Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is the opposite of last week's. The interesting thing about this topic is that even though certain things are instant turn-off's to me, it doesn't mean that I won't actually read the book if I hear enough good things about it. They're just things that make me immediately say NO or, more likely, roll my eyes and say "Gah."

1. World War II
Haven't we exhausted this topic? Apparently not. But I am exhausted of it. I know All the Light We Cannot See is supposed to be amazing and I've been told that I'd like it, but I just can't get interested. Maybe someday.

2. An overly precious title
I'm looking at you, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. In fact, for a while there were a number of books with similarly-constructed titles and I just find it annoying. (The Adjective Feeling of Adjective Noun. It's a thing.) I don't care how good the book is supposed to be.

3. Anything that a review calls a "tour de force."
I realize this is a problem with reviewing and not the book itself, but it still turns me off. The phrase is incredibly overused and I take it out on the books, which really are just victims in all of this. The same goes for anything with a plot point described as "unthinkable." Nothing is unthinkable. In fact, this author already thought of it a couple years ago when they started this book, and it's probably not even so original that there's not another book about it out there somewhere. Many people have thought about this thing.

4. Neurotic middle-aged men trying to find themselves
I just don't have the patience for that crap. Come to think of it, anything about privileged white people trying to find themselves strikes me the same way. They really need to find some hobbies.

5. Over 500 pages
It's not that I don't read long books, I do. But it's a large time investment that I'm hesitant to take on and why is everything so incredibly long?

6. Short stories
I've been very excited about authors I like having new books come out and then I learn they are short story collections and I immediately feel disappointed. I have a strange relationship with short stories in that I think I don't like them so I try to avoid them, but when I give in and start reading them I remember that I do actually like them. It's very confusing.

7. When a book is compared to an amazing wonderful book that I'm sure it is nothing like
It might be a great book, but don't try to tell me that it's the next Gone Girl or the next Eleanor & Park because it's not. It might be wonderful, but just tell me why it's wonderful without making unfair and untrue comparisons because I don't believe them.

8. Sports
If the plot has anything to do with any sort of competitive sportsball thingy, I am instantly uninterested. The closest I've come recently is The Boys in the Boat, and that's because I was forced to read it.

9. Spies
In theory spy stories are super interesting and exciting, but the reality for me is just a lot of confusion. I read about half of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy and stopped because I had no idea what was going on. Then I watched the entire movie, and I still don't know what was going on. I did like Code Name Verity though, so it's not impossible for me to enjoy a spy story.

10. Cover art that I don't like
I mean, A Little Life, right? Or as I think of it, Michael J. Fox Having An Orgasm. (Is it just me?) I still plan to read it - it's on my personal challenge for the year - but I wish there was more than one cover option. Why is this seemingly the only book with the same art on the hardcover and paperback? To make me uncomfortable, that's why.

So there you have it - everything I could think of that makes me instantly not want to read a book. What factors turn you off from a book immediately? Share in the comments!


Barb said...

My grandfather, who is 95 and besides my husband is my best friend, was in WWII. He saw some pretty horrific things and he still won't share everything with me because he doesn't like talking about what he had to see and do. That's probably why I stay away from WWII books. I really enjoyed your list!

Unknown said...

I'm with you on spy stories...too many twists to keep straight makes reading seem like a chore instead of a hobby!

Kevin said...

I've enjoyed fiction on World War II, but it has to be extremely well-done with an unusual POV for me to enjoy it. For example, I liked the "City of Women" which is set in Berlin in the middle of the war and is narrated from the perspective of a German soldier's wife.

I agree, a book described as a "tour de force" is often disappointing.

Things that make me reluctant to read a book:

1)EVERYONE raving about how great it is.

2)Set during the Civil War. "Cold Mountain" was the only good Civil War novel. No one else should try to write one.

3)The characters are people of extreme privilege.

4) Historical novels with actual historical figures about whom we know a great deal as characters. Most writers who try this fail abysmally.

5)The narrative is too self-consciously experimental. In one of Peter Matthiessen's novels the written narration just stops and the page is covered with strange black shapes. WHAT?

6) Novels about academe.

7)Novels by guys that are all about proving their manliness (or being bad boys). Both are extremely annoying.

8) Sports.

9)John Grisham likes it.

10) It's by John Grisham.

P.S. --I love a good spy novel. But there are not that many. I've tried dozens but can only name 2 or 3 I liked.

3goodrats said...

I agree with your 7, Kevin. Men acting manly is a total turn-off. I have mixed feelings about 4. I've always disliked the idea of novels about historical figures because it just seems like it confuses the issue and is somehow a betrayal of truth, but then I've read a few that I liked, so I can't really complain.

Lindsay said...

I really liked "All the Light We Cannot See" -- but, too, I enjoy WWII novels. (Though I completely agree that they're overdone!) You should give it a try eventually. The writing was so good! And lots of WWII novels involve romance, but not that one.

And "A Little Life" -- you are SO right about that cover. I actually always thought it was a guy cringing in pain, and after reading the book I think it's meant to evoke both interpretations. It's a sucker-punch of a book, that's for sure. I never even wrote a review because I couldn't get my thoughts about it sorted, but it's worth a read.

If you asked me I'd say I like spy novels... but I can't actually think of any off the top of my head that I enjoyed -- or even that I've read -- so maybe I don't! I will say, I watched the movie of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and it put me to sleep.