Not so long ago I have started to add trigger warnings to my reviews. It had been something I thought about a lot before finally making the decision. I also asked on Twitter if people added trigger warnings to their reviews. I wrote: Hello fellow book reviewers! Do you add trigger warnings to your reviews? I’m currently writing a review and it feels wrong not to mention a possible trigger. (Also, is there a list with the main triggers or something?) The responses I got were very positive. Almost all answered with ‘yes’ and explained why. Most of it came down to this: people have realised how triggers can ruin someones well-being and want to help prevent that.
I totally agree with that. I don’t want to be the reason someone picks up a book that gives horrible flashbacks, or a panick attack, or “just” makes them uncomfortable, which easily could’ve been avoided if I had added a little section with warnings. It is a little bit more work to add trigger warnings to my reviews, but I think that’s worth it. The book I was talking about in my tweet was Starfish, by the way.
The biggest problem I had with adding trigger warnings to my reviews, is that there are so many possible triggers I didn’t know where to start and what to include. That’s why I asked if a list with the main triggers existed. Vinny from Artsy Draft shared a list in response to my tweet which was very helpful. Others mentioned they were looking for a list as well, so click here to see it. While reading blogs of others who also give trigger warnings I found a few more to add to my list. I think I got a quite inclusive list at the moment, but I will always add the sentence ‘Please inform me if I have missed something and I will update this section.’ to my reviews.
I have to say that a big list of trigger warnings can sometimes make a book look way more heavy than it actually is, because sometimes it’s a small scene or not very detailed, but I’ll still add the warning just to be sure. Some might think trigger warnings are unnecessary or some sort of censorship, or may see them as spoilers. I think of it as looking out for fellow readers. It can be as simple as warning for a scene that includes needles or more heavy such as body horror.
Trigger warnings are not something that can often be found on or in books, which I think is a shame. Or they try to downplay the content in the blurb, which is even worse. Hanna Alkaf of The Weight Of Our Sky wrote about the possible triggers in her book in the author’s note and that has sparked a praise on Twitter. I hope more authors follow her example. Because to be honest, I don’t think it should be the reviewer’s job to give these warnings. Just a small section at the back of the book or in the author’s note would be enough. And of course you can’t possibly warn for everything, but at least the obvious ones could be mentioned. More and more tv shows and movies warn the viewer of its content beforehand with a small notice, so why not books?
Lastly, I’d like to point out that not every book has to make you feel comfortable and sometimes it’s worth it to keep reading. But mental health is way more important than a fictional book. And a trigger warning doesn’t necessarely have to stop someone from reading a book, sometimes it’s enough to go into a story while being prepared.
(If you ever see a review of a book on my blog and you’re not 100% sure if it’s a book for you, you can always message me and I’ll tell you a little bit more.)