Why I Appreciate Books That List Trigger Warnings Upfront


Something I’ve become more aware of within the past two years is when writers mention a list of triggers that occur in the story before you read the book. It’s been required for movies and TV shows involving ratings for viewers. But I’ve never seen it done for books.

Personally, I think it’s brilliant.

Triggers are helpful whether you’re a parent trying to figure out if this book is appropriate for your preteen, or someone who wants to read the book but is unsure if the romance or action scenes will be too much. This could benefit many people without giving away the plot of the story. I’m not saying books need to have PG-13 or R stuck on the back next to the synopsis, but a small idea of what elements the book introduces is a good idea. 

Some may think this isn’t necessary and that people are being “too sensitive” to specific topics. To respond to that concern, my question is this: If you personally knew someone struggling with addiction, or maybe a family member died by suicide, and you read a book that had one of those elements in it, would you keep reading the story? 

It may be an intriguing plot, but that could hit too close to home and bring up memories you don’t want to dwell on.

It is very much a catch-22 when it comes to talking about difficult topics people often sweep under the rug. 

You want to include them in the plot somehow, but you’ll end up having one of two reactions. One group of people will love that you mentioned something that is a normal, day-to-day experience for them. They’ll say people should talk about it more. Maybe they can relate on another level with the main character. 

The other group will feel a mix of emotions after reading something that involves themes they weren’t expecting. (Let’s be honest, a good action or thriller story has to be intense, and obvious elements are going to be within the plot.) It’s what makes or breaks the story.

What are your thoughts? If you knew ahead of time when flipping to a page that it listed themes included within the story, would you still be intrigued? Or would it give away too much of how the story is going to go down?

Featured image via Studio Media on Unsplash


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.