All About The Blurb

As usual Booking Through Thursday has made me think about things differently, which is always a good thing. Today the question is “What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?”

Now I sat and thought about five words that would make me read a book instantly from the blurb and its actually really hard in the end I came up with; scandal – charming – surreal – mysterious – suspicious. I don’t know what that says about me to be honest. I can also guarantee that a book that involves a small village and its inhabitants will intrigue me as village based books has become a new love. The five that would put me off are; cricket – trolls – unbelievable love story (count that as one day) – aliens – awesome. But how often do I buy a book because of a blurb?

It’s actually quite a rare thing in all honesty as I tend to go on other peoples recommendations, articles in the press, bookish radio shows, book blogs and authors I know. Now that makes me sound like I am not adventurous and don’t try new books but I do. I just tend to go into new book shops on a mission to find a specific, browsing is simply dangerous. Second hand stores actually will make me meander and browse more, I also will happily pick up a book that has an amazing retro cover from the 70’s just because I like the books look. Very materialistic and shallow but we all have our faults.

I then thought about my favourite book Rebecca. I bought this because about three people had recommended it and then I saw the TV show with Diana Rigg (who is one of my favourite actors) but would I have actually bought it from the blurb?

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again …Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers …Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

I am not 100% sure I would. It sort of sounds like a throwaway romance rather than a dark and brooding masterpiece (that’s my opinion, it’s not official though maybe it should be) though I do like the terms “haunting story” and “very bleak”. I don’t think I would have bought it from the blurb alone.

The other thing that bothers me about blurbs is often they can lie. I remember being desperate to read Underground by Tobias Hill as living in London I like books based here. This one really leapt out at me as I like a good crime and one based on the underground where a man is serially pushing women in front of the tube seemed like an ideal thriller for a commute, as you can see from my review that isn’t really what the book was about at all. Not the authors fault but since then I have been asked to read more Hill and said ‘hmmm maybe one day’.

So what about you? What words or phrases in blurbs make you rush to buy a book or promptly put it back down? Have you ever had a book blurb lie like I have on more than one occasion? Would you have bought your favourite book based on its blurb? Do let me know.


Filed under Book Thoughts

24 responses to “All About The Blurb

  1. Pam

    I agree with the “blurbs lie” bit. I tend to go on recommendations or full reviews if not completely on cover or author’s past work, when picking up books. Blurbs are publisher fabrications for the most part.

  2. I find blurbs unreliable too – sometimes they’re just plain wrong! Anything too complicated puts me off, but like you I would hardly ever buy a book based just on the blurb.

  3. I rarely read blurbs as I rarely go into new bookshops…and in second hand bookshops, I look out for books that I know I want rather than to browse for something I haven’t discovered yet. Also, many of the books I see in second hand shops are grubby old hardcovers without jackets so there’s no blurb to read anyway!
    I distrust blurbs anyway. They are what the publisher wants you to think the book is about, rather than what they actually are about, and most of the time they give away parts of plots that ruin the reading experience as well, so all in all, I don’t like to read them at all! I’d much rather go on word of mouth recommendation.

    • Is your reasoning behind avoiding new bookshops the same as mine? I have to keep away other wise bad things can happen and its just too much!

      It seems a lot of us out there dont judge a book by its blurb which is very interesting especially as we don’t seem to trust them either!

  4. novelinsights

    Ooh I like your point about Rebecca’s blurb. I do think I would be intrigued by it but equally wouldn’t be compelled to get it and probably assume it was a ‘throwaway romance’ also.

  5. justabookreader

    I agree about the blurbs. I find a lot have nothing to do with the book at all. I’d rather read a review than a blurb to decide if it’s for me.

  6. That’s too bad, because I just picked up the best unbelievable love story about alien trolls who play cricket! Seriously, though. I too like scandal. I also like “sinister” and “very bleak.” I also like “gritty,” if it’s specifically in reference to something Victorian or Edwardian. Modern “gritty” is too Law & Order SVU.

    I, too, hate misleading blurbs.

  7. ireadnow

    I agree with you on “surreal.” That’s one word that will never let you down. If a blurb says the book is surreal than there’s usually no chance of it not being…well, surreal.

  8. Yes lies, all lies (I feel quite strongly about this because I have been lied to by blurbs several times this year). I hate when that happens, even if the book turns out to be great because it’s like the publishing world doesn’t trust me to pick up this book, it must be disguised as something else and from this I infer that they think me and the egneral reader too dumb to like the books the publishing world thinks we should like. So they have to trick us into buying them, which is not acceptable!

    • I am glad I am not alone in my reaction to blurbs it makes me feel so much better about everything. I dont think all blurbs lie… I am trying to think of some that are spot on… I shall keep thinking.

  9. Romance and horror share themes and story elements. I think Rebecca is a little bit of both. My post is here.

  10. I actually did buy my favorite book based on it’s blurb. Two of my favorites. The Theory of War by Joan Brady and Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis. I’d never heard of either book, was intrigued by the titles and their covers and sold by their blurbs.

    Of course, this same story has had several unhappy endings, too.

  11. You are so right. That Rebecca blurb does not do the book justice. I suppose it’s too much to expect a marketing person to have writing skills equal to those of the book’s author.

    Have you ever read jacket copy that makes it sound like the blurb writer doesn’t care for the book in question?

    • It’s not about writing skills its about enthusiasm for me, it all seems a bit crowd pleasing and formulaic. I love blogs because they enthuse and that can be very very selling.

      I havent noticed a non caring blurb… I will look out for them though Jessica.

  12. Darla LaRoche

    You mentioned that you like village stories with great characters and mysteries. Have you checked out the Louisa Penny mystery series yet? The author came to our local bookstore in Norwich, Vermont and she was delightful. Check out her website. Toronto picked her entire series for the all city read, not just one. That’s how good the books are!

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