10 Bookish Pet Peeves

Posted 5th October 2021 by Sia in Top Ten Tuesdays / 0 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out upcoming Top Ten themes on Jana’s blog!

Today’s theme is Bookish Pet Peeves. I usually skip prompts that ask us to focus on something negative, but I don’t know – I guess I wanted to vent a bit? I hope you get some entertainment out of how random and weird my peeves are, at least!

First-person PoV

I’m sorry, but 99 times out of 100, I can’t freaking stand it. Unless there’s something legitimately different or interesting about the narrator, something I need their perspective to appreciate or understand, I don’t want to be in their head.

An example of different-or-interesting that springs to mind is I am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells. There, a huge part of the story is the main character’s psychopathy, which wouldn’t have come across nearly so well if we hadn’t been in the mc’s head. (Which is a major reason I didn’t enjoy the film adaption. The narration made the story! Without it, it just didn’t work.)

The easiest way to get around this is for an author to make their narrator use pretty, descriptive language. That almost always does the trick!

First-person PoV + Present-Tense

No. No. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Gods, I hate this so much. Viscerally. I know it’s supposed to be more immersive, but it’s one of the surest ways to make sure I don’t make it to page two of your book. Why do I hate it? I can’t explain. I’m not sure it’s rational. It just rubs me entirely the wrong way. Like, climbing-the-walls way.

Drama that would be resolved if characters just TALKED to each other

I know I’m not the only person bothered by this. All plot is contrived – of course it is, it’s created by the storyteller – but I’m not sure any other plot feels so obviously synthetic as this stupid trope. GROW UP AND TALK TO EACH OTHER. Unless the characters are actually physically incapable of communicating – they’re stuck on opposite sides of the galaxy or something – then it’s just not acceptable.

Gendered magic systems that reinforce gender as a binary

‘Only men can do this magic, only women can do that magic’ – not because of cultural rules, but because *waves hand vaguely* Yeah, sorry, gender’s not a binary, I have many questions, and unless you talk fast with some really good answers, you’re going on the DNF pile. It’s 2021, I don’t have time for that nonsense, even if it’s easier for you not to have to think about nonbinary people during your worldbuilding.

Nonbinary people don’t exist

I don’t need a story to have a nonbinary main character, or even include nonbinary characters in its main cast. But if they don’t even exist in your world??? Just. It’s 2021. There’s no reason your fantasy or sci fi world can have magic or FTL travel, but cling to a cistem that’s never been the full story.

Handwavey Worldbuilding

Lots and lots and lots of readers don’t care about super-detailed worldbuilding; as long as the premise is interesting or fun enough, they’re happy (and able) to engage their suspension of disbelief. I, on the other hand, am terrible at suspension of disbelief. I can’t just accept the presence of demons in a story; I want to know where they come from, and what we know about that place, and how it affects views on religion and life after death and all the rest of it. If a fantasy story treats souls as an empirical thing that definitely exist, again, I have questions about religion! If ghosts exist in your world, shouldn’t that mean people view death very differently from how I do? And so on. This kind of stuff itches in my brain, and is why I lean towards books with intricate/heavy worldbuilding.

Dialogue without contractions

There are definitely times when characters speaking without contractions makes sense – characters who aren’t speaking in their native language, for example, or are in a situation where they have to speak very formally. Or we’re in a SFF setting where no one uses contractions because that’s just how the world of the story works. But as a general rule of thumb, dialogue without contractions sounds very forced and fake to me, and makes me twitchy. Jolts me right out of the story.

Typos + Formatting errors

One or two typos across the whole of a book is fine, I can deal with that. But when it’s happening a lot, and/or you have line breaks in the middle of a sentence, or no line breaks in between scene changes? Yeah, no, I can’t deal at all. I mark all the errors on my ereader and break the book open in Calibre so I can fix them. Even books I’m probably going to DNF. It’s some kind of compulsion, and it makes me genuinely angry with whichever editors/copy-editors etc let this go to print in such a mess. Gollancz is particularly bad with books by Miles Cameron – I’ve yet to read a book of his from them that isn’t packed with stupid typos.

Photo-edited Covers

You know the kind, where there’s a photo of a human model or a sword or something that’s been Photoshopped into some kind of fantasy/sci fi background. I just think they’re ugly and boring *insert shrug here*. They won’t stop me from picking up a book that sounds interesting, but gods, they suck. Give me illustrated covers all the way!

Foreign languages without translations

I’ve failed every single foreign language I’ve ever studied – including, but not limited to, Irish, Latin, Swedish, and German – and the presence of foreign words in otherwise-English prose immediately makes me anxious. Maybe because of that, I’m not very good at working out what words mean from context. I wish authors or publishers would include subtle footnotes or something so I could get a translation, the way books that include fantasy words have little dictionaries at the back. I’m a monolingual idiot, but I’d still love to read books with native Spanish speakers etc. I just need a little help!

There you have it – 10 (mostly pretty ridiculous) bookish pet peeves! Which I’ll go back to keeping mostly to myself now…!

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