Saturday, 11 December 2010

Literary Blog Hop 2-5 December


What is one of your literary pet peeves?  Is there something that writers do that really sets your teeth on edge?  Be specific, and give examples if you can.


I’ve seen the Literary Blog Hop in passing before, but seeing as I’m getting back onto the blogging bandwagon, I thought I’d join in and participate in something new.

I hope my blog is covered by the ‘literary’ blog hop as I have never done this one before… I read a wide range and so mine fits into both literary and non-literary, and rather depends on the mood I’m in at the time.

It’s a hard question actually as I tend to try and concentrate on the positives and if the book is good enough, little peeves sink into the background. If the book is full of peeves, I will throw the thing over my shoulder and move onto something new.

There are a few things that do press my buttons.

1. Pseudo Literary

Pseudo literary books are those whose author’s think they’re really good, beautifully written, significant works of art – when they are in fact a load of complete and utter tripe from the paint by numbers category. Example: The Lovely Bones. Sebold’s overuse of horrific similes and metaphors – such as buttering bread with tears and eyes popping out like olives. I like fiction to be honest – an author should do what they do best.

Which takes me onto…

2. Similes and Metaphors

In my opinion these should be left subtle, slipped in and natural. They should not stand out like a sore thumb. Not everything is like something else. Sometimes when you bleed, you just bleed. It does not exit your veins like a firework or a blossoming flower, or however Kate Mosse described it in Labyrinth. It doesn’t add anything to the imagery or my imagination.

It’s kind of a personal peeve – some authors seem to be able to do it a lot and do it well, some people just cannot. Once again, I think authors should stick to what they do best and stop trying too hard.

3. No Chapters

I like chapters. I like knowing when to take a break and if I’ll have time to read on. It’s more organised. Some books do just start on a new page but have no chapter heading – that is okay, but it is when they have nothing but perhaps your usual space between text. I also really don’t like fiction books that have long chapters split up into mini-chapters. I don’t get the point in that.

The above three are my main peeves about the writing or construction of the story itself, I have others like rambling passages and pointless character development that doesn’t develop anywhere… but I don’t want to go on for a year and a day boring you with every min-peeve of mine. (I am a grumpy old beak.)

The following peeves aren’t so much about the writing, but the construction of the book – because I need to get these off my chest.

4. The Printed Text Itself

a) I do not like when there are double spaces between each line, usually with fairly short books. Am I being tricked into thinking a short story is longer? I find it very hard to physically read anyway. It is like both my eyes go in opposite directions and the sentences just disappear off the page.

b) Blurry, bold print that makes me squint. I think that as a reader, I shouldn’t be spending half my concentration just trying to process the word visually.

c) Shoddily put together books that fall apart at the flick of a page. If I’m going to pay £7.99 for a new book, (and heaven knows how much more after the VAT goes up to 20%), I at least expect the book not to disintegrate onto my face in bed as I read it. Penguin Classics are the most expensive, with the flimsiest paper quality and they usually fall apart before anyone else.

d) Books that lack descriptions of what it is about, even a hint but consist of over-zealous praise of the author’s past work. I am not going to buy it, or read it or ever pick it up unless I know what it is about.

e) When so called ‘introductions’ do not warn of spoilers to people who are unaware that introductions shouldn’t be read until the end – and when the first sentence contains a clanger of a spoiler. This happened to me with Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, Vintage classic with Monica Ali writing the intro.

f) Books that are claimed by publishers to be ‘just like [insert name of really well known classic here]’ because most of the time they aren’t and even if they are – if someone told me that so-and-so book is good as Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.

So, those are my pet peeves. Authors and publishers, beware – I am not the forgiving type! What peeves you off when you read a book?


  1. WHY WOULD ANYONE HAVE NO CHAPTERS WHY WOULD THAT EVER HAPPEN? I totally agree with that one. I don't understand why a writer would make the decision to not have chapters.

    I sort of agree about the similes and metaphors, in that the ones that miss can be so very lame and awful. But on the other hand, a good inventive metaphor can be amazing.

  2. Metaphor and simile need to be subtle, if they hit you like some thunderous great hammer that Thor once carried, then the author is trying to clever for their own sake. What about books that appear to have a chapter every paragraph in some blind attempt to manipulate you to keep turning the pages.

  3. I hated The Lovely Bones, too. And I also dislike the absence of chapters.
    Great peeves! Thanks for participating in the hop!

  4. Pseudo Literary...I think that's what I was trying to get at with my description of "pretentious".

    Here's my post:

  5. @ Parish Lantern: I don't much like overly short chapters either - although some books suit it. I think there are always exceptions to the rules, but it takes a certain author.

  6. Ahh, books that fall apart is one I included in my little rant. And yes, not everything has to be a simile or a metaphor. Which is probably why I am such a fan of Murakami. His work is poetry without the literary clutter.

    Here's my pet peeve:

  7. I love your simile/metaphor example. It also really bothers me when something pretends to be amazing and just isn't. at all.



Related Posts with Thumbnails