Health Warnings for Books: You Must be Joking.

A recent blog from Karen Heenan-Davies over on Booker Talk gave rise to many comments. It seems that someone has proposed that readers should be protected from ‘triggers’ that upset them by reminding them of some disturbing event in their past.

This protection is to be achieved via a series of ‘traffic light’ warning symbols, like the health warnings and allergy advice on food products. Like the vast majority of those comenting on Karen’s blog I hope this never comes to pass.

In my comment I cited the many books about world war II that came out in the 1950s. Were readers of those books traumatise by reminders of the hell they lived through a decade earlier?

To me the whole idea is evidence that modern generations: millenials, genZ or whatever you call them are over protected. What do you think?

Read Karen’s post, and the comments, here.

7 thoughts on “Health Warnings for Books: You Must be Joking.

  1. Whilst I understand that are a spectrum of mental disorders and traumas where relapses/episodes can be caused by triggers, in order to cover every eventuality, you’d have to put a warning on every book. It can be the tiniest thing that can be a trigger. I am sent into depression every time anyone mentions the C word (what in our house is called Bah humbugmas) or hear Bah humbugmas music. I went through years when I couldn’t watch TV at all due to the small things that would have the same effect. I wouldn’t want to see ‘inappropriate’ material in children’s books, but otherwise, a good description of a book should be enough. I wouldn’t have a clue which or how many of the above symbols should be applied to my books since content/trigger is subjective should this come into force.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you Frank that you can over protect. But, if the blurb contains a generic warning ~(or even specific) Like’ Contains scenes of violence/Domestic Violence/War or something else without giving away the plot, it shouldn’t be necessary to deface the cover with these Traffic Lights.
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree, if the Millennials can’t cope with reading adult books they must stay with children’s books. I am tired of hearing about the lack of ordinary coping skills of this particular generation. Gen Z is actually better, they are doers not moaners and will change the world.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I appreciate that the writer sees the need for balance, but I agree with previous commenters that a publisher’s note suggesting possible violence, etc, should suffice. We don’t want creativity muffled by self-censorship.

    And the reader always has the option to close the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve thought it would be nice if romance books indicated their heat level, because that’s an established system that romance writers write to. But it would be difficult to know what in your book might cause a trigger. One thing could bother one person, but not another. Sounds like the first step toward Fahrenheit 451.

    Liked by 1 person

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