s such a tough debate in the age of the internet and information but I really don’t appreciate the huge spoiler…on a post about spoilers….where I expressly stated I only read book one so far and spoke to my experiences trying to avoid Harry Potter spoilers.

    • Katherine says:

      Personally, I hate this attitude. I’m 32 years old, was born in 1981. I read all the Harry Potter books when they came out, and I guess with most of my peers, I might figure that they’ve either read them already or have decided not to.

      But you don’t know who you’re talking to on the Internet. Are you telling me that my 7-year-old son should already have read Deathly Hallows when his reading level is just now getting high enough to get through Philosopher’s Stone WITH ME? He was like two weeks old when DH came out… is it his own fault for not having read it? But I still hope he’ll be able to read the whole series, unspoiled, and enjoy it in the same way I did… NOT knowing what was going to happen next!

      Why do I feel that way? Well, let’s go back to another “It’s OK to spoil that!” moment… not from a book, but how about The Empire Strikes Back? A movie that came out before I was born. That I watched on video when I was twelve. And of course I already knew the big reveal there. Again, that’s very definitely a situation where it has just become a huge part of our culture, rather than one specific person spoiling it specifically FOR ME… but wow, I wish I could go back in time to when I was negative one years old and see that movie on opening night. And be shocked.

      It might not be possible. Because again, a lot of people aren’t intentionally trying to spoil anything… but yeah, I’ll put up a spoiler warning on my blog for Harry Potter, for Star Wars, for The Sixth Sense… because I want to pass along the stories I love to my children’s generation, and I hope they can enjoy them the way I did, and the way the author intended them to be.

      “It’s been out for X number of years!” doesn’t really work when the reader may be X minus one years old.

  12. I talk about this with Kelly from Kellyvision all the time. Particularly the “when does it no longer count as a spoiler” aspect.

    Another potential ‘grey area’ are books based on actual events (examples would be writing about the Titanic, Anne Boleyn, JFK, etc). Is it safe to assume that everyone knows how it ends, so you can discuss at will during the review? It’s especially tricky if it’s not a widely known event, or history from a different country that readers may not be familiar with.

    I’ve noticed recently that Goodreads is filled with spoilers. Particularly the status updates (especially ARCs). I try to avoid it now where I can, but it doesn’t always work.

    I saw someone mention the synopsis/blurb. I tend to agree. If it’s in the synopsis I feel it’s fair game to discuss in the review.

    Great post, Jamie. It’s something that I’ve often considered and have definitely discussed with other book bloggers.

    • YESSSSS omg the historical aspect!!! This right there!! I recently read Brazen and I was SO unsure of how much to say. Because’s history…but also like i didn’t really know some of the details so I was certainly surprised and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for others. SO HARD with historical. GOOD point. I’m so glad you brought that one up! I wish I would have thought of that bc I’m curious what others think!

      GOODREADS IS THE WORST FOR SPOILERS. I’ve tried to avoid it as much as I can tbh. I go on there to update my stuff and that’s about it. SAD.

      I agree..if it’s in the synopsis (unless I personally feel like it would make a better reading experience to NOT know.. ie I think the summary spoils it a bit) it’s fair game.

  13. This is SUCH a hard thing to define. I am a person who stays away from spoilers as much as possible, to the point where I hide from synopsis. One time I was looking at the Vampire Academy series and THE DAMN SYNOPSIS had a major spoiler from the previous book. Look, I get it, I GUESS I shouldn’t be looking at future books before I finish the one before but I was adding it to my damn GR list. You should NEVER see “after so-and-so’s death, character X has to…” WAIT WHAT. Why!? SO that is why I skim blurbs!
    It’s SO HARD in the blogosphere to keep spoilers under wraps… and the twist spoilers are THE HARDEST. I was one of those people who knew the twist for We Were Liars was there. You cannot possibly think that’s a spoiler but in a way it is… Like an unintentional spoiler? I would not fault anyone from talking about the twist because it was also a big selling point for the book! It’s so hard because you want to be like OMG THIS TWIST and you didn’t say what the twist was… so I deem it not a spoiler! But I think my issue wasn’t that I knew there was one but that I somehow figured it out (I read too many mysteries before I started blogging haha). I wouldn’t blame anyone on the interwebs (and GOD, I would never blame you, J!) for getting excited about that crazy twist because you need to talk about it with people and it really is a great thing to promote!
    This was how I felt with Dangerous Girls. When I finished it (and this was after knowing the ending was CRAZY) I was like, Oh. I really don’t even want to say anything about it to anyone. I need to talk to people who have read the book! But at the same time, it still FEELS spoilery to say “omg that ending!!”. It’s not. It can’t be! We can’t hold back our feelings for amazing endings because it encourages other people to pick up the books too. I guess it’s just part of being a part of social media and the book community! Sadly, things are bound to come out or being incredibly minorly spoilery to one person or another and unfortunately, that does affect the reading experience for some.
    Social media has just been my biggest enemy. I read a spoiler for Downton Abbey in friggin’ Shelf Awareness for Pete’s sake! I knew something happened but the little blurb flat out said what it was. Then I saw a gorgeous meme for Allegiant about THE BIG THING that happened (still haven’t read the book yet) and I was like well, crap. I could have guessed it was something like that but I didn’t KNOW. The meme was super well done and lovely and artistic but HELLOOOOO spoiler alert!
    Oh well. I try to stay away from spoilers as much as possible but with so many people talking about books, I think it’s hard to avoid them all! It’s a very sensitive issue but I think we try to do our best to not spoil things for each other (I hope!)

    • YES OMG…series summaries. I STAY FARRRRR AWAY. Worst ever.

      Yes that’s the hard thing about the plot twist “spoiler”…it’s like it isn’t a spoiler but it is in a way? It at least can taint the way people see it? That is why I was like WILL NOT MENTION PLOT TWIST AT ALL. I said it gutted me but if people know me I’ve been gutted for very many reasons with books so it’s not a giveaway for me haha. And like you said..sometimes knowing that the book is twisty and shocking IS a selling point. I’ve certainly been intrigued hearing that. I think, my personal rule, has been like HOW would it affect the reading experience? Is there ONE big twist which it all hinges on? Will it be easy to figure out if I say there is a twist (I think WWL kind of was if you KNEW..dropped some clues)? Are there multiple things people won’t see coming? And then I just kind of use my best judgment and be as vague as possible while still being like OMG THIS BOOK.

      And I struggle with that too..the oMG THAT ENDING. On one hand, I guess it could “spoil” it but on the other hand like THIS COULD HAVE BEEN WHAT DID IT FOR ME..made a good book GREAT. I think as long as people are careful we can share those things. I mean, I knew Dangerous Girls was shocking but people did a good enough job at just teasing me but not giving things away to the point I could guess. I guessed some things with that but NOT AT ALL what the ending was.

      UGH I hate blatant spoilers for things like that. Like COME ON..not everyone read the book the day it came out or are caught up on Downton. BLAH.

      And I agree…because spoilers are so’s going to be hard to be perfect at this. I think as long as people try to be courteous and mindful and not BLATANTLY spoil or at least label things that COULD be spoilers (what I try to HEY I don’t think this is a spoiler but some might consider have been warned).

  14. Okay before I even begin I CANNOT BELIEVE someone just commented with a HORRENDOUS spoilor for Harry Potter for you IN a post about SPOILERS. That’s bloody ridiculous and I’m absolutely gutted for you! I still think that moment will be a tear jerker though, even though you now know it’s coming at some point.

    Spoiler wise I actually agree with all of the above. I’m currently half way through A Song of Ice and Fire series so I feel like watching the TV program can be dangerous as can Twitter. I feel the same about a load of YA books too e.g. Susan Dennard’s books, Richelle Mead, John Green. Whenever I find out something that I didn’t want to it feels like a part of me has died haha. It’s impossible to avoid them all without just going offline until that book is read and done. GR wise I agree too. There was one book that could have been completely ruined if it was shelved under LGBT but luckily I finished it before that happened!

    I try my hardest not to spoil anything for anyone and ALWAYS label reviews as containing spoilers just in case. It’s one of the worst things about being a bookworm!

    • Ironic right? A huge spoiler in a post about spoilers? GAH. She apologized and said she didn’t fully read my post to see that. Annoying but whatever..I can forgive! 🙂 I knew about D already but not S. The D spoiler was the ONLY huge spoiler I knew. I did pretty good so far haha.

      Yes Twitter is so dangerous with Game of Thrones. I don’t even watch it and I’ve seen so many things. I’m curious what book you are talking about with the LGBT labeling bc I wonder if it’s the same as I was thinking of. DAMMIT BUT IF I HAVEN’T READ IT lol Goodreads is a landmine of spoilers BLAH.

      Yes, I always have labels..even if I don’t think it’s a major spoiler I will still say MIGHT be SPOILERY. I’m probably over cautious but whatever!

      • Aww I saw she apologised! That’s always good. At least it wasn’t a spiteful move in that sense. There’s plenty more in Potter to come to keep you on your toes though! :). Pretty impressed you lasted so long without finding out so many things. I think I’d have given in a loooong time ago.

        I just stalked your reviews AND IT MIGHT BE! It’s so hard to freak out without being spoilery! GR is terrible. I wish people would just warn or HIDE spoilery reviews!

        Recommend GoT soooo much! Books and series :D. Definitely something you have to slog through because they’re so huge but so, so amazing at the same time.

  15. I can understand that sometimes avoiding spoilers for super popular books that have been out for a long time can be hard, BUT if you are commenting on something specific and knowing that person has stated that she hasn’t read those books, it’s only common courtsy to shut your trap and NOT mention the big spoilers of the damned series…

    Yes, it might seem pointless to try and be spoiler free for a series with books and movies out for quite a while, but there’s no need to throw the spoilers at someone’s face like that! It’s inconsiderate and as a fellow reader and lover of books, you wouldn’t want that done to you.

    I know I’m late to the TFIOS phenomena, and I still haven’t read the book and I haven’t seen the movie and I’ve been spoiled on Twitter because a bunch of fans of the book had decided to wear tees with the major spoiler for the book & movie to the screening to ruin the experience of the movie to those that hadn’t read the book, and tweet about it to spoil whoever else might not know it… why do people think that’s perfectly fine and ok? If you want to share your love for a book don’t ruin it for other people!

    I always try to keep things and my reviews and comments as spoiler free as possible, but I sometimes wonder if even some vague remarks can change people’s experience of reading a book. I know I want to know about cliffhangers at the end of a book and that’s why I always mention them on my reviews, but maybe other people don’t and I’m spoiling their experience… There’s always a bit of a grey area when it comes to spoilers, but there are some that are clearly on the not so grey and we should always be mindful of not doing what we wouldn’t want other people to do to us.

    If we don’t want other fellow book bloggers and bookworms to ruin books for us, maybe we should try our best to not do that to others. Better to be overly cautious that to ruin someone’s experience of a book, I say!

    • Ah that story makes me SO LIVID FOR YOU. SHIRTS WITH MAJOR SPOILERS WTF?!? OH MY GOSH. What even is wrong with those people!! The thing I don’t get is, as book lovers, we KNOW that great feeling of discovering an amazing book why would fellow book lovers want to take that away from someone?? I can only guess maybe they are just not really big readers and were more like trying to jump on this trend? Idk I don’t know them obviously but I’d hope a book loveer wouldn’t do that!!

      I always wonder that too…is something I’m saying something that will ruin it for someone else? I mean, obviously in order to talk about a book we HAVE to bring up some things but I’m sure someone has thought something I’ve mentioned was a spoiler for them. It’s all so subjective. But I think you are right…there are things are NOT a grey area and we can be really careful about those and be mindful by like warning people if there are potential spoilers. I figure most people who are SUPER sensitive about small things being spoilers probably don’t do much reading of reviews or anything anyways. With a little forethought I think we can avoid most spoilers!

      Thanks for your input!

      • Yeah, when I saw that tweet I was bummer out for being spoiled and totally pissed for them thinking that it’s okay to the people that were going to the cinema to see the movie “cause they should have read the book”. Really?? *sigh*

        Major plot points and reveals, as much we itch to talk about them should never be talked about on a review, and sometimes just mentioning that they happen can be spoilery… But you are right as book lovers it should be somewhat easy to think what we wouldn’t others to ruin for us, and make sure we don’t ruin it for others!

  16. While I do think there is somewhat of a statute of limitations on spoilers for books, movies, and television shows that have been out for years, I do actively try to not spoil them for people who haven’t read or seen them, even if it’s some pop culture phenomenon like Harry Potter. I accidentally ruined the end of “Fight Club” for a friend and, even though that’s been out for 15 years, I still felt bad. But there are also some things that, bizarrely enough, I don’t care that I’ve been spoiled for, mostly because I did it to myself, case in point, Game of Thrones. My brother has read the books, so have my co-workers and other friends and at the moment I’m not planning on reading the books, but I want to understand some of what’s going on, so I spoiled myself on a lot of things that haven’t occurred in the show because I’m too lazy to read the books but want to pretend I have (which is really really lame and poser of me, but whatever).

    I’m a librarian, so for certain books I love that I am book talking, sometimes it’s hard to get a kid hooked on a book where all I can say is “Here’s a very brief summary, but it’s better to go in blind.” because I have to trust that my enthusiasm for it is enough to get them to want to read it without a description more thorough then that.

    One of the best things about reading is the experience of it and I don’t want to take that away from someone. I’m probably guilty of alluding to things in reviews that may be vague spoilers (i.e. referencing that a certain series ender gave me all the FEELS may be, to some, a spoiler), but I never go into specifics without a SPOILER ALERT being highlighted.

    • I like your view on thigns that have been out for a long time. Like, I personally am not going to get MAD if someone is talking about Harry Potter spoilers amongst some friends and I see it on Twitter. I mean, yes, annoying for me but I’m in a book community where HP was like the staple of everyone’s reading life. It stinks for me that I wasn’t into that kind of thing when they came out/didn’t read YA until I started blogging in 2010 but what can I do? I am a LITTLE more annoyed though when someone just blasts a specific spoiler by tweeting it. Like THAT can be avoided? I would never say anything to them but it does suck. I mean, there are ALWAYS new people who are going to be discovering the HP series…people who passed it on to their kids or people who never read when it came out…so it sucks for them but I think MOST people are pretty respectful not just shout out specific spoilers. Maybe when you go on the internet you have to sign a waiver understanding you WILL be spoiled for Harry Potter so you better read or no complaining because it WILL happen 😛

      And i do the same with you alluding to things (but vaguely) like maybe saying the ending made me cry but I always try to think before I write that will THAT specific reaction give away the ending or something? Sometimes I don’t think it will or maybe I’ll just leave out “the end” and just generally state it made me cry. I try to be cognizant but I think if we limit ourselves too much we will have nothing to say in reviews hahah

  17. Gah! Spoilers! The bane of every reader’s existence.

    Been out for years and years – I think along the same lines you do. I mean, you can’t remain hush-hush about everything for forever. So how long is long enough and to what extent do you protect the spoilers? Take JAWS. I’ve never seen it, but I assume named characters die. So if you mention a death in JAWS, does that count as a spoiler? Technically, it is, because I wouldn’t know who dies without you telling me, but of course someone is going to die, and the movie is decades old. On the flip side, you know that one thing in The Sixth Sense that happens? I had no idea until my former BFF and I were talking about it and I mentioned I hadn’t seen it AND SHE TOLD ME THE THING. Totally ruined how I watched the movie when I did finally see it. Yes, the movie had been out for forever, BUT SHE KNEW THE TWIST WAS UNSPOILED FOR ME.

    Plot twist mentioning – I’ve wondered about this one, too. I know people mention it because they’re excited and also it’s a great way to create buzz (Hello, WWL), but I’m SO hard to fool when it comes to plot twists. So mentioning a plot twist is a great way to get me to read the book, but if I know something is coming, you’ve dropped the likelihood of me being surprised down to nil.

    Genres – I HAVE SUCH A HARD TIME WITH THIS! When I read a book, I immediately have to categorize and shelve it on GR; otherwise, I’ll never remember and my system will be all wonky. WONKY IS NOT OKAY. But at the same time, there are books I hesitate to categorize fully for fear of tipping off future readers. I can think of two or three off the top of my head where the genre took a hard right turn partway through the book, so when it was done, I was unsure how to proceed in my shelving. BUT ORDER IS IMPORTANT. Ugh.

    Two more to think about:
    Sequels – Talking about is harrrrrrrrd. Any good sequel will be affected by the events in the previous book(s). But it’s ridiculously hard to talk about a sequel without spoiling any of the previous stories. You can’t say who dies or who betrays whom or what gets blown up or what is lost or what alliances are made or broken. Technically, you really shouldn’t even mention character names at all, because then readers will know who makes it out alive of the first book! So difficult. I struggle.

    Expected things – This is where the spoiler line gets really shaky. Take a book couple. Usually by reading the back cover, you can tell who the love interest is. You don’t even have to open the book. And when a love interest is mentioned, 99% of the time, the love interest and the MC will end up together. IT’S EXPECTED. So is it spoilery to talk about their chemistry as a done deal? You don’t KNOW they’re into each other because you haven’t read the book but you do kinda know, because he’s mentioned on the back so he’s the love interest and therefore is statistically destined to end up with the MC. (Love triangles complicate this a bit, but people are much more cautious around them.) Or let’s go back to JAWS. I EXPECT a big-name death, I just don’t know who. Mentioning a death by name would be a spoiler, but would hinting that there’s a big-name death be a spoiler if I already expect it to come but don’t KNOW?

    • UGH I’ve had friends spoil movies for me *curses* I think that especially when the movie really hinges on stuff like that, no matter HOW old it is, SHUT YO TRAP. I think the thing that gets me about things that are SO old and have been out for forever is the question of but what about people who didn’t grow up with it? Like there are legions of new little Harry Potter readers every year! New people who get into reading! It’s such a hard line!

      YES sequels are SOOO hard to talk about for all the reasons you said. If you talk about a character who is in a sticky situation in book 1 and then say oh yes this character did this in book 2 it’s like WELL I guess I don’t have to be biting my nails in book 1 because they live. I also think with love triangles it’s hard to when people are talking about sequels or series finales because you pretty much KNOW who people in the community ship…so their reaction kind of spoils it for others.

      OMG THIS LAST POINT. I always struggle with this one so much because I’m like am I GIVING IT AWAY that they get together?? But I always figure that most times, like you said, in YA lit the people on the back DO get together soooo pretty much everyone knew that?? lol. SO HARD TO DECIDE. I always just try to not as say more about the love interest than the back of the book but sometimes I HAVE to talk about how much I loved the romance even if the back doesn’t say anything about it. I try to remain vague but sometimes I’ll give a spoiler warning just in case.

  18. I have mixed feelings, especially when it comes to things like Harry Potter, etc. where the book has been out for a long time. Coming into something as a new reader or even watcher of a T.V. show, I try to be courteous, but maybe not as much as I would be were something brand new. Also, if it’s like, Shakespeare, sorry, I don’t give spoiler alerts for things written in the 1500s.

    But the genre thing never crossed my mind until you mentioned it! I tend to not look at genres much outside of the typical fiction/non-/sci-fi/contemporary and the like, so I suppose there’s not as many spoilers to be found in that regard. Twist endings though? Uh-oh!

    • Yeah, it’s hard because, even if it’s been out for a while, there are always going to be new people discovering it for the first time. But it’s hard especially in a book community to NOT openly talk about like Harry Potter or Twilight. I tend to be more cautious about spoilers for brand new things as well though even if it’s old I still tend to not say specific things! But maybe I’m more sensitive about that being a HP newb. Hahha and yeah..I mean, if you don’t know what happens in Romeo and Juliet..SORRY.

  19. I try really hard to avoid spoilers which can be challenging since I read a lot of mysteries. There were some books where knowing almost nothing made for a better reading experience (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry comes to mind) and I did look to see how Andi at Estella’s Revenge and Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity had handled it to help figure out how to review it without revealing anything. I read somewhere that something happens in the first 1/3 of the book isn’t a spoiler so I do tend to go by that as well. It’s so hard to go completely spoiler free though!

    • It is SO hard to review books where you KNOW that the reader knowing nothing is the best way to go in. (Also I have AJ Fikry so I’m glad to know that I should go in blind). I want them to know WHY it’s excellent but I don’t want to spoil ANYTHING.

  20. Wow, that HP spoiler. *shakes head* Not cool, dude.

    Okay, moving on. I do try to be careful about spoilers. I have a “caution: spoilers owl” for my blogposts that I put up when I’m ready to get into details. (And if they can’t control themselves to not read further, well that’s not my fault lol.) I kind of consider classic books fair game and discuss them openly, but I always mention at the beginning that there will be spoilers, so if they still want to read it unspoiled, they should stop now.

    Reaction spoilers annoy me a lot of the time. My 14 year old sister is really bad about that…she gets so excited about a series that I’m going to read with her and she’ll say something like “Oh, you’ll hate the ending of the very last book but love who she ends up with!!” Gee thanks B lol. So I try to be careful with that.

    I’ve never been spoiled by shelving on Goodreads luckily, but I do sometimes get spoiled by the blurb on there. I started a (took out details that might narrow it down lol) book a few years ago, knowing nothing about it, until I read the blurb and found out something important happens (took out more detail spoilers) within the first few pages. Whaaat??! I was so mad.

    Great article and conversation, as always Jamie! And don’t give up on HP just because of a few spoilers…it’s totally worth it still! 🙂

    • came back to add some more thoughts 🙂

      I have been rereading the entire Baby-Sitters Club series and blogging about it (slowly) for the past 2-3 years and also lately been rereading Sweet Valley High. When I blog about those, I discuss every single detail and don’t bother with spoiler owl, because I feel like those books are so old and have been discussed/read so much, that there’s really no point. And the fun of my reviews (I hope) is for people to remember all those minor details when I bring it up and kind of relive the story with me as they read my review. So yeah, *spoiler* Stacey has diabetes and Jessica Wakefield goes after every cute boy she sees. 😉

  21. I guess I’m a black sheep. I like being spoiled. Often I search out a lot of information about a book/series during and before reading. Doesn’t bother me if someone gives away the ending. I appreciate the process more than the end result. How it got to that point in the story is still exciting even if I know what will happen. I’m also one to hunt for foreshadowing. I love little hints about what will happen next.

  22. I’m one of the rare ones, I don’t mind small spoilers – just don’t tell me if a major character dies, or what the huge twist/cliffhanger is about, and I’m good. I try not to insinuate any spoilers either, especially on books that haven’t been released yet, but its hard not to. I want people to know that there is definitely a good (epic) reason to read this book!
    Also, be wary of the Big Bang Theory episode called ‘When Leonard moves out’ – Sheldon and Penny share huge Harry Potter spoilers while Leonard was trying to read the series, lol! One of my favorite episodes ever!

  23. I’m so sorry… I didn’t read everything as I was in the middle of a client call when I started to and then just typed my thoughts.

    I apologize for being a jerk. I really didn’t mean to but clearly this was a big mistake on my part.

    ::goes and hides in a corner for the rest of the day::

    • I appreciate the apology and I understand…mistakes! I’ve accidentally spoiled things for others as well! I was *hoping* that it was a matter of you didn’t fully read it rather than maliciously spoiling it! All is forgiven! I mean, I can’t unsee it but I mean, look at it this way, I AM INTRIGUED haha.

      • Absolutely not! I’m so sorry. This is my lesson about trying to work and browse the book-ternet at the same time.

        And to know it wasn’t malicious… I actually feel like I want to vomit right now.

        • We’ve all been there! And seriously…no worries..honestly! Mistakes happen! I feel better about it now knowing it was an accident!

  24. And please feel free to delete my initial comment so as to avoid this happening to anyone else.

  25. This is a really interesting discussion, and one I’ve had with myself many times. I don’t mind spoilers myself – it’s actually very rare that I find myself finishing a book without having at least glanced at the final page at some point during reading. But I find it really difficult to work out just what constitutes a spoiler for other people. I mean, would people consider “I hate Ron Weasley because of what he said about Slytherins” (sticking to the first book and staying as vague as possible for obvs reasons) a character spoiler? Would people then look at that character in a different light than they might have done without hearing my opinion? Or saying something like “oh this is THE BEST episode prepare to be amazed”; does that then take away the possibility of surprise for your fellow watcher?

    For my part, I just try to stay as vague as possible, and if anyone ever asks me “have you seen/read this?” my first question is always “tell me the exact degree to which you want to be spoiled/not spoiled” before I start talking about it. But this is a really interesting discussion, and I’ve really enjoyed reading about all the different views on here!

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I have mixed feelings about spoilers as well. While I don’t generally feel that a book has been ruined for me if I find out some major plot point I respect that many people do.
    Certainly there have been times where I heard or saw a spoiler and felt a bit sad about it. I’m another person who hasn’t read or seen TFIOS but it was spoiled for me about 5 seconds after I joined Twitter.;) That being said… I think it’s the nature of the beast (the Internet). It’s amazing that we can all come together and talk about books and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

    However, the thing that really truly angers me is bullying. I am furious when someone sets out to spoil a book on purpose (which so many people seem to do) but I am also angry when the book community bullies someone who accidentally spoiled. I’ll admit I speak from personal experience. Once upon a time in the infancy of my blog, I forgot to put a spoiler warning in a review I wrote (on my own blog) and was publicly ‘blog shamed” for it (in a long post where of course all the commenters raged about how horrible people like that are) While I felt terrible, I was frustrated that this person felt vindictive enough to treat a mistake like that with such viciousness. (Not to mention the fact that it is stated in my blog description that all book discussions may contain spoilers.)
    But I’m not commenting to defend my mistake (I still feel quite bad about it! as a book lover I would never want to ruin someone’s reading experience!!) or shame others. I think this is a great post and you’ve inspired a fantastic discussion! I just wanted to throw my 2cents in and say that I think kindness and consideration go a long way when discussion a hot button topic like this because at the end of the day we’re all just crazy book nerds!

  27. Elizabeth says:

    P.s I should probably add that my own comment had zippo to do with the HP spoiler debacle up above!! (It truly sucks that you had to see that after putting in so much effort in to avoiding spoilers)
    It was just something I thought about whole reading your lovely post 🙂

  28. Yikes. Well, that happened (re: HP spoilers). =(

    I guess I’m late to this party, but I was having this chat with a few other bloggers in real life, and I think there’s a spectrum for spoilers. Some people like to go in totally blind, with not even the synopsis ruined for them. Some people can read a synopsis and a few reviews and go in (that’s usually me). Some people don’t mind hearing that there’s a major twist (I’m iffy on that – that’s where I personally think the line might get crossed). And then some people don’t even mind knowing the ending, and will explicitly look it up because they want to make sure they like the ending (my best friend is like this and it drives me UP THE WALL).

    I’m in the middle on most of this – I feel like you have to have a synopsis of the book from somewhere to even know if you want to read it – I know some people read by author, but how do you know if you want to read a debut or not? In terms of shelving, I usually go with what I know from the synopsis (but I totally know which book you’re talking about, Jamie, with the para tag – I got spoiled by that, too), and I won’t change it. I guess my thing is, if it’s within the first 50 pages, it should be okay to say (unless there’s a huge game changer).

    I don’t like the hear about huge twists, but sometimes its inevitable, especially when a book has buzz. In those cases, I usually try as much as possible to be IN the book without thinking ahead. It’s hard. I also try to forget stuff sometimes (this is very easy with Game of Thrones, where I haven’t read the books and I only watch the show, and there are so many characters that when I hear a spoiler, it’s often so far ahead that I forget all about it), which my brain is good about doing sometimes.

    I also don’t mind hearing about other people’s reactions – crying, laughing, that’s all okay, because to me, that’s THEIR experience of the book.

    Basically, I think that a synopsis is fair game. So are reactions (but not spoiler-y ones). Out-and-out spoilers? No. Major plot twist? Nope.

    However. I don’t think it’s mean or rude to be discussing a book online that has been out for years and years and is considered a pop culture phenomenon with someone else who’s already read it. To me, that’s just book engagement. If someone else sees it, that’s just bad luck. However, if someone else deliberately TELLS you? That’s just mean.

    Whew. Long post.

  29. I think my fear of spoiling things is part of why have haven’t written a review in ages. I only get upset about clear spoilers, but I do know what you mean about just knowing that there’s a twist. My experience reading the first half of … a certain book that will soon be a movie. I seriously almost named the book. OK anyway I knew there was a plot twist going in so reading the first half of the book I was constantly looking for it. I didn’t guess it exactly but I was close enough that it affected the reading experience.

  30. Spoilers can be really hard to avoid. I’ve been spoiled by tweets, by GR shelving, by a publisher-written book synopsis on Goodreads — in fact I have a “blurbs with spoilers” shelf on there.
    I am of two minds. It can be very hard to review a book without talking about anything that happens. And I feel that if I, as a reader, want all surprise in a book preserved, it is mostly my job to stay away from reviews and Goodreads. On the other hand, it is pretty rude to print spoilers without warnings, spoiler protections, etc.
    However, I have also learned over my years of blogging that some people absolutely love and seek out spoilers, so often I will put them in my GR review and hide them under spoiler protection….
    Fun topic!

  31. WOW even with the apology follow-up I still can’t believe that just happened.

    I don’t often look at Goodreads shelves, so I don’t get spoiled that way – except once, recently, when everyone took to twitter to say that a certain book fell into (x) genre and you would never know, so don’t go look at the tags/shelves so you can go in blind! Except they had just ruined that.

    Books don’t often get spoiled for me, but when a popular new release is being read by tons of people who all have their goodreads updates connected to twitter and all collectively GASP I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED ~ on page 132 of Whatever Book, it makes me mad in the moment but it’s not like I’m going to remember every single page something crazy happens on, so it doesn’t ruin my experience. Oh wait, there was a book that EVERY review said (basically) that the characters weren’t who you thought they were, which I thought was a crazy spoiler.

    The main issues I’ve had with book bloggers and spoilers is with TV and movies. Sometimes it sucks starting a show years after everyone else, but by the time I get caught up I won’t remember what all the fuss was about when everyone watched S5E2 as it aired. The issue I run into again and again is that no one understands time zones. I had to start watching Game of Thrones at 6pm because people couldn’t not livetweet – and I’ve read the books. Or the person who goes to the theater at 7am my time the day a movie comes out and livetweets it. That’s just rude on so many levels.

    For me, a spoiler is anything that gives away a major twist or plot-point. Mentioning a twist can sometimes be a spoiler, mentioning a death by name is definitely a spoiler, mentioning a character who died in book one in a review for book three is probably a spoiler, saying “I don’t know if this is a spoiler…” means you’re probably about to spoil something. There are so many ways to hide spoilers in reviews now that there is really no excuse to post them.

  32. As for the rule about a book being out forever or being really popular I think it can go both ways. Because with like Harry Potter I know I, like a lot of people, do just assume that everyone has already read the books or watched the movies or been spoiled a long long time ago. I mean I don’t go out of my way to talk about and potentially spoil someone when it comes to Harry Potter but I do know when I do talk about it I’m not overly cautious to avoid spoilers. On the other hand when it comes to popular new releases that still everyone assumes everyone who cares has read it then there can be problems. For example I’m in line at the bookstore the other day and these two girls are behind talking amongst themselves and they loudly give out a huge spoiler for City Of Heavenly fire and that made me so very mad, you’re in a crowded bookstore for gosh sakes, I shouldn’t have to be worried about getting spoiled in the middle of the book store.
    I’ve never really considered that saying there is a HUGE TWIST could be a spoiler but I totally see where you’re coming from and I’m going to try and stop mentioning that in my reviews.
    This was a great discussion post!

  33. Revealing (and being spoiled) by spoilers is a hard topic to discuss because, as you mention, there’s so many different ways to let loose a book’s details on top of what actually constitutes a spoiler – which, again, is totally different from person to person. I was once spoiled (majorly) for HP when my friend told me that Dumbledore died in OotP (instead of AN ENTIRE BOOK LATER), and I just recorded a book review video for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and it was so hard not to spoil that ending for people who haven’t read the novel (even though the book is 50 years old!!!). Game of Thrones, I think, is a special circumstance because the TV adaptations are happening 5-15 years after the source material was published. And, well, yes, that means a lot of people have read up to the most current book, a lot of people also haven’t – or perhaps weren’t even aware that there WERE books preceding the show. (I think that a lot of fantasy/sci-fi shows/movies attract fans that are not necessarily into reading fantasy and sci-fi.)

    Anyway, I give spoilers a good 1.5-2 years before I consider it safe to speak about. E.g., The Fault in Our Stars book only came out 2.5 years ago – probably an okay point at which to spoil the ending. But then the movie was in production as far as six months ago, so I kind of feel like the clock starts over again, and I have to wait another 18-24 months from June 2014 before thinking about spoiling the story. Also, regardless of when/what material is being spoiled, I think that’s in good taste to simply acknowledge that the post COULD BE a spoiler, and let the reader decide on their own. (Including GoodReads tags/shelves because you kind of have to be seeking out a book on a specific social media site to see those.)

  34. This is a really interesting topic. When I post my book reviews I do my best to make them spoiler free so in that case I count anything that isn’t in the blurb.

    I’d never thought about saying ‘there was a big twist’ but on reflection I can understand how you might not be floored by it if you already know about it, so that’s something I’m going to try and keep out of reviews now.

    As for books that have been out for years, I still would do my best to avoid spoilers if I knew someone I was talking to hadn’t seen it.

    Rosie x

  35. I actually have this topic on my list of future discussion posts, so I’ll have to link to this post when I write mine!

    I am SUCH a spoilerphobe that almost anything that I am told about a book before reading it can possibly be considered a spoiler. BUT I never really thought about someone saying, “There’s a huge twist in that book!” as being a spoiler in and of itself. However, I can totally see where it could be considered one. I personally love twists so I wouldn’t mind if someone said that to me, as long as they didn’t give any mention of what the twist was or who it involved. I often mention twists in my reviews, but I make sure not to say anything about them so that I don’t spoil anyone.

    I’m kind of iffy on the whole spoilers of older books thing. On the one hand, I feel like if it’s something like Harry Potter, it’s hard to nog be spoiled and I don’t know if people should really censor themselves when talking about that story or fangirling about it or posting things online that may be a spoiler. BUT I would never, for instance, tell YOU what happens in book 3 or 5 or 7 or whatever because I would not want to hinder your experience. I also just finished A Game of Thrones, and although I am caught up on the show, I have only read the first book and I recently posted something about a theory I had on Facebook. I was proud of myself for coming up with the theory, because apparently it’s the main theory among fans, and I had come up with it on my own before finding out that it was such a major theory. I didn’t post a spoiler in my FB post, but those who clicked on the link would possibly be spoiled, and were sufficiently warned. But a friend of mind commented and was like, “Yeah, that’s old news.” And it really pissed me off because of course it’s old news to people who have read the books years ago, but for those of us who haven’t, it’s totally not old news.

    I know I’m writing a novel in your comments but I also just wanted to say I agree about the genre thing in on Goodreads. I’ve seen some of the genres and I definitely think that can spoil people. I just avoid those.

  36. Wow. So, I guess the next discussion topic should be, “Do you always read an entire post before leaving a comment?”

    As for the topic itself, spoilers are SO tricky and so subjective. I always try to err on the side of caution in my reviews, but it’s sort of impossible to talk about a book without giving ANYTHING away. So, if I want to go into a book as blind as possible, I know that’s on me to avoid reviews and discussions as much as possible.

    I think all three of your points are spoilers to an extent, especially the first one – I don’t care if it’s 10 years old or 100, how hard is it to say “spoilers ahead”? (Okay, it’s harder just in general conversation, but in blog posts and comments at least.) As for the second two… those are things would definitely affect your reading of the book, maybe for the worse (if you want to experience it exactly as the author meant you to) but maybe for the better (if the blurb/marketing is misleading, maybe you’d rather know that ahead of time).

    It’s really tough to know where to draw the line on these types of spoilers. I just use my best judgment, and hope the people who really don’t want to know anything at all will just skip the review altogether.

  37. You haven’t seen the Harry Potter movies, either? I think reviews should never have spoilers in them anyway because reviews are basically for people who haven’t read the book yet. If a blogger wants to talk details they need to have a discussion post for it. As far as saying a book has a plot twist, or it has LGBT characters, I don’t consider those spoilers because many books have twists and going into a book you are not going to know who the LGBT characters are.

  38. I always try to be careful about discussing spoilers when I’m writing reviews but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I’m slipping up and it’s because of all the things you listed here. It’s hard to always know exactly what to say without accidentally slipping up and revealing a spoiler. Of course, I never mean to just blurt out a spoiler for someone but I’m sure it has probably happened in someones mind. Maybe in my character descriptions. Or in the descriptions of the events of the story. I know I’ve gushed about plot twists before because I felt that they were so relevant for a discussion about the book. If I know that I’m revealing too much about something, I always try to put in a note about potential spoilers ahead. By doing that I at least feel that I’m giving a fair warning for anyone who may read the review.

    Great topic Jamie!

  39. I really enjoyed this post and have been wondering the same thing! Personally I don’t think it’s a huge deal to share that there IS a twist in a book, as long as you don’t share what the twist is. I just finished a trilogy and the book switches genres as a big twist at the end of the first book. It’s a hard secret to keep when I recommend the book to friends! I don’t want to spoil it but I also don’t want to recommend a book that seems like it’s a regular mystery/suspense book but ends up being paranormal -just in case the person doesn’t like one of the genres. It’s a tough line. Books have been totally spoiled for me by goodreads shelves! I was checking some reviews of a book I hadn’t started and the plot was that the main character was going to uncover a big secret; the reviewer’s goodreads shelf ruined the secret for me! It was a major spoiler and now that’s all I’m thinking about as I read 🙁

  40. Spoilers are tough, especially when we’re referring to gray areas like the ones you’ve mentioned! When it comes to the first (popular fiction that’s been out for ages), I can’t really fault myself if I wind up spoiled. I’ll try really hard not to be in that position, but sometimes, it’s too unavoidable. For the second and third, however, I’ve learned to be a bit more deliberate about how I present that (especially on a Goodreads status). I mean, I never really thought of it as a spoiler before, but after a few times of having felt disappointed to learn a twist was underwhelming because I knew it would happen, I’ve decided it’s best to be more careful about mentioning that stuff.

  41. Am I the only person who doesn’t even consider spoilers to be spoilers? I HATE HATE HATE the feeling of suspense so much that I read movie and TV show plots online before watching said movies and TV shows. (I’ve read detailed plot summaries of every Doctor Who episode through the end of series seven, even though I’m currently in series five.) I almost always read the end of a book before I even start it, and if things are getting tense, I skip ahead until the tension is resolved, then go back and read the parts I skipped to see how they got from “where I skipped from” to “where I skipped to.”

    I know people who, if I read a biography of Abraham Lincoln, and I mentioned in my review that Lincoln was assassinated, they would accuse me of spoiling the book. Really? It’s not even fiction. It’s a historical fact, and not an obscure one. I do tend to lump things like Shakespeare plays in with historical fact, particularly if the person I’m talking with is an adult and the play is one that is commonly studied in schools. I kind of feel like if you manage to make it through high school without learning the plot of Romeo and Juliet, you need to ask for a refund. (I didn’t read R&J until I was 25, but I can’t remember not knowing the premise and the ending. The play is a cultural touchstone, at least in the English-speaking world.) Harry Potter is a different sort of cultural touchstone; it’s far more generational than the classics, but I’d reveal less about it just because it’s newer and not part of the established “what every educated person should know.” On the other hand, my Abraham Lincoln spoiler friends would, in all seriousness, consider “Harry Potter is a wizard” to be a spoiler. I don’t talk books with them much.

  42. I definitely try to avoid spoilers (as in, anything not revealed by the synopsis) in my reviews, but I’m a little different when reading reviews. I try not to get worked up about spoilers at all, and sometimes I even seek them out so I know what I’m getting into, or what to avoid. And even if the spoiler spoils a plot twist, if the writing is good, I can usually enjoy it anyway while reading.

  43. I think the line between being informative/being spoilery is very thin and hard to define. There are some things you want to hare and talk about, but some people still might think it is a spoiler. If I put in my review that the book made me laugh/cry/emotional, some people might count that as spoiler.. But at the same time, you didn’t say anything about what happens, so how do you deal with that?

    And with those shelves. I think they come in handy, but like you say sometimes they can spoiler a twist you would never suspect. I can deal with those things though. One thing I can’t handle is when people throw important twists/character deaths/crucial parts around on Twitter or reviews without a warning. It’s not fair to do such a thing and if you want to talk about it, you should put a warning in your review or just DM/whatsapp with other people.

    I recently talked about spoilers on my blog too and I still don’t know how I feel about some aspects of spoilers. It’s hard.

  44. Ooh very good items you brought up. It is really hard in a review not to talk about a plot twist!! I’ve struggled with it, but if I notice and think I’m spoiling, I’ll put a spoiler warning just in case. Yes plot twists are supposed to be mind blowing and unexpected, but with all the reviews out there and everyone talking about what happened, well, some details slip by and it is hard to tell when they are safe and when they become spoilery. As for GR shelves, that is hard because people want to be able to shelf things appropriately, and oops if you haven’t read it yet and notice it is on a particular shelf. It is almost to the point where we almost shouldn’t read reviews before reading books just in case, but you know we’re not gonna do that either. I wanna know if other people liked the book before I take the time. So you’re right, too many grey areas and delicate balances of spoiling and being cryptic in reviews. Great topic!

  45. I TOTALLY still count something as a spoiler if it’s a major plot twist no matter how old the story is. I can’t tell you how mad I was when I was watching the first couple seasons of HIMYM and my friends would talk about the show even though they knew it was my first time through!

    For smaller details of newer stories, though, it might irk me but it’s not a big deal. The only stuff that’s really never a spoiler for me is the first, say, 15% of a story be it a book or TV show. You need some premise as to why you want to pick it up, but not so much that you can guess everything that’s going to happen.


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