Not My Cup Of Tea

cup-of-teaI’ve been sitting on this post for a while now, collecting ideas and making notes in my journal. I want to discuss my bookish pet peeves – elements in novels and types of behaviour that rub me the wrong way. I expect this will be a post full of whining, so I intend to write one on my bookish loves as well – but you know, it’s always easier to rant than say nice things… So here goes! (image credit)

  1. Historical novels (historical romances are especially guilty of this) that use expressions that didn’t exist in that time period. Now, I’m fully aware that if I read a dialogue between two medieval Scots, they certainly didn’t speak modern English. But I mean words like “derailed” in Middle Ages, when trains didn’t exist yet, and “sexy” in early 19th century romances. They just stand out.
  2. Authors using stock descriptions for characters in different books. I had this period when I binge-read a number of historical romances by one author and she had the hero gazing at “the pale column of her (the heroine’s) neck” in every single one of them – and those weren’t the same characters every time. I guess this is another problem specific to the romance genre, where stock language and formules are much more acceptable if not expected.
  3. Kickass heroes and heroines with *unique* powers who can do *anything* (and no price for magic). This is a seriously common problem in fantasy. It’s really offputting for me – if you give a character all the power and no price for it, I will find him/her too bloody perfect or I’ll just think that they must really be dumb if they can’t extricate themselves from their problems when they’ve got such epic powers. Making the character look beautiful on top of that is even worse. Nobody’s that perfect! Celaena from Throne of Glass is one such example, as is Vin from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. Also, the magic in the Harry Potter series has no price, which I find weird. But those books at least feature a plot intresting enough that I could deal with all the character perfection. But I really couldn’t handle Lady Aileana from The Falconer because of this. An exception to this one would, for example, be Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle, as he’s flawed in many other ways despite being too intelligent and smart-mouthed for his own good (he’s also a very unreliable narrator so he’s actually singing his own praise).
  4. Divine intervention (deus ex machina). I read this fantasy novel for review purposes once, The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, where gods just did things and solved problems and saved heroes… I like my characters to do stuff on their own – and I hate the fatalistic approach of a higher force that moves them around like pawns.
  5. Unpronouncable character/place names. Again, this is very common in fantasy. I often find (when I start writing a review, for example), that I have no idea how a character’s name is pronounced, let alone spelled. Weird clusters of letters (Celaena? Celeana? Selena? – this is just the first one to come to mind, there are much worse ones out there) always make me question my knowledge of the English language – especially as it isn’t my mother tongue.
  6. Stupid character names. Daemon Black (from Obsidian). I think this says it all.
  7. Epic epicness. Again, fantasy. Whether it’s a world too full of natural wonders and ginormous buildings, or epic battles where thousands are slaughtered in a flood of blood, I just prefer my fantasy on a more… oh, I don’t know, subtle side. Think Robin Hobb (subtle) versus George R. R. Martin (often too epic for my taste).
  8. Readers/bloggers who have too many 5-star-rated books. I just don’t trust people who *looove* and *adore* and *ship* (Oh, man, this word. THIS WORD. It’s killing me.) every other novel they read. It’s just not possible for me to believe that they have such amazing luck in picking books (even if I haven’t actually read those books myself), so I have to assume their taste isn’t developed enough. I get excited about books, too. I flail. Just not that often. I know I’m being unfair, but there it is.
  9. People who underline things and write into library books. I use the library quite often, both for study books and for leisure reading, and I’ve come across ruined books in both cases. Those from the University library are often near to useless because of all the scribbles. I also came across some English books where people were underlining unknown words (let’s just say that their level of English did not match mine…). If I was a librarian, I’d check every returned book and ban scribblers from the library!!
  10. People who put drinks/food onto books. I often read when I eat, but I always take care that I don’t stain the books. But I once lent a book to my mother (gasp! She’s actually the one responsible for my love of reading but she’s not the neatest person out there.) and there was a clear coffee cup stain (you know, a brown ring) on one of the pages. I was livid, but what can you do?
  11. Gif-choked reviews. I don’t use gifs on my blog – they just don’t seem necessary. But I love a well-placed gif as they can bring home a point the blogger is trying to make in a surprisingly satisfying, non-verbal way. I especially like them if I know the reference (I usually don’t when it comes to Dr Who, for example). But reviews that look like this: “And then I was like [gif] because [gif], when he did this [gif], I just couldn’t believe it! [gif]” … Say it with words, please.

There. My soul is lighter now that I’ve expelled all this resentment. :)


How about you? What ticks you off in the book world?

I’d love to hear your pet peeves – even if I’m guilty of commiting them! :)

  • I agree with so many of these! I have seen a lot of historical fiction which either reuses really cliched phrases or uses language that just sticks out as not appropriate for the time it was supposed to be set in, and I never get why these characters in fantasy with unlimited magic can’t just magic themselves out of the situation they’re in!
    I think some of my personal book pet peeves are any kind of love triangle (boring – and they always in my opinion pick the wrong one!), and those ‘normal’, supposedly everyday kind of heroines who are actually incredibly beautiful, and everybody is falling in love with her at first sight. It also annoys me in fantasy when there are only token female characters, or if the author seems to have made an attempt to create strong female characters, but they have still ended up simply as devices to create an epic love story for the hero (I’m thinking here of a series I read by Raymond E Feist).
    And as for blogging pet peeves, it’s definitely the gifs! I don’t mind one or two, but if they are punctuating every sentence then it gets a bit much! Although I’m probably guilty of the whole rating too many books highly thing. My average score for books seems to be 4/5, and i have given out a fair few 5/5s even though I have only been blogging since July!

    • Kaja

      Thanks for the comment, Laura! :)
      I actually did a post on love triangles a couple of weeks back – I don’t necessarily hate them if they’re well-executed, but I feel like they’re *everywhere*, just so there is some “tension” in the story, and they’re waaay overused. And yeah, the heroines of the girl-next-door type who actually have “auburn hair that glints golden in the sunlight” and “sparkling eyes”… I know exactly what you mean!
      I haven’t read Feist yet, but I know what you’re talking about – I also miss female friendships in fantasy novels, the real friendships of the kind that I’m lucky to have in real life. Most of the female characters seem to be very “independent” and “strong”, but I don’t know why that means they can’t have friends.
      As for the rating – hell, maybe you were just reall lucky with your reading choices, what do I know ;)