Top Ten Literary Pet Peeves

February 10, 2015 | 2 comments


I think it was Whoppi Goldberg who once said “I don’t have pet peeves; I have whole kennels of irritation”. I agree. My top ten literary pet peeves (not quite* as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) are in order:

1. Spelling errors, typos, grammatical errors, and inconsistencies. A.k.a. general lack of proofreading. Self-publishing is a double edge sword. There are so many books which have not been properly edited and really would have benefited from being proofread once or twice. I’m not saying that no errors will slip through the cracks in books from the big publishing companies, but I think it happens a lot less frequently when a proper editor have worked on the book.

2. Epistolary novels. For some weird reason, these drive me crazy. The only exceptions to this that I can think of are Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern and This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith.

3. Second-person narrative. I’m quite picky about the narrative perspective. I prefer third-person, but first-person is sometimes ok (although I’m not a big fan of alternating first-person). I have not yet read a book with second-person narrative that didn’t bother me.

4. Misuse of foreshadowing. I hate excessive foreshadowing. I don’t want to figure out the ending to the book in the first chapter. There is nothing worse than a mystery without any surprises. I want to be challenged to think about what is going on. I want to have suspicions (that at the end might be confirmed). I want the author to supply me with enough details that I can figure it out along the way. Yes, the lack of foreshadowing is equally annoying. The ending of any book, no matter which genre, should be in line with the rest of the plot. With romance novels I’m perfectly fine knowing that most likely, the book is gonna end with the protagonist/s living happily ever after or at least have the possibility of a happy ending (that’s why I read those books). I hate the out of the blue, unjustified sad endings. I’m fine with books that make me cry (I like those). I like when the characters face obstacles. I like when things aren’t always easy. I like plot lines with lots of twists and turns. I even like endings that are open for interpretation. What I don’t like is feeling cheated because the author didn’t deliver what he/she promised.

5. Implausible plots. This applies especially to crime novels. I don’t mind not solving the whodunit before it is revealed, as long as the outcome is supported by the book. The details should be there, even if I didn’t pick up on the hints provided. I love it when the ending fills in the gaps you didn’t know (or didn’t figure out) but few things are more frustrating than when the solution is in no way supported by the story.

6. Dog ears or notes in the margin. If you’re guilty of either of these, I will likely never let you near any of my books.

7. Carbon copies. I get bored when the exact same story is repeated over and over again (and over and over again). I don’t mind stories that follow the same general plot line as long as there are some minor variations, or as long as the author packages that plot well, for example with great characters or writing style. There is nothing worse than a series where each individual book is essentially a duplicate of the previous one with the only difference being the characters’ names. Sometimes, these stories are exactly what I crave (it’s similar to what my sister calls no-brain-movies) but reading them too often, or several of them in a row, makes me question my sanity.

8. Incorrect translations. I read a lot of Nordic (especially Swedish) literature in English and sometimes there will be weirdly constructed sentences (or sentences that don’t make sense within that paragraph or chapter) where it is fairly obvious what the original sentence was. It’s distracting but usually not enough that I will think less of the book itself (I’ll just make a note of the translator and add him/her to my disapproved list). I’m ambivalent about translation of names. My opinion changes from book to book and the context. Sometimes it improves the flow (like translating “Drottninggatan” to Queen Street) and in some cases it makes me confused (like in one book where a character passed Merchant Bank and it took me way too long to realize which bank they referred to).

9. Boring/Ugly/Non-inspiring/Low quality covers. You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I totally do.

10. Inconsistent covers. I hate it (with a passion) when the cover style changes in the middle of a series.

Do you have any book related pet peeves?


*Today’s topic was “Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books”. My pet peeves apply to all genres.

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