Girls Write Out
Sunday, March 08, 2009

Reader Pet Peeves: A Random List of Things that Disrupt my Reading Pleasure

Stories that don't start until page 3o. Frankly, with stories like this, I never make it to page 30.

Books with glossy dark covers that show all my fingerprints. 

When I've finally reached the last scene of a good novel and I'm primed to savor every satisfying word--and the family walks in the door. 

Trying to read while other family members watch a blaring TV or channel surf. Equally distracting are those STOP EVERYTHING AND LISTEN TO ME voices of Talk TV, ESPN sports announcers, and televangelists!! GRRRR!

Long descriptions of clothing, floor plans, or the sunset. Yawn.

Abruptly reaching "The End" when I thought I had 30 more pages of story because of all the back matter.

Too many characters, all introduced on page one, and having nicknames too which I also have to memorize. Hello . . . I read to relax. 

Being interrupted by TV viewing family members saying, "Look at that" or "Watch this"or "Did you hear that?" every five seconds. Ahem, I'm reading because I didn't want to watch TV. Do you hear me saying, "Listen to this great line of dialog."? Uh, no.

Long paragraph after long paragraph after long paragraph. I'm a simple-minded girl with a short attention span. Give me some white space please.

Misleading covers. I bought a book last summer because of the cover: three kids sitting on a pier, viewed from behind. The back cover talked about three long-time friends separated by life who come back together again. Great stuff. I read the book and it's about 3 people who met in college. Huh? Why are there kids on the cover?

And now, just to end on a positive note:

Favorite Reading Pleasure

A book so good I'll stay up until 2 am to reach the satisfying conclusion. If I'm willing to miss out on sleep, you know it had to be good.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 10:25 PM  
  Comments (15)
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At 10:54 PM, Blogger Jaime said...

Great list, Denise, and I relate to several of them. My personal peeves are:

1. My husband coming to bed and turning out the light when I have 1 chapter left!

2. My boss coming into my office when I'm reading on my lunch hour for an impromptu mtg - have some respect, Boss! :)

3. A dirty book. Ew. I feel like I'm going to catch a contagious disease

4. Book covers that peel. have you ever seen that? There's like a slim saran-wrappy type film on some covers and it will separate from the main cover and looks nasty

5. A romance with no kiss. What's with that? :)

At 1:33 AM, Blogger allen said...

Good call...

I hate stories where it is clear that the author had no idea what the end of the story was going to be and just hacks away at characters as they plod through the plot often times making up plots and new characters as they go just because they have no real idea how to end a story!

btw...I have finished the screenplay for my next movie (110 pages) and I have started working on a manuscript based on the screenplay...a first for me. And, it isn't SCI-FI!

p.s. Jaime...I totally agree with #5...I would also add to that "a romance that ends with one of the main characters DEAD! - isn't a's STUPID! and 'cheap shot' writing"!

pardon the lazy was for effect!

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Can we add long chapters to that list? When you're reading in bed and trying to stay awake until the end of the chapter but you flip forward and realize it's still another 10 pages away.

How about when you're reading and something makes you laugh-out-loud or cry and then someone has to ask you what you're laughing/crying about?

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

You can blare the TV as loud as you want and it won't bother my reading if the book is good. If it's not that good, I put it down and start something else! :-)

1. Head-hopping. Drives me crazy.

2. No sense of place. If I'm reading a story and the place is so unmemorable I couldn't tell you where it was set, I don't get very far into the book.

3. Long descriptive phrases like the author was trying too hard. Not looking for flowery writing. I want a good STORY.

4. A book with a ton of flashback. Linear please. Just tell the story. That was the only thing that drove me crazy about the first season of LOST.

5. A book told mostly in a person's head. White space with dialogue please!

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Jamie, I hate those book covers too.

Congrats on finishing your screen play, Allen. And I totally agree about killing off the hero or heroine. You don't have to kill someone to make the reader cry!

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Mocha with Linda said...


Especially the long descriptions and the unexpected ending with all the back pages! That's always such a disappointment on a good book!

Also, spending 300+ pages creating an intricate dilemma/plot and then when the author appears to suddenly realize that he/she has reached their word limit and suddenly ends it with a simplistic resolution. All that work, and then bam! It's over!

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

I'm with you, D, too many paragraphs and not enough white space makes me crazy. Give me dialogue!

I normally read at bedtime and I tried a book once that had so many characters I had to review them every night before I could pick up and start reading again. The thing is, I read through three-fourths of that book and finally said forget it. Too many characters and I didn't care about any of them.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Pam S. said...

1. Russian novels drive me crazy because everyone has a nickname that sounds different than his/her name. I can't keep anyone straight.

2. Too many similes and metaphors in the descriptions are also a turn-off. A few help, but too many (and if they're trite!) Yikes!

3. If a plot is too close to things I've experienced, I don't enjoy it. I want to escape, not relive my problems. :)

4. I love Charles Dickens, but his descriptions drive me crazy. Too long, too detailed, too boring. I just skip to the next interesting part.

5. I dislike books with cheap, bad bindings (so the pages fall out as you read it).

6. I also want the main character to still be alive on the last page. That's why I always read the first page (to learn the character's name) and the last page (to make sure s/he is still alive). If yes, then I'll read the book. (That's really dumb, isn't it?!)

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Allie said...

I so agree with several of your pet peeves - though no family to distract when reading. I think my favorite is the one where you think you have at least 30 more pages... ROFL - though a few times I've actually been relieved because its 2am and I need to go to sleep!

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

I want to pull my hair out when an author drags us through the same dramatic dilemma for numerous books when it could have been resolved in the first book, or makes a five book series (because they've re-hashed the story in excess) out of what could have easily been a three book series.

I also get miffed if a author waits too long between books in a series, not necessarily in series' that have titles that can stand alone, but ones that need some kind of resolution. I've totally given up on a series (or two or three...) for this reason.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Carla said...

I agree with most of your list. I can, however, handle the TV being on, but my hubby is always telling me "look at that" or "did you see that" when I'm reading and he's watching TV. The covers drive me crazy too - I pick up 90% of my books just because of the cover.

I hate predictability. What I mean is when I read an author, I like to be able to pick up another one of their books and enjoy it as equally as the last one. I hate when it's the same type of story, just different character names.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Abby said...

I love your list! I had to call my mom and read all of them to her over the phone. We were laughing because we agreed with all of them!

At 7:45 AM, Blogger SketchGirl said...

Don't like books that:
1. The heroine ending up with a boring hero.
2. Soppy romances.
3. When a really big issue is resolved itself quickly in a short story.

1. great dialogy in suspense stories that cause a giggle from me
2. charming cowboys the hero
3. hero that rides a motorcycle
4. Smart chicks who educate a man in control of his life

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Andrea said...

Denise - I have a confession. I am that annoying one that will say..."listen to this - you have to hear this", then I proceed to read some great snippet of dialogue to the poor family member trying to watch TV or surf the net....

Pam - I'm totally with you on making sure I won't be traumatized by main character deaths before I commit to the book!

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Deena said...

Ha! You just described YOUR books for me in the one you listed last...I've been up into the wee hours turning pages to get to the end of a Denise Hunter novel:-)

I hate loaning out books and having them come back thrashed. I think that's my biggest pet peeve.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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