Discussions

Content Warnings… *deep sigh*

I’ve read many books – from fantasy to contemporary to science-fiction – with stories diverting from a range of ideas and sequences of events – and these books either being classic or modern or ancient… and none of them included any content warnings whatsoever… and it’s not that they didn’t require content warnings, either.

Reading a book is a personal thing, especially when you’re reading it for pleasure. Your eyes and your mind are occupied by this story, and if it’s good enough – your thoughts too. For a while at least, you are captured by these words, and words… are exceptionally powerful, and have the potential to drastically affect your moods, your day, your week… even your life. 

I’m always very careful about what I read and what I expose myself to through books. I know a lot of people aren’t about that, and prefer to be censor-free and such, but I’m not one of them, and I know as the person I am, there are certain things and certain topics that I’d rather not touch on while following wild adventures in my stories – that as a young person, will make me uncomfortable, and even upset.

And you don’t have to be young like I am to be upset by such things – in fact you can be any age. It’s even worst, if you’ve gone through a particularly horrifying experience, and then encountering this in a storybook. It could trigger you, and then you would be left upset by reading it, as it reminds you of what happened to you once, something that you’d very much rather forget.

I feel like that is very careless of authors or publishers – to include a disturbing event in a book, when there are people who could be triggered by such things, and incredibly upset by them. Not everyone reads reviews – before I discovered Goodreads, I didn’t either.

The point of this post is to say that I think every book should have content warnings at the beginning of it, stating specifically what is in the book that may, with the slightest chance – disturb or upset the reader.

Because reading a book is a personal thing – and books have the power to touch us in a number of ways that a reader may not desire it to. If you’re triggered by something you could have a panic attack, or worst. It’s not anyone’s fault that they get triggered, so instead of having to search through reviews to find out if a book might contain anything upsetting every time they want to read something, why can’t there just be warnings at the beginning of every book, and make many people’s lives easier?

I know a I don’t have an audience that is as wide as other blogs – but with this post on my own small blog – I hope to get the discussion going, as this is a topic that is very close to my heart. Please feel free to check out Kaya’s post on her blog, as she’ll be posting similarly about this issue today, too!

For those of you who counter this problem, Common Sense Media is a great site for this, and they’ve reviewed many (though not all) books. Cait @caitsbooks also includes content warnings with her reviews, so go check her blog out!

Also, I’ve set myself a little mission – to include content warnings in all my reviews – it will take a while, but it’s a goal of mine 🙂

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, speak soon!

11 thoughts on “Content Warnings… *deep sigh*”

  1. I know a lot of books don’t have content warnings, but I think with posts like this happening that authors are trying to listen. I don’t know how much a control an author might have with that sort of thing. I’m hoping that publishers pay attention and start to be serious about adding content warnings to books.. I myself may not need them, but it’s important that everyone has a comfortable experience reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes that is my goal, I hope to try and spread more awareness of it on my own small blog! I’m sure if an author asks it won’t be a problem, since it only requires a small note at the beginning of a book? I’m hoping so too, and yes it is super important – thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you! Exactly, they’re unhelpful because sometimes people mature above or below their age… there needs to be things specifically listed – whether it’s violence or any sexual content – so the reader can make the judgement for themselves 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for mentioning me! I always try to give people the warning the books don’t give them, yet I also know that I probably miss some important warnings for some people. I’m hoping to get better at it haha
    And I completely get where you’re coming from. I really wish all books had some basic form of content warning that will let you know what to prepare yourself for – or so that you can avoid it. I was so happy when Michelle Hodkin included a trigger warning before The Becoming of Noah Shaw! But that’s really the only warning I’ve seen (and I’ve read some books that could really really use warnings). I know, for me, I can’t always read books that deal with suicide or severe depression, and that it could be really dangerous for me to when I’m not in the right mindset. Having warnings would make it so much easier (and safer) for readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re welcome! Yes you’re completely right. Oh wow, really – that’s great to hear, I haven’t read that book! I know, there are so many books that desperately require trigger warnings. Aw, I hope you manage to avoid reading books that include such content! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. While I understand being disturbed by certain content, in my humble opinion, adding the concept of trigger warnings to books would me more counterproductive then anything else. This is one of the many differences between fan fictions and published literary works. Most (if not all) fan fictions these days come with long lists of trigger-warnings, that just keep getting longer and longer….because people are triggered by just about a million different things. Once you start putting warnings, you can’t just decide that warnings would only apply to violence and sexually explicit content. I’ve seen fan fictions where people added trigger warnings for “harsh language” and “dark themes”.

    If a publisher decided to not add a trigger warning that a certain group finds important, they will be immediately accused of being insensitive or shaming people for their triggers. And I’m sure we’ve all seen how little it takes these days to provoke twitter outrage. Where does one stop these warnings? Who is to decide if a certain element is worthy of a warning while another wouldn’t be? We risk ending up with ever-increasing lists of trigger warnings that never cease because every possible trigger must be catered to.

    There is of course a middle ground where for younger audiences the appropriate age with a warning for mature/upsetting content could be stated. But for adult audiences, honestly it boils down to personal responsibility here. There are plenty of things I find upsetting (that probably others wouldn’t) and that trigger anxiety in me. When I come across such things in books I’m reading, or shows I’m watching, then I have to make a decision as to whether I wish to continue engaging with this material or not. In life, one cannot be protected against every possible upsetting thing. It is part of the human experience and of growing up and maturing. In many ways, I think social media has created a weird mindset where everyone wants to live in a bubble (safe spaces, trigger warnings), but real life is nothing like that. There are no warnings or safe spaces from racism, Islamophobia, violence, etc… especially for Muslims and People of Colour. Learning to navigate the unpleasant aspects of life is what allows us to survive in a world that is often down-right hostile toward us. So, while I understand how difficult it is to deal with unpleasant and upsetting content, one really can not expect to have all their personal triggers cater to.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That is very true, jazakallahukhair for your thoughtful comment. It may be true for adult books and I don’t think trigger warnings are necessary for adult books because of the reasons you stated, but for YA and MG these days there is content that I feel is not appropriate and requires trigger warnings. But yes, I see and agree with what you’re saying 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I absolutely agree that YA and books catering to younger audiences needed to be better vetted. These audiences are often not mature enough to be confronted with certain themes or could be harmed by some of the content I see being listed as YA these days. Hence, why I think they should definitely not only put an age indicator but also make it clear that these books contain violence/sexually explicit/mature content. That way both the young readers and their parents can make better decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

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