Booking Through Thursday: Blurble, Blurble, Blurble


Here is this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?

I can’t think of any blurbs that have made a book irresistible to me.  The only thing “blurbish” on a book cover that might interest me in the book is a good summary on the back cover or on the dust jacket flaps. Which, of course, sometimes those blurbs can fool you into thinking you’ve got a really good book in your hands, when, really you have a snore- inducer.

On the other hand, bad blurbs are those that make the author sound like the greatest thing since iced tea with lemon or gin and tonic with lime. Other blurb words that put me off include “life-changing/altering/etc.,” “smart,” “funny to the point organs and bones break,” “earth-shattering,” “poignant,” “buy it, but it now,” or “a gem: lucid, lively, and full of observations both useful and true.”  That last blurb is one from a book I liked, Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story. That blurb is head-explodingly bad. Surely most books, even bad books, contain some “observations both useful and true.”

And that last blurb comes from a review. A practice I dislike, especially when you look up the review and discover the quote excerpted from it is the only positive bit from the review.

I would like to say, though, that if I ever publish a book I hope someone will blurb it by saying, “This is a life-altering gem of a book. Rib-shatteringly funny. Poignant and tragic. Buy no other book, unless the author publishes something else. In fact, throw all your other books out, because nothing else need be read. Buy this book, buy it now. Buy boxloads.”

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One thought on “Booking Through Thursday: Blurble, Blurble, Blurble

  1. Then there was Dave Eggers’s strategy to name his memoir as if from the ultimate review or blurb, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

    As a publisher, I got a lot of blurbs, and the best were not blurbish but thoughtful. Anyone can write a generic-sounding blurb, and they are lousy unless the blurber is so famous that his or her fame is the point. A fair number of famous authors won’t do them anymore, for good reasons, though those authors invariably benefited themselves, or thought they did, from blurbs when they were up and coming.

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