This is going to sound strange, but I very rarely read book blurbs. Most of my recommendations come from fellow bloggers, friends or podcasts but even if I’m browsing through a bookstore, I’ll never base my decision solely on the blurb.
Here’s the thing: blurbs ruin books for me. Often they reveal way too much information which puts a dampener on the opening chapters. I also find they give me certain expectations for how the story will unfold and, when it doesn’t, I get disappointed in a book which I probably would have enjoyed otherwise.
What about book reviews? Well, I actually try not to read reviews of books I’m looking to pick up in the not-too-distant future to avoid influencing my opinion. If it’s something I’m on the fence about reading, I’ll definitely read reviews (especially written by bloggers I know share the same taste as me). The same goes for books I haven’t considered reading before.
Being part of the blogging world also naturally means being much more attuned to book hype than I ever was before. Generally I try to ignore it. In fact, the more hype, the less likely I am to read it. The one real exception to this was Victoria Schwab’s The Archived which had a huge publicity campaign prior to its release. I pre-ordered the novel, loved it and have been a huge fan of her work ever since. For the most part though, I wait until the hype dies down before I see what all the fuss was about.
I find book hype quite off-putting most of the time too. A pet peeve of mine is seeing new books compared to my favourites, be it Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Wein or J.K. Rowling. I get that comparisons can help give potential readers an idea of what to expect, but it just gets my hope up way too much. In same ways I feel like they’re actually worse for bloggers, because we’re so in tune with the styles of our favourite writers it can never really end well. I don’t want to go into book with expectations because it gives me less chance to be disappointed and allows me to enjoy the book for its own qualities, not what it’s compared to.
Blurbs can also create strange expectations. I find blurbs sometimes give too much away or pick a point so late in the plot to emphasis that I’ve found myself not enjoying the novel because I feel like it’s not delivering on a promise. Which is never enjoyable and I’m sure has made me dislike or feel ambivalent towards books I would otherwise have enjoyed. I’d really rather know almost nothing about the plot and enjoy the ride.
Does publicity hype make you more likely to pick up a book? Am I the only one who avoids blurbs? How do you choose books?