Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pet Peeves I Have as a Reader

Status: Determined to push through
Song: "When Doves Cry" by Prince (or is it just "sign" or the "artist formerly known as Prince"?)

I have a little bit of residual snarkiness from last week, so I decided to do a snarky post about pet peeves that I have as a reader, because, after all, my opinion is the only one that matters, right? (In case you can't tell, I love the word snarky. It ranks up there in my list of favorite words. I like twit, too. And the French way of pronouncing psychiatrist. Hmmm. I feel a future blog idea coming on.)

Drum roll.... Jaime's pet peeves as an avid reader:

1. When the author can't think of another way to show the hero as sensitive and loving except to make him cry all the time. Or mist up, or get choked up, etc. I like a man to appreciate a sunset, but if he starts blubbering, I'm leaving. If I want someone to cry at the drop of a hat, I have a 5 year old daughter for that. These books not only get put down, but thrown across the room. If only the hero was there in person, then I could forgive tears at being hit by a book in the face.

2. Building up to an awesome climax, only to have the PC ending of everyone talking it out and walking away. Whhaat?! Where's the smackdown?

I like action movies. I like the ending of Sahara where Matthew McConaughey shoots a cannon into the windshield of the bad guy's helicoptor. (And it only has a little bit to do with the fact that it's Matthew McConaughey doing it :) We get a thrill of vicarious justification in the Knockout ending. It doesn't mean I'd like to see someone get hit by a cannonball in real life, but don't hype it up, then let it fizzle out on me like a can of opened pop left on the counter all day. That's just sugary sweet with no punch. Ick!

3. Large sections of nothing but contemplation, followed by some more thinking, some philosophizing, and maybe a cup of tea. I'd also rank up there wandering around for months in a tent, hanging out forever in a cave, and just mooning into someone's eyes for three chapters. And yes, those are specific references to specific books.

If it's a thinking book, then fine. But I've read some great books that make you think while the characters are doing something--other than chatting at a coffee shop.

4. Fantasy kick-butt female characters that wear next to no clothing. I don't care how good she is with a sword, or axe, or staff, or 15 daggers, if she's wearing a fur bikini, she's not going to fare well in a fight. Sorry. And it's a dead giveaway a man wrote it. I doubt he's ever tried doing anything remotely physical in a bikini. She'd be too distracted by trying not to pop out.

5. A book that has to use more than 3 pages to list the characters. Unless it's War and Peace, (which I must admit I haven't read, but it sounded good) I don't want to have to refer to a spreadsheet to keep everyone straight. Maybe it's just lazy of me, or maybe it's the fact that everything else in my life is complicated and I don't want my few minutes of spare time to be just as stressful as juggling my family's schedule.

6. Bad guys who are bad... just because. Just because we all know bad guys are e-vil, the fru-its of the de-vil. (So I Married an Ax Murderer reference) Although I could see a really fun humorous book about a bad guy who is just bad because he is supposed to be. Maybe he's a really bad, bad guy. Or maybe he wants to buck the system. Maybe a villian coming of age story...

Hold on just a second. I'm going to go write that down.

*Okay, I'm back.

7. Books that take forever to get into the story. I might give them to chapter three, but if I'm still thinking "So what?" I'm moving on. The time of Moby Dick is gone, people. To quote my brother, "If it's not instant, it's not worth it." Of course, he was talking as a bachelor about food preparation, but I think it sums up the Instant Generation.

8. Characters who change out of the blue. In real life people don't change like that. Of course, if one of the other characters says/thinks something like, "Hmmm. Where did that come from? I wonder what made him change out of the blue?" then that's okay.

So there are some of my pet peeves. I'm sure that I can think of more pet peeves in the future, but the snarky feeling is wearing off. I guess I'll go do dishes. That should bring it back.

Happy reading!


Rebecca Talley said...

Great post. Those things bug me, too.

I hate foul language in any book, but especially in a kids' book. I've thrown away award-winning books because of the foul language.

Katie Parker said...

Books that try to cram too much information into one sentence, especially at the beginning--too many adjectives, vivid verbs, and half the backstory.

Plots that are allowed to keep going only because a character does something completely stupid and out-of-character, or totally misunderstands the situation--not because the plot is otherwise going anywhere.

Good discussion topic, Jamie! I'm sure I could find all kinds of things to gripe about if I kept going. :-)

LC Lewis's "Hear Ye, Hear Ye" said...

Jaime, maybe I'm slightly off topic, but your number four pet peeve reminds me of my Olympics pet peeve. What's up with Women's Beach Volleyball? What sense does it make to dive into itchy, gritty sand in a bikini? Wouldn't a nice pair of biker shorts make more sense? What nimrod found it necessary to ask world class athletes to dive, leap, crouch and dig in the semi-nude? Maybe the Olympic head secretly wants to write a novel about a fur-bikini-ed kick-butt heroine.

Janette Rallison said...

Love your pet peeves! I can breathe a sigh of relief that I haven't done any of them. (Of course I haven't shot anyone with a cannon either--but now I'll consider it.)

Wendy said...

I hate it when the author doesn't describe a character's appearance until half way (or even chapter two) into the book. By then, I've already created the character in my mind and inevitably the description is not the same as my imagined one. It messes up the rest of the book for me. This happened in Cold Sassy Tree with the woman who made the hats. It drove me crazy.
- Wendy Hickman

Danica/Dream said...

Definitely like the list. Luurve the reference to So I Married an Ax Murderer. Did we see that together? I'm starting to go senile.

My #1 pet peeve is if it doesn't have a happy ending. I prefer leaving the bittersweet/depressing endings for real life. There's more than enough of it there.