Spoiler Paralysis

March 9, 2009 @ 5:22 am | Filed under:

I added another thought to the end of my post about Stolen—I said, “I think Jane will enjoy this one, and maybe Rose, though there’s a plot point I anticipate will trouble her somewhat and will generate a big discussion. I can’t say more without giving away the book’s secrets, but maybe later I can do another post with big spoiler alerts plastered all over it.”

This is where I always run into trouble when I write about books. There’s no way to discuss a book in the depth I’d like to without giving away its secrets. Even with a spoiler warning, I worry that I’ll reveal too much and change the reader’s experience with the book. I hardly ever read book reviews past the first paragraph myself until after I’ve read the book. And then I usually pester Scott to read it too, so I’ll have someone to talk about with. Or, if it’s a children’s book, my girls make great discussion companions. I really think my favorite part of reading is the unpacking, the analysis. But I do very little of that on the blog because I find myself paralyzed by spoiler fear.

I’m the same way with movies. I love to read reviews and criticism after I’ve seen a film, but I really don’t want to hear too much about it in advance. Scott’s even more passionate on this point than I am: he won’t even read the back of the DVD box lest it reveal too much. This makes film (or book) selection tricky: we have to glean just enough but not too much about a work to determine whether it’s worth our time.

I love in-depth reviews after the fact, after I’ve read a book or watched a movie and had a chance to ponder it for a while. And then, then, I’m often burning to write about it, to ask questions, compare reactions, crystallize my impressions by articulating them. What’s my problem? Why can’t I just slap a big neon SPOILER banner on top of the post and get on with it?

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10 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Jennifer says:

    Please do. I’m quite curious to know how the book continues.

  2. GailV says:

    I love spoilers. They’re like familiar landmarks when I eventually travel through the story myself.

    When I read a book that I’m not familiar with I’m constantly flipping through the pages in my right hand, scanning through characters and settings, trying to get an idea of where we’re heading.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Perhaps you could “spoil” in the comments section?

  4. Melissa Wiley says:

    Good idea. Or I suppose I could put in one of those “more” links so you have to click to see the whole post.

  5. Sherry Early says:

    The nice thing about Menopausal Brain, maybe the only nice thing, is that I read the reviews—with spoilers, and I think that I must read that book. So, I put it on my TBR list. This step is crucial because my Menopausal Memory is completely unreliable. Then, by the time I read the book I’ve totally forgotten the spoilers, and I can enjoy all the surprises.

    I can even go back and re-read Agatha Christie because I’ve forgotten whodunnit, although the names sometimes do sound familiar. Colonel Mustard in the library! Whoops, that’s something else, isn’t it?

  6. MelanieB says:

    I could so have written this post.

    I don’t have as many chances to discuss books as you do, though. My girls aren’t big enough for meaty literature discussions just yet so I have to savor children’s lit favs on my lonesome. And my husband reads more slowly and less widely than I do. So most of the time I have to live with the frustration of no one to talk about a good book with, like you said it’s the best part of reading Or else I write a post on my blog with spoilers and all and hope another reader stumbles along who’s also read the book and wants to chat about it.

    I usually solve the problem by doing a “more” link and putting the spoilers after that. Though I worry about people reading via RSS and whether that won’t show the whole post.

    Last week I found another blogger who mentioned a book that I was just itching to have a good discussion over. It had one of those endings you couldn’t talk about without heaps of spoilers. So I actually emailed her to start a conversation that way.

  7. sarah says:

    When I get a new book by an author I haven’t encountered before, I always read the last couple of pages first. I especially do this when choosing a book for my dd. I’m a comfort reader. I get too anxious and nervy worrying that something big and bad is going to happen in the story, so I just want to know how it happens. Sad endings are fine, just so long as I know about them!

  8. Melissa Wiley says:

    This is just fascinating to me. Spoiler haters, spoiler lovers, spoiler angsters…such a range of opinion!

    It’s reassuring to hear that some people out there actually appreciate advance information about a plot. It sort of boggles my mind to imagine it 😉 but it does make me feel more relaxed about engaging in more detailed, potentially plot-revealing discussion on the blog, as long as I give plenty of warning.

    Melanie, what was the book you were itching to discuss?

  9. mamacrow says:

    I also love reading a book backwards.

  10. Cathy says:

    Because of your recommendation I reserved Stolen at my library last night and picked it up this evening. It is now 11:30pm and I just finished it! I read most of it while rocking my 3yo to sleep while using a teeny tiny booklight! I could. not. put. it. down! It was fantastic. Thank you so much for your book recommendations. You have great taste. Now, I have a 15yo, a 10yo, a 8yo along with my 3yo and I know that none of them would like it…too suspenseful. But I enjoy that kind of book. Have you ever read Where it Stops Nobody Knows by Amy Erlich? It’s the same kind of suspense and plot twists in a modern day setting. It’s been out for quite a few years but I still love to reread it every once and awhile.
    Again thanks forthe recoomendations and keep them coming 🙂
    P.S. I also picked up The Uncommon Reader; it looks interesting!