Trigger warnings in books and why they matter to me

Hi friends! I hope you all are doing okay πŸ’›

A lot of people have been talking about trigger warnings (or content warnings, if you prefer) in books over the past few years, on the blogosphere and on social media.

I’ve been wondering whether or not to write this kind of post for many years, but after a conversation with my sister about content warnings, somehow she made me realize that I could also bring my own thoughts and experience to it all, so, I thought I would… so here goes.

What are trigger warnings?

Trigger warnings, or content warnings in books, are statements to warn readers of distressing content their pages might contain. This content can potentially harm the reader mentally, triggering stressful episodes, panic attacks, depression, anxiety….

The way a person experiences a book’s content is, obviously, very personal and each and every reader has their own reaction to a book’s content. By including trigger or content warnings, in book reviews, in the book itself, we allow every person to experience the book on their own terms.

Why content warnings in books matter to me

Excuse me to be harsh, but people saying that old, goddamn sentence that “life has no triggers so why would books need them” is just a privileged, stupid take I am NOT on board with, at all. Yes, life doesn’t have any kind of trigger warnings, I agree. Does that mean that, if you can make someone’s life easier by mentioning triggers in a book, you shouldn’t?

Thanks to many of my considerate, incredible book blogging friends and goodreads users mentioning trigger warnings in their books, I can pick up my next read with the knowledge of what I’m going into.

I can’t even begin to explain how thankful I am to some friends telling me that a certain book has triggers, to my sister for reading a book and letting me know yes okay this might be a little stressful for you to read right now.

It doesn’t mean I personally won’t read the books, if I am interested in them. It just means that knowing content warnings beforehand allow me to approach a book while being in the right headspace and therefore, to have a completely different experience of it.

If no one mentioned any kind of trigger warnings, I would be screwed. If no one ever mentioned the heavy trigger warnings in Ninth House, from the synopsis alone, I might have picked this book up and… well, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the reading experience and would definitely have not been in a good headspace either because this is a very, very heavy read.

This is just one example from many, many, many examples I could take on. I’ve been pushing back some books on my TBR these past few months that have been dealing with some heavy topics, because I know personally I am not in the right headspace to experience these books. I’m thankful to have been able to do that thanks to the readers mindful enough to put trigger warnings in their reviews or tell me about content warnings before I headed into a book I was not ready for.

Okay, but how do we know what a trigger is?

Some people I’m not going to qualify here would tell you that “everything is triggering lately”. That even the slightest thing can be a potential trigger and therefore, mentioning these kind of warnings would never, ever end.

I agree that there are a lot of things that we, as a human, as ourselves, might miss. Our personal experiences, our lives, our surroundings, our education and so many other elements we might not know about, make us receptive to stories in different ways. Some things will be triggering to you, while they will not affect anyone else.

Some elements will be brushed off as nothing, while they might be a massive mountain that crushes someone with different experiences from you.

Therefore, some people choose to brush off content warnings, because why mention them when you might be missing a lot of them, anyway?

I say: like anything, in life, you learn about these kind of things from listening to others and just being a mindful human being. Some things that might not seem as “content warning” territory will be tomorrow, because you’ve learned from another book reviewer, another reader’s experience.

So keep your eyes open and listen and do your best, and do that every single day.

Yes, but aren’t content warnings spoilery?

If you ask me the question, for real, THEY DON’T. I hate that question with a passion. Mentioning content warnings isn’t spoiling the book.

It’s being mindful of other human experiences and feelings and

That. is. it.

I put trigger warnings in all of my book reviews.

I started implementing trigger warnings on my blog a couple years ago, but I know I still have work to do.

I have been blogging since 2014 and my older reviews don’t have these content warnings mentioned just yet. I’m very late on cross-posting on goodreads and need to update that on here, too.

But I’m doing the work, day by day. For myself and for others, for a better reading experience for everyone.

Resources on trigger / content warnings:Β 

β˜‚οΈ You might also be interested in:Β 10 things I want to read more of in YA books

What do you think of content and trigger warnings being mentioned in book reviews?

Do they help you? Do you also wish publishers would implement trigger warnings in their books? Let me know in comments!

 

 

 

 

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

123 thoughts on “Trigger warnings in books and why they matter to me

  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!! Trigger/content warnings are super important to include in book reviews and no one can convince me otherwise. I also have implemented including these in all my book reviews going forward but I’m slowly getting through my previous reviews which don’t have them. Personally, I am very lucky that my current headspace allows me to read more heavy books and although I might miss some warnings, I try my best to research from others’ reviews or from databases for some tw that I might be missing. I want to provide a safe space to those visiting my blog. Thank you for this post! I hope everyone in the book community would read and take this to heart πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so, so grateful for all of your work and I’m certain others are, too πŸ’– I think it’s so, so important to, yes, like you perfectly said it, provide a safe space for readers!
      Thank you so much!! πŸ’–

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that trigger warning aren’t spoilers, but I’ll admit that I’m not great about keeping track of them. I put general notes about sex or violence content in a book and I’ll usually mention something like sexual assault, but I don’t typically get all that specific. I definitely don’t mind when others do, though, and I can see how this is very helpful for people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand, sometimes it can be hard to keep track of everything and we can overlook some things that don’t seem triggering to us, but can be to others, too. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention and why I try my best to seek out others’ reviews to see what I might have missed πŸ™‚
      Thank you, Nicole!! ❀

      Like

  3. i love this so much, and agree with you on all points with my whole heart. also, wordpress is mean and said i wasn’t following you after this hiatus i took? so, brb while i enjoy alll your blog posts i’ve been missing out on! ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m new to book reviewing and I haven’t used trigger warnings yet. I wouldn’t know where to start, honestly, although I guess my own triggers would be a good place. So thank you for the resources you added to this blog post, they’re going to help!

    Lia

    Like

  5. Hallo, Hallo Marie,

    I do this as well – however, one of the worst experiences I had was when I was called out for mentioning I wish there had been a warning about the contents of a poem which I felt went a bit too far visually for me. It was a bad experience and made worse when the author posted a note about it on her blog and then, I felt like I was being roasted for sharing my honest thoughts about a part in a poem which was graphically disturbing to me. I wanted to warn others in case the same would be true for them but this gave me a lot of emotional stress to be outed about a) talking openly about my experience and b) feeling like my thoughts and views were invalided because they were not the consensus.

    In case your curious, you can view the review in question. I contemplated removing it but then felt that would be saying those negative reactions to my review were right and that being openly honest about how stories or poems affect us personally aren’t meant to be shared. I can never agree to that because like you said – it is important to know what is inclusive of a story or poem as sometimes we find ourselves overwhelmed by the content.

    Thanks for blogging about this topic because I’ve had a lot of grief for doing this over the years. This by far was one example of how hard it is to be vulnerable and honest about your opinions whilst online.

    Like

    1. I’m sorry you had a bad experience like that, Jorie! 😦 I think on the contrary, that it’s good and so, so important that you shared your honest opinion and what has triggered you, too. You never know who this might help! By just stating things that unsettled you, you can warn others and really allow them to have a better reading experience, or avoid potentially triggering things, too. There’s no price on that.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the topic ❀

      Like

  6. i once saw someone say “it takes 5 seconds to insert trigger/content warnings but takes a lot longer for someone to get over a panic attack/depressive episode etc” and that really stuck with me. i mostly don’t included tws in my reviews (unless it’s an ARC) because loads of my blogger friends do it which honestly sounds terrible now that i think about it and i think i’m going to star including them now!! thank you so much for this post, it’s incredibly important ❀

    Like

    1. Oh yes I saw that, too and it really stayed with me, too. I think it’s so important to do that little gesture then, because you never know just how helpful it can be ❀
      Thank you so much!! ❀

      Like

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