Should I Read the Synopsis First?

Today, I’m going to talk about a topic I’ve been having mixed feelings on: reading the synopsis before starting a book. I both feel like I have to, and feel like I shouldn’t have afterwards. Let me explain.

I FEEL LIKE I SHOULD BECAUSE…

IT’S THE BEST WAY TO KNOW WHETHER A BOOK APPEALS TO YOU. Let’s be honest, most of the time when I read the synopsis, I can tell whether this is a book I’ll enjoy or not. Sometimes, I can tell by a few sentences in the synopsis that I won’t enjoy the book because of some tropes. How else would you be able to tell? Not from the genre alone, because there are many fantasy books I won’t enjoy. 

IT HELPS ME PICK A BOOK TO READ AS I’M A MOOD READER. I’ve discovered that the best way to figure out what I want to read at the moment is to read the synopsis. Then I can tell: Oh, I feel like reading this today. I guess I could remedy this by reading the first few sentences of a book?

I FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE STARTING A BOOK IF I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT IT’S ABOUT. This applies mostly to epic fantasy. I guess because there is so much unknown when you read an epic fantasy book: the characters, the world and so on. So I feel like with that genre, I need a foothold. I need to know at least SOMETHING before reading, otherwise I feel so lost in the first few pages. 

I FEEL LIKE I SHOULDN’T BECAUSE…

IT’S SO EXCITING TO JUMP INTO A STORY WITHOUT PREJUDICE. On multiple occasions, I’ve been a tad disappointed in a book because I was expecting something different due to the synopsis. For example, the book Raven I recently read and reviewed. The synopsis mentioned that Raven was a reaper, so I was imaging some Supernatural-style being that shows up to the dying to guide them. But in fact, it was more like an assassin with morals? I feel like I might have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t known that. 

IT CAN REVEAL WAY TOO MUCH. I absolutely despise reading a book and waiting for something I know will happen, to happen. Did you understand that? It seemed like a confusing sentence. But at times, I’ll read the synopsis which states: this character goes through this situation. What will happen? And then I’ll be 50% in the book and the situation still hasn’t occurred yet! DON’T PUT IT IN THE SYNOPSIS THEN! It drives me mad. Is it really that hard to keep a spoiler out of 1 paragraph?


Do you agree with my viewpoints on reading a synopsis? Do you read them, or not? I’d love to hear about it!

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31 thoughts on “Should I Read the Synopsis First?

  1. Since I usually add books to my to-read list months before they’re released, I usually read the synopsis to see if it’s something I would like. If yes, I add it to my watchlist/anticipated list. By the time the book actually comes out though, I don’t usually remember any of the details anymore, so it’s kind of like going into the book with fresh eyes, but at the same time I know it’s something I’ll probably like or it wouldn’t have been added to my TBR in the first place. It’s like the best of both methods and it’s been working for me 🙂

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  2. I almost always read the synopsis multiple times. Sometimes I even read it after having read the first couple chapters of a book! I hate being spoiled, but I have the hardest time remembering synopses, so it’s not usually a problem. Sometimes I do prefer to go into a book blind (if it’s a mystery or if someone recommended it to me personally), but most of the time I want to know at least vaguely what to expect. 🙂

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  3. I think there’s something to be said for both options. But personally I never read a synopsis. Not anymore. I’ve found that it’s way more satisfying not to know what’s coming or who will be important in the story. I only do when it’s a book I have never heard about before, but that doesn’t happy very often.

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  4. I read the synopsis almost every time I’m looking to read a new book, but I have definitely found that some times it contains major spoilers. Especially if it’s a book in a series. There was one time that I read the synopsis for the next book in the Throne of Glass series, and it ruined a major plot point for the book I was on that was totally unnecessary to mention in the synopsis.

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  5. I actually don’t read the synopsis too much! I usually find out about books through youtube/book blogs. If a book is said to be good, then I’ll read it generally. I haven’t given a lot of thought to this, but now I can’t stop thinking about it

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  6. Hm, I read the synopsis only in certain cases. Like you, I’m a mood reader, so if I’m looking for a new standalone (or series) to start, I’ll read the synopsis to gauge whether it’s a good fit for me. With new-to-me authors it’s a really important factor, I think.

    But I never, ever read the synopsis for the sequels in a series I know I’ll continue with regardless of what happens. I have read SO MANY spoilers on back covers it’s ridiculous. And you know I hate spoilers. 🙂

    I also tend not to read the synopsis of a book when I know for sure I’ll be buying it – like with a new book by a favourite, auto-buy author (like I have no idea what This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab is about but I’m preordering it without a doubt). I trust my favourite authors not to disappoint me. 🙂

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    • I also don’t read synopsis for sequels or include them on my blog when writing about one. By the same token I sometimes have a hard time writing reviews for sequels cause I don’t want to ruin the fun of discovery for other readers. But my 3 Bells posts review trilogies (sp?). I hope readers find I don’t spoil things!
      x The Captain

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      • If it’s a sequel, I also don’t include it. You never know if someone who hasn’t read the first one stumbles upon it. I think that if your readers felt like you spoilt them, they’d say something. I hope I don’t spoil mine either, even though I try really hard not to

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  7. I always read a book’s synopsis before marking it as “to-read”. I’m just too afraid of wasting my time on reading books I don’t like more if I go in blind. Also, if I read the synopsis, I’ll know immediately if the book’s possibly for me or not. If the synopsis doesn’t appeal to me, then I unfortunately won’t read it. 😦 Great post, Jolien!

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  8. It’s like movie trailers: a good synopsis gets you interested and excited; a bad one makes you never want to see the film at all.

    I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong answer, but there might be room for including a note on synopsis accuracy / spoilers in reviews to warn others!

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