Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Pet Peeves

It's always a ton of fun seeing the bookish top 10 lists coming out of The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesdays. At last, I'm getting around to participating! This week's topic is...

Bookish Pet Peeves

1 No quotation marks - It takes a good, good story to make me forget that there are no quotation marks in a book. Not having them just irritates me. It seems pompous. Like "I'm too good for your silly little quotation marks. Quotation marks are for talentless hacks bound by the common conventions of writing! Not I, my friends, NOT I!" Yeah, so, quotation marks are a big issue with me, so much so that when my blog was young, I may or may not have written a sort of love letter to them.

2 Classic spin-offs - I like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. I have less than no interest in reading any elaborations or re-imaginings of these classics, but they're everywhere, and I'm afraid I'm tired of even seeing them.

3 Super long chapters - Okay, so. I have a job and many other things to do. That means I'm forced to read in fits and starts throughout the day. Chapter ends give me something to shoot for.

4 Super SHORT chapters - This chapter's too long. This chapter's too short. I know, I know. I'm a real Goldilocks of the book world, but I like my chapters to be just right. When they're too short, it just breaks up the flow of the story.

5 Super tiny print - There are no prizes for how many words you can squish on a page. Don't make your print so tiny that my head starts to hurt when I'm reading. Especially if you're publishing something that's a little dense and requires a little extra effort anyway, like a classic. Sadly enough, classics happen to be a pretty common offender on this count.

6 Movie tie-in covers - Ugh. Do I even need to comment on this?

7 Bad covers on good books - Speaking of covers, doesn't it just break your heart, knowing that a good cover goes a long way in getting anybody to pick up a book, to see a really great book with a really lame cover? A book you ended up loving but you know that you would never even have considered picking up on a whim at the bookstore because the subpar cover never caught your eye or worse, caught your eye and made you cringe.

8 Multiple narrators that all sound the same - There's nothing more disappointing than a novel with a bunch of first person narrators and they all sound the same and you have to be told when they're changing, and you still find yourself confused. On the flip side, when multiple narrators are done well with distinctive voices, they add up to some of my favorite books. It's a fine line, I guess.

9 Bad editing - I know mistakes happen from time to time, but it's so distracting when a character's name changes or a some big grammar or spelling flub goes undetected in a finished work.

10 Preachy books - I'm pretty smart. How about you tell your story and trust me enough to get your point on my own?

What bookish things make you crazy?


  1. Yeah, a lot of those get on my nerves too!

    Interestingly, in reading my HP books in French, I've discovered that they don't use quotes the same way. They use dashes and then a double << and >> for quotes within quotes. It was difficult to get used to at first, but I couldn't hold it against the book since that's the way quotes work in France.

  2. I'm with you on many of those, especially 7 and 8! My number one pet peeve, though, is probably awkward dialogue tags. As in, books whose authors clearly took the BAD advice going around about how it's bad to use "she said" too much and starts creating a bit too creative. The thing is, "said" is invisible. It just makes that someone has spoken, which is what you want it to do. But those unusual alternatives are not; they stand out, call attention to themselves, and those make the dialogue all awkward. Not to mention that many of them are just silly and redundant :P

  3. I just saw Amanda's comment and I wanted to add that Portuguese is the exact same. We mark dialogue with dashes; not quotation marks.

    Also, please ignore all the typos in my first comment :S

  4. We agree on a lot of these - especially the stupid 'tie-in' covers. I hate the new covers to the Sookie Stackhouse series; they're just yuck. And enough with the spin-offs! Good grief. And you're right, some of the editing mistakes that I'm finding lately are pathetic. Aren't professionals still doing the editing?

    But now, if I may, a question - what is the perfect length for a chapter in your opinion? Page-wise, I mean? And if it's a long chapter, does a break in the middle help? I'm interested from a writer's point of view...


  5. Ha, I don't even notice chapters - how long or short, titles, when I started a new one... I just read! I am one of the weird ones on that note, I know.

    Love your list, btw. One of my pet peeves is when I am repeatedly told the same descriptor of a character. "her father was a preacher, she's a daughter of a minister", etc etc - I GET IT ALREADY! By the third time, I am getting an idea the author thinks lowly of the reader's ability to remember anything and it all goes down hill in my pickiness.


  6. 1: I'm like that with all punctuation. Annoys me so much!

  7. Great list, Megan! Though I actually love really short chapters...which probably doesn't say good things about me and my attention span. :P

  8. A lot of those are on my list as well!

  9. Great list.

    Your no. 2 is something I agree with to a point - I hate sequels and prequels that use characters from classic books in the same setting, but I don't mind modernisations of classic novels that take the premise of the original and put a modern spin on it.

    No. 5 is getting to be increasingly annoying as I get older and my sight changes. I have been known to seek out editions with larger type.

    No. 8 is a good litmus test of a writer's skill in differentiating between characters. It takes a very good writer to pull off multiple narrators.

  10. No quotation marks really bugs me too!

  11. I'm so with you on #8! One of the reasons I didn't like My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult was because all the characters sounded exactly the same.

  12. Good Ones!

    Yara @ Once Upon a Twilight!
    Here is my Top Ten Tues
    And check out my eReader Blogoversary Giveaway Ends 3/30

  13. Great list! I laughed several times and agreed strongly with most. Especially the classic spin-off ones. I like fairy tale re-tellings, but Austen novels will never be improved by being set in the modern day. :P

  14. I'm with you on super long chapters. I at least appreciate it when there are little breaks in long chapters to make for a nice stopping place. One of my pet peeves is when the narrator jumps out of the text to talk to me, the reader... annoys me so much. :)

  15. So you like your chapters just right? It's a good point. Long chapters don't tend to bother me as much as short ones though.

  16. Yes, definitely let's stop with all the spinoffs!

    Great list!

  17. Good Ones Megan...Preachy Books are a pet peeve of mine as well. I do like short chapters, as it makes me keep going for just a "one more chapter"...LOL

  18. Yeah, the super-long chapters. ugh. Interview WIth The Vampire comes to mind. The chapters were like, 100 pages long. Hullo? I need to come up for air more often than that.

  19. Yes to all of those! Though I don't mind the classics spinoffs so much...I just ignore them :-)

  20. Some of your pet peeves are definitely MINE too :) Especially #2, #6, #7, and #8

  21. Hehe love your "Ode to Quotation" marks.


  22. #*! I love the book Matched, but by the time I got to Reached where they had Cassia's two love internist's POVs. They sounded like the same character in two plot lines.