Debate It: Should You Read the Synopsis?

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Welcome to February’s edition of Debate It. You heard correctly! Since it was such a big hit last month, from now on we’re making Debate It a monthly post. Feel free to suggest topics for future months, but this month’s topic is…synopses! Are they completely necessary? Do they give away the plot of the book? Do we like it when the whole synopsis is just vague quotes from different people’s review?  Welp, you’re about to find out our thoughts.

Malka: Synopses may be misleading at times, but they’re a great place to start your research on whether or not a book is for you. Say you come across a book in a tag while blog hopping. You may not know much about the book after reading the post. You think it’s for you but you’re not sure. To really know you go and look at the synopsis. Cute fluffy romance? Check! Group of friends? Check? Plague of unicorn-rhino hybrids that perform a capella while performing murders? WAIT! WHAT? That’s not exactly my thing. But how else would you know if you didn’t read through the synopsis?

Chana: I can summarize my argument for this Debate It in two simple points.

  1. I am lazy.
  2. I am shallow.

Allow me to elaborate. When I am strolling around the bookstore, I don’t pick up any random book and flip it around to look at the synopsis. I pick it up to admire the cover, and if it’s a hardcover I might even flip off the dust jacket in order to see if it’s pretty inside and out. I really like pretty things and shiny things (yes, I am part magpie), so when I see a book that’s a combination of the two, I pick it up immediately! No further research is necessary.

Also, I happen to be super picky when it comes to books if I read the synopsis. The simplest things could set me off, for a time I wouldn’t read books with female main characters because I had one bad experience where a female main character was especially ditzy. So for me, if I read the synopsis I may very well decide not to read the book when in truth I really would have enjoyed the book. As for the lazy part, it takes much too much work to research a book before reading it, I’d rather just pick it up and get to it.

Malka: Firstly, there are some of us who are not magpies. There are also some of us who have been badly burned by pretty books with zero content on the inside. And by some of us, I’m of course referring to myself. The few times that I have bought a book “because it’s pretty” without reading the synopsis, or even just by skimming the synopsis I haven’t enjoyed the book. I also have a lot of topics I refuse to read about. Like I cannot handle books that start off on a depressing note and only get sadder. So when I read a synopsis about a girl whose friend just committed suicide, and whose parents are abusive, and she’s also homeless, I turn to look for another book to buy. I know I’ll hear lots of hype for this book once everyone reads it and their hearts get ripped out, but I want to read books that keep my heart intact, thank you very much.

Chana: I totally get that, and that is one issue I have with not reading synopses. Especially since I often just read a book if I see that a lot of people have been posting about it somewhere. I’ll have absolutely no clue what it’s about and be shocked several chapters in, with a very I did not sign up for this attitude. The real problem I have with synopsis though is that very very very often they tend to spoil the book. Just this past week I was reading a book where there was supposed to be a whole big reveal at the end about who the character actually was, and in the synopsis, it casually ruined the big reveal! The whole point of the book was this reveal and they just spoiled it before I even read the book! I understand that it might be difficult to write a synopsis without spoiling a few points, but it will never not be frustrating. I’ve also come to the conclusion that if while in the middle of reading a book I get confused and have to cave and read the synopsis-not that great of a book. I believe this because the synopsis is supposed to supplement the book, it’s not supposed to be my guide while I’m reading it, it’s just supposed to pique interest. My solution to avoid the spoilers is to just not read what it’s about. I just take suggestions and start reading. Yes, I am often times shocked by what’s in the book because I definitely wasn’t expecting it, but this has also opened me up to experiencing many genres and books that I wouldn’t normally read.

Malka: That is a valid point. Spoilers are the worst. I’ve complained about it myself in this post. And it’s a betrayal when it comes from the synopses. But that’s not the only way you can get spoiled. And it’s also an issue that publishers really need to start recognizing. But there are many times where I just want more info about a book, and in order to do that, I need to find a synopsis. I prefer the one that will appear on the dust jacket because many times other people paraphrase their mini-synopses from that. I want to see the original, so I go straight to the source. I guess it just comes down to how you approach books. I only read synopses of books that intrigue me, or that I want to know more about. I don’t read the synopsis of every book I hear about. (Which at times leads to me being surprised when reading reviews of books I don’t plan on reading.) For me, synopses are important to get a better understanding of what s book has to offer. But I guess some others, (like my magpie friend) prefer the element of surprise, whether that’s good or bad.

Now it’s your turn to share your opinion!

Do you read synopses? Why or why not?  Are you #teammalka or #teamchana in this edition of Debate It?

39 thoughts on “Debate It: Should You Read the Synopsis?

  1. I’m more on team reading the synopsis myself, to be sure I’m not buying a book I’m certain I won’t enjoy but I do get annoyed when they are extremely misleading. Also when they give you the whole plot. But I’ll keep reading them though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lol, I can agree to both sides with this one. I actually don’t read synopsis as much as I probably should. I will look at the cover and if I like it I’ll add it to my TBR. Then on Goodreads I will look at the genre. Then I will read it. HOWEVER. That can be pretty annoying because I go into the book blind and I have had some books that I started reading and then was like wait. What the heck is this. Then I go back and read the synopsis and realize this book might not be exactly what I like reading.

    Ash @ JennRenee Read

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great topic! I can agree with both sides. Like Malka, I read the synopsis before I pick up (read: buy) a book. In fact, I DEVOUR the synopsis. I judge the grammar, I scan to see if it looks like instalove or poor plotting. I judge SO hard. I want my money to be spent on something I have a *high* chance of enjoying.

    But when I go to my own bookshelf, or the library, I barely look at the summary. If I own it, I assume the book passed my test the first time, so I just pick whatever suits my mood at the moment. And at the library: pretty covers win every time! And, like Chana: if I read the summary right before reading the book, details might be spoiled.

    Summaries nowadays are almost as bad at movie trailers. You know the whole plot before you even get to the theatre. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That’s actually a really smart policy. And I think I’m similar in that if it’s on my shelf, I just pick it up when I’m in mood of that genre or whatever drew me to buy the book in the first place. But I rarely reread synopses of books I already own.

      I’m weird with the library though because I have so many books that I want to read that I want to like a book that I need to read within a month or two, so I usually read the synopsis there as well.,

      But I love your comparison! 😂 It’s so accurate. Movies trailers really are the worst, and synopses are not so far behind nowadays!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unlike with books, I won’t watch any movie trailers. So there’s that! I need to go in complete unawares with a movie. Just say “spy film” and I’ll be like, “Okay, let’s go.”

        But say, “spy book,” and I’ll be like, “Now send me the summary, the author’s name, the last two books the author wrote, the name of the publisher…”

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I usually read this synopsis. I tend to be pretty picky about fiction, and if I’m just going to the library or bookstore without a particular title in mind (or, let’s face it, a list of books in my hand, because that’s usually the case), I’ll read the back cover or inside flap to see if that particular story suits my particular mood at that time. I don’t want to be needing something light and fluffy, only to get home and discover I’ve picked out something that will have me in tears, you know?

    My one exception is if I’ve known and loved the author in the past. I didn’t even bother to read the inside flap of Emily Giffin’s All We Ever Wanted, since I’ve loved pretty much everything I’ve read from her. I just grabbed it and was delighted to find, a few pages in, that the story is set in Nashville, where I lived for five years. I’m halfway through and loving the book, just as I suspected. I also brought home another Christina Lauren book without checking the cover, because I adore them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I read the synopsis for the same reason! But I’m even picky about previous authors since I’ve had times where I didn’t like an author’s follow up book even if I ADORED the first book of theirs that I read! But with authors I’ve read before I can be a bit more lenient and just base my decision off the genre and some key words.

      Also, which Christina Lauren did you pick up?

      Like

  5. I am sort of like Chana – a pretty cover catches my attention. However, the synopsis helps me decide if I should or shouldn’t read it. Though, I will concede, that some synopses can be misleading or lack any information regarding the actual story, then I will resort to reading a few reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same! What I often do is that I start reading a book, and am then surprised by something that happens, and I get offended, like I was not prepared for this! Why didn’t the synopsis/reviews mention this? And then I remember that I didn’t read any reviews or synopsis and go ahead and do that while in middle 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I’m a bit in the middle? I totally have to read the synopsis at some point to be added to my TBR, but since I have zero book memory, by the time I get around to reading it, I usually have forgotten what it’s about. So lately, I’ve been picking books up without having reread the summaries, and I’ve found I really do enjoy going into books without knowing too much about it. It’s nice to find things out that might have been spoiled in the summary. But I still have to know some sort of synopsis. This was so much fun to read, and I loved hearing both your opinions! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved reading this post!! It is definitely interesting!! I think I am #TeamMalka personally because I read the synopsis because I like to see how interested I am in it so I know where to prioritise it on my TBR. But I definitely think is is annoying when the synopsis spoils too much of the story.
    But as I am seeing more books talked about in the book community sometimes I buy books because of the hype not knowing too much. But most the time I use the synopsis to help me decided whether to pick it up.
    Great debate and post!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yay! Team Malka for the win!

      I’m more picky even when it comes to hyped book, but I definitely think that hearing a good pitch for a book will help me decide whether I should look at the synopsis at all. Being this picky synopsis-wise helps me keep my TBR under control. Which is definitely a plus!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ahhh what a great topic, these kind of debate posts are always so much fun to read, so happy this will be a regular feature! 🙂
    I think I’m more of the team “reading the synopsis before”, because I always like knowing what I’m getting into and, if I can be attracted by a pretty cover, since I am not getting book at my library and have to buy, well, 99% of them, I like to know what I’m getting into haha. Though I have to admit that, the spoilers thing can be SO annoying. Sometimes, yes, when reading a synopsis, the big book reveal is… well, just sitting there as part of the synopsis and that is SO very frustrating. I guess I’d be for reading a synopsis before, but.. a short and sweet one keeping all the surprises hidden haha 🙂
    Fantastic post!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! These are also lots of fun to write! And it’s been great seeing all the interaction it inspires!

      And YES! I really just want to know what I’m buying! Or getting out of the library even. Although those I can easily return if I don’t like the book after page one. But the spoilers part is just ridiculous! Don’t you want us to be intrigued? If something happens more than a third of the way through the book, you CANNOT put it in the synopsis! It’s SPOILERS!

      Thank you for bearing with me for that short little rant. So glad you enjoyed the post! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I totally don’t read blurbs either haha. 😂For the spoiler reason too, but also because I just like going into a book and having ALL of it surprise me?! Sometimes though, if I read a few chapters and I’m like “what the heck is going on” then I’ll go back and read the blurb. But otherwise I prefer sort of pitches (like “oh this is like Six of Crows but set in a bakery!”…lol I want to read that now.) But also because I am lazy and prefer to be a magpie and judge off pretty covers too. #noshame
    😂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I pretty much always read the synopsis, but that’s generally because I’m kind of picky and there’s certain things I really don’t like in books, such as dual narratives (like if some of it’s in the present day, and the rest is their grandmother’s story from way back…I’ve no idea why I don’t like that type of plot, but I really don’t!). I do feel like I have to have at least a vague idea of what I’m getting myself into before I start a book.
    It does annoy me when there’s spoilers though, so I think publishers do need to be more careful sometimes.
    Interesting discussion! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same! Like, I say I love contemporaries, but there are so many that I avoid once I hear the full synopsis. And that’s really interesting that you don’t like dual timeline novels. I hear that though because those can be tricky to get right.

      And I 100% agree. I don’t think I could ever go into a book completely blind.

      Also, yes! Spoilers are the worst! But I still say the benefits outweigh the risk.

      Thank you!

      Like

  11. Once again I think I’m somewhere in between you two. I never buy a book with no concept about it except for the fact that I like the cover. I usually read synopses, BUT if I see lots of people love a book I might pick it up because of that alone. And I often just skim a synopsis if I’ve seen the book around a lot and then totally forget about it. In fact, I often like when I go in relatively blind!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear that. I think I do that too on occasion. But it sure takes a lot of buzzwords and hype for me to agree not to read the synopsis. I think I have to feel as though I’ve already read the synopsis. Which happens sometimes. And then I stare at the actual synopsis in complete shock when I see a review.

      But I think your way is the best way. Read or skim the synopsis and add it to your TBR. Then once you read the book you remember nothing (because who remembers what they read 2 months ago) but you know you must have added it to your TBR for a reason!

      Like

  12. Great debate! I feel like I’m somewhere in between on this one. I do typically read synopses, buuuut I honestly just skim them and look for buzzwords I’m fond of. I used to thoroughly read them and even reread the synopsis right before picking the book up, if it had been on my TBR a while, and it got to the point where it was spoiling SO MANY plots for me because I’ve read enough of the same genres that I start seeing phrases in a synopsis and predicting what they mean for the overall story. It got so frustrating. I’m a lot happier now that I just skim and look for those buzzwords! But I can see how that method would not be for everyone. I loved reading both of your stances on the subject. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am #TeamChana this time! Synopses are RUDE because they spoil me ALL. THE. TIME. So what I do is kind of in the middle of you guys? I will read the initial blurb from say, Publisher’s Weekly that gets slapped onto Goodreads 18 years before the book is even published. I add it to my TBR, and then many years later, that Shannon has to trust Past Shannon that her want to read this book was legit. And yes, often times I’m wholly surprised by what I find, but that’s part of the fun for me, anyway. I do get that if a person has a particular trigger, or things they don’t want to read about, this is probably not a good way to do things. I also will *occasionally* read a synopsis if I am suuuuper on the fence about it, but for the most part, nope- been burned by the dreaded Synopsis Spoiler™ wayyyy too many times. LOVE this debate, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow, this is such a fun post 🙂 Loved it! I am team #Channa here 😀 I know reading synopses are important to know if a book is a fit for you. But I almost never read the synopsis. I often pick books based on some recommendations or if I have seen it on Twitter or Instagram. Often the hype around a book makes me want to pick a book instantly.

    Liked by 1 person

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