Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

Posted October 1, 2013 by Kara in Kara, Lyn, Top Ten Tuesday / 25 Comments

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a heme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic:Top Ten Book Turn-Offs. (You are reading and then SOMETHING happens to completely turn you off — cheating, absent parents, multiple POVS etc.)

This is a little rough to discuss – I love to examine awesome books, and I adore bragging on my favorite titles.  But we do run into books that just turn us into pure, unadulterated rage.

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Like so.

We step into the book, and before we reach the end, we’re done, over it, and off to rant.  This week, we hash over what exactly will turn us away from a book.  Unlike the TTT topic about what we dislike, think of it as anger-induced Easter eggs hidden in books.


Lyn’s Picks

1. Animal/child/elderly abuse – I can’t deal with that.  There are some books that have gotten whole stars ripped off the final rating because of those reasons right there. I quit The Coal Elf by Maria DeVivo for animal cruelty. 

2. Graphic scenery/violence/rape – Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan was just a little too much for me to handle.  I couldn’t even get past the introduction and the first chapter.  It was sickening to read about the events, and this might have been an awesome book, but I can only stomach so much.

3. Heavy Handed Politics – I had to give up on a book by an author I love because the heavy-handed political plot. I get enough of this in the real world.  Yes, a majority of books will have political elements, but beating me over the head will turn me off of the writing.

4. Unsympathetic Characters – The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold and The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd contained character that did not resonate with my inner reader at all.  I stopped reading one, and labeled another as the worst book I ever read. If I am not with the characters, then there is little motivation to make me finish the novel.

5. Killing Off Characters (just for the sake of killing) – Death is a large motivator, but sometimes, it is an easy plot device.  I stopped reading the A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin for this reason.  I see no need to continue if the characters I invest in are to just die.

Kara’s Picks
1. Preachy religion – I read a lot of books with religious themes, so that is not what I am talking about here. I am referring to tone and the way that religion is conveyed. If you preach to me how religion is the greatest, I am going to call you out on it and throw your book against the wall. 
2. Bad editing – By this I mean books that are littered with grammatical errors and poor sentence structure. I am a huge flow reader, so if your prose does not flow, we  are going to have trouble. I find this most often in self-published books, but I have encountered a few rare occurrences in traditionally published novels.
3. Slut shaming/anti-feminist bullshit – Nope, nope, nope. 

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Probably my least favorite thing ever. Slut, skank, whore…”She’s a slut for sleeping with multiple guys!” “Why do girls dress like such skanks on Halloween?” “She is such a whore for stealing my man.” Books that propagate rape culture. Books that keep women down and keep the patriarchy in control, have no women in power positions, or portray women as weaklings who need to turn to men for their decision making. Unless this is a historical novel where this occurred, it better not be in my reading material.
4. Misleading book blurbs – Ever read a book blurb and expect it to be a certain way but it is completely not at all what the blurb led you to believe it would be? THAT. So effing frustrating. I’ve ranted on Twitter and in reviews about this before. Many bloggers don’t read blurbs, and cool for them, but I CANNOT do that. I need background before I start a book, so misleading blurbs are the WORST for me.
5. Poor writing – If I can’t get into the writing style within the first 10-15 pages and the voice is annoying me, I will put your book down faster than I put down Dance of Shadows once it was over. 
What did you list this week? Leave us a link below!

25 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

  1. Oh my goodness, seriously agree with all of these!!! Especially the part about rape, heavy politics or preachy religion, and the killing off characters just because! Great choices ladies!

  2. I can handle the politics, like Game of thrones. I always find it fascinating when it’s an important part of the world-building. Misleading blurbs are horrible! They make the book sound very action-filled and you end up with a book where a girl whines over her conflicted feelings between two guys *sigh*


  3. Abusing animals? HELL YES. I’m not AS bothered by abuse of humans, but if it’s the protagonist doing it and they’re still shown as a good person, ummm no.

    Ha, I DNFed Tender Morsels on like page one.

    POLITICS. YES. THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN MY LIST. My eyes cross with boredom trying to read about that. I DO NOT CARE. NO FUCKS TO GIVE.

    Is The Almost Moon the one where she killed her mom in the first chapter and there was defecation involved? I DNFed that too. Unsympathetic characters can be great, but it’s difficult to pull off well.

    I LOVE when characters die. Though I haven’t read GOT. We’ll see how I feel when I get there.

    PREACH, KARA. If I wanted to be told about god, I would go to some sort of religious institution.

    I almost put editing on the list, but I don’t read much self-pub, and ARCs often have this issue, so I’ve learned to sort of skim it, but YES.

    Ha, I had a slut-shamey sort of thing on my list. Like you, I leave a lot more space in historical novels. That’s how things were, but I want us to be past it.

    I say I don’t read book blurbs, but mostly what I mean is I read them months and months before, so I don’t remember anything, but that WOULD be frustrating. I know I’ve commented on blurbs being off, but can’t remember an example.

    Yup. Writing. I am such a writing snob. Pretentious writing over simple any day. I want to feel like the author would have gotten a higher grade than me in English.

    • “Ha, I DNFed Tender Morsels on like page one.”

      When I got to the forced abortions, I was pretty much out at that point.

      “s The Almost Moon the one where she killed her mom in the first chapter and there was defecation involved? I DNFed that too. Unsympathetic characters can be great, but it’s difficult to pull off well.”

      Yep, that was the one. It was just so horribly wrong and poorly written.

      “I LOVE when characters die.”

      I don’t know what is with my issues with death. It does have a place, such as Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series. The major death was beautiful. AS a rule, however, I dislike character deaths.

  4. I don’t really suffer from the misleading book blurbs one because I don’t ever read those LOL! I also can’t do heavy handed politics or religion in my books, that is sure to make me put down whatever book it is right quick. Great list ladies!

  5. I agree with pretty much everything on both your lists, with the exception of the unsympathetic characters thing. Sometimes I think those are interesting if they’re done well!

    But yeah, preachiness, killing off characters for no reason (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, RACHEL HAWKINS), and misleading book blurbs are big turnoffs for me, too.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • You’re right about that, Wendy (about unsympathetic characters). They have to be written wonderfully, or I am going to lose interest.

      I get so angry when characters die off for no reason other than sells/shock value.

  6. I have a really hard time reading rape scenes, especially if they’re graphic. That’s often the moment I put down my book and go do something completely different for a while. I zone out when politics take over the plot. As much as I want to be all cool and tolerate unsympathetic characters, I just can’t. I need to be able to relate or at least understand the character a bit.

    I have to admit, I’m one of those readers who usually doesn’t bother with the blurb. I’ve been trying to be better about this lately, and some of them are seriously misleading! Slut-shaming, bitch-slamming, faux-feminism, I don’t have any sympathy for characters that do this. If that’s your way to feel special, I pity you. Oh, and writing and language is pretty important to me because I often see it as part of characterisation.

  7. Great lists! I completely agree with most everything, especially the animal cruelty/slut shaming/religious preachy stuff! I didn’t do this top ten because it feels just another top ten that I did recently. I think it was top ten reasons to not pick up a book. Just felt the same to me.

  8. I totally agree with all of these, oh my god. Misleading book blurbs are the absolute worst because you were promised one thing and get a totally different thing. It’s like going to the cinemas for a sci-fi movie and getting a romcom instead. :

  9. WHY DO YOU ALWAYS PICK THE BEST IMAGES. lol. If I wasn’t so creeped out/wouldn’t laugh at that picture every time I saw it, I totally would save it to my desktop…

    ANGST RIDDEN EASTER EGGS. Best images and best descriptions hahaha.

    Hmmm, on principle I’d agree with the topics you’ve listed Lyn, but I’m unfamiliar with some of your examples, since I read mostly YA and it seems rare for #s1-3 to be included just because of the nature of the books and censorship and all that jazz. (Though maybe #3 — depends on what you consider ‘politics.’ Maybe just authorial beliefs bleeding through? Too much of real problems blending with the book problems?) I can also see why #5 is bothersome. I still haven’t read GoT – do watch the show though – and I know that people laud Martin’s talent for making people care about characters that they know will die, but that also seems to work against itself. Why care or trust at ALL in the writing or get invested when that’ll happen?

    Kara, I am so with you on preachy religion. But I must say I’m also against any real blatant mentions of religion unless it’s truly fantastical (i.e. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows). Religious themes, fine. Preaching NEVER EVER EVER. Religion Ehhhhh. <– And look, I’m demonstrating your #2 for you haha ;). BONUS POINTS FOR THE GLADIATOR PIC. One of my favorite movies!!! Admittedly, though, I am against slut shaming and I definitely hate any anti-feminist themes, but I don’t always notice slut shaming o.O. The examples you give are very blatant though (and are also reminding me of why I generally stay away from NA novels).

    Are you thinking of AOY for #4?

    Agreed with #5. I put down a book after one page because the writing style just wasn’t working for me. I tried so many times but I kept crossing things out in my head…

    • I actually don’t mind reading books with religion in it as long as it is done well and it doesn’t bore me. But this is a RARE thing. It’s okay that you don’t always notice slut-shaming. There are plenty of things that other reviewers call out in their reviews that I never notice. I agree about NA. It’s so bad for that.

      No, not really. There was no specific example I had in mind. I just remember it happening to me a few times and being really frustrated.

    • I love my Google-fu for images!

      Thank you for your reply about #5 – death has its place in fiction, but I found that I just don’t want to care about the series if the people I enjoy just up and croak.
      For #1 – 3: I still see a LOT of animal abuse in YA, I am sad to say. My tolerance is low, I admit. “Please Ignore Vera Wang” had a star chopped off due to an event at the end of the book. Number 2 is not around much, but I still see it. Number 3 is a low occurrence, but it does pop up from time to time.

  10. #3. Heavy-handed politics just get in the way! Subtlety is where it’s at. It seems more effective, less offensive, and thus BETTER.

    #4. THESE EXAMPLES ARE AWESOME. I had the exact same issues with those EXACT TWO BOOKS. I had high hopes for both (each had one book I — at the time — adored) and both TAM and TM were so very very disappointing.

    #1. Your #1 and Lynn’s are both perfection. BOTH of these things are bad, but when an author combines them? I’m pretty much done already.

    #5. I’ve been victim to many misleading blubrs and coverfrauds. It just sucks when you are promised one thing and the book is nothing like that.

    #3. You made me agree with Commodus. This is an uncomfortable place to enjoy, morally.

    • I was really looking forward to The Almost Moon, so I was downright angry at the utter horribleness of the book. I think I threw it away instead of selling it back (I was very angry). The Mermaid Chair caused a fight between me and a former friend. She said that a woman has a right to cheat if she feels that she found someone that she actually loved. My big issue is to NOT MAKE A FOOL out of anyone, and to be honest with the other person. Ugh, I hate that book.

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