Discussion | Book blurbs and why I don’t usually read them

Whenever I buy a book I almost purely base my opinion of the book on the cover and on reviews. If I never heard of the book before I usually check on goodreads how it is rated. I do read the blurb on the back cover, but only in a skimming way. And after buying the book I don’t read it ever again (usually). I just don’t like sysopsis and here is why.

They often:

  • Reveal something about the plot that ruins the book for you. I have read books for which I read the blurb and it sort of indicated that the main character was going to fall in love with idk the bad guy or something. So I normally would be spending half the time hating the bad guy and then realizing he isn’t that bad and be okay with them being together. But what happens if I know in advance is that half the book, is I hate both the bad guy and the main character, because how can she fall in love with that idiot?! Even if she hasn’t fallen in love yet!
  • Make the book sound way less intriguing. I love teasers, they intrigue me and I want to know what will happen. But when the entire story is already told before reading the book, how can anything surprise me anymore?
  • Are vague. Like: stuff happens and characters are introduced but after reading it you are more confused about what the book is about then before you started reading the blurb. An example is The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs, after reading the blurb I still had no clue what it was about.
  • All sound the same. I know themes like love and growing up are quite common in YA fiction, but if the book blurb only vaguely says something about these themes, how am I supposed to know what makes this book different from the other ones?
  • They flatten the entire story. A book can be majestic and have hugely complex characters, but in a blurb this doesn’t really come across.

If I already have a sense of what the book is about and I know I bought it because I thought it would be a good book, I try to avoid reading the blurb before reading the book. Also, to be honest I don’t really know what makes a good book to me. A book can sound amazing, but can disappoint, and books that doesn’t sound like the type of thing I normally go for, can be amazing! I love being surprised by a book, and blurbs and synopsis ruin that effect a little.

Of course I know the importance of a good blurb, because people are not all like me. Just because I don’t usually read synopsis, doesn’t mean that other people don’t think it is important. Some things that I think are important in a blurb are that they provide an introduction to the story, not the story itself, that they leave you feeling intrigued and wanting to know what will happen next, and that they provide you the most important themes and characters.

What do you base your book buying on? Do you always read blurbs? What are the most important aspects of a blurb to you?

19 thoughts on “Discussion | Book blurbs and why I don’t usually read them

  1. I must confess sometimes I get a book on the basis of the cover rather than the blurb! Also I find that occasionally for me a blurb can make the book seem underwhelming, when it’s actually a lot more exciting than I originally thought.

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    1. Yeah I buy books based on covers too, but sometimes the book is just too pretty! Yes exactly, book blurbs often make the book sound uninteresting for some reason.

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  2. I’m just like you. I rarely read the synopsis because I like to go into a book blind, or almost blind. I hate when synopsis reveals the whole story. Sometimes I read the first sentences to get the feel of the story.

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    1. Yes exactly! I don’t want to know the story beforehand, I just want to know whether it would be something I would like to read or not

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  3. My choice in books is a mix of the synopsis and what I think of the cover. I honestly don’t know how you resist reading the synopsis, but power to you! I’ve learned the hard way not to read the blurb for sequels if I haven’t read the previous books, though. They can give away far too much.

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    1. Sometimes I try to read the synopsis, but then after a few lines my mind is already busy thinking about other stuff and I don’t even get any information in anymore! I never read blurbs of sequels either, there’s more bad it does than good usually

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  4. I stopped reading blurbs after being hit with the longest blurb in history: The Wrath and the Dawn. After that, I learned my lesson. Most blurbs give away too much or too little information and so I’ve just started buying my books off of peer recommendation, amazon/Goodreads reviews, and the covers, of course πŸ˜€ Great discussion topic!

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    1. I never read the blurb of The Wrath and The Dawn, not even after reading, but I’ve heard that it includes practically the entire story.
      That’s a good way to choose which books you’re going to buy! I usually buy it based on what I’ve heard of it to.
      Thanks!

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  5. I usually look at the little blurbs of author reviews that books often have printed somewhere on the cover or on one of the first pages. If authors you’ve read and liked have reviewed the book, that’s usually a good sign you’ll like it. Also, all those little blurbs are usually one a sentence or two, so they can’t give too much away. Sometimes they compare the story to other books, which can help too. The synopsis generally only describes the plot, but those author review blurbs talk about the writing, and that’s really what makes a book good. Much more reliable, I believe.

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    1. Yes that is great, those little texts are really helpful πŸ™‚ However sometimes the publisher just put on a book “if you liked […], you will love this book”, and they are not always very accurate. I think they do that to get more people to buy the book.
      I agree that the writing is what makes a book good, and not just the story line!

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  6. I totally agree with what you said about how blurbs should be an introduction to the story and leave you wanting to read the pages inside to know what happens. I am always so disappointed when I read a synopsis and practically the whole book is revealed. WHY. WHY DO THAT?

    I am pretty much the same as you when it come to blurbs. I will read it quickly, and if it sounds like something I might like then I will add it to the endless TBR. I usually don’t read it again before I read the actual book unless I have 100% forgotten what the book is even remotely about. Then I will read the blurb again.

    I feel like there should be a “art of the blurb” class or something, so that we never have those “give too much” or “give too little” or “sound the same as every other book in the genre” blurbs, because they just don’t do their books justice! (Unless the book is terrible, then a blurb would not have helped in any case.)

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    1. Agreed! I have the same method in adding books to my tbr as you have, I read it somewhat quickly, forget 90% of it and when I want to read it, I only reread it if I have no clue what it was about at all.
      Definitely, a “art of the blurb” class would be a great idea for every writer/publisher!

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