Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Salon: Things That Make You Put a Book Back on the Shelf

I haven't been shy about the things that attract me to books, those things that go a long way towards guaranteeing that a book comes home with me from the bookstore. And since I'm a pushover, that list is fairly long.  (Have you publishers taken note of all my wallet-opening triggers yet?)  But what about the things that turn me away from a book? We each have things that make us wrinkle our noses, shake our heads in dejection, and regretfully push a book back on the shelf to wait for someone who doesn't hold our prejudices. I'm not talking about what cover treatments turn you off since you don't even give those a second glance (at least I don't) or about which genres or types of books you avoid at all costs. I mean the little things that pop out at you after you've already been intrigued enough by the cover or the title or the author to pick the book up and seriously consider reading it (or in my case adding it to my appallingly large and as yet still unread collection).

I loathe animals narrating books. From way back when I first read Watership Down and Animal Farm, I have not only not loved anthropomorphic animal stories but have actively disliked them. People can rave all they want about the latest dog-narrated tale, but I am putting that book back on the shelf the second I see Fido telling the story.

Sometimes I enjoy sitting down with a romance but if it's a romance with children, I am dropping that book like a hot potato. I have enough children in my own life that I do not appreciate cute, precocious children romping through the pages of my story. And if they have a hand in getting the couple together, well, just ::gag::.

If I pick up a book and the word thriller or psychological is included in the jacket copy or in the blurbs, it can't go back on the shelf fast enough. Some of this is because I am a coward and thriller seems to be code word for mildly scary but some of this is because I have yet to really like anything breathlessly described in this fashion.

I once belonged to a book club that would reject any book that was touted as an "international bestseller." Experience showed that these books were always destined for failure in that particular group. And I have to admit that I have picked up a mild case of this prejudice too although I have a slightly better track record for success with these books than the group as a whole did.

More often than not, I will return a book to the shelf if it is set immediately preceding, during, or immediately following the Civil War. There just seems to be so much dirt and horror involved in this period of history. And speaking of historical turn-offs for me, I don't like medieval set tales. Again with the dirt and filth. Apparently I want time periods where authors don't feel compelled to mention the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of their characters as a way to authenticate their time period.

Throw the words politics or political intrigue into jacket copy and I envision reading an extended version of election year political ads. This is no way to spend your free time, in my opinion.

I'm probably missing a few things that cause an immediate push back onto the shelf, but because I am generally so easily persuaded where buying books is concerned, I had to think quite hard to come up with these. What about you? Are there triggers that automatically disqualify a book from going home with you too?


  1. I had to laugh a couple of times as I read your post...especially when you talked about animal narrations or "precocious children romping through the pages."

    I don't like books of either of these types, and I especially dislike family stories with disturbingly annoying teenagers...LOL


    1. For me, it's drugs. If a main character is doing drugs (especially with needles), I'm gone. Even if they are fondly remembering good trips, it's a huge turn-off. The funny thing is that in real life I'm much less judgmental.

  2. Lots of pet peeves. No horror. No romance. Nothing self published. Heart warming is a definite no-no; my heart is warm enough, thank you. Surprise me, please.

  3. I don't like when there are too many characters.

    GREAT post...great question and great answer.

    THANKS for bringing this up.


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  5. I have the same reaction to "thriller" but I think it's mostly because I'm a coward. Animal-narrated books, though, are one of my favourites (as you may know).

    Vive the differences in taste: they're what make the book industry world go 'round ;-)

  6. I enjoyed reading your post. It is great that you have definite opinions. I tend to agree with most of yours, but hadn't actually thought about it to the same extent.

  7. I am so with you in romances with children. That is a special subgroup of people that like that, I imagine, because I have read several other bloggers complaining about those as well. It's just kind of...icky. I don't like those movies either.

    I do like the medieval period, but I am less interested in the Civil War or either World War or the Vietnam War. I just am so over these time periods. I don't find these wars particularly interesting in any way.

    I can't remember the last time I picked up a book with an animal narrating it. Probably because I don't tend to gravitate toward them myself!

  8. I hadn't given a lot of thought to why I don't choose a particular book. But I am going to give it some thought and see if I have a different or same list as yours. Interesting!

  9. I don't care for political, financial, or legal thrillers, usually, but I've gotten more open-minded since becoming a librarian, and have read a few in these categories that I thought were good. However, I still haven't read The Art of Fielding despite being told over and over that it's not "really" about baseball!

  10. I have triggers as well... no politics, no war (occasionally but only if highly recommended), no romance, cowboys, or westerns... lol.. but thats just me ;)


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