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Read without fear! These book trigger warnings help you understand the meaning and importance of such warnings by listing the most common examples and where to describe and/or find them yourself. You’ll be grateful for more pleasant reading experiences afterward. Let’s get literary!

warning highlighted in a book

Definition of Trigger Warning

A trigger warning is a verbal or written warning about content in media (such as books) that may cause a harmful physical, psychological, or physiological effect on a person who consumes it.

In other words, consuming certain content can “trigger” people to react negatively, including, but not limited to, anxiety, grief, or stress.

A trigger warning serves to advise a person of potentially harmful content before it is consumed in order to mentally prepare him or her for consuming it or to help him or her decide not to consume it.

List of Common Book Trigger Warnings

  1. abandonment
  2. ableism
  3. abortion
  4. abuse
  5. abusive relationship
  6. accidents
  7. addiction
  8. adoption
  9. alcohol
  10. amputation
  11. animal cruelty
  12. anxiety
  13. arranged/forced marriage
  14. attempted crimes
  15. blood
  16. bodily fluids
  17. bondage
  18. bones
  19. bullying
  20. burning/burns
  21. cancer
  22. cannibalism
  23. cheating
  24. child abuse
  25. childbirth
  26. classism
  27. clowns
  28. colorism
  29. coma
  30. confinement
  31. control
  32. cults
  33. death
  34. decapitation
  35. depression
  36. diets
  37. disability
  38. divorce
  39. domestic abuse
  40. drowning
  41. drugs
  42. dying
  43. eating disorders
  44. emotional abuse
  45. epidemics
  46. experimentation
  47. family conflict
  48. fat phobia
  49. fear
  50. fighting
  51. fire
  52. forced actions
  53. foster system
  54. gambling
  55. gangs
  56. gaslighting
  57. gender discrimination
  58. genocide
  59. ghosts
  60. gore
  61. graphic death
  62. graphic sex
  63. guns
  64. harassment
  65. hate crimes
  66. hazing
  67. homelessness
  68. homicide
  69. homophobia
  70. hospitalization
  71. hostage situation
  72. hostile work environment
  73. human trafficking
  74. illness
  75. incarceration
  76. incest
  77. infertility
  78. infidelity
  79. injury
  80. institutionalization
  81. kidnapping
  82. manipulation
  83. mass deaths
  84. mass shootings
  85. medical problems
  86. medical procedures
  87. memory problems
  88. mental abuse
  89. mental health issues
  90. military service
  91. miscarriage
  92. misogyny
  93. murder
  94. mutilation
  95. needles
  96. nightmares
  97. nudity
  98. organized crime
  99. outing
  100. overdose
  101. pain
  102. pandemic
  103. panic attacks
  104. paralysis
  105. physical abuse
  106. pornography
  107. physical assault
  108. police brutality
  109. political conflict
  110. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  111. poverty
  112. pregnancy
  113. pressure
  114. profanity
  115. racial conflict
  116. racial discrimination
  117. rape
  118. religious conflict
  119. religious discrimination
  120. robbery
  121. scars
  122. screaming
  123. self-harm
  124. self-hate
  125. shaming
  126. sexual abuse
  127. sexual assault
  128. sexual discrimination
  129. slavery
  130. smoking
  131. snakes
  132. spiders
  133. stabbing
  134. stalking
  135. starvation
  136. substance abuse
  137. suffocation
  138. suicidal ideation
  139. suicide
  140. terrorism
  141. threats
  142. torture
  143. transphobia
  144. verbal abuse
  145. victim blaming
  146. violence
  147. war
  148. weapons
  149. weather
  150. witches

Trigger Warning Examples

Common places to find book trigger warnings include:

  • book reviews
  • internet databases
  • book descriptions
  • before page one of a book

First, book reviewers often refer to trigger warnings and/or content warnings in their book reviews. On Instagram, book reviews often use the abbreviations “TW” or “CW” followed by a string of trigger and/or content warnings.

I often list triggers within my blog posts. A few examples include my trigger warning guides for these Colleen Hoover books:

You can also find these types of posts by Googling: “[book title] trigger warnings.

Second, there are internet databases, like the book-reviewing platform Storygraph, where reviewers add trigger warnings for specific books. All you need to do is search the database for a book, then click to see the warnings for it.

Lastly, the publisher and/or author may offer trigger warnings in a description of a book or even before a story begins.

Recently, I read an effective book trigger warnings before page one of the dragon fantasy romance book Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It both offered a warning and felt like a part of the story itself, building suspense for the action to come:

Fourth Wing is a nonstop-thrilling adventure fantasy set in the brutal and competitive world of a military college for dragon riders, which includes elements regarding war, battle, hand-to-hand combat, perilous situations, blood, intense violence, brutal injuries, death, poisoning, graphic language, and sexual activities that are shown on the page. Readers who may be sensitive to these elements, please take note, and prepare to enter Basgiatah War College…

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you find trigger warnings for books?

You can find trigger warnings for books in book reviews, blog posts, internet databases, book descriptions, and even before page one of a book.

What is the difference between TW and CW?

TW (trigger warnings) refers to generally difficult content to consume, such as violence and death. CW (content warnings) are broader and include things that aren’t triggering to the general population but may be triggering to a particular person.

Does Goodreads have trigger warnings?

No. GoodReads does not offer any specific listings of trigger warnings for books; however, you can read book reviews on GoodReads to locate triggering content.

Conclusion

Book trigger warnings can protect you and/or other readers from the negative effects of reading difficult content. You can describe and/or find trigger warnings for books in book reviews, blog posts, internet databases, book descriptions, and even before page one of a book.

Are there any common book triggers you would like to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

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8 Comments

  1. Religion in general. Just… churches or certain bits of Christian doctrine, even presented positively, can flash me back to Boarding/Residential School trauma

  2. Thank you for this well-thought post and the suggestions for places to find TW and CW. This is a tricky business. I almost want to make my own list of additional items that might apply to extra sensitive populations such as Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s) and recovering addicts. Books can be a necessary distraction for these populations but not if they have particular triggers.

    My suggestions, HSP or not, you decide, would be:

    Natural disasters or just Disasters,
    Climate Change, and
    Extinction.

  3. Maybe torture? Aside from that, I am generally as long as a dog does not die. Or a cat. Or, really, any animal.