It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, and it’s been a longer while since I did a TTT post – so today is a happy celebration of my return to both the blogging world and list-making.
My absence was due to an unplanned trip to Vietnam. Although it’s the country of my birth, I haven’t revisited in over a decade as the majority of my family is now based in Aus/NZ. The experience was surprising, challenging, nostalgic, and gave me a million reasons to revisit again soon!
Back to TTT: as most of you know, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week, the topic is Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book. I’ll be discussing books I’ve DNF’d, series I’ve abandoned, and books I’ve wholly avoided altogether in today’s post.
You’d think that as an adult with a reading pile of at least 50% pure YA, I would embrace all fiction and realise that genre snobbery is a pretentious lie concocted by old cishet white men too afraid to venture from their comfort zone. Sadly, there are certain corners of the bookstore I rarely venture to, these include:
1. Crime: I really enjoy watching crime on TV or in movies, or even manga, but I could never quite get into it in novel format. My only brushes with the genre is Gone Girl, and a couple of Japanese crime novels. Perhaps I am just missing the great ones, but the Crime section with its uniformity in both covers (dark shades, silhouettes, giant author name) and title (always inevitably referencing an unnamed ‘Girl’) currently holds no appeal to me.2. Paranormal: I used to read quite a few of these in my university days (I am too afraid to count how many years it’s been since those days), and I’ve suffered from one too many series fatigue to rediscover this particular sub-genre. It seems to be inundated with countless series with no end in sight. I have troubles keeping up with trilogies, let alone a series that has 10+ books — I had to say goodbye to October Daye and Harry Dresden from sheer exhaustion.
Highly Problematic Content
To me, people becoming more socially aware and critical of the entertainment they consume is a fantastic thing. Most of all, I love the dialogue that comes out of it – it demands the publishing industry to improve and become more inclusive. It also saves me time and money that I will happily direct towards my unending wishlist.
3. Carve The Mark: In truth, I was never going to read this book anyway, because I was not a fan of Divergent. Subsequent discussions regarding the book’s thoughtless portrayal of race, chronic pain, and self-harm crossed it off my list altogether. I cringe a little whenever I see it on bestseller shelves worldwide.
4. The Black Witch: Again, I did not have any real interest in this book because the synopsis did not grab me. Reading Shauna’s detailed review has me convinced I should not only avoid the book, but try and make others aware of how harmful the content contained within is. The Black Witch was meant to contain anti-racism theme, but it fell into its own trap by catering for the privileged rather than the oppressed.
It’s 2017, we really don’t need anymore books that proclaims ‘racism is bad’ – we know this. What we need is books which dismantles stereotype and harmful portrayals, not reinforce them. We need books that challenges, rather than offer soft-ball lessons from one privileged’s individual’s journey. Forget about these book, if you want a YA SFF that talks about race, go and read Empress of A Thousand Skies instead.
For this section, I don’t have any legitimate reasons as to why I’ve avoided these books. I’m just being petty.
5. My Ship Sunk: My shipping sensors are actually fairly keen, so I’ve largely avoided this unsavoury situation – but I will never forgive Sara Raasch for what she did to my OTP in Ice Like Fire. I still refuse to touch Frost Like Night because I know my shipper’s heart will not survive it.
6. Epistolary Format: Non-traditional novel format such as Illuminae or Sleeping Giants is a bit of a hit-and-miss for me. I have to be in the right mood to read it – as I find it harder to empathise and connect with the characters if I see them through interviews and video transcripts. Although I have heard amazing things from bloggers I trust about Sleeping Giants, I DNF’d the book the first time I read it because of interview transcript overload. I hope to pick it up again at some point, though – because it does sound promising and I adore the covers.
7. Bad Covers: I know judging a book by its cover is a cardinal sin as far as bloggers are concerned, but I can’t help it – blame it on Instagram, and blame it on how strong the cover game has been in recent releases. There’s no excuses for a bad cover, not in an age where even self-published books are looking gorgeous (see the Air Awakens series!). The main victim of this is the NA genre, I know there are some gems in NA – but the covers of half naked men just does not work for me.
8. A Goodreads Rating Below 3: I am hopelessly dependent on the GR rating to do speed purchasing decision — most YA and SFF books average around 3.5-4, and the rating average tends to lower for adult literary fiction. If your book has below a 3 (given a reasonable number of ratings and reviews), chances are I won’t touch it. Hence, I always tend to over rather than underestimate my star rating on GR, since I know how much a low score can hurt a book’s sale.
Being a consumer of media means you’ll be exposed to a spectrum of tropes with every new story – I don’t mind tropes in general, there are some that I even love, they feel as familiar as a well-worn blanket. However, here are a few that will have me closing the book and moving on at full speed.
9. I’m Not Like Other Girl: This is basically just code for a brand of ‘feminism’ that appeals to the patriarchy and brings down other women. I am 100% not here for it, if the only way your heroine can shine is through being pitted against other ladies in the book – I will 100% DNF.
10. Unnecessary Love Triangles: I have nothing against a good love triangle, I grew up on K-drama and Japanese Shoujo after all – and love triangles are pretty much the bread-and-butter of those media. However, as soon as I can sense that there’s no chemistry between the characters – and the triangle is there to fulfil some sort of YA/romance checklist, I check out mentally.
What are your ultimate red-flags for books? I would love to see your TTT for this week, so feel free to link it in the comments below ❤
37 thoughts on “10 Reasons I’ve Avoided Certain Books”
Nice post Aentee, I definitely agree regarding those tropes + problematic content. The main differences for me are that I tend to like paranormal/supernatural stuff if it’s based on something that’s culturally diverse. I’m reading The Other Shore by Hoa Pham right now, about spirits and a girl who’s a psychic that’s set in Vietnam (and ownvoices by a Vietnamese-Australian author), which I’m loving because it has those strong cultural elements. Preloved by Shirley Marr is great too (ghost story based on Chinese culture and beliefs). But yeah, anything outside of that, I also tend to avoid 😂 And I usually feel less enthusiastic about so-so covers as well, but excited to read Warcross and FOTL anyway because it does feel like a publisher-not-putting-in-effort thing 😓
Oh I’m with you on so many of these!! And particularly the personal pettiness list haha. I’m SO guilty of so many of those (although I looove unique formatting in books…I like pictures😂) But I’m a huge cover snob, and I get so annoyed when my ship sinks. It ruins whole series for me. 🙈🙊 I also hate the tropes where EVERYONE is in love with one girl, and also where the female protagonist treats other girls badly because she’s “better” or some other nonsense.🙄🙄I also hate animal abuse in books. It makes me feel so sick.😭
I loved your list!!
omg amen with the uniformity of crime novels
yikes i’m super pumped for Sleeping Giants
Awesome post! (And welcome back!). I have to admit, a red flag for me is as soon as they say it’s the new whatever… Saying the new Gone Girl will make me put it back – because I didn’t like Gone Girl! Judge a book on its own merit! Urgh!
Haha, sorry, rant over! I really enjoyed reading this!
Glad you’re back blogging Aentee! And you’re trip to Vietnam sounds fantastic, would love to read a full post about it if you were thinking of writing one! I also had problematic content, love triangles, and bad covers on my list for this week, but I definitely agree with the low GR rating too. I try not to let it influence my decision of whether to read a book or not too much, but if lots of fellow bloggers and readers have given it one or two stars, I start questioning whether it’s worth the time. Great post for this week!
I actually love crime and epistolary format – they’re some of my favorites, but they’re definitely not for everyone! I always give books a chance if they interest me enough, so GR ratings don’t affect me too much. I do agree with the “I’m not like other girls” trope, though. I defiantly hate that. 😬
I totally relate with the terrible tropes!
Here’s my TTT https://lightuptheshiningnightstars.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/ten-things-than-will-make-me-not-want-to-read-a-romance-book-asap/
Loved this list! I cry every time I see Carve the Mark on bestseller lists too & I want to turn it around whenever it’s facing out on a shelf 😦 Omg the ‘I’m not like other girls trope’ – I can’t believe that it’s still a thing!
This is a good list! I’m with you on love triangles. i absolutely hate them, but especially when they are contrived or pointless. I’m also quite snobbish when it comes to certain genres/categories, and I find myself avoiding bad covers more often then not. 😀 Great post!
I stay away from crime too, I just have no interest in reading it. I also don’t read anything from the romance genre. The covers with half naked men don’t work for me either, I don’t see anything appealing about them.
A GR rating below 3 and unnecessary love triangles also turn me off! A lot of the times, I try to go into books blind and thus do not read the synopsis. The only things I notice are the genres, author, reviews of people I trust and the GR rating. If it’s below 3, I’m almost certain to not buy it all, because that low a rating makes me really skeptical. And of course, unnecessary love triangles piss almost everyone off
I also get turned off by ugly covers, no matter how famous the book is. I have a copy of The Giver on my shelves which is ridiculously ugly but I haven’t managed to pick it up
Yup yup, pretty agree with your list. If a book is less than 3 stars (which is hard for me to tell these days because of an influx of ARC’s I have that no one has reviewed before lool), then I definitely won’t be picking it up. I don’t really judge covers though! NA books are my total guilty read so half-naked torsos aren’t too bad for me (especially if they’re locked away in my Kindle app haha). Problematic content deserves no time or energy from me, except to warn people from it.
I see paranormal and I run. I think as I get older, my imagination doesn’t work as well and I just can’t do them — especially if it’s a romance.
You just crossed Carve the Mark off my list, of which I am thankful! I wasn’t a Divergent fan either, but I am a sucker for a pretty cover, so I was considering it! Glad to not waste the money.
Also, your blog is so lovely!
I basically agree with this entire post. I love a good crime drama TV show but I cannot read crime books at all.
I was never going to read Carve the Mark but after hearing about the problematic nature of the book I gave it a big red flag! As someone who’s parent lives with chronic pain I can tell you it’s not and never will be viewed as a gift.
I’m with you on the bad book covers as well. I ain’t a fan of broody looking book models on book covers. It ruins the magic and just doesn’t look good at all.
Such a lovely post, Aentee, and glad you’re back to blogging – and to hear you had a lovely trip 🙂 I really think it’s fantastic as well how much more aware the book blogging community is making me on all of these problematic books, and these are definitely off my TBR. It’s so great to have conversations like that and SO important.
Great list! That’s so cool that you’ve been in Vietnam, I’m sure it was amazing 🙂
My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/top-ten-tuesday-104/
Wonderful list! I also try to avoid problematic content as best as I can, and thankfully the book community is so good at pointing it out (although there are a couple of books that sometimes aren’t spotted by the majority as being harmful, so the system isn’t perfect).
I think I might have subconscious genre snobbery too because I also avoid crime and paranormal fiction. I feel like I never find anything genuinely new or original in those genres, but perhaps I haven’t read enough of them to make fair judgement. Also I hate book series that never end – at a certain point I feel as though a story is either being stretched out unnecessarily, or the writers keep tacking more bits onto the end.
I’m also really petty about books too – /especially/ covers. I’m the worst when it comes to faces on covers, or just people on covers in general. I don’t know what I hate it, but I really do. A lot of books that have been recommended to me in the past have been completely ignored by my just becuase I don’t like a cover, which is really bad because sometimes I find favourites inside the unlovable covers 🙂
Interesting that you delineate between well-done love triangles and not well-done love triangles. I agree with you. I don’t hate ALL love triangles, just the ones that aren’t done well.
I’m enjoying reading everyone’s posts about this. I’m more anti-mean girl tropes than “I’m not like other girls,” but it’s definitely a subset. I totally judge books by their covers, too.
Welcome back to blogging! I hope you’ll tell us a little more about your trip one day.
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If I had a pound for every time I heard a girl say ‘I only really hang around with guys’ or ‘I don’t really get on with other girls’ I’d be rich.
Yes! I hate the internalised misogyny of The Exceptional Women- as if sexism can be escaped if you are boyish enough, and competent and not a nag, then you’ll be excepted by the men around you… yeah, work on an infantry base, not how it works.
I agree with you on paranormal- there are some really amazing ones like God Save The Queen (Vampire Queen Victoria and her Immortal Court!), Pilgrims of The Sky (which is more steampunk) that has a concept I’ve never seen before, and Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle is the funniest book I’ve ever read.
But overall I agree with your assessment of Paranormal genre. It’s usually similar and I hate the alpha d-bag boyfriends who are terrible and always hijack our heroines story.
Crime however- I feel a desperate desire to recommend a few…
what a great lit. and amen to the problematic content and racism is bad note. i agree so much. i also do not like books told in transcips and such. verse i can deal with sometimes. but i have to be in the mood.
I used to read a lot of paranormal YA but recently I’ve discovered that it just doesn’t do anything for me anymore. I find myself getting bored and it seems rather repetitive 😦
I agree with the love triangles. I’m ok if it’s used to expand the plot in a positive way but most of the time it’s just a tool to add some unnecessary drama
i’m glad you’re posting again, we missed you! i’ve given up on paranormal reads too, just because they all feel the same to me at this point.
I pretty much loved everything about this post. WELCOME BACK! ❤ I'm so worried about picking up the rest of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy. I was okay with the first book and my ships but that's all I remember. [SWEATS NERVOUSLY]
I did a TTT post as well: https://rebeccagough.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/top-ten-tuesday-why-wont-i-read-a-book/
So interesting to hear that you depend on Goodreads that way, I've never even thought to do that!! I guess I trust my own tastes and the blurb (and cover let's be honest) to dictate what I buy! That's burned me in the past but it's mostly on track. Awesome post! 😀
Your list is so good I wouldn’t even need to make my own! Your reasons at least 90% match mine! Tell me about those naked men covers, oh my god 😀 and crime or paranormal as well. Sadly, before book blogging Internets (when YA was just beginning), I had a chance to read a few too many YAs with these tropes you mention and many more, and it left an indelible mark in my mind that “YA is like that” after I started blogging, I’ve read a few good ones, and way more good reviews, but it still remains a very hard to read genre because I’m always expecting tropes like instalove, “I’m special”, “I’m a 14 year old superhero that’s been destined to be so”, or the worst – “I need a hot guy to make me count”. Those would be what makes my skin crawl, and what still makes it hard for me to read YA because I keep thinking I’ll have to read THAT.
I am so glad you mentioned personal pettiness, Aentee. I often fall into that group. And yes, very law GR ratings put me off too.
I share some of “red flag” book signs with you. I can’t stand unnecessary love triangles. Or suicide book, that is an insta NO for me. Another thing I can’t stand is when book romanticizes incest or similar distrubing things.
This is a great list. I agree with a lot of them, especially the Highly Problematic Content one. That’s a big no-no for me. Speaking of, I’m grateful to the book blogging community for making me aware of these issues.
Jeez! Yeah I totally agree about the unnecessary love triangle. Sometimes, it becomes distracting to the main plot of the story.
I haven’t read Carve the Mark either. Now that you’ve mentioned what it might be about, I’d probably just steer clear from it.
Great post! 🙂
Oh man, epistolary format is so good for me. I’ll read just about anything in epistolary format. Right now I am reading a huge Brazilian family saga in translation, and I am not a family saga person and I am not a real huge translation person either, but IT IS EPISTOLARY so. :p
I missed you, Aentee! I hope you’ll write a post about your trip to Vietnam.
I don’t read Crime books either, and this “I have troubles keeping up with trilogies, let alone a series that has 10+ books” is so true, I feel the same way. Like you I find it harder to empathise and connect with the characters in books written in Epistolary Format
I haven’t realized that GR rating has such impact on your reading choices. In truth I almost never look. In my case ratings from my bookish friends have more value that the average rating.
And don’t even start about Unnecessary Love Triangles, I thing YA fantasy series are especially guilty of this sin.
Have a great week! I hope to hear from you soon!
All of these! Half-naked men on the cover are such a turn-off for me hahaha. Maybe the inside is amazing and isn’t filled with graphic sex scenes, but that’s just the vibe I get from the cover so I don’t pick it up.
There’s a good paranormal trilogy by Susan Ee called Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days trilogy) – we highly recommend you read this…. if you don’t then that’s cool, but we think you should at least like one paranormal book – it’s also a quick read in our opinions anyways 😊 Hope you enjoy!!
Everyone seems to hate love triangles. I personally have never done them, and really don’t feel the need to. Too much unnecessary drama. The best relationships in books are the ones that focus on the dynamic between TWO people. It just feels more realistic that way. Book relationships shouldn’t be about contests for affection (leave that to soap operas); they should be about developing the characters based on their interactions with each other.
Unnecessary love triangles are so infuriating. Especially when one of the characters conveniently dies so the person doesn’t have to choose.