Friday Fun — Books I Can’t Stand

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Is there any genre of books that you just can’t stand reading? How about a particular author? Time period? 

wendy-shotWendy Thomas – When one is a writer, one needs to tread very gently when being critical of another writer’s book. We have first hand knowledge of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into its birth. I truly hesitate to damn anyone’s work. Having said that, let me say that the books that get under my skin the most are the ones that are:

  • Predictable – saw that ending coming from a mile away
  • Poorly written – repetition, poor dialog, and poor editing
  • Written as a script – seems to be a trend in some genres these days
  • Rushed – some books come out to quickly to appease the market, you can tell that the author was rushed

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I agree with Wendy, it’s difficult to trash a book when you know how much has gone into it, but I also have a hard time with poorly edited books. I love to read so there isn’t any genre I wouldn’t try, but I’m not a big fan of horror fiction. I think Stephen King’s books are well-written but most of them are not my idea of a good time (although I really loved Fire-Starter.) My only really complaint with any book is if the author breaks that unspoken contract with the reader and throws in something you could never have seen coming or turns everything into a dream or uses some other device to force an ending to a story. I can think of an example, but I’d spoil the story if you haven’t read it yet, so I’ll just say–Don’t do that!–when you write your book. 🙂 I won’t either. Promise.


Jamie Wallace: Ooh. Tough question. I’m not a huge fan of certain genres (horror, romance), but that doesn’t mean I detest all books that fall into those categories. I think the only books that I’ve refused to read on principle rather than any personal preference are ones that seem to have been written to exploit something or someone. From tabloidesque “biographies” that expose and sensationalize a celebrity life to coattail-riding copycats who whip up some barely publishable shlock in order to benefit from reader enthusiasm for some particular subject matter or style of story, I just can’t stand books that appear to have been “designed” around capitalizing on someone else’s pain or hard work. As Wendy and Diane have already said, we writers understand what goes into writing a book from the heart. I consider it enormously disrespectful when a faux writer mocks that passionate and Herculean effort by throwing a book together in a slapdash fashion just to make a buck. For shame, for shame.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: As a reviewer, I read all types of books and don’t avoid any in particular. I prefer some genres over others, but no particular one to all-out say I despise. I love time travel stories and futuristic so there’s no time period I avoid.

I won’t finish a book if the editing is poor, no matter how great the story might be. There have been a few times when I’ve been totally enthralled in a novel just to get to the end and have the ENTIRE novel turn out to be a dream and doesn’t at all relate to the protagonist’s life. I feel that’s the laziest way to conclude a book.  It’s a tactic used when plot threads can’t be neatly tied up. I will avoid reading anything again from authors who do that.

Susan Nye: How about … books I steer away from rather than can’t stand. For a writer and avid reader, my list is longer than maybe it should be. Here goes, I have no interest in horror, zombies or sci fi. Likewise, I usually stay away from young adult fiction. I just can’t relate to all that teenage angst. Romance novels don’t do it for me, although, I do like chick lit and romantic stories. In other words, a good love story, tearjerker, girl defies all odds and makes good – yes; but bodice rippers – no.

17 thoughts on “Friday Fun — Books I Can’t Stand

  1. Whether it is a film or a book, I don’t like romantic stories. Especially those with happy endings, they are so predictable and in my eyes giving false hopes and ideas which almost never happened in real life. I tried to read Harry Potter’s series and J.R.R. Tolkien but seems i cannot get a hang of that sort of writings. But I love the movie version
    of Tolkien books particularly the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
    Being an avid fan of horror stories, I adore Stephen King and will buy any of his books off the shelves without even reading the back cover.
    But no one can top the late Edgar Allan Poe. He’s my one true love.
    Dean Koontz and James Patterson are among my favourites and Philippa Gregory for historical novels.
    For the rest I consume great quantity of books in regular basis from Hardy To Dickens, Jane Austen, Virginia Andrews and the Bronte sisters. In short I am a voracious reader.

  2. Such a thought provoking topic for a Friday morning is a good way to prepare for the weekend. As most readers, I’m peevish about poor fundamentals and badly researched pieces. I also have a hard time when fictional characters have names that contain mostly letters from the center to left side of the alphabet – K, Q, V, Z.

  3. Can’t stand is strong language! There are lots of books that don’t interest me, but they would probably interest someone else. I like many kinds of books and read a lot to gain knowledge. In summer when it is stifling hot here in Houston I like escape books. A good adventure or mystery, sometimes classics sometimes from the NYT bestseller list or recommended in the Guardian. I have read some poorly written books and that is painful. I only wish I had more time to read : )

  4. A pet peeve – characters with “yoo-nique” names. If they’re appropriate for that character’s ethnicity, that’s fine. But just because we’re 500 years in the future or something doesn’t mean your characters need to be named “Keehlton” and “Aspertia”. That makes me roll my eyes and assume the character is a Mary Sue/Gary Stu.

    Equally, poor editing is the worst – and that includes grammar *and* “why the heck are these two boring chapters still here?” So are derivative, predictable concepts. I do not restrict myself by genre though, because any genre of book could be entertaining. I don’t have an interest in crime fiction, but I’m sure there are at least a few crime books out there that I’d enjoy.

  5. There are several genres that are not my favorite. -horror – vampire- sci-fi – although I used to be a huge Steven King and Dean Koontz fan I have evolved into others things.

    I can tolerate a few editorial issues if it is a self publish book. Other wise it is slightly irritating to know someone was actually paid to make sure those mistakes were taken care of.

  6. I can’t stand those celebrity memoirs with glamor shots on the cover. 99% of them are probably ghost-written, so not only are the life stories inauthentic because it’s not their *actual* voice, it’s kind of an insult to people who write their own memoirs.

    I don’t want to make a mass generalization about *all* erotic books, as I’m sure there are plenty with well-written plots and characters. But I’m a member of several promotional Facebook groups where some titles and covers really look like they’re selling sex just to make a buck. Not a story. As an author myself, that grieves me.

  7. Great question! I don’t really like books that seem pretentious or have a lot of purple prose. I love clean, well-paced writing that moves fast. I never could the high fantasy genre or genres with a lot of characters and huge info dumps. I just don’t have the patience. It could be a lovely written book but stories really need to capture me and hold my attention span.

  8. As an asexual, I find any books where the romance is the main plot to be very unengaging for me. I especially dislike when I pick up a book which seems to have a different main plot (by the blurb/genre) but goes on to make that a side plot to the romance. I don’t mind believable romance side-plots though.

    As for other genres I prefer medieval fantasy and futuristic science fiction, and don’t pick up others often. However I never feel too disappointed when I do try another genre, I just don’t seek it out.

    I also dislike when a story works to hard to make a happy ending where a bittersweet one makes more sense. I also dislike when a story tells you the rules of the world, then contradicts itself later. Other technical errors I can often ignore but those two bug me most.

  9. During my career, as an electronics technician, most of my time was consumed reading technical manuals. In my spare time, quiet time, I enjoyed reading and writing commentaries on the Bible.
    I have been battling Parkinson’s Disease for the last six years; this affliction is not without its rewards, for it opened up a whole new world to me of reading and writing poetry. So the only critique that I feel qualified to answer is what kind of poems do I dislike.
    The classical style of poetry seems to have taken a backseat to free-form or free verse poetry. Certain free verse poems are on my list of poems that I do not prefer to read, due to the fact, this style of writing is nothing but rap music, venting the discontent of their lives. I do not consider this style of poetry worthy of reading, no matter how much rhythm and rhyme is used it is nothing but literary spiel.

  10. I will never buy pretentious lit — I don’t care how many awards it won or how fast it was on the NYT bs list. These are the books that usually have depressing titles and the blurbs would scare off anyone who wasn’t already 10 fathoms deep in depression. For instance (and I’m making this up):
    The Shed Of The Screaming Children, or some similar title. Check the bestsellers for the past few years and you will see what I mean.

    I just can’t get excited about stories that delve deep into pain, anquish, abuse, serial killers, etc.

    In light of that, I prefer stories that take me away to a better place and has a romance/love story involved. I can get the depressing stuff on the news, I want happy, so-in-love-they-can’t-see-straight novels.

    Oh, and I can’t stand Chic Lit with all of those glamorous twenty-somethings fighting their way into the hearts of men they will more than likely despise at the end of the book.

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