Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion hosted by Janie and Janelle. You can find the goodreads group here if you are interested in participating! It's always fun to discuss bookish topics with other readers.
Viewer Discretion On Books
This is an interesting topic that has required me to do some rather deep thinking. Should there be viewer discretion labels on books? Well, I have varied opinions as far as this is concerned. So let's discuss some of those ideas.
I don't particularly feel that an outright label on a book would be necessary. Video games, movies, and other forms of media are often labeled for "appropriate" audiences and restricted to purchase by certain age groups. While I think this can be beneficial in some regards, I don't feel it would be necessary in books. I understand that labels and restrictions are generally in place for a reason, but not all people are the same. Some people are at different reading levels and may not need the restrictions that a similarly aged person would.
That said, I do believe that content warnings are a good thing. With how much we as readers use the internet for our book research before purchasing or reading a book, I don't think this would necessarily need to be included on the packaging in a bookstore. I've read/watched many reviews and visited many author websites where they included reader warnings that I found helpful. I've included the same thing in my reviews as well. It's not that the reviewer or author should downplay the work, but letting people know some of the content may be helpful. You can't always get the information you need from the synopsis alone.
So let me clarify some of my thoughts already mentioned. I think it would be great to include content warnings/ratings online more than on the physical book, somewhere that is easily found. I've seen some comments from authors recently who are bashing reviewers for including these types of warnings in reviews (not many authors, but a few) saying that if you didn't mind it you shouldn't tell others about it. I think that is ridiculous, however. I know what many of my friends will and will not like. They generally know the same about me. I think mentioning things such as language, sex, violence, drug/drinking, any many other things can be beneficial to readers. So if it's in a review, on the authors website, stamped on the book, wherever, I've often found this helpful. It helps us know if we might enjoy the book. There is nothing stopping me from buying a book with a content label. I make the choice. It also helps to keep in mind the intended audience for the book in question. This goes for those thinking about reading and those giving the discretion labels.
In general I think it's better to mention something than to leave it out entirely. No reader wants to know exactly what happens in the books they are reading, but we also like knowing that it's likely to be something we will enjoy. Just a brief mention of some of the things that may appear in the novel can help me decide if it's something I definitely want to read or something I want to avoid. I won't discourage others from reading reading novels with content I don't like, but I will let them know in advance so they can decide for themselves if it's something they want to read.
So what do you think about viewer discretion on books? Should there be content warnings and labels? Do you like seeing things like this in reviews? Share your thoughts in the comments. (And ignore this post if it seems particularly incoherent.)