[Bookish Discussion] When Reading A Book, When Are Spoiler Alerts Necessary?

Some quick thoughts today for a discussion! Last month I read a fun young adult book called Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. It tells the story of Tash who is in love with a young Leo Tolstoy. She writes a web series based on his book Anna Karenina and suddenly the series gets super famous and the story takes off from there.

As I was reading this book, I was wanting more and more to read the Tolstoy classic but then the story was completely spoiled as a BIG part of the ending of Anna Karenina was talked about in the book. I mean, I know that Tolstoy’s books are classics and loads of people have read them and spoilers aren’t exactly unavoidable, but it made me wonder if spoilers like this are necessary in books, or if there should be some kind of spoiler alert in the book. It made me think of this one episode of The Big Bang Theory I watched a few years back, where parts of Harry Potter were spoiled – namely, the death of a certain character. I remember reading comments from people saying that it was wrong for the show to spoil Harry Potter, whereas other people said that the books and movies for Harry Potter have been out for a long time and you can’t keep spoilers away forever.

I was also reading a biography by Jane Dunn on Daphne du Maurier and her sisters. I enjoyed the book very much, but came across a few parts where Dunn talked about books that du Maurier had written and would give a brief synopsis on the book followed by “and ultimately, the story ended …” giving away the ending of whatever book she was talking about. I would skim over these parts in the biography because I have a huge pile of du Maurier books that I want to read and I don’t want to be spoiled on the endings. But in that case, should there be some kind of spoiler alert? Is it necessary?

ALSO, can we talk about book introductions? This isn’t something you’d usually find in more modern books, but I’ve found with reading classics that there tends to be introductions by other authors and that they INEVITABLY CONTAIN SPOILERS! For example, I was reading a short story collection by Daphne du Maurier, and the first sentence of the introduction talks about the ending of the second story. WHAT?? Why are these even introductions? Do publishers think that people reading these books will of course know to skip these until after reading the story? Why not put these at the end of the book so the reader can get more insight afterwards? I’m all for people talking about the book I’m about to read but for god’s sake, don’t ruin it for people before they get to enjoy the story!

Now obviously I’m not losing sleep over this, but part of me thinks that had I known there would be spoilers for Anna Karenina in Tash Hearts Tolstoy, that maybe I would’ve read the classic first. Or should it have been a given that a person reading a book about a love of Tolstoy would inevitably talk about the classic and ultimately ruin the ending?

I’d love to know your thoughts! Should we assume that if we read a book on a certain author, or a book based on another book, that we’ll ultimately be spoiled if we haven’t consumed the books that are talked about? Do you think it’s totally necessary to spoil classics in modern fiction, non-fiction, or in TV shows – or are classics fair game since they’ve been out forever?

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[Book Talk] The Forgotten Ones by Steena Holmes

Book Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Read: April 2018

Synopsis:

In this novel from a New York Times bestselling author, the search for truth is defined by secrets and lies.

Elle is a survivor. She’s managed to piece together a solid life from a childhood of broken memories and fairy tales her mom told her to explain away bad dreams. But weekly visits to her mother still fill Elle with a paralyzing fear she can’t explain. It’s just another of so many unanswered questions she grew up with in a family estranged by silence and secrets.

Elle’s world turns upside down when she receives a deathbed request from her grandfather, a man she was told had died years ago. Racked by grief, regrets, and a haunted conscience, he has a tale of his own to tell Elle: about her mother, an imaginary friend, and two strangers who came to the house one night and never left.

As Elle’s past unfolds, so does the truth—if she can believe it. She must face the reasons for her inexplicable dread. As dark as they are, Elle must listen…before her grandfather’s death buries the family’s secrets forever.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Ambur over at Thomas Allen & Sons for a copy of this book for review!

Let me just say that the cover for this book is exactly the kind of cover I LOVE. The colours, the big and bold white letters … it’s gorgeous! I also really loved the story in the beginning. Steena Holmes is a new to me author and it wasn’t until about 1/4 of the way into the book that I realized she was Canadian.

This book starts out with the story of David, a man who’s dying of cancer who just wants to see his daughter again, but manages to find his granddaughter in the process. He tells her a story of her past and she’s torn between who to believe – her mother or her grandfather.

In the beginning I really enjoyed this mystery. I enjoyed Elle as a character and the mystery surrounding David, but after a while it started to get tedious. There was just so many secrets and by half-way through still no answers. I was not only getting annoyed with no one telling anyone anything, but also everyone getting surprised all the time and every single time DROPPING SOMETHING. The gasping and dropping of anything these people held in their hands started to drive me nuts.

The mystery was interesting, but very predictable. I started guessing what was going on just over halfway and that was okay since I was enjoying the writing for the most part, but the characters started driving me crazy at this point. It’s hard to say what was bothering me without giving anything away, but there were things that certain people should’ve done throughout the story, but instead nothing was done and that seemed to be okay. Does that even make sense? This story deals a lot with mental health and I was not only disappointed with how that was portrayed but also how everything was handled in the end.

I did enjoy reading this book for the most part and I’m glad to have discovered a new to me Canadian author. I do wish that the story had been less predictable and that the issue of mental illness had been portrayed in a different light, with some sort of positive resolution in the end.

My Favourite April Reads!

April was actually a pretty good reading month for me, though I slowed waaaaay down with my reading towards the end of the month, becoming a serial book starter instead of a book finisher. It was a bit of a struggle to finish some books towards the end of the month because of that – not because any of them were bad, but because I suddenly had the urge to read EVERYTHING and I thought by starting new books all the time, maybe I’ll finish more books.

It was so exciting to dig into books that I just bought, books that had been on my TBR forever, books that I picked through random fun ways to find new reads (that I already owned) – just starting some new books I realized I was going to have a LOT of new favourites in the coming months.

Here are some of my favourites from April!

As you might know if you’ve been following my blog lately, or follow me on Twitter, I adore Daphne du Maurier. I fell in love with her writing when I first read Rebecca last year and now I can’t get enough of her. Just this year I’ve read two short story collections, a non-fiction title on Daphne and her sisters, and this fiction title, My Cousin Rachel. This title is probably the one I had heard most about, alongside the short story The Birds (which was in one of the short story collections I read) and I’m so happy to have read it finally! du Maurier just has such a wonderful way of writing characters and conveying mood that just suck a reader in. I’m completely addicted to her now and am quite happy that I still have 7 more of her books on my shelf to read. I can see myself buying many more!

This month I only read ONE non-fiction book and it wasn’t even one that I had on my shelf already. I had gotten an email from Goodreads that told me how well I was doing on my reading challenge AND shared some of the trending books they thought I would like. I had read 3 books from the 5 they showed, only disliking one, and this one had me intrigued. I saw it at the grocery store this month, bought it, and started reading it that afternoon. I loved McNamara’s way of writing – this is a true-life crime story and McNamara writes in such a way that it feels like fiction and completely freaks a reader out. This story was everything that I wanted and it reminded me why I love non-fiction, as well as made me interested in checking out more true crime books in the future.

This is a book that I had bought at the beginning of last year, based on the endorsement from Kristan Higgins, an author I love. I hadn’t been reading a lot of contemporary books like this yet this year so part of me thought I would never get into it, but Carr’s writing was so addicting. She writes very much in the same way as Higgin’s, in terms of story, and it was just such a sweet read. It’s a contemporary romance, so obviously it was predictable, but I still loved reading the story and meeting new characters – there was a bit of a thriller thrown in, as well, and I was just completely invested in the story from the first pages. I’ve already bought the third book in the series that just came out in April.

I bought Lisa Genova’s latest the week it came out but I’ll admit that a part of me was really worried that I wouldn’t get into it. I loved her first two books so much, and also really liked her last two, so I think I was worried that I wouldn’t like this one at all, BUT Genova writes about medical issues so well, especially ones that maybe we’ve heard of but don’t hear a lot about. This one dealt with ALS, a disease that I only knew about by name, having only met one person who had it. Genova is a neuroscientist so she gets right to the root of these issues (previous books have dealt with Alzheimer’s, Autism, Huntington’s, and the complete disappearance of one side of a woman’s body in her brain) and writes them in such an interesting and moving way that you can’t help but be completely engrossed, and even a little emotional. I think I connected with this one because I was also a musician, a piano player, and the way the main character starts to show symptoms of ALS is through his right hand and arm, completely ending a career he loved so much. I highly, highly, highly recommend reading any of Genova’s books.

Agnes Grey was a reread for me, since I was taking part in the Bronte 200 read-along hosted by Lucy The Reader. The read for the first two months of this year was Wuthering Heights and now Agnes Grey for March and April. I had already read this last year and loved it, so I wasn’t sure if I would read it again, but I did want to read all of the books for the read-along as they came up, so I figured since this was a short book I would read it again. I loved this book even more on a reread and am very excited to check out The Tenant of Wildfell Hall at the end of the year. This was such a fun book to dip in and out of towards the end of the month since Agnes is such a wonderful character, and I adored Mr. Weston. Ever since rereading Wuthering Heights last month I’ve been very excited to read more from the Bronte sisters and I think my reread of this one just sealed the deal. Definitely recommend this one!

What were some of your favourite books from April? Have you read – or are you planning to – read any of my favourites?