My Six Pet Peeves in Books


I’m taking a break from writing about my crazy life to bring you…

My five pet peeves when I’m reading books!

Without ado, here we go:

  1. The first chapter is excellent, but the rest is mediocre as freak.
    Imagine: the free sample of a book is fantastic. It’s exciting, well-written, and intriguing. But after you buy it and get past the free preview bit, the writing takes a turn for the mediocre and the character behaves like a spoiled thirteen-year-old.
    One author has burned me twice with this. Uuuugh. But what can I say?
    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me…
  2. Lack of idea density – i.e. nothing happens!
    You’re reading a book and the characters go here and do this and deal with that and you start wondering in the back of your mind when something exciting is going to happen.
    Soon you’re at 33%, then 50%, then 72%, and you’re still wondering when something exciting is coming, but then it’s over and nothing’s happened.
    What was the point?
    Nonplussed, I am.
  3. Wastes my time on useless sh*t.
    You read pages and pages of a character feeding chickens and shelling peas when the book is supposed to be a fantasy, not a farm manual. Or the character is playing with kittens and puppies when the story is supposed to be a Greek myth retold.
    The character interactions contain phrases like “Hi, how are you?” “Fine, thanks.” “Can you pass the salt?” “Sure.”
    The book is sparse on action, lacks entertaining character interaction, and offers banal conflicts.
    Your eyes glaze over. You find yourself skimming.
    Seriously, this is why people skim books, because some authors are wasting people’s time with crap that has no bearing on the story or the relationships within.
    Then readers try to skim a real book that doesn’t waste their time with unimportant sh*t and they have to go back and reread because they missed important details while trying to skim a book written as it’s supposed to be.
    That’s how I know I’m reading a book that isn’t wasting my time: I can’t skim or I miss important details.
  4. Keeping secrets for no reason from readers or other characters.
    A character has this big dark secret, or they’ve done something supposedly really terrible, and it isn’t revealed to the reader until halfway through, or even later just so the author has something to keep the reader guessing and reading.
    Then the secret is inevitably a letdown.
  5. Diabolus ex machina – Bad things happening just to create drama
    Movies are the biggest culprit of this, but I’ve also found it in books, where everything that can go wrong does go wrong just to create tension, or else bad things that have no bearing on the story happen just to add some action and it’s completely unnecessary.
  6. Short books in a series.
    Let me start with Laini Taylor.
    She doesn’t write short books.
    On the contrary, she pens impressive, gorgeous tomes of stunning prose that are sold in their entire 500+ pages (I have a sample of her prose later!).
    And they are worth every cent you put into them.
    Then I come across these series books online that are less than 200 pages each (or just barely above that, or sometimes they’re even under 100 pages), and they’re each priced like a full-length book.
    I can’t help but wonder if they’re justified in thinking their writing is worth more than other books out there that are sold in their entire length. The authors of these serial books would have to write better than Laini Taylor to justify this steep pricing, but when I check out the sample, I’m not impressed.
    It feels really uncool that Laini Taylor and many other authors put in so much work to give us the utmost quality in their books (and they’re worth the price) while these serials cost more. And they’re often just unpolished works containing only a slapdash collection of words cursorily edited in short pieces that force readers to pay full price for incomplete stories.
    Rant over!

Anyway, now for two bonuses: two things I LOVE in books!

Things I Love!

  1. My favorite thing ever: lush prose.
    Laini Taylor is seriously a master of this (as are other authors I’ve read, but I’d be here all day if I had to give an example of all of them :-D). I mean, JUDGE FOR YOURSELF (names removed to prevent spoilers):

    “…walking in the darkness, dragging a corpse and carrying an angel who would probably gut him for touching her as soon as she recovered… that secret perfume made him conscious of the claws on his fingers, the fangs in his mouth, and all the ways he was not himself. He wore a monster’s skin, and it felt like a violation to even breathe a woman in through its senses, let alone touch her with his hands.
    He had to shift the angel into both arms to carry her into the pool, and when he lowered her into the water, darkness closed in on him and he knew a moment’s panic, thinking that her wings had burned out.But no. A faint glow lit the water from below… the underwater glow brightened, so that by the time [she] finally moved, [he] could make out not just the chalk-green cast of the water and the pink of the hanging veils of moss, but the flush of the angel’s cheeks, and the dark gold of her lashes as they fluttered and slowly opened. And fixed on him.”
    [excerpt taken from her Smoke & Bone series]

    Aaaah! If I ever write even half as well, I’ll…well, actually, I probably wouldn’t even be able to tell, because writers are shit judges of their own writing. And if someone else told me I did write as well as her, I wouldn’t believe them anyway because of chronic imposter syndrome and an unwavering belief in the inadequacy of my own writing to ever reach that level of breathtaking beauty. But still I try (not to copy her style, but to manage that height of wordsmithery – that is, to use words that give me that flutter in my belly because they’re just so RIGHT and express the sentiment so utterly PERFECTLY).

  2. Loooooong books!
    Gimme gimme gimme a long book to sink my readerly teeth into! Haha, as long as they’ve got love stories in them 🙂

And there you have it! Anyone else have different pet peeves? [haha, at first I had a typo there: pet perves. Please DO NOT share your pet perves! The world will thank you.]

In my next blog post, I’ll either update you again on my crazy life or I’ll post a tragic fairy tale I’m working on 😀

And here are interesting facts I either recently learned (or stumbled upon again)!

  1. Do you know there’s a bone at the back of the knee that was vanishing from the human race but now it’s returning and NO ONE KNOWS WHY? [Read about it here.]
  2. There’s a fern that takes a selfie every twenty minutes using energy it generated itself! [Read about it here.]
  3. A burial sight thought to be viking warrior is a female warrior’s 😀 [Read about it here.]
  4. Texan “coonhounds” are being roped in to combat rhino poachers! [Read about it here.]
  5. General forgetfulness is a sign of intelligence. I read this a while back and found it fascinating, but our brains are constantly sifting and sorting information and ACTIVELY FORGETTING the unimportant bits. That’s why super-smart people are often stereotyped as being flighty and forgetting “silly” things like where they put their keys (haha or your keys). Keys? Keys aren’t important when they’re on the cusp of discovering the solution to every problem on the planet!

As always, if you want to support me, you can always buy my books or support me on Patreon 😀

Owner of two cats and huge dreams and author of any kind of love story so long as wild stuff is going on...

Posted in Blog
4 comments on “My Six Pet Peeves in Books
  1. DebE says:

    Reading-preference-wise, I think we might be twins!

  2. Emma says:

    I am in agreement with you on those book bugbears! I’ve been burnt by the first chapter/preview one too.

    Oh, romantic trope ex machina. Confected conflicts just because it’s “too soon” for the couple to be together. It runs the risk of going from being able to hope they get together to thinking, actually, they’re a car crash waiting to happen and shouldn’t be together at all.

    Short books-long series are so… awkward. If I find an indie serial I like I’d want to support it, but can’t afford to follow it. Justifying the cost can be difficult, which sounds mean but book budgets aren’t unlimited.

    I’d add a “written for TV” feeling as one of mine; no real physical descriptions, no chemistry between characters until all of a sudden they’re in bed together, template/episodic content, double-bill series finale, that sort of thing. On TV it might work because actors can convey things via body language or tone, and set designers/dressers can work magic. But in a book it needs to be done with words, and if you can’t then it’s just some elaborate script-meets-plot-outline. I’ve read some good stories (usually the crime variant of urban fantasy), but wished so much they were more like book-stories than unfinished-pilot-episode-stories. Or when story-telling advice has obviously come from Marvel films, i.e. lots of explosions and exposition, but not much else. It can be so unsatisfying to read.

    I know sometimes that slice of life thing you mention can get a bit tedious, but when done right it can set the scene just so. Take the beginning of Eragon. I always remember where the boy is sitting eating a cherry pie and enjoying the simplicity of his quiet life before it all goes dragon-shaped.

    Long books/series are a blessing and a curse. You can get really involved in them and spend days thinking about what’s happening in them, but also get book commitment-phobia about starting them. Or maybe that’s just me!

    • Sonya Lano says:

      Aaaaaah! Yes, I have been burnt by the first chapter/preview way too many times! And I also hate the concocted conflicts just because it’s ‘too soon’ for the couple to be together, though I think that is more a problem in books where the plot is thin, so they have to rely on artificial sources of tension.

      “book budgets aren’t unlimited.” – preach! If only they were…

      “I know sometimes that slice of life thing you mention can get a bit tedious, but when done right it can set the scene just so.” – slice of life, yes, but what I mean are more chunks of repetition of an endless array of insignificant details with no atmosphere or import to the story or character. Even slices of life show something: the character’s joy, how they relax, or provide a chance for them and the reader to breathe 😀

      Ah, book-commitment phobia! I don’t get that anymore because I’ve reached the point where unless I have someone hounding me to finish, I just quit books I’m not enjoying. There are just too many out there to push through the ones that are wasting your time and bringing unexciting, joyless moments into your life. Besides the fact that I’ve noticed books hugely affect my mood. If I’m not enjoying a book, I’m more likely to slide into depression. But a book – even a sad book – that is excellent can make me bounce off the walls.

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Sonya Lano

Sonya Lano

Owner of two cats and huge dreams and author of any kind of love story so long as wild stuff is going on...

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