As I’ve been sorting through my very overstuffed bookshelves I’ve stacked piles of books to part with. I don’t have the space and these are all books I doubt I’ll read again anyway. But then it got me thinking…what makes these different from the books I could never fathom letting go? So, I decided it might be fun to figure out what I don’t like to read in books. So I’ve put together a list of about 10 things that are bookish turn-offs for me (in no particular order).
As I made this list I realized a) it included things that I also don’t enjoy in movies/TV and b) that I’m very judgmental towards books. Lol
WHEN THE MAIN CHARACTER(S) DIE.
Characters are going to die. I get it. I won’t always like it, but I get it. But do not kill a main character that is loved. A character whom you’ve followed since page one and have grown to love and understand and hope for. They should get a happy ending! I don’t care if their death could be some dramatic act of sacrifice. I want them to have a perfect happy ending that can only exist in books! Lol…Sorry, I’m a Disney child. As cynical as I can be, I really like happy endings.
Terrible Terrible Covers
A) When they’re simply terrible, I will not buy it. It could have great reviews but yes, I shamefully admit that I won’t buy it, which 98% of the time means I’ll never end up reading it.
Although that being said, it’s such a just betrayal when I buy a book because the cover is beautiful and the story is rather lackluster.
B) Pet Peeve: When they change the covers mid-series or when they completely rehaul the cover art and it becomes almost impossible to find the originals because I can’t stand to have mismatched covers on my shelves. I just hate when they change the cover art and/or the book dimensions!!! Why would they ruin our bookshelves like that?? WHY?!
Romantic Drama that Just Won’t Give Up
I don’t hate all romantic drama obviously since that’s usually part of the point of a book. I just hate when it starts to get out of hand or dragged out. I hate any overblown drama, really. It’s just…I mean surely someone knows what I’m talking about? Like when they’re simply going in endless circles and start being petty and whiny and dramatic and annoying and blehhhh and the writer can’t think of anything else to fill our time with and you just really want someone to make a decision and let that be that. #bored.
Unpopular opinion: When done well, the whole insta-love thing doesn’t always bother me.
Semi-Popular opinion: What I absolutely dread reading are intense love-triangles, unless it’s super obvious that it’ll only last 0.2 seconds because it never really stood a chance (but then just why?).
Oh, I also really don’t like it when two characters fall in love and suddenly there seems to be no other characters in the story, or at least none that matter. All that they’re concerned about is their love and romance and all other previously urgent and pressing matters are shoved aside in the plot. Silliness. Just because you’ve fallen in love doesn’t mean the castle isn’t still about to be invaded or the planet blown up or whatever!
Super Long Series That Try to Outlive my Lifespan
The longest series I’ve invested in are Little House on the Prairie (9 books), Harry Potter (7 books), and the Chronicles of Narnia (7 books). I like a good trilogy, although for the Six of Crows series the duology size was perfect.
I’d be totally down with a long standalone but they don’t usually write those unless it’s a contemporary fiction or something. I wish they would. It’s nice to read a fantastical adventure in one book.
It’s just that sometimes these series go on and on and on and I really want a beginning, middle, and end that doesn’t require my buying another bookshelf just for that series.
Author is a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins
If I don’t like what the author is saying or doing via Twitter, Instagram, etc. then I start to not like them as a person and (sorry?) that rubs off on their book. I’m sure if I got to know them in real life I’d like them (maybe?) but based on the portrayal of their twitter rants and other social media nonsense… No, sorry.
Succeeding to fail to communicate information that any normal person would have failed to miscommunicate.
Please have a REASON for why things go wrong, why secrets are kept, why arguments break out, etc. Give the character a strong and valid motive. Sometimes authors “try” to validate an issue that arises but it’s really just clumsy character miscommunication and it’s weak.
It’s not that miscommunication doesn’t happen in real life or that it can’t be used well in a plot, but too often it comes across in books/shows as if the writer ran out of ideas for plot twists or excitement or cleverness. It’s cheap drama (this ties into my rant on overblown romantic drama). I loath when writers use cheap nonsensical or easily avoidable miscommunication to further a plot in books, movies, TV, anything (it’s particularly prevalent in lame TV shows). It’s weak and annoying. (Except in the show Friends where it’s usually hilarious)
TEARS. TRAGEDY. HEARTBREAK.
If a book is going to make me cry a lot, I will not read it (intentionally). If it’s going to rip out my heart and crush it, I will not read it. If the protagonist we get to know and bond with doesn’t get a happy ending, I will not read it. I don’t care at all if it’s the best story ever written on this earth. I. Will. Not. Read. It. (Or watch it, because this applies to movies too. I was blindsided twice and it still haunts me – Listen to Your Heart (2010) & Million Dollar Baby (2004)…yes those movies are so good! But still…)
Words Built from a Global Alphabet Soup
When a book is chock-full of names and words I cannot even begin to pronounce and there is no glossary and/or pronunciation guide in the back to help me. Because when there are a thousand-and-one characters, places, objects, holidays, technological devices/terms, etc. written in weird fantasy languages, or even real languages, and there’s no pronunciation guide when these words/names are clearly very different from whatever language the audience is reading the book in, I close the book and back away. I’m happy to learn, but I’m not about to spend hours and hours trying to decipher a book that has me stopping to look up pronunciations or meanings every other sentence unless it’s a work assignment. I want to sink into a story and simply enjoy it.
This is mostly just an issue with high fantasy/sci-fi novels. Requirements: map, character list, pronunciation guide. THANK YOU.
A) When the protagonist, or any major character, is just a fool. They say dumb things, they do dumb things, they think dumb things, they seem incapable of any good sense. I can’t stand those types of characters.
B) Another annoying issue is when the protagonist is an idiot and/or useless. I’m totally cool with a protagonist feeling disoriented, disadvantaged, unwillfully ignorant or uninformed or unskilled or yeah, plain useless (because let’s be honest, that would totally be me in a book haha). But then I need to see them striving to become better, stronger, smarter, etc. Don’t just float around looking like a deer in headlights because you know nothing and take no initiative to do anything about it. Don’t constantly rely on other characters to fill you in or save you. Train, study, rage, demand help, something.
I personally hate this genre in ALL mediums. I love to have my spine tingle and my palms sweat and my head spin and my breathing halt with a good psychological thriller, but I will not read/watch anything in the horror genre (or with any gore) much to some of my friends’ dismay. (If forced to do so be prepared for a loud running comical commentary that will not end until the movie does. I will also require a large pillow to hug/hide behind).
So, what are some of your bookish (or movie/TV) turn-offs? It was kind of fun sitting down and brainstorming my own because I’d never really thought about it so specifically before. Twas interesting 🙂 I found that I’m very…picky. Lol. And yet there are exceptions to all of those things I listed. Except gore/horror. That’s a permanent NO.