Chat Between Chapters: Do spoilers have time limits?

February 8, 2015 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 34


 This topic comes up frequently. Do spoilers have time limits? In other words, if the book has been out for 20 years, can it really be considered a “spoiler” if you discuss with people who have NOT read it?

Julie Review Avatar Julie:

I think if you know someone hasn’t read the book, you shouldn’t purposely spoil it for them, period. However, I think it is unfair to have to assume no one has read the book and not be able to talk about the exciting stuff that happened. Certain books come up in pop culture discussions all the time, and it wouldn’t be right for them not to. Sometimes these include spoilers, and that is just goes along with the popularity of the book and any situations it can apply to in conversations. For example, when something devastating happens, a book worm might say “Oh, that was as painful as when Dumbeldore died.”

Because if you haven’t read Harry Potter by now, tough cookies on that spoiler. Sometimes a book you haven’t read can be spoiled for you accidentally if you end up overhearing (or over-reading, on social media) a conversation about it, and that just too bad for you noseypants. For example, I see Harry Potter memes all the time, and since I read it for the fist time last year, I already knew a lot about what happens. On the social media topic though, I always say stay off Twitter or Facebook right after a show you had to miss airs or a highly anticipated new book comes out until you can watch it/read it, or don’t get upset if you catch a spoiler. 



Are you one of those who follow River Song’s advice:


I am not! As long as a review mentions that it contains spoilers, I think that you should be responsible for reading, or not reading, the spoilers. The same applies to movies or TV shows. I’ve been spoiled by being in the same room as other readers. I heard the secret of Tease before I even had a chance to read it. I really should have walked out of the room when the discussion started, but didn’t. Stephen King is known to post spoilers on Twitter. (Oh – and sorry, not sorry, for this spoiler!)


We can define any length of time limit to spoilers. A week probably isn’t long enough, but 15 years? That’s definitely past the time frame. If I am behind on a book, a TV show, or a movie, I take it upon myself to avoid reading the spoilers. And you should, too. 



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34 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: Do spoilers have time limits?”

  1. Wendy

    So, I am just now reading Game of Thrones, having never seen it, but I’m okay with the knowledge that Joff dies. Relieved, even.

    I don’t know how to link this image–Martin Freeman “spoiling” The Hobbit.

  2. Terri M., the Director

    Sometimes I find it hard to figure out if I’m sharing a spoiler or not! Some times the reason I didn’t like a book could be considered a spoiler. For example, I just finished a book where the true bad guy made an appearance on like page 50 and didn’t return until page 400. Some readers might be fine with that, but nothing pisses me off more. Hopefully I figured out a way to write the review without giving away too much.

    Terri M., the Director
    Second Run Reviews
    Terri M., the Director recently posted…Book Review 71: Wynn in Doubt by Emily Hemmer

    • Julie

      Ugh that would irritate me too. How can tou have 350 pages of plot without the villain? I wouldn’t count that a spoiler though, that’s more a criticism if the writing.

  3. Tina at Mommynificent

    While I hate having books, movies, and TV shows spoiled for me no matter how old they are, I also try not to take offense when it happens as I don’t think people do it on purpose very often. I try to be sensitive to others and not spoil, but I’m sure I’ve made the mistake myself. Thanks for sharing this discussion at Booknificent Thursday!
    Tina at Mommynificent recently posted…Maisy and the Money Marauder Book Blast and Giveaway

    • Julie

      Yea it is different when done on purpose, but we do assume it is safe to talk about things that happen in books/movies/tv shows we enjoy heh.

  4. Deb

    As a blogger, I feel a responsibility not to post spoilers. I’ve thought about whether that applies to classics, and I think it does. Maybe we all know that Romeo and Juliet die, but there are other classics you might not want to know the ending.
    So I don’t think there’s a time limit… BUT there are some things that are so popular, you’re just asking for it if you wait and then you hear spoilers.
    Deb recently posted…Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs

    • Julie

      I agree that spoiler warnings are good on reviews and stuff, but on social media and general conversations that’s not really possible.

  5. Bookworm Brandee

    I’ve never thought about it, actually. But yeah, I suppose spoilers do have time limits. I try not to give spoilers and I try to remove myself if something is being discussed that I don’t want spoiled…that’s all on the individual. I don’t want a spoiler though. I recently read a review of a book I was excited to read…the reviewer gave no warning she was about to spoil…and now the book is spoiled for me. *wah*
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…#ShelfLove Review ~ Tempted by a Rogue Prince ~ Felicity Heaton

    • Julie

      Thank you for saying that – yes it is on the individual to avoid when other people are out there discussing it.

  6. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    I think if you CAN prevent spoilage (like you mentioned, by announcing it in the beginning of a post or something) then you should. But yeah, I am never reading Harry Potter, and I know I missed the boat, so spoil away. I figure, if the book has made it to the theater, it’s probably common knowledge, so either read it, or prepare to be spoiled! But I HATE Twitter spoilers 10 minutes after something happens: TV ending, book was released, whatever. It is SO annoying. DM someone if you have to talk spoilers, it’s just mean! (Also, that Stephen King stuff is hilarious!) Great post!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…Books I’m Never Going to Review: Part Three

    • Julie

      Yea good point, by the time a book makes it into a movie theater, it is old news heh. So everyone is talking about it, and spoilers will be said. I follow along with a lot of live tweeting on some of my favorite shows though, and live tweeters often share spoilers when something shocking happens. But fans also know if they can’t watch, to stay off twitter while it is airing.

  7. Vlora @ Reviews and Cake

    I hate spoilers SO MUCH. However,… Yes, I’d agree that it’s fair to spoil the ending of Romeo and Juliet by now. Can we make the spoiler time frame 400 years, please? 😀

    I do think it’s fine to talk about things like Harry Potter by now. It’s not just about age of the book, but also about how popular it is and how many people are contributing to the conversation, I guess. For example, I only watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer about two years ago, but it’s been out for ages and ages. I accidentally read a huge spoiler for season 5 and it DID annoy me that I knew it, but I can’t exactly go shouting at the person when it’s been out for more than a decade, can I? With the Game of Thrones example, I think it’s a bit different because YES, the book may have been out for 15 years, BUT it’s common knowledge that a lot of people are just getting into it now via the series, so that sort of falls into the category of intentional spoilers for me (which are never okay, imo). You can’t expect everyone to watch it the first night (though I totally get the temptation of live tweeting things you watch, so idk).

    Great discussion topic!

    • Julie

      I enjoy watching live tweets when I watch along, but I definitely know to stay off social media if I’ll be late watching an anticipated episode. I’ve also seen people live tweet their thoughts reading a book, and those contain spoilers often too. I think the person has the right to do that.

  8. Nish

    If it’s a new book, then yes, it is good to avoid spoilers, but in cases like Harry Potter or the classics, oh come on. I once had someone comment that I spoiled David Copperfield for them because I let out a minor plot point. I felt bad, but when I googled for the book, the first link I clicked revealed that plot point too, so it’s not some secret I let out.
    Nish recently posted…Mailbox Mondays: Asian Edition

    • Lynn

      I do think 160+ years is plenty of time to not need a spoiler warning! But yes, a newer book should have a warning on any reviews.

  9. Cynthia

    I do think that if you are reviewing a book online, then you should warn about spoilers regardless of how long a book has been out. But if a book has been out for a while and someone tells a spoiler, I don’t sweat it. For example, I have never read any of the Harry Potter series. So thanks for that spoiler Julie. 🙂 Hehe.
    Cynthia recently posted…Musing Mondays – Reading Slumps

    • Lynn

      Good point, Cynthia! Julie did just spoil that for everyone! And yes, I agree. And I try to not put spoilers in my reviews. But do agree that readers should be warned first.

  10. Berls

    Lol that Stephen King spoiler made me laugh – but only because I’ve already seen the episode he’s referring to. I hate spoilers and I don’t really think it’s ever okay to assume enough time has passed – there should always be a spoiler warning. Some people (like me) tend to be a bit behind, even on what seems like is common knowledge. Great post!
    Berls recently posted…Sunday Post | 73rd Edition

    • Lynn

      As someone who’s multiple episodes behind on Downton Abbey and just started reading Burned, I’ve been avoided all related posts! I’m sure had I read that tweet before I saw the episode, I’d feel the same way.

    • Julie

      Yea I tend to be behind a lot too, but I also try to avoid reading about something until I catch up. Or stop caring lol.

  11. Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons

    I agree. There is a time limit, though the example the Stephen King showed, as many people haven’t read The Game of Thrones books, I think it is wrong to spoil the TV show, I don’t care how long the books have been out. The show had just aired, so spoiling it for those who hadn’t read, was not cool. I did find the Romeo and Juliet tweet really funny

    I do make some attempt to avoid mentioning spoilers on Twitter, no matter how long the book/movie/TV show, just in case. I also will avoid Twitter when a show is airing that I can’t watch yet. It is harder with a book, because it isn’t just people live tweeting a show.
    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted…Enter to win a $25.00 Giftcard – Share the Love Blog Hop

    • Lynn

      I understand what you mean, Melanie. Especially in regards to TV show spoilers. Especially with the time difference between the east and west coasts. Maybe at least wait a day for that kind of comment.

    • Lynn

      Very true, Stacy. There is always someone new picking up a book. But yes, I agree, warn first, and then spoil away.

  1. 20 Quotes about Libraries

    […] Last week, I really loved Del’s post about love languages (I think this is the first time a man has ever linked to Quote Me Thursday!). And Rose and Julie had another thought-provoking question about time limits on spoilers. Go check it out and add your thoughts! […]

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