Ten of My Biggest Bookish Pet Peeves – Inspired by NSFord

orangutan list

As much as I love books, I have to admit there are ever so slight problems that I *hate* so much they’ll ruin my enjoyment of a book. Reasonably or unreasonably, these can get me peeling back my banana rating at an alarming rate. And, though I’ve talked about the rather large issues that HORRIFY ME, I haven’t talked about these little pet peeves. That’s why I was really inspired by the brilliant N S Ford to air my biggest bug bears when it comes to fiction. Of course, this is a very personal list, so don’t please don’t take it personally if you like this stuff/the books I’ve included, yada yada yada… let’s get onto the juicy stuff, shall we?

an inspector callsMoralising– okay, yes, I say it a lot- BUT THAT’S COS IT REALLY GRINDS MY GEARS! I will never understand why some authors have to *stop everything* just to preach at us. If I wanted to hear what random people had to say about their views, I’d spend three hours trawling through twitter instead of buying a book.

 

hand on the wallUnwanted/unnecessary politics in books. Obviously, there are exceptions (if I pick up a book on a particular political topic, I’m not going to get mad at it for being what it says on the tin, whether it’s fiction or non fiction). However, much like with moralising, I’m really, really not interested in an author’s opinions on politics. I don’t read fiction books to get my political views and I have no interest in virtue signalling interludes. I just want to switch off and enjoy my rom com in peace, k?

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsPretentious characters. Oof, these ones get under my skin. It’s not just that they’re basically the most unlikeable characters, it’s that they often seem unrealistic too. I feel like I’ve never met anyone in real life who is as pretentious as characters in books somehow manage to be.

 

Bronzehorseman.jpgExcessively quoting other books to sound clever. Again, with exceptions- one my favourite things in books is subtle allusions and references. Nonetheless, I rarely think of it as genius when a book incessantly quotes other works to sound smart (references and epigraphs are mostly fine). Bonus irritation points, on the other hand, if you manage to combine it with a pretentious character (there’s basically nothing I hate more than characters who, rather than holding conversations, quote reams of poetry back and forth to each other. And, in keeping with my view that these are unrealistic, no one does this in real life).

4321Name dropping book titles to sound smart. Okay this is very similar to the last one- but somehow manages to be astronomically more annoying! It doesn’t make a character or author seem smart to just list a bunch of books the character read. I saw this a bunch of times in 4321 and I’ve no idea why the author did it. Really got on my nerves by the end.  

normal peopleSilly writing gimmicks for no justifiable reason. Sometimes I can be okay with it if it was done for a reason, such as when there weren’t quotation marks in the Road, because it was edgy, post-apocalyptic and it added to the tension. That said, the same cannot be said for Conversations with Friends and Normal People. I’ve spent ages trying to dissect why the author would use this- and can’t think of a single good reason. I get that she was going for a millennial vibe that she developed writing emails… maybe then I’d have let her off the hook for using slang, yet the lack of speech marks doesn’t add up (I also think it must be kind of irritating to get an email from Rooney if she just doesn’t bother to use good punctuation). Sorry, I don’t get it.

Throne_of_Glass_UKOh look there’s another chosen one– or any other super predictable trope. I’m not keen on when things are too derivative or been done to death- and I mention the chosen one cos this is one I’m most tired of seeing. Especially if it comes with a prophecy attached.

 

lady midnightBooks that are just set up (looking at the *entire* Dark Artifices series). I don’t mind if series go on and on- but I don’t want to be sold a story… only to realise I’m going to have to buy another book (and then another and another) before I actually get what I paid for.

 

crystal stormRepetitive content– similar to the last one I don’t like to have my time wasted. So, once you’ve made a point, done some character work or had something happen, please don’t just repeat it a few pages later! Worst case scenario is when an entire plot consists of having characters captured, then escape, then get captured again- by the same frickin villain!! It’s not only dull, it makes everyone in the book look kinda incompetent. No book needs that kind of padding!

on the roadNo plot. Cos apparently this makes you really clever as a writer. Just kidding! I’ve no idea where people got the idea that writing a book where nothing happens somehow makes it work of genius… It’s not like Shakespeare, Dickens, the Bronte sisters or basically any of the greats decided that they were just gonna skip the plot and ramble on aimlessly for 300 pages.

And that’s all for now! Do you agree with any of these? And what are some of your biggest bookish pet peeves? Let me know in the comments!

63 thoughts on “Ten of My Biggest Bookish Pet Peeves – Inspired by NSFord

  1. Ugh. The moralizing…. I’ve seen people post looooong quotes of book characters moralizing and give it as a reason to read the book, when I’m over here thinking, “Well, I know I can avoid that one”. You’re right. If I wanted people moralizing at me, I’d make a Twitter account.

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  2. I fully agree with most of these points. And one I find myself allergic to is (biomedical) scientific nonsense that is thrown into books to make it look smart – it would be the smarter choice to just leave it unexplained.

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  3. I completely agree with most of these, but i’d add punctuation and grammar mistakes to the list as well. XD I know it’s not *completely* the writer’s fault, but it really pulls me out of a book if I can’t move past an awkwardly phrased sentence, misplaced punctuation, etc.

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  4. I agree with all of this. Other pet peeves of mine are unnecessary romance (this is the only thing I didn’t like in Scythe). Also, I don’t like when an author will just reexplain in depth how the world works (Lady Midnight was full of this and at the end it was soooo annoying). If it is done to add new information on the world then I am 100% okay with this but if it’s just repeating stuff that you mentioned in 2 series already… And that’s a shame because I usually love Cassandra Clare books but this one was just… okay. Anyway, great post!

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      1. Exactly! If you want to allude to literature, do it cleverly. I think classics often do this better. The authors seem very familiar with the works and as if they’ve thought about and discussed them–not as if they read the book once in ninth grade and couldn’t really tell you much about it.

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  5. I must admit I quite liked ‘On the Road’ because of its ‘Beat-gen flow of consciousness’ vibe – which pretty much captured the emotional feel of his world (formless, experiential). Originally Kerouac didn’t even have paragraph breaks, still less chapters. But yeah, no particular plot. I wouldn’t want to read two such books!

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  6. Yes, yes, yes and yes.
    I get particularly annoyed by books written for children with a thinly-disguised political agenda. Just as teachers have no right to preach their own beliefs in the classroom (be they dietary, religious or political), authors have no right to bang the drum for their own opinions and disguise it as fiction. There is more than one view to every landscape and presenting one as if it is the only one is dishonest.

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  7. Omg I’m lowkey living for all the salty energy lmao. I TOTALLY agree with unnecessarily quoting other books. It’s really not necessary. Also like, when authors throw in HP JUST because it’s popular. It’s overdone and I don’t want to see it in 2020 anymore. My BIGGEST one, one I absolutely HATE is miscommunication. God I CANNOT STAND IT. When there’s unnecessary drama, that ha is SO DRAMATIC and stupid, because the characters are not just telling the other the truth. IT GRINDS MY GEARS ahhh.

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    1. haha thank you! haha I thought I’d be the only one. And I also agree with you about everyone referring to HP! It’s definitely overdone. Oh I get that about miscommunication- I realised recently that while I can handle it in small doses, if it’s used even more than once it’s a book killer for me- so I get that!! Ahh yes I completely understand!!

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  8. The “chosen one” and the “special one” trope. They usually are not so special. I can overlook several of these pet peeves. The ones I can’t overlook are repetition, telling, and unrealistic dialogue. These are usually book killers for me.

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  9. Gotta say, I agree with every one of these! I hate pretentious characters, especially when the author seems to be telling us that these characters are deep because they quote obscure books or are teens voluntarily reading classics. And yeah, I have no patience for gimmicky punctuation and formatting, or for lack of plot, or preachiness.Great list!

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  10. I feel a sort of vindication seeing the Truly Devious books on this list. I gave the author three books to show me that that the subplot was more than her expressing her political opinions, but alas, it was just that.

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  11. Oh I definitely agree with being repetitive that is so annoying to me. Also non communication is a pet peeve of mine especially when all the characters would have had to do was talk to avoid all of the drama in the book.

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  12. Not all of these things bother me except writing gimmicks for sure. Of course, the best creative nonfiction I wrote had sections in italics. go figure. I try not to use any gimmicks in my blog except line breaks to delineate separate focus in individual entries..

    One thing I can’t stand is text threads in a story, like from a phone. A single line from a text is ok, but when the author wants include whole text conversations I generally put the book down at that point.

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    1. Oh I don’t think of italics as a gimmick- it’s more like doing something that’s decidedly against the rules of grammar (like not using quotation marks or never using capitalisation etc).

      And I also don’t like text threads in books! I get why they’re there… but for some reason I’ve never liked them.

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  13. Yes to the all set up thing! I am SO picky about which series I pick up because I get very disillusioned with this very quickly. Happens so often with book 2 in the series where you find yourself thinking yep this could have been a duology if they were less interested in just making money

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  14. “Oh look there’s another chosen one– or any other super predictable trope. I’m not keen on when things are too derivative or been done to death- and I mention the chosen one cos this is one I’m most tired of seeing. Especially if it comes with a prophecy attached.”
    It’s been around since Buffy times (and probably earlier – I wasn’t really paying attention, and as for books, I wasn’t reading as much as I do now at the times), so one would think it’s A BIT dated by now LOL.

    i would say that, like you, I hate all tropes that have been “done to death”, while I understand how a writer can build on such tropes if they put a spin on those. You can’t very well create from scratch every time, but at least do your best to keep it fresh.

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  15. YES to repetitive content. That’s basically 98% of why I rarely read a series, they always get so repetitive. I’m still down for a good chosen one, but it has to be done well, which it almost never is at this point.

    My biggest bookish pet peeve is bad dialogue. I prefer more conversational books anyway, but if the dialogue sounds corny or overly pretentious I WILL hate the book.

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  16. I mostly agree, although I’m more open to politics in a book – as long as it’s integral to plot and characters. It can be politics I disagree with, but if it’s done well…the most annoying thing is when an author tries to vent his frustrations with real world politics by putting strawmen into his secondary world – and there his heroes can triumph over them 😉

    It’s a bit more annoying when done with someone from another side of the political spectrum, but I also can’t stand when my people do it…

    When done right, politics in genre fiction can shed some interesting light into our world, I believe it is a valid purpose. Orwell did it, Le Guin did it, Sapkowski in Witcher I argue did it really well, Tolkien loudly protested he never did it 😉

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