Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves. I generally tend to enjoy most of what I read. There are however a few things that occur in books that have me gnashing my teeth in frustration. In no uncertain order they are:

1. Giving away crucial plot points or the fate of the main character while doing a forward. This happened to me when I was reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I had no clue what this book was about before I picked it up. I made the mistake of reading the foreword where one of the very first paragraphs just out and told what happened to the main character. I still read the book but there was really no point in me doing so as it was completely ruined for me.

2. Character catch phrases that are used ad-nauseum. A couple of years ago I read a book I really liked except for the fact that the main character exclaimed "God's Nightgown!" about 5o times. It got really annoying after awhile. Even Scarlett can can have one fiddle dee dee too many.

3. Sopranos like endings. Books that fade into nothingness and never tell you how anything resolves itself are ones I tend to not end up loving. A book can be great but an ending like that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I honestly don't know what an author is trying to accomplish with this other than an excuse to write a sequel. I really liked The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber but I loathed the ending for this reason.

4. Characters with no flaws. The heroine is smart, beautiful, and knows how to do absolutely everything. The hero is the strong, brawny epitome of perfection and has a way with the ladies. There is nothing these type of characters can't overcome. Characters need to have flaws to make the story interesting and so readers can actually relate. Too perfect characters get old really quick. I'm look at you Aylah and Jondalar. Even Superman could be brought down by Kryptonite.

5. Too much creative license in historical fiction novels. I am not one of those readers that has to have every historical detail match up to get enjoyment out of a book. I don't begrudge those who are, its just not absolutely necessary for me personally. Fudging the history just a bit to make the story flow? A-OK with me. Giving history a literary bitch slap throughout the story? Not ok with me. I have enjoyed several books where the storyline was probably not what did happen in real life but had me considering if it could have. Having Queen Elizabeth defeat the Spanish Armada by riding to the rescue on a purple Pegasus with flaming sword in hand is NOT going to win any five star reviews from me.

6. Poor transition between points of view. I get confused enough on my own. When I am reading and the point of view shifts and I realize I have no idea who is talking it really makes me an unhappy camper. I hate having to go back to the beginning of a chapter figure things out. There should be a clear indication of which character is speaking. Same thing goes for books that switch from the past to the present. There needs to be some type of transition in there. It is too jarring without one.

7. Books that are much longer than they need to be. I understand wanting to be detailed but if you can shave about 300 pages off a book and really not miss anything then maybe there is a problem there. I probably would have liked Anna Karenina a lot more if it wasn't so dern long!

8. Mash up books. I know these have become wildly popular over the last year or two and some of the titles are hilarious but don't mess with my classics man! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out and then the market was flooded with similar concept books trying to cash in. Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter? Shakespeare Undead? Little Women and Werewolves? No, No and No. Someone make this awful trend stop and SOON!

9. See through plots and obvious characters. It takes all the fun out of things when the plot is so obvious the reader can figure it out half way through the book. The books I love the most are the ones where I think a book is leaning in a certain direction and I am proven wrong five times over before it ends. Also I don't like to be beat over the head with how "good" or "evil" a character is. You don't have to have the villain doing asinine things like pushing old ladies down flights of stairs and stealing candy from babies just to prove how villainous they are. Give the reader more credit than that. We are smart enough to figure out who the protagonist and antagonist are without all the extra "help".

10. Books that read like they have never crossed the desk of an editor. This is more than just a book being too long. I loath poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and poor sentence construction. My own writing is nowhere near perfect but I am not getting paid for it either. If what I am reading is the final product all this stuff should be fixed at this point. I mean, isn't that what an editor does? I know books don't make it to bookstores without going through edits so why do some of them read like they have? I'll admit it. I kinda liked the Twilight books but every single one of them needed some serious editing. Some of the sentences in those books and the grammar usage was atrocious.

I'm sure I could think of even more things that bug me about books but those are the big ones. I feel kind of bad about focusing on the negative things about books. Now I feel the need to do a "things authors do that I love" list!


  1. I agree with every one of these points. And #5, too much historical license, is a particular peeve of mine. I'd add another point, sloppy historical details. As in, you read several chapters of the novel and wonder if the author cracked a single book to research the dang thing. Details about daily life add up and get really irritating if a lot of them are inaccurate!

  2. I was reading an article on catchphrases last night (From TvTropes) and it mentioned Scarlett's use of "God's nightgown!". I never caught that when I read 'Gone with the Wind' in high school.

  3. Yep, I agree with all of these, especially numbers 4,5, and 8. I laughed out loud at the "God's Nightgown!" part too - catchphrases do get old fast.

    Sidenote: Regarding the Pink Carnation series, I'd say go for it and read them anyway. I still really like the first 3, and you haven't been introduced to Lord Vaughn yet, who pops up in the second book and is probably my favorite character from the series!

  4. Numbers 7 and 10 really go hand in hand because sometimes you wonder how an editor let such a manuscript get past them to the printers. Excellent list, and thank you for visiting. :) Happy reading!