A few months ago I got the idea of making a trigger warnings master list. I was so fed up with having to look through Goodreads for half an hour in the hope that someone maybe included trigger warnings in their review, or searching through an author’s website hoping they included them there, before I could start a book. Having everything in one place, and having the community contribute to it, seemed like a good idea. Especially because I know quite a few of my friends struggle with the same problem.
But before I show you all the list and talk about how everything works, I want to talk a little about what trigger warnings are, and why they’re so important to me personally.
Triggers warnings are warnings that you put at the start of a book if the book contains content that, if read by a person that has experienced trauma related to said content, could trigger flashbacks, panic attacks, depressive episodes, setbacks in mental health in any way, shape or form, etc. By giving a warning that the book contains said content, it gives people a choice to avoid the book if they know reading it will affect their mental health in a negative way, or will give them time to prepare for it if they do choose to read it.
This does not mean that if a book has trigger warnings, that this book is bad or should be avoided by everyone. Not at all. Sometimes a book includes homophobic comments, which is why the book might have a trigger warning for homophobia. This does not automatically mean that the book is homophobic.
Trigger warnings can also be applied to various other things, like tweets, movies, or video games, etc…
I have a panic disorder, and I’m agoraphobic. Reading about trauma that I’ve been through, or stuff that just makes me feel incredibly anxious, can trigger a panic attack. And if you’ve ever had a panic attack, or even read about panic attacks somewhere, you’ll know that they’re not exactly pleasant and you’ll understand that I’ll do anything to avoid them.
Because of my anxiety, the world often doesn’t feel safe for me. Reading a book is basically the only time where I can escape for a while and actually relax. I’m kind of reluctant about using ‘safe space’ here because people have been using that phrase in a very negative way lately, but it does fit. Books are one of my only safe spaces in a very scary world.
For me, this doesn’t mean that I have to avoid every book that deals with anything that makes me feel even a little bit anxious. That’s actually where trigger warnings help me. They help me to prepare for the moment where said things happen, and just the fact that I’m not taken by surprise anymore makes me not panic as easily.
But, am I not spoiling myself if I read the trigger warnings? Maybe. Doesn’t that take the fun out of reading? Quite the opposite. Whenever I’m reading a book that I haven’t been able to find trigger warnings for, I’m on guard at all times. I can’t fully enjoy a book, knowing that any second I could read something that will trigger a panic attack. Knowing what things are going to happen and being prepared for them makes me able to enjoy a book a lot more.
I’m trying to think of an analogy because I love analogies and they always make me understand things a bit easier, and the only one I can think of are road maps. Some people love going on road trips without road maps. They like not knowing where they’re going, how they’re getting there, or what they might see on the way. The surprises make it a lot more fun for them, and they love the thrill of the adventure.
Other people only go on road trips when they’ve planned their whole trip, and always bring a road map with them. If they don’t do this, they won’t be able to stop worrying about what they might encounter along the way, and unforeseen obstacles might make them panic. Or while planning the trip they’ll see that this trip will take them to the ocean and they’re absolutely terrified of the ocean, so they don’t go.
This doesn’t mean that the trip will be less fun for them because they already know where they’re going or what things they might see on the way. It might calm them so they’ll be able to enjoy the trip a lot more.
This is definitely not the perfect analogy, but I hope it helped some of you understand it a little better.
Fadwa kindly helped me a lot with setting everything up, and we came up with the idea of making two different spreadsheets: an official trigger warning database, and a trigger warning database form.
The official trigger warning database can be found here. It already includes the trigger warnings of 60+ different titles, and it’s all in alphabetical order so you can easily find the title that you’re looking for. (Or you can use CTRL + F to search for a specific title/author).
The trigger warning database form can be found here. By filling out the form you will be helping us to make this database even bigger and better, so thank you for that. Fadwa and I will then move these additions to the official database.
So, that’s it! I hope the database will help some of you, and I hope that my explanation on why I need trigger warnings made a bit of sense.
I want to end this by saying that if you need trigger warnings, you’re in no way weaker or worse than people who don’t. You are absolutely valid, and don’t let anyone make you think otherwise ❤
Book blogger @ Green Tea & Paperbacks
Laura is 20 years old and she’s from The Netherlands. She joined the book community 6 years ago and has tried multiple platforms (bookstagram, booktube, etc.) until she finally started blogging 2 years ago, and completely fell in love with it. She’s a very anxious and very bi hufflepuff, and a big fan of YA literature and the show Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
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