In the July 2021 Newsletter, I asked readers for their pet peeves when it comes to reading.

Many of you appreciated the opportunity to vent. Here were the responses:

Susan: Authors sometimes seem to feel the need to explain the character’s surroundings in excruciating and unnecessary detail. Stephen King sometimes does that. I don’t need to visualize each blade of grass slowly swaying around a rock on a hill just outside the valley… Well, you get the idea. Seriously, though, there are a billion books out there waiting for me to read them, and I’m only going to live for so long. Get on with it!!

Christine: How about when an author just mails it in. I just read Double Jeopardy by Stuart Woods. I mean I know that Stuart Woods is not writing great literature but this book was a joke. The story jumped around and was really lame. I usually enjoy reading the Stuart Woods books as they are a quick read.

I have had this happen with some other authors where I felt they just mailed it in so I stopped reading anything else they wrote.

Patricia: Quotation marks missing! Why do some books completely ignore the use of quotation marks? Surely these little marks do not cause the publisher to add extra pages to a book? Or do publishers have to pay the typesetter for each key stroke? I like my quotation marks and I miss them.
Katrina: I read mostly mysteries and thrillers. My pet peeve is the overuse of certain words.

Recently, I read a legal thriller (good book), but the word ‘palpable’ was used 9 times! Thesaurus needed.

Ayesha: My pet peeve is when a book leaves you with more questions than answers (& not the “what happens next…” type of ending, but irritating loose ends that were brought up and abandoned). I also hate when a book dwindles out before the end or a series never gets around to being finished (no prizes for guessing which big name is guilty of that 😅)

Kenicia: My pet peeve is when certain things are never explained or discovered in a book. I suppose the author may plan to tell in a later book, but for whatever reason, another book doesn’t materialize. However, it drives me crazy. In one book, a woman was expecting a baby, and readers are left wondering if all goes well. In another book, the author left me wondering which suitor the heroine chose to marry. In one series, the main character had a limp. He used a cane, but readers never learned how the limp came to be.

I like loose ends, even ones not central to the plot, to be tied up. That’s what I like so much about The Count of Monte Cristo. I felt that every event that occurred in the book had a purpose.

Mildred: Thank you for asking this question! When I consider my pet peeve concerning books, the onus goes to some patrons who borrow books from the library. Rarely do I encounter a book, whether a hard copy or paperback, that doesn’t have corners of the pages bent back. This really infuriates me. Why is it so difficult for a reader to just use a book marker, then resort to this obnoxious habit? There is just no excuse for this, as everyone has access to at least a scrap of paper to mark one’s place. I personally prefer the small magnetic ones that I usually find in local resort shops when vacationing, usually looking for one depicting a scene from that particular area.They also come in a very wide variety of themes and subjects. Book stores also carry a supply of them. At times, when I receive a greeting card that has a particularly appealing illustration to me, I cut a strip out, trim it and use it for a book marker. To repeat myself, there is just no excuse for this nasty, selfish habit. If one cannot resist folding back edges, buy your own copy and fold away; do not damage what isn’t yours.

Patricia S: My pet peeve is when it’s hard to figure out how some names, especially first names, are pronounced. It ruins the sentence flow each time you pause to figure out the pronunciation.

Patricia: Your pet peeves is identical to my peeves only I have one more. Mine is when a good book ends!

Nancy: My biggest peeve that is sometimes a deal breaker for me is when: An author uses the same phrase over and over; ie. “she just wanted to hide her head in her hands.” When that shows up five or six times in one book it makes me think the author has six people writing chapters for him/her or else there is no one proofing the work.

One time I downloaded a digital copy in order to search for key phrases to make sure I wasn’t imagining it.

Judy: A pet peeve of by mine is overuse of superlatives, such as “always”, “ everyone” and “never”. Danielle Steel is among the most notorious for this.

Judi: I’m glad you asked about book pet peeves and I so agree with what you said about character names being too similar to each other. If only authors would read their work out loud they would probably hear it for themselves. In an otherwise very good book the last name of one of the major characters was almost exactly the same as the name of the city where the story was taking place. And no, it wasn’t a case of the city being named for the character’s family.

My other pet peeve is when the author puts in stupid things. A historical story, written by someone who evidently had done a lot of research still had her characters sitting on hay bales. In 1780! Hello! Is there no one to catch such things? Compounding that error in the next 2 books written by that same author still had characters sitting on those hay bales. She also had a toddler playing on the rug with his toy truck. I’m guessing it was an old-timey truck.

greg: I know this is rather trivial, but I have never liked it when the author’s name is bigger than the book title on the cover.

Claire: Most of my pet peeves when it comes to books isn’t content related. I simply can’t stand dog-eared pages, and loathe creases in the spines of paperback books. I also don’t appreciate it when the dust cover is used as a bookmark. As for content, well, I get frustrated when it takes more than 25% of the book to get to the “hook.” I’m currently reading A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe and it’s just so long winded that nothing happened until the 36% mark. Ughh!

Hi Graeme. I’ve mentioned before that I hate when a book series perennially teases a potential relationship between two characters. I understand that the writer wants to build tension but when very little progress is made between the characters, it’s frustrating and not fun to read about. For instance, in the Gaslight series by Victoria Thompson, the two main characters are always just about to connect as people and grow closer and bam, the story ends. The next book in the series builds and builds throughout the book and, just as you think the two people will finally connect as a couple, the story ends again, with very little action to show for it. I ultimately gave up reading the series because I felt so manipulated. This problem never occurs with Diana Gabaldon’s books–the characters grow and connect and the reader never loses interest, even though the two people are a couple and, seemingly, boring (but not really!).

Angela: I read a series which I don’t recall the author of, where the same 2 last names were used in following books! Seems like there are enough names to use without repetition!

Rosaria: I have a pet peeve , but it’s with the reader not the author. I get very upset when a reader folds back the corner to save their place, instead of using a book marker!!

Martha: My pet peeve is reading a book and finding out at the end of the book that the entire plot was a “dream” and didn’t really happen! The TV series Dallas did this one year and I gave up on nighttime soaps (which was probably a good outcome). One of Mary Kubica’s books used this plot and I’ve almost given up on reading more of her books, even though she is a local author from my hometown in Plainfield, IL.

Mark: My pet peeve is not author related but as a big user of our local library system, it relates to that.

When readying your library books put away the cheese puffs, eating pasta with sauce, overflowing coffee cups and if outdoors reading, please remove any lingering insects from the binding. It is always frustrating to turn a page and reveal a big splotch of something mysterious. I know I could avoid this with ebooks but for those of us that like the printed material, please be considerate of the next reader.

Lisa: I always love reading your suggestions! I’ve only read Mary Kubica’s most recent book, Local Woman Missing. It was fantastic. It grabbed my attention from the first page and kept it through the whole book. There were definite surprises and twists along the way.

My book pet peeve is editing. There will always be a thing or two that gets by the editor. But when there are a lot of grammatical errors, duplicate passages, and the like, that really bothers me. This mostly happens on e-books.

Katy: My pet peeve are typos – especially in ‘self-published books.’ Doesn’t anyone at those companies edit what they are publishing.

My favorite ones lately:
‘… when we got to the hotel we just through the suitcases on the bed.”
In describing someone well built, “he had nice big mussels.”

And even in some of the major publishers’ books I find missing words, duplicated words or mis-spelled words.

Christina: You asked about pet peeves in books, and I have a couple. First, I struggle with books wherein the author chooses to forego grammatical conventions. Both Mantel and McCarthy annoyed the heck out of me by refusing to use quotation marks. Mantel often just used “he” when she had several men in conversation, and it became so difficult for me to follow that I didn’t bother with the third book in her series.

Second is what I call “not playing fair,” although it could be called “The Lady or the Tiger” plotting. The best example I can think of is My Sister’s Keeper. Picoult sets up an amazing problem about one child being basically “used for parts” to save a critically ill sister until she decides to sue her parents to stop them from taking a kidney which would ruin her prospects for playing a sport she loves. It’s just riveting, and as a reader I felt pulled into all the sides of the argument. But instead of actually solving the problem and talking about repercussions, Picoult simply kills the “for parts” sister in an auto accident. When something like that happens, I feel absolutely cheated. I feel the same way when my Kindle tells me I have x number of pages left in a book but then discover that many of those pages contain reviews or previews of the next in the series. I turn the page and poof–it’s the end!

And I’ll add yet another peeve: An author who takes forever to write the next book in a series and then doesn’t give enough information for me to remember what’s happened. There have obviously been many, many books since I read the last installment of THIS series, and yet I’m expected to reread or remember plot details. Annoying, indeed.

Brian: Present continuous tense!! I find it astoundingly annoying and overwhelmingly pretentious-albeit, curiously, with the exception of “The Last Policeman” trilogy, by Ben H. Winters, which I devoured.
Quote from Wikipedia … “The Last Policeman is a 2012 American science fiction mystery novel by Ben H. Winters. It follows a police detective in New Hampshire as he investigates a suicide he believes was really a murder. His efforts are complicated by the social, political and economic effects of preparations for, and anticipation of, an asteroid impact six months in the future.”

Also, series books in which the characters and/or events of earlier books are recounted in a block by one character to another, rather than being subtly woven into the plot-very lazy writing!

I agree with you about too much concentrated detail, as in your critique of “Time and Again”-I love S.M. Stirling’s Change series, but every time I re-read it I find myself skipping great chunks of “local color”, interminable descriptions of feasts, and so on!!

Bonnie: Hello again!

I’m finding that some of the newer books that I’m reading have not been properly edited for punctuation and grammar. The most common error is the placement of commas where they’re not needed. I was taught that they should be placed to avoid confusion or to offset a phrase.

For example:
The mangy, brown dog ran down the street.
The large, yellow house was in a nutshell a dump.

Last year I found an author on Kindle Unlimited who had recently begun writing a series and the first three books had been published. Unfortunately, the first page of the first book had fifteen unnecessary commas. Many of us who read several books a week are familiar with the rules of grammar and punctuation and have a hard time reading a book that’s poorly written. I am no exception. I skimmed the first chapter and found that I was too distracted to continue. His email address was at the end of the book, so I very tactfully mentioned that perhaps he had not read it before publication and as a result had not seen the errors. He replied that his friends had done the editing. I thought that my comments would make a difference but when I downloaded the fifth book it was obvious he used the same editors.

As always, it’s a pleasure to be able to write to you and I often read the books you recommend. Thank you for sharing how you got started.

By the way, I read this message several times to make sure that it had no grammar or punctuation errors.

Lisa: I always love reading your suggestions! I’ve only read Mary Kubica’s most recent book, Local Woman Missing. It was fantastic. It grabbed my attention from the first page and kept it through the whole book. There were definite surprises and twists along the way.

My book pet peeve is editing. There will always be a thing or two that gets by the editor. But when there are a lot of grammatical errors, duplicate passages, and the like, that really bothers me. This mostly happens on e-books.

Thank you for all your time and effort into making this valuable resource available to us!

Leslie K: Pet peeve…poor editing of the printed material…wrong word used, lack of punctuation, misspelled words, extra words or duplicate word, words not arranged correctly in a sentence. These errors disrupt the flow of the material which tends to disengage my mind from the storyline.

Karen: I absolutely hate when an author leaves the reader with a great big stunning cliff hanger. I mean really, to me it’s just a cheap ploy to sell the next book. I understand that in a series the continuing storyline will sometimes be left unresolved, but major cliffhangers are just not nice and I have occasionally stopped reading an author that I had really liked because of unfortunate cliffhangers.

The other pet peeve for me is to throw the death of a major character into a book. Color me shallow, but I don’t enjoy extreme violence or death in a book when I’m not expecting it from a favorite author. A very well know, very successful, very prolific author had one of the semi-major characters tortured in such a horrific manner that his friend had to snap his neck to release him from the results of the torture. She also killed off the major character. This author was never violence free, but the level achieved in this book just soured me on her, and I’d already bought many, many of her books and really enjoyed them. This was not something I ever expected from her.

Cheryl: I also find the naming issue an irritant when reading. Sometimes I actually have to write down the characters and how they are related to track them in the book. Might be my age but maybe not.

The other issue I have is when an author slips in a political issue just to seem relevant. If they want to include political\social issues then make it a real part of the story. CJ Box does a good job of including political/social issues as a very real part of the story. He isn’t often heavy handed expressing his ‘side’ of the issue either. I read for enjoyment. If I wanted to get bashed over the head about politics I would stick with the news sites.

willie: my pet peeve, i get books from libary, sometimes people put paper clips in boocoup pages leaving mark. eat food smudge books,tearpages etc.. books are like bible special. win get from labary should treat same.

Toni: This is really a petty pet peeves but-I really hate when authors write series but the next book is along time coming. Even a year is too long. I try not to start series at the beginning. I like it to be a few books in. It’s even worse when they end on a cliff hanger! Amelia Hutchins cranks books out like a beast but I sure do appreciate not having to wait until the next year to continue the story. I get that it isn’t necessarily their fault-but it is my pet peeve. I also hate it when a book comes out but the audio version is a few months behind! Love authors who release across all platforms on the same day!

Laurie: I think I have mentioned this pet peeve previously. Book covers that don’t show the fronts/faces of women. If there is a female protagonist (or protagonists) the cover will invariably be a scene of them walking away or facing away from you. They also don’t often show them in action, unless they are in danger and running in fear. Mostly in decorative poses. Aggravating as heck.

Kathy: My pet peeve is when an author introduces so many characters right at the beginning of the book that you have to keep going back to see who was who, because you weren’t familiar with the character names yet.

kat: so i guess my pet peeve right now is books that wont load easy on kindle since i dont want to touch or bring paper books from the library into the house and i dont buy books

Karen: My biggest pet peeve in a book is bad editing. Editing errors really take me out of the story. One book I read had over 25 spelling/usage errors. If the author doesn’t care enough about their work, why should I bother to read it? To me, an author spends so much time writing the book, why not spend just as much time checking it over?

Jennifer: When each book in a trilogy (or however many books there are) cannot stand alone. That is, individual books are incomplete without reading the rest of them. Feels like a rip-off.

Too much jumping back and forth in time. This is becoming more and more popular and unless handled very skillfully, it can be quite confusing.

Jayme: Reissue of an old book with a new title.

Jacki:Had to laugh when I read this month’s question under the thoughts for next newsletter!
What pet peeves do you have when it comes to books? What really sticks in your craw?
I was just thinking that very same thing after reading a couple books by the same author. My issue is when there are so many characters in a book that you can’t remember exactly who they are, their relevance, etc., and have to keep flipping to the beginning of the book, where the characters are listed, to remember who they are in the book and how they are related to everything. The book I’m reading now literally has 34 characters under 5 headings! On a positive note, at least there’s a place to refer back to when trying to remember who everyone is

Edith: When publishers use only spellcheck to proofread. Especially, when word or words used are not remotely related or correct.

Christina: How ironic that you ask this question. I agree with what you had written, and until this moment that was my only pet peeve, but last night I just finished a book that made it seem like it had a good ending and what you would have wanted to have happen, but at the last second a total twist and the main character was actually dead. So my pet peeve would be when you are totally disappointed with how the book ends.
Have a good one!

Caron: · When the author writes in reverse time then regular time…maybe meeting in the middle…who knows-hate this

· Overlong chapters…come on I rarely get to read more than 10 minutes at a time

· If you are going to create a world, give us a map!

· Authors need to fill in for our lack of senses when those details are important-please describe that ocean as more than “deep blue”

Fran: Pet peave… the book is 400-500 pages long, the plot developes at good rate, great plot, super characters, get sucked in, can’t put it down, climax builds and builds, you know the end is coming, then…it winds up in two pages! After 25-30 pages of buildup all you get is two lousy pages to end the book!! “Yup, Bob did it. Yup, okay, baby’s safe. Let’s go get a beer.” WHAAAT????Stephen King has super short endings.. I don’t read him anymore. Thx for the vent

Andy: My pet peeves in books – yes, “peeves” because I have two that are both at the top of the list. First, is when someone solves a mystery or problem with information which was never mentioned, suggested, alluded to, or even hinted at in any way to the reader. Yes, Sherlock Holmes is known for having rare or even unique information, however I’m referring to the cheap shot of springing something on the reader which should’ve been revealed during the investigation. Good authors lay hints and suggestions which leave us wondering, and I love an author that leads me down the primrose path only to show how wrong I was at the end for misreading the clues.

My other pet peeve is incomplete editing by either the author or editorial staff so inconsistencies creep in. I just finished a story where a character dropped her rain-soaked cloak, only to wrap herself dramatically in said (dry?) cloak moments later. Such blatant errors bounce me rudely right out of the story at what may otherwise be an engrossing moment.

Thanks for your missives, really enjoy seeing them land in my inbox!

Jeremy: As it happens, my current pet peeve concerning books is the same as you have – critical characters in a story whose names are close to identical. That is happening to me to an extent at the moment reading G R Jordan’s Highlands and Islands Detective Thrillers – otherwise greatly recommended, by the way. Closely followed by authors who use first names for their characters for long parts of the book, and then change to using only their surnames.

Haha you strike a nerve with the pet peeve thing! I also dislike when authors use similar names for main characters. Like you said, there are millions of names out there!

But my super, chronic irritation is when authors use words wrongly. For instance, Dan Brown absolutely ruined “sensed” for me. Many years ago I read ‘The DaVinci Code’ and, while it was a good book, he used sensed wrong. So many times when a character ACTUALLY would have heard or thought or felt something, he said they ‘sensed it’ instead. Then I tried to read another book of his, I forget which one, maybe Angels and Demons? Anyway THAT book had ‘sensed’ in almost every other sentence, and used wrongly. I could not even read the book I was so incensed (haha) by this. And I have never tried to read another of his books. Now, probably 20 years later, I still have PTSD about that word and if any author uses it I immediately check the context to see if it is appropriate! Usually it is, as long as the author is not Dan Brown!

Louise: Pet peeve? So you’re reading a series (which everything seems to be these days). You finish book 1 and start book 2 which references things that have already happened, and you have NO idea how they got there. For example: in book 1 boy meets girl. They show a little interest in each other, but you don’t get the idea it’s anything special. In book 2 they are dating exclusively! When did that happen?? No continuity. Annoys me no end. I can’t read an author’s mind. When I run across books like that, it’s safe to say I don’t finish the series. 🙂

Vicki: I have many pet peeves that I usually ignore and keep reading. But I hate when a book builds up, then falls apart. I just finished Lisa Jewell’s Then She Was Gone. In the last third it fell apart and was predictable. There was one twist that could have happened, but didn’t. The suspense in the first part built well. As she added narrative voices, though, it started getting lost in itself.

I chuckled when you talked about standing in the new book room counting all the books you have already read. I do the same. When the PBS series on the Great American Read was aired a couple years ago, my friends teased me, asking how many of them I’d read. It was almost 2/3 of them. Then, as with any list I read, I read a few more.

I hope I find my missing newsletter. Thanks for sending this. I recommend this site all the time.

Tom: Hello…I guess I got used to shorter stories reading Western PB’s over the last 3 decades. Seems like many books are longer and could be shortened by 1/3 and still present a good story. As I age into my 70’s, I feel like I don’t have time for much more than a 300 page book. Perhaps some sort of speed reading course should be taught in high schools…it could replace Video Games 101

Teresa: My pet peeve is authors that have started numbering books in a series, 5.5, etc. The other day there was one that had a 5.5, 5.6, 5.7!! What the heck!! Just go with number 6, 7, 8,It was bad enough when you are half way through the series and they come up with a .5, a prequel, they call it. I don’t understand this. And it drives me crazy. I have decided that I am not reading them. That’s me being a rebel and taking my stand! (Even if I did have nightmares about missing vital details about the entire series!!!)

Sven: Pet Peeve: authors who start a series and then stop, Sam Eastland, Jason Matthews, and Jeffery Burdett

Shirley: When the female protagonist is captured or put in jeopardy by the villain 95% of the time. Can’t an author have a female protagonist be intelligent enough to capture the villain without being put in jeopardy.

Rachael: Names are a big one for me too. It’s very annoying when a main character has a strangely spelled or pronounced name. It interrupts my reading flow, like an optical stutter.

I’m also getting really tired of the alcoholic detective who drinks because his wife died in an accident that turns out wasn’t actually an accident. Why do authors keep writing this same series?!? Or the nagging wife trope who rags on the detective for putting himself in danger. Ugh. Those have just been done so many times and I’m completely over it.

Whew! Thanks for giving me a chance to vent. I love this newsletter and really appreciate the time and effort you put into it.

Phoenix: Good morning Graeme. It’s always nice to start the month off with your newsletter.

This month you asked about our pet peeves when it comes to books. That’s easy. I HATE books that don’t have an ending. Now, I understand that the author wants you to purchase the next book in the series, but I am far more likely to throw the book across the room and never read that author again. If I’m going to invest my time, probably hours, reading, then I want the book to have a satisfying ending, even if it’s not a happy one.

Okay, look at the Mitford series by Jan Karon, for example. Or Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Or the Sister Frivesse mysteries by Margaret Frazer. Each and every one of these books have an ending that leaves you wanting more and waiting for the next book, but the ending of each book is still an ending. You know there is more to come, and you kind of enjoy the anticipation, but you’re satisfied with how the current book ended. Books that just leave you hanging at the end make me crazy.

Another one, and I know this may sound petty, but for the love of all that’s holy, DON’T KILL THE DOG! If I know the dog is going to die at the end of the book, I probably won’t read it no matter how good the book itself is.

My favorite endings are happy ones, of course. But sometimes, even though the ending is not what I’d call a happy one, at least it is satisfying. The good guy comes out on top. The bad guy gets his comeuppance, in one form or another. The dog definitely lives.

I also like to know just who is speaking. Sometimes conversations go on for so long, I have to go back to read a passage to figure out who said what.

Can we talk about physical books for a minute? Yeah, I know printing books cost money, but for heaven’s sake, can you please make the type large enough for a person with normal eyesight to read the darn thing? I didn’t read Outlander for years because when I got the book from the library, the print was so small I couldn’t read it. I took it back. But then, I got a DEAL from the-company-who-shall-not-be-named for ALL 7 books (at that time) in the series on my e-reader for practically nothing. I snapped that up, increased the font size, and happily read all of them, one right after the other.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent! Happy reading!

Paul: My pet peeve is with authors that put there main characters into absolutely impossible situations and then a miracle happens to pull them out of the fire. This just seems so unrelated with reality or believability. There have been a couple of stories I quit reading ( and anything else written by the author) because the situations the characters survived were so unbelievable.

Bob: I get irritated when an author lays out every possible option a character might choose when in a tough spot… even though most of them are merely space fillers in the book. An author must think through lots of possible choices for their characters to make, but readers don’t need to see them all via a clunky writing style.
Neil Stephenson is one of the worst for this. He needs to find an editor willing to stand up to him

Nancy: 3 pet peeves here: first is when there are so many characters and
their relations introduced in the first few pages I know I won’t be
able to keep them straight as I read the story! Second, (and related
to the first) is before the book/story starts there is a 3 to 5 page
listing of characters that will appear in the story. For example “The
Henna Artist” I couldn’t get past the many, many pages of names before
the story actually started. And finally is an over abundant
description of a trivial scene in the first chapter. I don’t need
fifteen pages to tell me someone is taking a walk through the woods!
Btw, love your newsletter!

Mark: -I have the same one you do, about characters who can be confused because of having similar names. You *definitely* don’t want to read Joanna Russ’ novel “The Female Man.” It follows four parallel stories, in which the four protagonists are named Joanna, Jeannine, Janet, and Jael! Pretty good book, but hard to follow at times.

Max: You asked “What are my pet peeves?” regarding books. Well, I have two such complaints. The first is when an author provides a lot of explanatory background material about the characters that has no direct bearing on the story. “Sally had done this” or “Sam used to be that.” I really don’t like to be told this stuff! Typically, it is extraneous and just wastes space; usually I don’t care; and if it turns out to be important I would prefer to figure it out myself! Boring background material is probably the main reason I give up on an author. (A simple example: How many times has Brad Thor told us why Scot Harvath is called Norseman?? Ack!)
The second annoyance has nothing to do with the author, but with book reviews on a paperback’s back cover. So many “reviews” just mindlessly recite the book’s plot, often riight up to the end. Stop that! Potential book reviewers should learn that you can review a novel without revealing the story or plot. Because of this I no longer even glance at the back cover when I pick up a paperback.
Graeme, keep up the good work!

Maureen: Authors who do not respect the intelligence of their readers. With each new addition to a series, they feel they must retell the background of every individual. Honestly, if we like a book, most of us enjoy finding a new series and love to start at the beginning.

Tonya: Pet peeves. It’s not so much about what’s in the book but the book covers that get to me. What is it about all of these books now a days that have the person facing away from you, or walking away. It doesn’t make your book stand out, it’s not original, it’s just following what everyone else is doing and making them just blend in together.

Linda: I tried to think of pet peeves while reading books, but could not come up with any really good ones. i just enjoy almost everything about a book as the author has written it. I sometimes do not like the ending, but I have to realize that it is the author’s book not mine. There is one thing I do not like and it is overly descriptive books. There was one I read recently that I can’t remember the name, but it kept talking about the landscape of the state over and over. I get bored with descriptions and just skip over it sometimes. I just want to get to the punchline and don’t so much care about how I got there. Reading is one of my favorite pass times. I did just finish the Eddie Flynn series and think he is one of the best characters ever. Can’t wait for the next one. I have read the Forstchen first 2 books and just ordered the third. I did not realize there was a third. I loved the first two . They were excellent. Thanks again for a great newsletter and some new choices.

Joyce: I guess my biggest ‘pet peeve’ is when an author goes overboard introducing new characters that end up having nothing to add to the story. There have been times when I was interested in the plot but got so frustrated with the seemingly endless addition of players that I have put the book aside. On the other hand, I love a good family saga and have found myself creating a family tree to keep up with everyone. In my mind, a novel has to be VERY good for me to deal with an overload of characters. I read for enjoyment and am quick to put a book aside when it becomes a chore.

Joy: It upsets me when I loan my books to another reader and they come back dog-eared.

I have run across so many authors who use poor grammar. It is apparent they fail to teach Grammar in schools. Misspelled words I can understand but good sentence structure and use of commas correctly is my pet peeve.

Katy: Have been looking for books that make me laugh, lift my spirits, etc.
Good Eggs was described as hysterical, fun, lots of laughs. I read about a third of it and only ran into dysfunctional family members who treated each other meanly, dishonestly, sadly. What were the reviewers thinking? I guess I just have a different definition of “funny.”

Janice: I love historical fiction (among many other genres), which so often inspired by actual people or events that have unexpected relevance to our lives today. My pet peeve is when an author does not include an afterward explaining where s/he/they departed from the known facts to make a better story. The best authors usually do, particularly when the story’s focus is exploring an historical mystery or controversy-so this is not an unreasonable expectation on my part.

Irene: I’m just finishing the “PREY” series by John Sandford, RELUCTANTLY.

He changed his Lucas Davenport character from a homicide detective, to a state policeman, to having no job, to being a US Marshall, to working for politicians in Washington DC!!!! He got rid of all his friends in the police force and has him working with others that we, as fans, have no idea who they are and are not engaged with. All his friends and co-workers that we enjoyed and came to love are just gone. He got us engaged with these characters and just eliminated them. NOT HAPPY.
Why do authors change so much about their characters? Now I’m lost and just reading to see what happens and not for enjoyment. I’m really glad that I got these books through the library and didn’t spend money on them or I would be really angry. Now I’m just disappointed!
Thanks for letting me vent.

Ginny: I, too, get frustrated when authors make similar name choices. Or if they introduce way too many characters to keep them straight. Or, I recently read a book that had only two main characters whose stories were told in alternating segments – but the segments were not identified as such, so part of the time I would get several pages into a segment and find out that it was about the other character (not the one I was thinking that segment was from).

I dislike any book that contains cruelty to animals, especially if the cruelty is not really part of the plot, but is just used to show how bad the bad guy is (we already know he’s a bad guy!), or if it is just used gratuitously for dramatic effect (and wasn’t really necessary to the plot).

Also, for no good reason that I can think of, I dislike walking books – books where the main character is just walking and walking. It doesn’t fix it for me that there is a surprise ending; too much walking for me to care what the ending is! (It took me forever to finish The Red Badge of Courage, and I DNF Cold Mountain.)

I don’t think I have ever liked any book where the Devil is a main character. (I could not even read The Book Thief, a book which by all accounts I should love.)

Oh, yeah, one more thing. I dislike whodunit books where the author withholds information about who the killer is, and reveals it at the end, and there were no clues whatsoever along the way (Agatha Christie comes to mind . . .)

Lon: My biggest peeve has always been the great read( especially a Thriller, or Suspense) that takes you to that point where you cannot put the book down, then the story just ends because the author couldn’t come up with a really good conclusion. Happens more than it should.

Sharon: My pet peeve when it comes to books is when the author writes in the present tense rather than the past tense. For instance, the author might write “I go to the library and see her standing at the entrance,” instead of “I went to the library and saw her standing at the entrance.” To me it is very distracting, and for years I would refuse to read a book written in the present tense. Just reading the first sentence was enough to quit on the book. Finally, I realized I was missing out on some good books, and relaxed my rule. But I still don’t like it!

Nancy: One of my pet peeves in books (& in movies, TV etc) is unnecessary sexual escapades & vulgar language; for me a little goes a long way, & most if it does absolutely nothing to further the plot or make the story more interesting, IMHO.

The other is authors who write a book “inspired by” classic literature, like the many iterations of Pride and Prejudice, some of which are absolutely awful. Can’t they come up with their own ideas? It reminds me of Disney movies done as Broadway shows, just an easy way to make money from something already done, and almost always done better in its original form.

Ha, I probably sound like a crabby old lady, but that is a rather apt description

Jak: Really enjoy your monthly newsletters! This one has given me 4 or 5 new authors to check out.
Also, on books that really irk me are ones that constantly use the phrase: : “Acutely aware”
I loathe that 🙁 and as you’ve already mentioned, stories with characters names with the same letter
or sounding very close together. Can’t remember the one I read, but there were 4 main characters
and all the names started with S, not sure, but like Susan, Sam, Sally and Scott. Argh . . .

Laura: My pet peeve is borrowing a book from the library and finding someone has corrected typos, in ink!

Kathie: It may be the former English teacher in me, but it really bugs me when something obvious is missed in the proofreading. For instance, I just finished a book where the main character was so tired, she fell into bed with her clothes and shoes still on. Then there’s a knock on the door and she jumps up and puts on her robe and slippers to see who it is. If she’s fully clothes, why the need for a robe? And slippers over her shoes? Someone missed something which to me was quite obvious.

CR: My pet peeve is you read a great book, intense all throughout and then the end is lame as if the author just wanted to end it, exmple Kite Runner. I found the end disappointing

Caroline: I guess my pet peeve with books is rather common to many readers which is, I really hate it when they leave you hanging at the end with a lot of loose ends and unresolved issues. Seems to me it’s “not so clever” ploy to get the reader to buy the next book in the series.

Audrey: Hi Graeme! Great newsletter as always. I am always so pleased to see one in my Inbox!

I am with you on the ‘similar name’ pet peeve. A book with many characters is always challenging, and giving them similar names — when there are thousands of possible names! — really bugs me. (Same thing with movies where multiple characters look really similar .. like, how many middle aged, dark-haired guys with beards am I supposed to distinguish?!)

Alice: Hi, responding to pet peeves: poorly or carelessly edited books (more prevalent with e-books) drive me a little crazy. I don’t expect perfection. Missing letters, wrong tenses, double words or sentences, misspelled or similar but incorrect words, missing or added endings, half a sentence dropped, these things happen. But after 6 or 7, and we’re not out of the first chapter yet, I’m no longer really reading the book. The flow has been interrupted. I’m waiting for, looking for the next error and counting them. This happened with one of my favorite authors 4 or 5 books ago. It was the first time I gave him less than a 4 or 5 rating and let him know why. The next book was dramatically improved and I haven’t seen any serious errors since but on some level, I’m still looking.

PS, I like your newsletter. Even when I don’t intend to read it, I always end up reading the whole thing.

AJ: I absolutely LOVE what you did with both the charity suggestions last month and your response to the hateful replies!! As a pediatrician I am often the first contact for a teen who feels “different” in either gender or sexuality and so many of them just need to hear that they are perfect just how and who they are. Thanks for doing that.
On to the question: My greatest pet peeve is a form of error – when an author accidentally uses the wrong name in a section, or uses one character’s first name and another character’s last name. Usually you can tell which character is meant by the context, but it pulls me out of the story. It reminds me none of it is real and is just someone’s imagination – what a bummer when you really think you are living in that world while reading.
My other pet peeve is author’s who spend pages detailing a character’s thoughts, when I got the point in the first two paragraphs. This has happened with Stephanie Laurens, and while I love her characters, I can no longer read her books because of the continuous overwrought pages of inner thoughts.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Pet Peeves

One Response to “Reader Mailbag: Pet Peeves”

  1. Martha Zalka: 3 years ago

    My pet peeve is an author who compares their writings to another to try to sell more books. Last year one was on face book all the time compare to Janet Evanovich, bought the book and no way was that true. Three of us read the book and no one could read more than a third of the book.


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