Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn Offs

October 1, 2013 Top Ten Tuesday 49

What’s up Bookworms?

It’s TUESDAY and you know what that means! It means I’m gonna get my list on with the ladies of the Broke and the Bookish! Today’s topic is bookish turnoffs. You know how it is. You’re reading along happily and then you’re hit with a plot twist that just annoys the crap out of you. Here are some of my pet peeves:

toptentuesday1. One time! Pregnant! Alright folks. I know all about the birds and the bees. I also know that the odds of getting pregnant from any single sexual encounter (even unprotected) is 3-5%. (My source is this internet article, but let’s just go with it, okay?) Unprotected sex if you’re not specifically trying to make a baby is a bad idea, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not as freaking common as books would have you believe. I’m reading a book and two characters have a single fling in which the heroine ends up pregnant? I roll my eyes. I KNOW it only takes the one time, but if historical fiction and romance novels are to be believed? Shoot, you fold a dude’s underpants and you’re in the family way. Could we maybe work on another plot device, please?

2. The Love Triangle. Dear YA fiction, I know that teen love is impetuous and complicated, but COME ON! I’m willing to forgive a love triangle if I really dig the overall story (yes, Hunger Gamesyou get a free pass.) Seriously though. Been there. Done that. You’re making teen girls who can’t get even one date feel crappy that they don’t have two boys fighting over them. Think of the insecure teenagers, for the love of Pete!

3. Unrealistic Portrayals of Mental Illness. Alright. If your character is depressed and is magically cured by finding love or a single dose of an antidepressant, I’m not going to be happy. Similarly, not every depressed or disturbed character has to go on a shooting rampage. The vast majority of people who have mental illnesses are no threat to other people. Could we maybe try to not perpetuate the stereotype?

4. Politics. The odds that I’m going to pick up a political thriller are nil, but when I’m tricked into reading about politics? Especially like, 19th century Russian politics or Swedish politics? Don’t be offended if I do a little skimming, k?

5. Evil Spirits. These just scare the crap out of me. I only like to be frightened by things that don’t actually exist like zombies and the occasional vampire. Evil spirits could TOTALLY be a thing!

6. Ghosts. Not all ghosts are necessarily evil, but all ghosts still freak me the frick out. Well. Except Nearly Headless Nick. Harry Potter is always full of exceptions to my rules…

7. Preaching. This can cover a lot of different subjects. If I’m reading fiction, I don’t want to feel that the author is pushing an agenda. The best example I can come up with is a movie, not a book, but bear with me here. Did you ever see Happy FeetI was all excited about tap dancing penguins and then BOOM! I was smacked in the face with a lecture on over-fishing. I know that movies can be a great way to teach kids about real issues, but I felt blindsided. When I met that penguin in real life, Josie? I got a pamphlet on over-fishing. It listed out the fish you should avoid if you want to help the penguins. I live in the Midwest. I can’t even afford fish that’s being stolen from the mouths of penguins. I can’t do anything on a local level, yo! If you promise tap dancing penguins, deliver tap dancing penguins. Don’t try to disguise my medicine with 7-up (MOM!) If you’ve got an agenda, be up front about it. I’ll like you better for it.

Alright. so I’ve only got 7 this week, but it was a QUALITY 7. What about you, bookworms? What pops out at you mid-book and drives you bonkers? 

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49 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn Offs”

  1. Ashley F

    I love a good ghost in my books. The pregnancy thing kills me. I also generally get annoyed by the bitchy sister/best friend stereotype.

  2. Wayne

    Stereotypes. Stephen King’s novels are full of them: The evil CIA types who always plot to eliminate those with psychic powers like in *Firestarter* The crazy fundamentalist mom in *Carrie* I gave up on comic books a long time ago. Political thrillers can be pretty boring too. I do like spy novel like John le Carre used to do.

  3. Rory

    Nearly all of these made me laugh, especially #1. Because COME ON. It’s rarely, rarely just “boom, you’re pregnant”. Come on, Twilight and 70% of historical romances.

    Side note: I live in Denver, so sort of midwest-ish (the middle of the country at the very least), and I’m embarrased to say how much I paid for fish the other day. It’s a rare, rare treat, but still, we could have gone out to dinner for cheaper.

    • Words for Worms

      I learned that most fish served in restaurants is farmed fish unless it’s specifically called like “Wild Alaskan Salmon” or whatever. So even if you bought fancy fish, you probably didn’t hurt a penguin. I’m sure you’ll sleep better knowing that :).

  4. Girl

    I am totally down with the one-time pregnant thing (in that, seriously, come on). I have also read multiple books with one time HIV infection. Virgin who has sex for the first time BAM HIV. Not sure what the stats are on that one…. but it seems a little unlikely that happens like all the time.

    Religion is a HUGE one for me. If the characters are out doing whatever and suddenly the book becomes a lecture on the rightousness of God, I am gonna be PISSED. I was reading a book recently that was supposedly about movie stars and their antics, and suddenly the movie was stars were debating if they were using their life to the best of God’s plans for them, and how else they could help serve His needs. I almost puked. -_- If you are going to write a religous book, don’t hide that is what it is!

    Unexpected trilogies! I have read like 9 or 10 books that is was COMPLETELY unclear the book was going to be a trilogy until the end of the book. Nothing on the cover or inside cover – not til the last page they were like – Until Book 2. NOOOOOO!!!!! And since I don’t start reading at the end of the book to KNOW it was a trilogy (since that is the only place this is really clear), I feel all unsatisfied that I don’t have book closure. If your book is a trilogy, it should say on the front – Book 1 of 3. Not – here is a book you can read and get all the plot from! That drives me crazy! I read Uglies last night and was so mad I just looked up the rest of the plot, because it was an okay book, but not good enough for 3 books when I have so many other things I want to read. Esp, since the plot was already wearing thin, and by the third book, things were just ridiculous (according to Wikipedia).

    Also politics – even good books like Wicked and things – all those politics I just do not care about.

    I am also gonna toss this one out — fat person who decides to lose weight ‘for real this time’ – loses a huge amount of weight in an unrealistic time line, keeps it off for good, and suddenly their whole entire life is amazing. I have read so many books like this, and it just makes me so mad. Things do not really work this way. And it is so unrealistic for people it is aimed at. I read a teen book (45 pounds more or less) and this happened to the main character – I was livid. She went on a crash diet, but the weight came off for good (even though she kept bingeing??) and got a boyfriend, la la la. I was like, come on. Same thing with Jemima J by Jane Green. And I know other ones too.

    Lastly – animal abuse. I am super sensitive about this, and if there is abuse just tossed in the book, I am not gonna be happy. I am like read read read read ……. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!! then I sit around upset. -_-

    Okay, that is enough for me, ha!

    • Words for Worms

      There is so much awesome in this comment I don’t know where to start! I sooooo hear you on the weight loss stories. I’m super sensitive to the subject anyway, but just like mental illness, losing a lot of weight is not a quick fix. It’s a lifelong struggle and oversimplifying it is annoying. PLUS, why can’t the big girl get the boy? She’s not going to be suddenly witty and awesome just because she wears smaller pants, dammit. Just another reason I loved Eleanor & Park so much!

  5. Lisa G

    I am TOTALLY with you on the Politics thing. Also badly written sex scenes. HATE HATE HATE. I read a lot of Historical Fiction, and the genre as a whole is full of them. Not every author (thank God for Diana Gabaldon, the goddess of all things historical fiction) but a lot of ’em.

    • Words for Worms

      Oh man, poorly written sex scenes are the worst! They’re kind of comical, actually, which is so NOT what you want to have happen during a love scene, AMIRIGHT?

  6. Andi (@estellasrevenge)

    Haha! One Time! Pregnant! Cracked me up. So true, though! Happens a lot in books, not as much in the real life. And dualing narrators are probably my biggest peeve in books, even though I didn’t make a list today.

    • Words for Worms

      I actually don’t mind dualing narrators as long as it’s established up front that that’s what we’re working with. When I read a huge chunk of book and THEN it changes, I get a little grumpy.

  7. Megan M.

    I hate when there is clearly a lot of filler material happening just so they can stretch the story out into a trilogy. Not EVERYTHING needs to be a series, publishers.

    Also, completely unrealistic finances. If your MC has what is clearly a low-wage job but can still afford to drive a nice car and constantly eat at restaurants, I need a plausible explanation. Inheritance? Settlement? Alimony? I want to believe you – just give me SOMETHING.

    • Words for Worms

      Good call! Where are these people getting their money? I notice it more on TV than I do in books, but seriously… Penny on Big Bang Theory is a waitress- how does she have a closet full of designer shoes and live in the same building as a pair of PhD’s?

      • Don Royster

        Could it be she models on the side. Not saying what kind of modelling. But modelling and she gets the clothes for free. Or maybe she is a Holly Golightly who gets fifty bucks for the powder room. Could happen.

      • Megan M.

        BBT at least makes a point of talking about how they pay for Penny’s dinners and she’s asked to borrow money from them before – but I feel like it’s really time for Penny to actually get paid for ACTING. Or choose another career path.

        • Words for Worms

          That’s true, Penny doesn’t really pay for her own food. It’s the rent that confuses me, because those are nice apartments. But yeah, for heaven’s sake, she could at LEAST be working as an extra or something.

  8. theliterarylollipop

    Biggest pet peeve: when female characters in mysteries or police proceedurals fall for the detective on duty. So lame! And yet, I still read mysteries and police proceedurals…

  9. parastoukhiaban88

    Good call on the pregnancy thing – didn’t realise how much it annoyed me till you mentioned it.

    Biggest pet peeve for me would be the whiny teenager writers are adamant on basing all their protagonists on. Yes. Teenagers are generally self-absorbed and whiny (especially to us grown people), but does every plot line (focussing on YA here) have to based on the this type of person. Surely, in the entire world, there is one teenager that isn’t whiny? Can we PLEASE write a book about them?

    • Words for Worms

      A little teen angst I’m alright with, but I TOTALLY hear where you’re coming from… Colin from John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines bugged the crap out of me!

  10. Tiffany

    I am completely with you on the metal illness thing. Seriously, depression is not “cured” by love. If you aren’t happy before the relationship, the relationship is not going to sure you. The unrealistic representation leads to unrealistic expectation in reality by too many young people. It drives me up a wall.

    And no….just because someone is depressed doesn’t mean they have a rifle lying in wait just in case. Lets be real. Mental illness is a HUGE deal with a LOT of people afflicted. It can be major or minor. Lets at least be realistic with it.

    • Words for Worms

      Right?! If you have a mental illness, you have a mental illness. It’s great to have someone’s support, but you don’t just magically pull out of clinical depression. It just doesn’t work that way! And the violent stuff? Sigh. I suppose people living responsibly and working through their issues just isn’t dramatic enough?

  11. Kayla Sanchez

    I’m totally with you for 1-3. Especially the insecure teen girl thing. Like seriously, I am 18 years old and have had 2 dates, while this 15 year old has TWO boys going after her? Talk about a hit to my ego…

    • Words for Worms

      Shoot, I feel you! I’m all old and married now, but I didn’t have much in the way of dates in my younger years. I read about girls having trouble with too many boys and I still roll my eyes.

  12. Jennine G.

    I don’t do horror/monster stories (as in meant to be scary). And Leah over at Books Speak Volumes had the only other two that would really bother me – gratuitous sex and mixed setting (both realistic and unrealistic settings together in one story).

    Otherwise, I am not too picky. If the story engages me, I’m all for it.

    • Words for Worms

      I know, right?! If you want to tell me something just warn me. I get SO MAD when they try to sneak things in on me! And when they use penguins as a cover story? That’s just unforgivable!

  13. Sarah Says Read

    Oh man this post. I might be stealing that Liz Lemon GIF….

    I am SO WITH YOU on Happy Feet. I was so excited to go see it, and I think I actually started to fall asleep in the theater. WTF I wanted cute dancing penguins, not an environmental lecture. UGH. (However, Fern Gully is kind of the same thing except Fern Gully is awesome. There might be some childhood bias there.)

    And YES to #1. That’s so annoying. Although maybe because when I’m reading I’m like “Aww, pregnancy? BORING.” But also that unrealistic one-time knocked up thing.

  14. Books, Tea & Me

    First off, I think when you said “for the love of PETE” (under love triangles), you actually meant “for the love of PEETA.” Because that just makes much more sense. Yes.
    Secondly, I love everything on this list. While I don’t mind teenage pregnancy, I do think it’s ridiculous when a character in a book/movie/tv show gets pregnant THE MOMENT after she has sex for the first time! It can happen but the chances are slim! And I’m in no way wanting kids to read books and be like, “Hey, that girl didn’t get pregnant, let’s go have sex without protection.” I understand that these sorts of books are good scare tactics to make sure that this doesn’t happen to kids. But still. Try to be a little more believable?
    (Okay, rant over.)

  15. Don Royster

    So let me get this straight. You would not read a novel where a guy gets two girls pregnant. He just won’t wear a condom. Just before he goes off to kill a Senator. He is stopped by a mysterious priest who kidnaps him so he can give him an exorcism in a house that just happens to be haunted. The priest starts preaching about his brother who happens to be the Senator and the Senator is mentally ill. He has some kind of paranoia complex. And that is only the first three chapters.

  16. Heather

    I have a different issue with #1…

    I CAN’T STAND when random, spontaneous, unprotected sex happens in books…and NO ONE TALKS ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL. Or STDs. I get seriously ragey about all the spontaneous sex with no one saying, “Hey. I’d really like to NOT get pregnant. ‘Cause, you know, this is romantic, but if I have a BABY, the romance will be OVER for at least a year. No thanks.”

    And lots of times, these guys/gals are almost total strangers to each other (especially where sexual history is concerned)…what if one of them has some nasty STD? No condom mentioned? Really? Y’all are just having sex all willy-nilly? Nah.

    HUGE PET PEEVE. I could write an entire post about it. Heh.

  17. Leah

    Great list! I’m so with you on characters getting pregnant after having sex once. But also, having totally awesome sex the first time! I mean, come on.

    Oh, and the preaching! I was also disappointed by Happy Feet. I wanted dancing penguins and I got a lesson about environmentalism? No thank you.

  18. Christina

    I really liked your list! My biggest peeve is the love triangle. There was this period where I found time to read again. I was real excited and glad to do so, until I wonder to myself “Why are all these books full of love triangles?” Couldn’t things just be fine with a guy and a girl? Will the addition of someone make the relationship stronger? Pfft.

    Hunger Games, in your words, DOES get a free pass, though. Only because the main plot is more engaging than the love triangle. You can tell that the main plot is more important than who likes who over who.

    Usually, I’m quite picky about the books I read, so I have not encountered other things in your list. I’m okay with preaching though. Even if I know the book is obviously trying to push me to believe something, I’m not gonna roll the book under my bed and declare it dead. Unless the thing that they’re pushing for is something that I’m personally against. Like allowing a man to beat the crap out of you in the name of “I’m sorry, I’ve got childhood trauma” (I’m looking at YOU, Fifty Shades). I’m sorry that they ruined your Happy Feet with a lecture though 😛

  19. Melissa J (@Avid_Reader_MJ)

    Love, love, love this list! I especially agree with your point about love triangles — I hate them! I always end up feeling sorry for the guy that gets kicked to the curb, usually because he’s not the cool one.

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