Recently I was hanging out with a friend, and we were swapping book titles back and forth of books we thought the other should read. I was sharing the title I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, and when describing the plot, she asked me, “Does it have a romance?” I said, “Yeah, it’s LGBT.” I received a very dirty look and the response, “Why would that matter?”
For the record, I don’t think it matters that it is an LGBT book. To me, romance is romance, it doesn’t matter which characters it happens between. The only reason it popped out of me is because I know the book has been tagged “LGBT” on different social media sites, including Goodreads.
But the whole episode made me think about how important tags really are for books. They are extremely prevalent when we categorize books: it’s a fantasy book, it’s science fiction, adult, young adult, or even fiction or non-fiction. They let us know of which genre the book consists. So how important is sharing tags when recommending a book to a friend?
Prioritizing My To-Read List
Some people may never use books tags, but I actually really like them. When adding a book to my to-read list, one of the first things I check is the tag list, to see what other readers have added. Yes, sometimes the tags influence my decision of whether or not to add a book. Tags like “paranormal” or “vampires” are much less likely to get onto the list, while “Dystopian” will always grab my attention.
The one tag I typically avoid is erotica. To be clear, I’m not against erotica fiction, nor am I against those who read it. I’m not against sex. I’m not against anything. I avoid the tag simply because I don’t enjoy reading them. While I think there are really good erotica novels out there, I would rather be reading something else. I would rather go read about fighting zombies or flying with dragons, or sailing with pirates. My sense of adventure lies out there in the fantasy world and not between the sheets.
So when it comes to book recommendations, absolutely I want my friends to give me that information tag. If someone recommended me a book and didn’t tell me that it was erotica fiction I would be a little surprised when I started reading. I would also be disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to properly prioritize my reading list.
When we have so much reading to get through in our lives, we have to make hard choices about what books to keep and what books to pass over. Tags are a quick and dirty way for me to see what kind of content that book has, and whether or not I’m interested in checking it out. Prioritizing my books is very important to me, so the faster I can chop a book off the list the better.
I personally think tags are great. They’re quick and easy, and allow you to make a snap decision when needed. They allow me to prioritize my reading list, and steer me clear of books I don’t want to waste my time reading. So when I use tags when recommending a book to someone else, they’re my way of saying, here is as much information I can give you about the book so you can quickly and efficiently judge whether or not to read it later.