Hi friends! I hope you all are doing okay 💛
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:
- Laura & Fadwa created an incredible Content Warning Database that you can find here. More information about it and how they both created it in this blog post.
- Lauren Hannah has a book trigger list on her blog.
- Annemieke has a list of trigger warnings you can use in your reviews.
- An oldie but a goodie, my friend Marta wrote about trigger warnings and their importance.
- Malka @ Paper Procrastinators gave her take on trigger warnings in a very interesting post as well!
☂️ You might also be interested in: 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!