Everyone has something that they just can’t stand about a book. If an author strikes time and again at heart of one–or, heaven forbid, various–of my book pet peeves, I might not even be able to finish the book. It’s rarely I don’t finish a book, and the few I haven’t finished were books for class that I just could not get through. Some of these pet peeves are rule related (grammar and such), and other are a matter of preference. But all of them annoy the heck out of me! Without further ado, I bring you the things that will have me slamming the cover of a book real fast. Agree? Disagree? Please comment with your thoughts and the things that annoy you about a book!
- PAGE AFTER PAGE AND…. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. HAS. HAPPENED. I threw out 100+ pages of a first draft I was writing when I realized nothing had happened and the story was boring me. If I’m that hard on myself where this is concerned, you can bet I’m hard on others too. My best example of a book I had a force myself to get through because nothing happened was “The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway. Now, I’m not claiming Hemingway couldn’t write, or that he didn’t know what he was doing, or that his work shouldn’t be considered a masterpiece. Hemingway knew exactly what he was doing, he was a master, and if nothing really happens in “The Sun Also Rises,” to my mind, it’s because the book makes a powerful statement about the characters and the culture of the time and how people were wasting their lives. I get that. I just didn’t enjoy reading about it, is all, and that’s just me: a preference thing. I much prefer Hemingway’s short stories to his novels, and have read a lot of his stuff. My favorite of his novels is “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, there’s definitely stuff happening in that one!
- I CAN’T KEEP TRACK OF WHO IS TALKING. You don’t need to attribute every bit of dialogue to someone, and in fact, you shouldn’t. But when you attribute hardly anything at all and your characters’ style of speech is not developed enough to help me keep track of who’s talking, so that I find myself backtracking and counting lines… character A, character B, character A…. that gets old quick.
- DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA! Certain situations call for breakdowns and panic attacks and tears and tantrums. Others, well, just don’t, and when a character completely overreacts to something I consider pretty minor, unless the tone of the book is on my side, I get pretty annoyed. I decide I don’t like that character, and it’s hard to read about characters I don’t like. I am a fan of the Harry Potter series, but a lot of my friends have mentioned “Order of the Phoenix” was hard for them to get through just because Harry was such a angst-ridden worm the whole time treating his friends like garbage. True story. I guess in this instance I was willing to give Harry some leeway, because I’d already invested so much in him. But if he’d been like that from the beginning….
- SUBSCRIBE TO MY LIFE VIEW, PLEASE! When a work of fiction is an ill disguised mode of relaying your entire philosophy of life to the reader, hoping to show him or her how great you are and why the reader should think like you do, it’s just bad. It’s not only insulting, it becomes unreadable droll. I hold up “Women in Love” as an example, by D.H. Lawrence. It was the first book assigned for a class I ever stopped in the middle of. It was that bad. I just couldn’t keep going, couldn’t make myself get through the dribble.