I read a lot of books. I don’t stick to a particular genre or the authors I know about; rather, I go outside my comfort zone and pick books that seem to promise a new experience. However, I do avoid certain things when picking out my next read, and there are some aspects that undeniably turn me off… my pet peeves, if you may. In no particular order, here are some of them:
Widows and orphans - No, no… I’m not talking about real widows and orphans. In typesetting, widows are the lines which are separated from the rest of the paragraph and appear alone on the next page, and orphans are the words that are left alone on a line, sometimes all by themselves on a single page. These are kinda bothersome, especially when I’m writing!
Books where the protagonist’s main concern is their significant other – You know what I’m talking about… these books where the whole point is to get two characters together, or where the protagonist’s existence depends solely on their SO. I don’t mind romantic elements in books, but please give your characters more depth and credit than that!
Love triangles – Love triangles are so overused and filled with clichés; two gorgeous guys fall head over heels for a fairly ordinary girl and it is left up to her to choose which one she would like to date, cue in a lot of heartache, a lot of ice-cream/wine/etc, a lot of pampering, several defining moments and eventually crushing the heart of one of these poor guys. Or it could be two girls and a guy, whatever tickles the author’s fancy.
Descriptions – I don’t mind descriptions when a writer is trying to create a new world from scratch, but sometimes it gets overdone. For example, I don’t like lengthy descriptions of a character; few defining characteristics will do. I also don’t like when a writer goes to great lengths to describe a fairly ordinary room, or when they describe every nook and cranny in a town. I usually just skim through all these.
Love at first sight – Let’s get one thing straight; these things do not happen. You can’t just see someone and fall in love with them the moment you set eyes on them. You can call it “lust at first sight”, because love isn’t something that gets built upon appearances.
Vampires – Any book that has sexy vampires is automatically dismissed by me. I’m tired of seeing books that have covers depicting a beautiful person with glowing eyes. I’m tired of seeing the “girl meets vampire and they fall in love” storyline. There are some good vampire books out there, like Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and Pretty Maids All in a Row by Christopher Golden (a book about Spike and Drusilla from BtVS) for example, but I find myself rolling my eyes at the majority of them. If you know of any original vampire books, please do tell me about them; vampires are some of my favourite mythical creatures, and it pains me to see them used like this.
A throng of characters – One example of a book that contains one too many characters is A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. It just has so many characters that eventually I found it difficult to remember who’s who, and they weren’t given enough screen time, so by the end of the book I didn’t care about any of them. It was annoying, and I only pushed through to the end because the book had won a Pulitzer, so it had to be good, right? I was proven wrong.
Graphic scenes – They’re just not my cup of tea. Strangely enough, whenever I’m thumbing through a novel at a bookshop, I’ll almost always stop at these scenes. I’ve tended to call this… quirk? Habit? Intuition? Luck? of mine the “Sex Detector”, because it often helps me put titles I would’ve otherwise bought back on their shelves. I don’t mind those scenes when they’re hinted at or just written in passing, but details make me uncomfortable. Just a preference.
Damsels in distress - I don’t think elaboration is in order, but it truly annoys me when a book contains a heroin or a protagonist’s love interest who is depicted as a poor, defenseless girl who just sits around on her bum waiting for her knight in shining armour to save her.
On a semi-related note, I also like my books to be in pristine condition. Any dents, creases in the cover, stains, etc, just bug me completely. If I lend out a book and it returns to me in a less than perfect condition, I will be quite upset. My fiancé covered this a lot better in this post here about things that shouldn’t be done to books.
What are some of your pet peeves?