Discussion – Is hype help or harm?

IS HYPE HELP OR HARM?

This is a question that I’ve been considering for many years but keep going back and forth with my answer. I don’t know that I will ever say definitively yes or no on either side, but I’m looking to see what some of you bookworms have to say about it.

I recently picked up The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. If you’re a part of the book community then you’ve been seeing this book A LOT over the last few months. It’s been everywhere and the hype surrounding is has only been building as the release date got closer. I was lucky enough to get an ARC copy from Raincoast Books Canada (THANK YOU!) but when I picked it up, I was nervous. Early reviews started coming out and they weren’t as positive as expected. But the thing that I noticed in every review was that each person was expecting something else. And I myself was expecting something else as well! The internet buzz about this book built something up in my head that it was going to be about a girl who traveled to a dark fairy tale land that her author grandmother created to find her mother. From the hype, I ASSUMED that I was going to be immediately thrust into a dark fairy tale land and I was all over it. But that’s not really how this book works.

So how did I assume this? How did I conclude that this is how the book was going to work? How did I know what to expect of this book when I hadn’t even read a single review? Hype – that’s how.

Because I followed the hype of this book, an idea was placed inside my head that I already knew what the book was about. And if I wasn’t able to clear my head before going into it, I would have been disappointed – because it was not like the picture I had inside of my head. Yes, there were still elements of the story that the hype created, but there was so much more to it.

So that’s MY problem. I start assuming what the book will be about and when it doesn’t measure up I’m disappointed. But here’s the thing – if I didn’t go into the book EXPECTING something, then I would be able to allow myself to take the story as it was written and appreciate it (or dislike it) for what it is. So for me personally, the hype helps me get interested but it harms me in the long run because I go into books thinking I know what it will be about. And when the story doesn’t measure up to my expectations, then I’m not enjoying it to its fullest potential.

So now I’m working hard to go into hyped books with a clear head – and it’s hard sometimes! But when I’ve been able to step away from my assumptions, I’ve enjoyed the book more.

What are your thoughts? Does hype help you? Or does it build up an unrealistic picture in your head? Are you able to step away from those assumptions? Curious minds want to know!

Until next time, happy reading!

56 Comments Add yours

  1. Elley says:

    I think hype goes both ways. On the one hand, there are plenty of books I’ve read recently and loved because so many people were talking about them and loved them. On the other hand, I think that (like you said) all that hype can build unrealistic expectations. I try not to read too many reviews of a book before I read it, and when I do I’m really skimming for some key phrases about the writing style, world building, character development… I do think it can be really damaging to your experience of a book if you go into it expecting one thing and end up getting something different, even if that something different is just as good.

    I also try to avoid reading about what people didn’t like about a book. Did you see that episode of How I Met Your Mother where nobody noticed that Lily chews really loudly (I can’t remember if that’s who it was) until someone else pointed it out, and then there’s this sound of crashing glass and suddenly everyone notices just how loudly she chews? It’s like that. I might not notice something (like the repeated description of the Goblin King as a “tall, elegant stranger” over and over and OVER in Winterglass…) unless someone points it out, and then it’s like an itch under my skin and bugs the heck out of me. I like it better if I go into a book with a clean slate in my mind – unless the writing is terrible, it’s full of plot holes, the hero/heroine is super annoying, or there are other red flags that let me know I should just steer clear of the book, in which case I know to avoid it like the plague!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a really good point! Because, until you said it, I didn’t realize that she described the Goblin King as a tall, elegant stranger until you wrote this comment. And now that I’m thinking about it – she said that a lot!!
      But I think this is my issue. I like to read reviews before I buy things to see if it’s really going to fit my personality or not. And I noticed that last year I was disappointed a number of times because I was either expecting something or already on the look out for certain things. You’re so right – look for flags and not specifics!!

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  2. I hate hype personally! It seems every hyped book I read lets me down – it creates unrealistic expectations. For example, The Dry, and The Chalk Man both let me down due to the hype surrounding them. I’m all for reading books that have good reviews, but the mass hysteria over some novels really gets on my nerves!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point! And now that I’ve stepped back and thought about it, I’m having more and more of a hard time with hype. Especially books that are causing mass hysteria before they’re even released! I get the excitement and all, but at the same time, if no one has read it yet then they don’t know what it’s like and the hype might not be warranted! I read/picked up a lot of hyped books in 2015 and 2016 and I found that most of them didn’t fit my taste. So I think it’s really important that people make choices based on synopsis and reviews and don’t immediately jump on the bandwagon
      I’ve been curious about The Chalk Man but you and two other people this week said that it wasn’t as good as they hoped it would be

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m definitely not susceptible to hype. I’ve jumped on the Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle bandwagon, but the synopsis for that one sounds genuinely amazing. It’s a debut so I’m not expecting huge things like I would do from another prolific author but I am excited about it! I think mainly, hype does damage to a book though – we all expect too much of it by the time we read it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s why I love your blog! Because I know that you pick up books based on your own opinions. I’ve seen the Seven Deaths book a lot over the last week. I’ve really been trying to go into books with a clear head and no expections

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Aw thanks Shanah!! Yeah, I try to pick books with no preconceptions too 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi!
    This has happened to me too! I get all excited about a book EVERYONE is talking about, I create an idea of how is it gonna be like and then it doesn’t match those ideas. So frustrating. But I agree that it is also helpful to get interested in some books.
    I think you got it the right way. We should embrace the hype as a way to get interested but then open the book with an open mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Open the book with an open mind – that needs to be a quote somewhere!! Sums it up perfectly! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I find I have to pick and choose what hype I pay any attention to, especially since I know that my tastes don’t always necessarily line up with what everyone likes. I like it for bringing my attention to stuff I might like, but I find I have to be sure to read the synopsis and be fussy about what reviews I pay attention to. Hype’s just a marketing scheme anyway, and it’s more for the benefit of the publishers/authors/marketing team than it is for the readers.The more they, and subsequently we, hype a book, the more money they make.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! The more the book gets out there the more money they make. It’s hard to be selective about reviews and stuff but we know or tastes and need to pay more attention to that instead of the hype!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Alienor says:

    I completely agree, whether we want it or not, we *do* build expectations when a book is hyped a lot, and even though our expectations are personal & we’re aware of them, it’s hard to avoid being influenced by them? I know I often wit a bit when I see a hyped book that seems right up my alley – for example, i still haven’t read The Cruel Prince because of this? Usually waiting works, at least a little 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard not to make assumptions of a book when there’s so much out there. The hard part is that it’s mostly people guessing what it’s going to be about then it gets skewed into that’s what’s actually going to happen. It messes with the reality of the book it

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ugh I hit enter too soon! It messes with the reality of the book itself. And waiting until the hype dies down helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooh, yes, I rarely think of this instance when it comes to hype! I tend to make a lot of expectations for what I think the book will be like, and then when it doesn’t work out like that, I find myself feeling really disappointed. I’m sure there are a couple of instances where I blamed the hype on others, but really it was just me and all the pressure I built up for it (like, there are some books I started reading and put down because they weren’t what I expected it to be…and then a year or so later, I re-read it and love it). I do that with myself for everything, not even just books, but that’s a while different discussion. XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do that too!! I take bits and pieces of information and build something up in my mind. I have quite a few books on my shelf that I bought because of the hype but didn’t get to yet and I bet I’ll like them more now that I don’t have an impression.

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  7. Marie says:

    This is such an interesting discussion, I love it. Hype can be both great – I mean, it helped me finding out about new books, discovering new authors and falling in love, surprisingly, with books I thought I couldn’t love. Yet, it also builds tons of expectations and sometimes, as you said, kind of gives us a false image of what the book will be about and then… we end up being quite disappointed. That’s the worst when that happens :/ You’re so right, it’s good to be able to get into a book with clear eyes and a clear mind overall, but sometimes… it’s easier said than done, haha 🙂
    Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I love hype for the very reason you said – there’s probably 20 or more authors that I now love but never would have touched it if it wasn’t for the hype. So it does serve its purpose. But it’s my own personal issue with building the book up in my head that I need to stop doing! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Marie says:

        I get it – I need to stop doing that sometimes as well. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Norrie says:

    Most books i’m reading are rarely mentioned on the blogs / youtube book videos i’m watching, so those are always safe 😀
    I picked up a few books that’s been going around on those channels, and so far it’s quite a mixed experience. Not all lived up to the expectations, but i also found some that were surprisinly good, and i expected worst.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s wonderful when people don’t read hyped books all that much. It’s something I really need to get back into doing. I feel like reading and loving a book that isn’t talked about it like discovering a rare gem. Then your love can get others to read it too!!! I really need to stop paying attention to the hype as much as I have in the past and just listen to my heart! Because like you said, I’ve had very mixed experiences with hyped books over the last year. Some I didn’t like but others I loved and never would have taken the chance on them. It’s a double edged sword

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  9. I definitely agree that hype really affects the book and how I read it. I think i enjoy ARCs sometimes more because there hasn’t beeen enough time for hype to spoil it so i don’t have high expectations e.g Daughter of The Burning City. However, even hyped books releses, e.e Carval can still be books I love! It can just be depending on how MUCh you were expecting and WHAT you were expecting and whether the book was WORTH all that hype e.g Everless by Sara Holland

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great point. Sometimes when you read an ARC there hasn’t been time to influence your reading experience! And it definitely depends on what you were expecting because of hype. Sometimes other people’s opinions build up unrealistic expectations so you’re going into it thinking it’s going to be one thing but it’s not. Hype is hard!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Beware Of The Reader says:

    Hype is good as it makes me discover books I wouldn’t have read but it’s bad indeed because it creates expectations! More than once have I been disappointed because I had to high expectations. Does it mean hype is bad? Not at all but now I try not to read the reviews before reading the book. I just “skim” the reviews and trust some blogger friends having similar taste to make my choice. Then once i’m finished and finished writing my review I go back and read them in detail 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Hype has helped me find so many books and authors I never would have found otherwise. I think that because I like to read reviews it’s tainting my opinion before I even get to the book! Quite a few people have said that they skim reviews before reading and I think that’s what I’m going to have to start doing 🙂

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  11. Readyouleyre says:

    I personally don’t read reviews of the books I want to read unless I can’t decide if I want to read it or not. I watch a lot of booktube and folllow a lot of blogs so I know what books are popular and which ones are being loved the most, but I try to avoid reading the reviews until I finish the book. Take The Cruel Prince for example. It has been EVERYWHERE and I jus bought it yesterday. I have managed to avoid spoilers and I have not read a single review yet, I don’t even really know what it is about, only that it’s about fae, possibly.
    Athough I have to admit this takes a lot of effort since hyped books are thrown at our faces all the time, to me it’s worth it.
    But I love going into books blind. I love not knowing what the book is about and being caught off guard. Whenever I add a book to my tbr I either read the synopsis, add it to my tbr and wait a long time to buy it so I can forget most of the synopsis, or if I’m indicisive I read a few reviews from people I know share a similar taste to mine and decide to add it or not. There’s also the occasional book I read JUST BECAUSE I’ve seen it everywhere. (The Cruel Prince)
    I agree with you in that I also think the problem with hyped books is the expectations we create in our head about such books, but it also gives attention to really great books. Sure, I have been let down by hyped books before, but I’ve also discovered favorites thanks to the hype and many of those times, they were books that I wouldn’t have picked up if they haden’t been so visualized.

    Such an interesting discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so right – it’s hard to avoid spoilers or any information when it’s thrown in your face a lot. But I love going into books blindly. It makes it so that everything is a surprise and you’re unwrapping a present! I like to read reviews to some degree when I’m considering a book but then I don’t look into it again before I read it
      And holy crap the Cruel Prince is everywhere! I haven’t picked it up yet and I’m not sure I will. The hype is kind of killing my desire for it. But if it continues then I may need to pick it up 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The hype sometimes makes me afraid to try the book. I end up having so many preconceived notions about what the book will be about/ how it will play out… and that’s not always a good thing. That said, the hype can be really helpful for the author…. which is pretty important too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get afraid too. Like The Hate You Give for example. It was so hyped up and I figured that there was no way that the book would live up to it. Thankfully it did though! Exceeded it actually! But it can be intimidating when there’s so much conversation about a book before you read it!

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  13. This is such a great point. I often think about how much hype alters my thoughts on any particular book, whether I have heard a lot or a little about it, and if it changes my mindset going into the story. Personally, I have been trying to AVOID reviews etc. for books I am looking forward to (like, for example, The Wicked Deep) until after I have read it myself. But that is only because I have had books ruined for me (or at least the experience) because of the hype surrounding it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always been the type of person that reads thoughts and reviews before I decided to purchase a book. I don’t know why lol. But it helps me decide if something is going to suit my personality. I’m good at avoiding spoilers but, like you said, it sometimes ruins the experience!

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  14. I’ve often avoided books with a large amount of hype, especially since becoming a blogger. I’m the same with films as well as books, but I feel like they don’t always live up to the hype. It doesn’t always make them bad books but you’re always expecting more. Plus I find it can be awkward to have even a partially negative opinion on the book when everyone loves it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point!! When there’s so much positivity and you finally read it and it doesn’t suit you, it can be a really intimidating and awkward experience. You go into it expecting to love it as much as everyone else does and then it’s a let down

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  15. Hype is definitely harm! Both in books and in film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find that with film it’s especially hard! I’m not much of a movie person to begin with but the films that get so much exposure I find are boring and just blah. I sit and wonder WHY??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. Mass marketing often ruins big movies before we even get to see them. I hate it!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Read This says:

    The hype, is real! Sometimes the hype isn’t worth it, I have started books that others were raving about and just could not get into them but, on the other hand as soon as I picked up others and started reading I was immediately thrust into another world. The hype works both ways, they can increase your expectation of a book and a specific author or they can give a lot more details away that can ultimately ruin the read. I personally try not to read books that follow the “in” crowed. I would rather randomly pick up a book and give it a try on my own doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hype most definitely works both ways. That’s why I’ll never be able to decide for sure what I think about it. It’s helped me find books I LOVED that I never would have picked up otherwise, and at the same time, like you said, people rave about it and I couldn’t get into it!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. hannahsnovelnonsense says:

    I like the hype. It helps me decide which books to read or not read. However, I feel like it can be harmful, because a book will get so much hype you need to read it, but when you do you realise it’s not your kind of book. So you need to be careful which hype you choose to listen to

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. I’ve found so many books I loved because of hype. When there’s so many choices out there hype helps get things into your TBR that you might not have found 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hannahsnovelnonsense says:

        Exactly! Most of the books I’ve read have been recommendations or books I’ve found through people

        Liked by 1 person

  18. It really depends! For me, if a book is talked about a lot I generally skip the “what is it about” part of hype and just add the book to my to-read list or place a hold at the local library; that way I know lots of people are talking about it, but don’t exactly know what it’s about. It can definitely be harmful though, giving you unrealistic expectations of books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same. I found that I was adding books to my pile because of the hype without really knowing anything about it. It’s a good thing and a bad thing sometimes! Hype is hard 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Hype might be why I pick a book up but I’ve never been one to be unduly influenced by another (as anyone can tell who reads my blog semi regularly I’m pretty different). And I always like to read a book and get from it what the author intended… or at least try to get what they intended. The blurb is written by marketing at most publishing companies and really are about framing the story so that their type of reader will pick it up. With this knowledge I don’t hold to the blurb like it is sacred. Hahahahah I guess I way overthink hype. And since I read a handful of hyped books in November and didn’t enjoy them and they caused me to go into a horrible reading slump I’m even more leery of hype. In 2018 I decided to just hit my tbr and my arcs and keep my head away from hype. My gut is actually the best picker! ❤ I loved the points you made Shanah! Such a great discussion!

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  20. Ahh I so relate- especially since I’ve experienced this so many times before and I’ve also just got the ARC for Hazel wood and am so nervous about it cos of all the hype!! I do think hype often kills books for me, cos it gives me such unrealistic expectations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! Especially with The Hazel Wood! Because of the hype I built up this book in my mind that we were immediately going to be trust into the grandmothers fairy tale but that didn’t happen. And when that didn’t happen for those expecting it they were let down. I’m glad that I went into it with a clear mind because I ended up really enjoying it. It had a lot of magical realism in the beginning which I normally don’t mesh with but it was so well done. I hope you love it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes for sure!! And that’s really good! Thank you!!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Daniela Ark says:

    Hi Shanah 🙂 First time here, visiting because Dani featured our post! I rarely read books blurbs or reviewers’ summaries. I usually focus in how the reader felt reading the book. how well developed was the world and characters etc. But hype definitely makes my expectations go really high Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and welcome 🙂
      Reading peoples reviews has helped me so much. Finding books that I know are well developed in both world and character. But it has created an issue because I expect one thing and get another. Hype is so hard!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. kyera says:

    I agree with your assessment, hype is both helpful and harmful. It’s so tough to balance hearing about new books and not making assumptions.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Samantha says:

    Though a hype can be helpful in finding books that might be interesting, I did get disappointed by hyped books myself as well (such as Girl on the Train, for me). It’s hard not to have certain expectations when a book gets good reviews all around, which leads to inevitable disappointment. I usually try to steer clear of hypes nowadays, but it can be hard when you check out reviews to gauge whether a book is interesting or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t picked up The Girl on the Train mainly because it was so hyped. Everyone was talking about it and raving then next thing you know almost all of the reviews were filled with disappointment. Glad I made an informed decision about that one!

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