Top Ten Reading Turn-offs

October 1, 2013 Top Ten Tuesday, TSTL 21


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic is Top Ten Book Turnoffs — the things that will make you avoid, lose interest in, or turn away from a book.

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Seems to me we did one a lot like this earlier this year… stuff that will make you not pick up a book. Oh, well, this week we’ll take them from A to Z:

  • Adultery or cheating by the main characters.  Sorry, I have absolutely no time for this.  If it’s in the past, and the character has changed for the better since it happened, I can deal with it.  But if the main character cheats and I’m supposed to think that’s all right, forget it.
  • Bad grammar/spelling/punctuation/writing/editing.  I know, even the best-edited and proofread book can have the occasional typo or mistake.  But if the book is riddled with them, I’m outta here.
  • BDSM.  This will make me close a book immediately. 
  • Bigotry, racism, and/or chauvinism.  If a supposedly sympathetic character displays any of those traits, I’m not going to be happy and will probably put down the book.  If the prejudice is clearly the author’s, she or he has definitely lost me.  I do, however, make some exceptions for characters whose era or culture predispose them to prejudice or male chauvinism — especially if they learn some tolerance and compassion somewhere along the way.
  • Cussing.   I can stand the occasional swear word out of a character’s mouth, especially if the situation or the character’s background warrants it.  Even the f-bomb, though I’d really rather the author used a euphemism.  (British authors are famed for using “effing” instead.)  But too much cussing is a definite turn-off.
  • Cynicism.  A cynical character is OK, but too much cynicism or a cynical author will probably turn me away pretty quickly.  The books I read don’t have to be sweetness and light, but they’d better offer at least some hope.
  • Graphic violence.  This one’s a little tricky, because I read murder mysteries, and I’ve read about some pretty gruesome ways of getting killed.  But here’s the thing: you can write about murder or violence without over-focusing on it.  If the author dwells on it, or seems to glorify it, that makes me pretty uncomfortable.  I’ve even put down a Nora Roberts book I was otherwise enjoying because the descriptions of what the (fictional) serial killer did to his victims got to be too much for me.
  • The snooze factor.  The author’s got to keep me interested.  If I’m bored, I’ll probably put the book down and not come back.
  • Teen romances that will last forever.  Look, I love romances, and I believe in committed, lasting relationships.  I’ve been happily married for over 20 years.  But the fact is, very few people end up spending their whole life with the person they were infatuated with in high school.  It does happen, but it’s rare, and it takes both worth and (probably) luck.  So I’m bothered by the huge number of YA novels that push the idea of finding your soulmate in your teens.
  • TSTL syndrome.  You know, those books where the heroine is Too Stupid To Live, and is only saved by the hero.  Usually repeatedly.  I can really do without yelling “you idiot!” at the MC all the time.
  • Zombies.  No, thank you.  I don’t go there.  This is the one paranormal trope that totally freaks me out.  *shudders* (Why is this one in a list of stuff that will make me stop reading?  I mean, you’d think I would know before I started that the book was about zombies.  Well, I once read a short story without knowing there were zombies in it, so it can happen.  Besides, I needed something for “Z”!)

Now it’s your turn.  What things will make you put a book aside?

21 Responses to “Top Ten Reading Turn-offs”

  1. Jac

    I have a VERY short attention span, so the snooze factor is important to me!! (And I have to say I’ve DNF’d quite a few because they don’t grab my attention quickly.)

    Jac @ For Life, Love and Books

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Nice to “meet” you, Jac! Flat writing or snoozeworthy plots will lose me almost every time. It’s not so much that I want to fling the book across the room, but when I put it down to do something else, I don’t seem to ever go back to it.

  2. Carrie-Anne

    I agree with teen romances that are supposed to be so timeless and permanent. Fifty years ago it was more likely you’d find your soulmate as a teen, but not in modern society. The average teen relationship these days is lucky to last six months.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Maybe it was more likely 50 years ago… I’m not sure, though. that was my parents’ younger siblings’ generation, and it seems to me a lot of marriages ended in divorce eventually. I do agree that relationship duration in high school is pretty short. And I think an awful lot of teens confuse infatuation (or even lust) with love.

  3. Tiffany Bowcut

    My sister is marrying her high school boyfriend in a few months and even SHE thinks that everlasting high school relationships are way over done. Its just not normal. Normally, you stop talking to them and the mere mention of your “high school flame” makes you blush with embarrassment.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I think you’re right! Like I said, people do occasionally stay together, but that’s rare and special and takes effort. Most people just don’t have the maturity in high school to make that kind of life-long choice wisely and well.

  4. Becki @ The Flutterby Room

    Interesting list! I totally should have added TSTL to my list! I don’t understand how some of those characters are still alive tbh. It seems likely they should have died before the book started.

  5. kimbacaffeinate

    The TSTL and snooze are big ones for me, as for BDSM..if and only if there is an actual plot will I endure it. Zombies rock and I handle teen romance in small doses, I do believe in soul mates but not necessarily for a 16 yr old. However I was 18 when I met mine. All of the other things you mentioned I can handle if they are in context and necessary for the plot.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I believe in soul mates too (I married mine!) but like you said, not usually for 16-year-olds. And yes, I can handle a certain amount of cussing, cynicism, etc. if it’s necessary to the character or plot… but not a lot. As for zombies, I don’t know — I think it’s like spiders. Some people think they’re fascinating, and some people like them outdoors but not in their house, and some have real arachnophobia. I think I have zombiphobia!

  6. Greg

    I agree with most of those. Especially cussing- I don’t mind a bit of realistic swearing but if the book is riddled with it I’m so over that. I like generally clean reads, always have for whatever reason. And the teen romances too- lets be realistic about this people. 🙂

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Thanks for coming by, Greg! Yeah, not a fan of overuse of swearing, but it does have its uses in conveying character and/or strong emotion. There are occasions when some sort of strong language is almost necessary.

  7. readerholicnotes

    Great list…I agree with so many of these, Lark. Zombies I have on my list, but I missed a lot of the other things I agree with you about…bad grammar, adultery, teen romance lasting forever (though my husband’s brother and sister-in-law met in middle school–but they waited until she finished college) and so many others on your list.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I know a few people who’ve been happily married to their teen sweetheart for decades. It does happen! It’s just not common, whereas if you read YA these days, you’d think it’s inevitable. Now I’m off to check out your list!