Monday Musings | Going into Books “Blind”

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I’m the type of person who usually has to know a movie or a book’s synopsis before I commit to watching or reading it. I’m not sure why this habit formed (maybe because I’ve wasted too much time watching boring and/or bad movies?) but it’s a… thing. I just don’t feel comfortable going into things blind and knowing at least a little bit of what it’s about.

That being said, I’ve been getting better at stepping out of my comfort zone. It started with E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. If you’ve read any review of it, the reviewer will probably recommend going into the book “blind.” All I knew going into the book was that it was about a rich family, and that something big happens. Honestly, I am surprised that I still haven’t stumbled upon a spoiler. (Great job, internet!) Anyway, I went into We Were Liars knowing essentially nothing about it and, to my surprise, I loved it.

That made me wonder whether going into a book knowing essentially nothing about it leads to big exciting payoffs? Conversely, is it not worth the potential disappointment? Are you likely to pick up or buy a book that you know nothing about? Maybe you “cover-buy” or, like me, just had to fulfill your curiosity after hearing the internet raving about a book? As much as I do want to continue to be surprised by books, my old habit keeps pushing for me to do more research before committing to a book.

What do you say? Do you like going into books blind? Or do you need to have a good idea of what you’re getting into before you pick up a book?

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33 thoughts on “Monday Musings | Going into Books “Blind”

  1. Magistra Beck says:

    Love your post. I always have to at least read the Goodreads summary and a review or two (without spoilers) before I will even consider a book. But the last book I read I decided to do just this and “go in blind” and I really loved the book!

  2. Amy Sachs says:

    I’ve only just started going into books without know much about them aside from hearing positive reviews (like you, We Were Liars, and more recently The Storied Life of AJ Fikry) and they were both wonderful, and I think not knowing anything about them beforehand made it even better!

    • kmn04books says:

      I definitely think going into books blind has an advantage – that way if there’s a huge twist at the end you’re genuinely surprised! I went into The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry not knowing what the present at the doorstep was and I think that made the reading experience so much better for me!

  3. Milliebot says:

    I usually need to know a little something – at least the blurb from the back of the book, or the blurb from Amazon. But usually that’s all it takes for me to want to read a book. Or even if a friend gives me a quick synopsis and says ‘Hey this is a great book’ – I’ll try it. Usually it pays off because I don’t have many expectations.

    The book I’m currently reading – I requested it from Netgalley and then promptly forgot what it was about – like, forgot EVERYTHING. This is probably the least I’ve known about a book, ever. And I’m loving it! I know in the back of my head that I requested it because it sounded interesting, now I don’t know what made it sound interesting, but that’s okay. The writing is really amusing me.

  4. Alice says:

    Interesting topic. Generally I need to know a something about a book before I read it, more so now than I used to be as I’m getting picky as I read more. I will read something off the back of a recommendation of a friend who reads similarly to me, but a synopsis, a good blog post or a familar author or genre tend to need to pull me in. I need to have some sort of idea of a book, I couldn’t pick up a pretty cover and go, ‘okay, let’s read” However, at the same time I don’t want to know too much. I think I may be a hard to please reader.

    • kmn04books says:

      Haha I think I’m the same as you – I can’t usually pick up a book with a pretty cover and read it without hearing at least a little bit about it first (whether it be a blurb on the back of the book or some buzz about it on the internet). I definitely think that book blogging has made me become a little more selective in terms of what I pick up to read because I don’t feel like I can waste my time reading something that I just feel ambivalent about.

  5. Charleen says:

    Very rarely will I go into a book completely blind. If it’s a favorite author, sometimes I’m better about not reading the synopsis (but in those cases I’m usually too excited not to). I do like to read the book description, and sometimes I’ll skim a few reviews if I’m undecided… but once I decide to add a book to my TBR, I usually avoid all information I can. And sometimes, by the time I get around to reading it, I’ll have forgotten everything I read about it anyway!

    I do think going in blind makes for a better reading experience, because the story can unfold in the way the author intended, without all the outside influence. It’s just not always practical, or even possible.

    • kmn04books says:

      That’s so true about the favourite author thing – if one of my favourite authors comes out with a new book there’s absolutely no way I would be able to resist reading at least a synopsis. I would have picked it up anyway, but the excitement just knows no bounds! I’m also with you that once I’ve set my mind on a book, I won’t read reviews or anything to do with it until I’ve finished it (unless, again, I’m too excited to avoid it).

  6. Naomi says:

    I usually know what the book is about and what other people think of it, but sometimes I can read it just knowing who the author is. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that I knew absolutely nothing about, but maybe it would be a fun experiment!

    • kmn04books says:

      Haha it would be! How would you go about choosing the book? Just go to a bookstore and pick out something that looks good from the cover and title? (I might do that one day…)

  7. The Paperback Princess says:

    I like having a general idea of what the book is about but I despise spoilers. Probably because I do read a lot of crime fiction and if you know how it’s all going to play out – what’s the point? That said, sometimes it’s nice to just read a book you don’t know anything about. If you have no expectations, they can’t be disappointed.

    • kmn04books says:

      You definitely don’t want crime fiction spoiled! Then there would almost be no point to reading it… I think spoilers is another thing I’ll discuss in a Monday Musing. How do you strike a balance between spoiling a book and being too coy about a plot when reviewing books?

    • kmn04books says:

      Yes – I think the genre is important to know. I guess in that sense I’ll never go into a book truly blind… it seems like most of us prefer to have more information about the book than not!

    • kmn04books says:

      Haha I find that I only check the first few pages before committing if I’m intrigued but not sold by the publisher-provided synopsis. I will admit that that has backfired on me before though, so maybe I should make checking more of a habit! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  8. annabelsmith says:

    Mostly I read books based on recommendations from bloggers and tweeps I’ve come to know and trust. However, often my expectations can be coloured by those expectations and therefore can sometimes lead to disappointment. Sometimes at the library I pick up a book I’ve never heard of, because the cover grabs me. Often these books aren’t much chop, which is why I’ve never heard of them, and I abandon them after a few pages, or a few chapters. But occasionally I will find a true gem, and love it all the more for having had no expectations when I begun. This happened to me recently with Jeff vanderMeer’s Annihilation – and I read it in a single sitting and couldn’t wait for the sequel. I’m new to your blog but enjoying your Monday musings very much.

    • kmn04books says:

      Yes! There’s almost nothing as disappointing as an over-hyped book! i do find that I’m more likely to go into a book blind when I’m borrowing from the library; at least, if it’s bad, I didn’t have to pay for it! I’ve heard a lot about Jeff vanderMeer’s work; I should probably give it a shot soon.

      Thank you for commenting and I’m glad you’re enjoying my Monday Musings! If you’re looking for something to read next Monday you know where to find me 🙂

  9. M | Backlist Books says:

    I used to do careful research about the books I read – and always had an exhaustive list of ones I’d “pre-approved” to read. But since I’ve discovered YA and that I can read more quickly (hey, all that money I spent on university has netted me *one* useful skill), I feel less of a sense of commitment when picking up a new book. You know, unless it’s The Goldfinch. Anyway, because of this I’m more likely to pick up a book that someone mentioned to me once or that I’ve seen on a few lists – or even one I just like the cover of. I’ll usually at least read the back of it, but I don’t necessarily read a bunch of reviews. In fact, I often avoid them because spoilers! I went in to We Were Liars blind (aside from the book jacket) and agree that was the way to do it with that particular book. (Except for the dogs. I need to be prepared for these things.) So I guess I the short answer is I used to be a meticulous pre-read researcher, but now I’ll pick up a book if it even mildly appeals to me.

    • kmn04books says:

      Haha I think I’ve always been a fast-ish reader but university definitely whipped me into shape in that front! I agree that lists often play a role in pushing me into reading certain books more than others if it comes down to making a decision. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. ebookclassics says:

    I would say I go in semi-blind. I have ordered books based on a quick skim of a blurb or some fanfare I saw on Twitter, and then usually discover the book is completely different from what I thought. Luckily, I have had a few pleasant surprises that way.

  11. friendlybookworm says:

    That is so crazy, I would say I am totally opposite. I don’t mind adjectives describing the experience of the novel but I absolutely despise it when I read something very revealing in a book review or somewhere online about a book that I had intended reading. I guess for me one of the most exciting things about reading is the ride/journey that it takes you on. And I love surprises. True, it is much riskier because I have forced myself to read pages that I didn’t enjoy, but at least I took the plunge. Other times it has been extremely rewarding; Never Let Me Go for example. Certain books need that mystery to be “cool”.

    • kmn04books says:

      You risk taker, you! If I know I’m going to be reading a book I definitely stop reading reviews about it before I write my own review (I don’t want to be affected by anyone else’s thoughts on a book) but I’m definitely more cautious in that I like to know quite a bit before committing. I think I should strive to be a little more adventurous 😉

      • friendlybookworm says:

        To be fair, I only turned all risk-taker after experiencing the rush and joys of genuinely being surprised and completely taken aback by a book’s plot. Without a doubt, some books have more of it than others, but overall when you do get that massive surprise it’s just a wonderful feeling.

  12. Athira says:

    I tried doing something like that this weekend when I went to the library. I walked along an entire aisle, scanned covers and titles and picked a few books I thought I may enjoy. We’ll see how it works out when I get to the five books. I love reading serendipitously but I usually need something to go on – maybe a cover, an interesting title, or a quick glance at the blurb.

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