8 ways to turn me off a book
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday gives me a chance to offload about the things that deter me from reading a particular book. Here in no particular order are some generalities about the items that make me not want to read a book. The more numerically inclined readers of this post will note that I didn’t make it to 10 – I found as I was preparing this list that I don’t have anywhere near that many ‘no-go’ areas.
1. The book features or even mentions zombies. The current mania among teenagers and young adults for the fictional undead leaves me cold.
2. It’s about a circus or magicians. I’m not keen on the idea of entertainment that involves wild animals and magic leaves me rather cold. I can’t say these features in a book would make it an absolute no-no but the book would have to tick many other boxes to persuade me to take an interest. Hence why I never read The Night Circus.
3. Man (Un)Appeal: In other words the cover depicts a guy stripped to his waist and showing off rippling muscles and a six-pack. I don’t even need to read the blurb to know this is absolutely the kind of book I hate. Have you seen these guys in the gym – they’re the ones who are always preening themselves in the mirror. Pity the girl or boy who falls for one of these peacocks.
4. Overtly religious themes: I appreciate these are important to some readers but they hold no interest for me.
5. Stickers on books are a pet peeve of mine. I’ll happily buy from the ‘3 for the price of 2’ or ‘buy one get the second half price’ table but I can do without the horrible promotional sticker advertising my thriftiness to all and sundry. I try to avoid them wherever possible but sometimes that’s the only edition available and then I’m left with the tough task of trying to remove the sticker. I don’t know what glue the printers use but it’s tenacious stuff – it comes off in tiny scraps, does serious damage to your nails and even then you’re left with a nasty residual sticky patch on the cover.
6. Gratuitous sadistic/masochistic violence: reading some kinds of crime thrillers invariably means you’re confronted with a certain degree of violence. If it’s essential for the plot or the theme I can tolerate a certain amount but it’s the books that deliberately set out to portray extreme violence that I never want to read (step forward Fifty Shades of Grey and its ilk)
7. Cliched romance. The covers of these kinds of book always give the game away. They typically use pastel shades on the cover and a soft focus image of a woman staring moodily into the distance or a girl/boy looking adoringly into each others eyes. Yuk…..
8. Bad writing: Of my 8 deterrent factors, this is the only one guaranteed to make me put the book down. I can tolerate a certain level of romance or violence; I will read about a religious belief as long as the author isn’t proselytizing and will even manage to read a book bearing one of the much-hated sticky labels. But bad writing is a factor I cannot tolerate. I usually skim a few pages of any book before I hand over my cash just to get a feeling for the style. Usually its the first page I look at and then something at random in the middle. If I find an abundance of cliches or unecessary adjectives, tired descriptions or deliberately ‘literary’ names for characters I’ll probably put it down again. Easier to do it a bricks and mortar shop than on line which is how I still make mistakes with some purchases.
35 thoughts on “8 ways to turn me off a book”
Well, I have to say, my fantasy epic is about a boy in a traveling circus. But it “ticks other boxes” as you put it. LOTS of other boxes (coming-of-age, death, mental illness, war, tragedy, comedy, social philosophy, privilege and poverty, etc.).
That is indeed a lot of boxes ticked
I agree with all of your categories. I will accept stickers, however, if they are for good books. I don’t like them, but if WH Smith has a sticker that says 3 for 20 pounds, I might make an exception.
I also won’t buy a book that has numerous 1 sentence paragraphs (not including dialogue or poetry here).
those one sentence paragraphs would be irritating for me too
I’m with you on all of these with the exception of The Night Circus maybe because it vaguely reminded me of the Enid Blyton circus books.
I thought I knew all of Blyton’s work but have never come across her circus books…
I once read in a book about a book dealer who advocated the use of a bit of lighter fluid to eradicate a sticker on a book. It works, I understand.
Wouldn’t it make the page smell though?
I rather enjoy a ‘good’ zombie novel – but it has to be top notch, ditto magicians – they actually make me pick the book up. I’m with you on everything else, although I will put up with a lot in a crime/thriller if it’s really well written…
I never realised you had this darker side to your character 🙂
I don;t m ind # 1 or 2 and #5 is definitely annoying but won’t put me off. Your others though, I am right there with you! I think to my list I would add boring which for me usually seems to have a lot to do with pacing. If a book is slow and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere or if it is going somewhere but taking far too long to get there, no thanks! I don;t have time to wade through 200 pages for a 300 page book to finally get good.
I also had romance on my ‘turn-offs’ list too and I totally agree covers with bare chested men on make me run for the hills! However I definitely can’t agree on magic 😛
Reblogged this on Stevie Turner, Indie Author. and commented:
Totally agree re the zombies, half naked guys /ladies and gratuitous violence. I’m also adding a few more; vampires, erotica, and fantasy!
I had vampires in my first draft. I could easily have included erotica. Fantasy I’m ambivalent about ….
Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
Here is a great post from the Booker Talk blog on things that are deterrents to reading a book.
I totally agree with all your choices and felt moved to shout ‘yes’ and punch the air at the stickers one. I am also averse to what I call ‘pointy shoe’ fiction – the kind of books peopled with characters wearing shoes with pointy turn up toes, singing traditional folk songs to the sound of a lute, probably in a forest. Honestly, shoot me now! Also, jesters, can’t stand jesters. Phew – it felt good to get that off my chest! 🙂
Not a fan of Man Appeal either. I have never read a book with circus themes so I don’t know if I would like it. I personally hate the circus because I think it’s animal cruelty.
Excellent list! I love the ‘Man (Un)Appeal’ point. I always get put off by covers like that, but I never thought about it in that way… you’re totally right, those are precisely the guys that spend all day preening in front of the mirror… pass.
I pretty much agree with them all! Zombies particularly have been done to death. And while I enjoy books set in monasteries and such, that’s more about the backdrop, I don’t like anything where too much actual faith really leaks through (I was put of the end of the Goldfinch a bit by that), and not just who murdered the vicar in the vestry with the candlestick.
I think I agree with a lot of your list. I probably lumped a lot of the bad-romance, sadistic, horror, etc, genres together under ‘It’s not Literary’ on my list. Stickers have become a huge pet peeve for me too! Especially since I started buying second-hand books. Most second-hand stores just write a price in pencil on the inside cover but a few use low-quality stickers that are impossible to remove without making a mess. Most regular stores have easy to peel stickers, but they don’t always come off so easily with some covers – glossy ones for instance. You’d think publishers, sicker manufacturers and book stores would be able to come together and get this right!
Will hop over to read your list in a minute. Apparently white spirit will remove the glue from the stickers…
It’s a bit of a coincidence that you wrote this post as I’ve been thinking how certain things trigger adverse reactions when it comes to choosing what to read. The word ‘heartwarming,” “whipsmart” is another. Plus any main character who is ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ or an unsung genius.
I don’t mind spoilers to be honest because sometimes a reviewer will mention a key feature that drove him/her crazy: for argument’s sake let’s say a zombie or time travel. Perhaps that ‘gives away’ a lot but sometimes it helps cinch the decision that a book just isn’t for me.
I agree with all of these too…
Man (un)appeal! I love the way you worded that!! Fantastic list.
I agree with all of that!
I bet you have a few extra up your sleeve
Ugh, man (un)appeal is right. Guck!
I’m with you on all of these, but here’s a tip for removing that pesky sticker glue – I find a tissue dabbed in white spirit usually does the trick.
You might have just made a lot of people very very happy Jenny. Next question – how do you stop the book smelling of white spirit??
Wow, you nailed it with those points! I have the same distaste for each item you mentioned…and, in fact, if someone writes a review about one of those books, I probably won’t even bother to read it.
Thanks for sharing!
Youre even more strict than I am 🙂 But actually I wouldnt read those reviews either
Oh, I so agree about the stickers! It’s like those security checked stickers on passports, which never come off properly either!
I don’t like zombies or vampires either, or any mention of shopping or designer goods of the type ‘She took off her Manolos and set her Louis Vuitton suitcase carefully on the Armani table before taking her Jo Malone candle out of her Hermes handbag and whacking the unfortunate male on the head with all her might’ (mentioning no names of authors or recent books of that description).
I love your pastiche of that kind of book – you can tell why you are a writer!! I’m shuddering to think there are such books in the world
I think I agree with all your points, Karen, and especially the last! If a heroine is chewing her lip, or sighing a great deal or engaging in some other cliche within the first few pages, the book goes back on the shelf. And it’s funny how rarely magicians make good fiction. I’ve read several books involving them and have been disappointed every time.
Oh yes those would be cliches all right that would make me close the cover very fast….. I was listening to a podcast this week (an old one) from Frances at nonsuchbook who was recommending Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – it excited me not one bit