After discussing the Things That Will Make Me Want to Review a Book last week, it seems fitting that this week’s topic from the girls at The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Things That Make Me Instantly NOT Want to Read a Book.
To be honest, that’s not a very big list. With the exception of a few notable points below, I’m pretty game for anything. So my list today will be broken down into three parts:
- Those things that are an instant turn-off;
- Those things that make me less likely to pick up a book;
- Those things that make me abandon a book.
~ Things That Are An Instant Turn-Off ~
There are really only a few genres that are on my no-go list: erotica, paranormal, horror, zombies/vampires, and their related or sub-categories. That may not be an exhaustive list, but I think you get the idea!
While there are many covers that don’t exactly inspire me, it doesn’t usually guarantee an instant no. However, if your cover models are either half-dressed, or on the way to becoming undressed, I’ll just be moving right along…
~ Things That Make Me Less Likely to Pick Up a Book ~
Yes, I’m repeating myself. Sort of. Aside from those genres I listed above as no-gos, I have read and enjoyed books in all kinds of genres. However I’m less likely to actively seek out novels in the sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative genres. Having said that, I have also read some AMAAAAAAZING reads in these genres, so I would never say never, particularly if it’s an author I know and love in other genres.
Oh, and time travel, particularly when there’s a love interest to complicate things. I don’t know why, but it’s just not my thing.
I’m sorry to say it, but covers that look amateurish really are a turn off. When there are sooooooo many books out there to choose from, a cover is VITALLY important to catching a potential reader’s eye. A poor cover doesn’t guarantee that I’ll pass over a book (after all, there are a lot of factors that go into deciding whether I will pick up a book), but it makes it much less competitive.
I’m also not a fan of couples in cheesy romance-cover poses…
The blurb is the next thing I’ll look at if the cover catches my eye. It’s hard to quantify what will or won’t grab me in a book blurb, but if it reads like just-another-romance-novel, then I’m probably going to pass it up. And if the blurb isn’t well written, it’s not a great recommendation for the story!
As I said last week, I’m a chronic review reader, from one-star right through to five-star. And to be honest, I skip right over the short ones! I’m the eternal toddler, always asking ‘But why?’, and I like reviews that give reasons for their ratings (without spoilers).
If low-star reviews mention things like a lot of telling rather than showing, explicit bedroom scenes, big misunderstandings that could have been resolved with a bit of communication, historical inaccuracies, or basic writing craft errors, I will always compare with positive reviews (because cross-examination is in my blood!), but chances are, I’ll give it a miss.
Also—and this may not exactly come as a surprise, since I’m a book blogger myself—there are certain reviewers whose opinions carry weight with me, since I know their tastes and where they are similar to mine and different. But in all honesty, they are far more likely to add to my TBR rather than eliminate candidates!
7. First Chapter
If it’s an author I haven’t read before, I almost always download a sample of the writing before I buy or commit to review (especially before I commit to review, because I HATE writing negative reviews). Again, as I said last week, the author’s writing style is a clincher for me—more than almost any other element of the novel—and if the writing style is under-developed, I’m generally going to pass it up for something else. I love active writing (eg. don’t say, “It was raining heavily”, say, “Rain pounded the earth,” or something. Anything to avoid ‘It was’ and other equally bland subject/verb combinations). I love deep point-of-view, I love it when ALL of my senses are caught up in the story. And I love to be shown, not told.
No, I don’t sit there and analyse the writing, but if a book’s first few pages make me feel ‘meh’, I can almost guarantee that it will be the result of some or all of these things.
And for goodness’ sake, give me a reason to want to keep reading. Give me a reason for my emotions to engage and my mind to start asking questions.
~ Things That Make Me Abandon a Book ~
This list is very short too, because I have that awful condition where once I start a book, I find it extremely hard not to see it through to the end, no matter how excruciating I find it. Hence the rather extensive screening process! Although I have definitely been known to skim… 🙂
I can handle books with occasional swearing in them (as a criminal/family law legal secretary, I became quite adept at skipping over offending words), but I have been known to read with a pen in hand to black out the offending words. (I’m still waiting for Kindle to introduce a black ‘highlighter’ for this purpose!) However, if the swearing is too frequent, I’ll likely abandon the book.
9. Lack of Tension
Tension is the life-blood of story, and it is the main thing that will keep me reading through an otherwise-under-developed novel. I want to get to the resolution so that I can get some kind of satisfaction out from the time I’ve put into the novel. But if there’s no tension, or the tension is weak, it becomes easier and easier to forget the story between reading sessions, and there are plenty of other books calling my name…
What are your ‘no-gos’ when it comes to books, or what things leave you really unsatisfied with a novel?