This is part of The Broke and the Bookish‘s “Top Ten Tuesdays” meme.
At the risk of pointing out the painfully obvious, I love to read. However, reading all the time brings the risk of accidentally reading something that you hate. And then you become very, very salty. Like me. I’m basically Lot’s wife. But I have a name.
As fun as it is to talk about things that I love in books, the petty side of me loves to talk about what I hate even more. So please, join me in the salt mine and let me tell you about my top ten book turn-offs.
Ten things that I can’t stand in books are:
- Girl hate. Have we seriously not moved beyond girl hate as a plot point yet? Come on. We’re better than this.
- Love triangles. Here’s my beef with love triangles: they’re never surprising. Never. You always know, right from the start, who’s going to get together and who’s going to be the odd one out. I would love to read about a genuinely unpredictable love triangle, but it hasn’t happened yet.
- Deceptive summaries. If the book flap makes it seem like the book will be 80% action and 20% dreamy romance, I’ll pick it up. But if the book turns out to be more like 55% action and 45% dreamy romance, I’m going to put that book right back down. I started reading the because I was promised loads of action, damn it. Deliver on your promises or suffer my indifference.
- When the Ordinary Girl™ becomes consumed by her ordinariness. It’s one thing to have a relatable character. It’s another to have her be so very ordinary that she becomes little more than a blank canvas, completely unmemorable and too easily confused with every other Ordinary Girl™. I’m not naming any names here. Let’s just say that Bella Swan knows who she is.
- Unexplored tragic backstories as excuses. Trauma can really change a person, and it can really explain their behavior. However, too often, a tragic backstory is just thrown out there like a dead fish in Pike Place. It might whack the audience in the head, and it might not, but either way, it’s unpleasant to have something just thrown at you. It’s like being told, “Bad stuff happened! It was so bad! Now excuse all the bad stuff this character is doing!” And on that note…
- When a guy behaves like a jerk but the girl still pines/obsesses over him. NO, BETHANY. HE’S BEHAVING LIKE A JERK. YOU DESERVE BETTER, BETHANY.
- “Strong female characters.” I could go on for a million billion years about why I hate the “strong female character” trope. But I don’t have a million billion years, so I’ll just condense my loathing to this statement: they’re flat, they’re predictable, they’re dull, and the whole trope reeks of hypocrisy and internalized misogyny.
- Painting low self-esteem as a good thing. When I was younger, I was pretty enchanted with the concept of low self-esteem. Can you blame me? The heroine of pretty much every book I read had low self-esteem, and that inevitably made everyone love them. I’m still working to undo that damage.
- Books that are basically romanticized travel guides. I love books set in other countries, but I can’t stand it when they go on and on about the specific places the characters go and the stereotypical/classic experiences they have. If I wanted to read a travel guide, I would have. Get your starry-eyed delusions about what travelling is like away from me, you beret-wearing, baguette-toting idiot.
- Clumsy heroines. First off, clumsiness isn’t a character flaw. Second, it’s overdone. And third, it’s never done in a funny or realistic way. Just in a convenient way, so that our fearless heroine can trip and fall in front of her crush or while running away from danger. But she never trips when it wouldn’t speed the romantic subplot along, does she?
I’m a bitter, bitter person. And I love it. And in the interest of sharing the love, tell me: what do you abso-bloody-lutely hate in books?