Things That Turn You Off In A Book

If you are a book reader, then you probably have your own list of things that turn you off in a book. Those annoying little things that want to make to return the book (to Amazon, to your library, to your friend who lent you the book in the first place) or simply to throw it across the room – hard.

I know I have my own list of top book turn-offs and that list is growing. It used to be a list of 5 things, then 10 and now they’re more than 10. I guess the more books we read, the more selective we become and the easier it is to spot the real gems from the trash. Sure one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but still, there must be some common things that we all cringe at when reading a book.

So here are mine, especially when reading a mystery novel that should hold my interest, be fast paced and have a well defined movement from A to B.

1. A cheesy dialogue – ok this really gets on my nerves and while I find this mostly in young adult (YA) fiction, I’ve seen it in mysteries as well, along with romances and pretty much any genre. I hate it.

2. Books where the characters take drugs – I’m not talking here about a former drug addict who changed his or her life around, became a police detective or a fighter for better health, bla bla bla. I’m talking about a character who is actually taking drugs in the novel. I usually let go of the book right away. I just can’t stand it, it’s a serious petpeeve of mine.

3. Books with too many different points of view, with too many narrators. Sure I do love a good book with more people narrating it throught the various chapters, but that takes a great writer to pull it off well. In most cases the result is a disaster.

4. Books where the ending is a letdown (especially in mysteries and trillers) – imagine you’re reading a book full of suspense, one of those nail biting books, ‘edge of your seat’ type of novels, and reading the last page and feeling literally cheated. There’s either no clear resolution, or it is so anticlimactic as if the writer just rushed through it to get it done already. I just don’t want to pick up another book by this author – like ever again!

5. Books with repetitive writing, and by this I mean where the author is using the same phrases and words over and over again – sometimes several times in the same paragraph. A few times you might let it go, but eventually the phrase ends up in your subconsciousness doing as much damage as the water dripping slowly from the faucet over several hours where you can’t do anything about it (except smash it to pieces).

6. Shallow writing – now this is for every genre equally annoying and sadly there are plenty of authors with a very mediocre and shallow writing. One should be forbidden to put out such garbage. Ever.

7. Book series that should have ended several books ago – I could name several series like these – you know when a trilogy becomes a series of 5 or more books just because the author has sold the rights to make a movie of all, or because the series was so popular that they thought churning a few more books can’t hurt (*cough* Charlaine Harris *cough*)

8. Books that suffer from bad editing syndrome – I hate this one, it’s a major petpeeve of mine. I get that nobody is perfect and that we all make mistakes, but the job of the editor is to catch those grammar and syntax errors that make a book look like written by a high school student. Honestly, those editors who let these kinds of mistakes through should be fired.

9. Books with not developed secondary characters – it is sad but I find so often in books that the author focuses on the main characters and only mentions in passing the secondary characters who are just there as book fillers. This is a very narrow view that should not be present in a book. Afterall no book is 2 dimensional either, right?

10. Books with ugly book covers – luckily I see less and less of this, these days the covers are better done than the books themselves, but still, now and then I come across a book cover that I have a feeling it was done from a $5 freelancing site like I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but still, dear author, do you have to take this phrase literally?

Here is one book cover that I can’t stop laughing at every time I see it…talk about Moment of Truth…I mean is she doing what I think she’s doing with her hand???

Moment of Truth

So how about you, what are some of your petpeeves when it comes to things that turn you off in a book?


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  1. I agree with all your points, but the ones that really annoy me are several viewpoints and underdeveloped secondary characters. In a book you are supposed to have main, secondary and filler characters. Filler characters are the only ones that can be underdeveloped as they normally only fit in one or two sentences. And its normally the secondary characters who get me through a book, they can be so much more interesting!

  2. I do not like books narrating about real life, real life problems and at the same the main character managed to handle and solve absolutely everything. I understand when it is about superheros or a fiction. It becomes boring to read.

  3. Read…read, I wish I had time with two pre-schoolers, heehee. But agree about the cheesey dialogue, and the bad ending. It’s frustrating – out of a million ideas, the author ended it some silly odd way!
    And that picture of a book, omg! Made me giggle though xx

  4. A book without a good summary. This is what draws people to buy it, so it’s important.

    My biggest peeve is when the author goes on and on, describing every little detail of the scene, when it is not necessary. Drives me crazy!

  5. I agree with so many of these. The cover has to be appealing to my eyes or I will not buy it and the same goes for products at the grocery store too.

  6. I agree. My biggest is the too many narrators. I am not a fan of first person anyway but prefer only one person.

  7. YUP! I agree with your list! Another one is super long, narrative’s that are there for nothing. I just read a book that just went on and on and on and there was a part whre a speech went on for 78 pages!!!

  8. LOL What is she doing with her hand? And wait, isn’t his hand in his pocket? Or is it in his pants? ha someone didn’t look at that carefully

    I think repetitive writing bugs me or characters that don’t grow through a book annoy me the most

  9. These are many of my pet peeves! My latest pet peeve is when each chapter has 2-3 pages – um, what? This is not a children’s book!

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