Top Ten Book Turn-offs

Last week’s Top Ten Tuesday was all about things that will instantly make you want to read a book. But I love this week’s topic even more: things that will instantly make you not want to read a book. Advance Warning: This topic will require the use of frequent 30 Rock GIFS. Because Tina Fey gets it, man.

My Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

1. Any cover where the protagonists are staring at each other from opposite sides of the page. THEY’RE SO CLOSE BUT SO FAR AWAY.

2. Murder mysteries that are billed as ‘sexy thrillers‘. I’m sorry, but no book about brutal murders and violent crimes should be ‘sexy’. The word ‘sexy’ should be reserved solely for books about Mr Darcy and collections of photographs from Ryan Gosling’s Instagram account.

3. Celebrity memoirs that have so clearly been ghostwritten that a more appropriate way of marketing them would be naming them My Life: A Whole 0.03% Written by Nicole Richie!

4. Love triangles. Nothing more need be said.

5. Male authors writing ‘strong female characters’. This is usually code for ‘man writing out all his perverted (and anatomically unlikely) sex fantasies and disguising them as the sexual adventurings of a strong, self-assured female character’. Cue exasperated sighs.

6. Any book described as ‘Harry Potter for a new generation‘. As a millennial who grew up with Harry Potter, I am one hundred per cent sure that nothing could ever replace Harry Potter. But sure. Give it a crack.

7. Erotica. I’m sorry. I know there’s nothing wrong with reading erotica, but I can’t overcome my prude reflex. To be honest, any book with too much sex in it is usually nixed unless there’s a genuine literary reason why that sex needs to be there. Could it be that I have so much amazing sex in my real life that nothing in fiction can possibly compare? Sure. Let’s go with that. But when it comes to erotica:

8. Any book by a loner-rebel-extremely-outspoken male writer about a loner-rebel-extremely-outspoken male character that is absolutely, and I want to make this abundantly clear, in no way a stand-in for the aforementioned loner-rebel-extremely-outspoken male writer. These books are usually praised as being ‘visionary critiques of our society’, which is basically professional book reviewer talk for ‘contains liberal number of scenes of the main character wanking’.

9. Self-help books about any of the following: dating, sex, sex while dating, not having sex while dating, positive body image, negative body image, ‘loving’ yourself (in order to lose weight), losing weight (in order to ‘love’ yourself), and the likelihood that based on your gender, you may in fact have originated from a planet in our solar system other than Earth.

10. Stories that claim to be epic adventures and/or high-stakes, edge-of-your-seat thrillers, but are actually just smokescreens for some incredibly soppy and tedious love story. It’s a betrayal, I say! A betrayal! YA writers are frequent offenders in this category.

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25 thoughts on “Top Ten Book Turn-offs

  1. 5 and 10 are brilliant! As for erotica, not my thing either. I like romance and sexy times if they’re written well, but the few times I’ve tried erotica, it bored me. Seriously, it can’t be healthy to have sexy time all the time.

  2. I hate the “Harry Potter for a new generation” label. I feel like HP can be enjoyed by people of all generations, not just those who grew up with it. Why do we need a new version?
    Great post!

  3. Smiles of recognition emanated from this jaundiced reader, and the odd derisory snort when reminded of the games publishers play to sell unworthy books to unsuspecting readers.
    By the way, the HP comparison seems to be replacing LOTR in terms of longevity (“Compares with Tolkien at his best!” “Bound to appeal to lovers of The Hobbit!” “An epic to rival Middle Earth!”).

  4. Love triangles are making a lot of lists this week! Also, I can’t stand erotica either. It’s just so embarrassingly cheesy. I am sure there is good erotica out there, and maybe if I did some digging I could find something that was well-written. But all of my experiences have been so cheesy that I am more likely to laugh than to be turned on by any of it. Great list!

    My TTT.

    • Definitely! There are a few exceptions (if it’s a comedian that makes me laugh, and I feel about 97% sure they wrote it without too much outside help…). But when it comes to actors and singers and (eek) reality TV stars, no chance.

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