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Ten More Book Turn-Offs

Somehow I managed to miss this Top Ten Tuesdays prompt - the first to interest me in a long while:
"You are reading and then SOMETHING happens to completely turn you off -- cheating, absent parents, multiple POVS etc.)"

So I decided to do one of  my list love lists instead. My bookish annoyances have already been chronicled in detail (click on the "list love" label to find them), but I have more, and here are the ones that first came to mind when I saw the prompt:

In no particular order:
  1. Happy-with-a-pint-of-cherries-on-top endings. I‘m fine with standard „happily ever after“ and even „happy-with-a-cherry-on-top“ endings – if the cherry isn‘t the size of an apple – but endings that really pile on the happy like there is no tomorrow really get my goat. Example: the YA romance I read recently in which the „simple girl of the people“ (kudos if you recognise the reference) and the sweet, gorgeous male movie star heart-throb got together (=happy ending) and he got the career-changing role he had been longing for (a cherry-on-top) – so far so good – but he also won an Oscar for it (multiple cherries).
  2. I have mentioned this one before, and here it is again: 98% of suicide endings in crime novels, especially when they take place in countries where there isn‘t a death penalty. I get that authors can be squemish about letting a murderer be executed, but in my opinion most suicide endings even in such situations are cheap. The occasional author manages to portray a murderer for whom suicide would be logical, but in most cases it comes out of the blue. Two such endings from the same author has resulted in me not reading any more by that author.
  3. In romance novels when either hero or heroine sleeps with someone else after the romance between them has properly started and especially when the hero runs away from the prospect of falling in love with the heroine and has sex with someone else to try to forget the heroine. (Does not apply when there is some kind of interval in the relationship, e.g. they share a passionate night and then she goes off and enters a marriage of convenience, or he is shangahied away and years later finds her married on his return or the running away took place in the back-story).
  4. Ditto when either of them cheats. I find it equally disturbing when they cheat on each other as when they cheat with each other. This trope can, however, make an excellent plot device in e.g. chick-lit and literary fiction.
  5. When a particular author reuses the same trope too often. For example, I am weary of all the terrible villanous mothers in Nora Roberts‘ novels.
  6. Another oldie: Too many sex scenes. I don‘t care how hot they are, if there‘s more than three long ones in a typical romance novel (250-380 pages), it‘s too much and usually means that the author is trying to replace relationship development with sex. Speaking of which:
  7. Sex scenes when the couple in question should be doing something more important, like saving someone‘s soul or saving the world. This means you, Katie MacAlister (among others).
  8. Gratuitous graphic rape scenes. You don‘t need to be a rape victim to find these triggering.
  9. A third oldie: Long, detailed infodumping. Shows lack of skill on the author‘s behalf.
  10. Characters that suddenly disappear and plot threads that fizzle out and go unresolved. 

Hearty thanks to the disapproving person who pointed out the typing error in item 8. If one typing error is, in your mind, on par with the crimes against literature enumerated above, I advice you to stop reading altogether before you come across one bad enough to give you an aneurysm.


I am in agreement about too much sex and gratuitous fowl language. When books seem formulaic to me, I stop reading them. Thanks for this post.
George said…
I'm with you on info-dumps. They slow everything down to a crawl. It's just lazy writing. With sex scenes, less is more.
Alex in Leeds said…
I hadn't really thought about the murderer-commits-suicide trope before but you're right, when I read crime fiction that did drive me nuts as a too-neat solution designed to wrap everything up with a socially acceptable bow at the end.

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