Welcome back to Top 5 Tuesday, with the debut of my new featured image for this series. I got tired of the old one and decided to do something that fit more in line with my blog. Will I ever go back and replace the old ones? Probably, most likely when I’m procrastinating on my final paper for my class this semester.
Anyway, Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted as always by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm. (If this posts before I’m able to link back to her, I’m sorry; I’ve got a job interview this morning that I just can’t miss!)
This week’s topic is Top 5 Bookish Pet Peeves. This is very similar to the 5 Bookish Buzzwords posts that Shanah did last year, both positive and negative posts. This one goes a little bit deeper, though, so get ready for some rants. I’m going to make this somewhat technically of a Top 10 post, because I’m going to do a list of physical book pet peeves followed by a list of written book pet peeves (does that make sense?).
PHYSICAL BOOK PET PEEVES
#5: Book Covers That Don’t Have Summaries on the Back
This applies more to paperback books than to hardcovers, because most hardcovers have the summaries on the inside of the book flap. I can’t stand picking up a book, admiring it, and then flipping it over only to find that some reviewer named Chad declared it to be the best of all time. That’s great, but where is the actual summary? Sometimes they have it squashed at the bottom of the back cover in a very unnoticeable spot, and sometimes they move it to the inside first page of the book (why?!). Regardless, if you’re not going to put a summary on the back of the book and instead make me hunt to figure out what the book is about, I’m probably not going to read it. Sorry.
#4: Book Covers That Have Nothing to do With the Plot
I’m sure you’ve all seen it: that one book cover that is beautifully and wonderfully illustrated, but once you read the summary (or even the entire book!), you realize that the cover has no relation to the book’s contents whatsoever. I guess this is why I like simpler covers that don’t depict characters, like they’ve got on Six of Crows. There are plenty of beautifully illustrated covers out there, but if they don’t fit the book itself after I finish reading it, I don’t find them as pretty any more.
#3: Buying Damaged Books
Okay, so this one might be more of a weird thing that I’ve got. But I always check books when I’m buying them to make sure the cover’s not creased, the spine’s not cracked, etc. I am very particular with how my books look, and I only trust like three people to buy me books because I know they’ll do the same checks that I do. (But hey, if I’m buying used books? For the most part I prefer them to be pretty much like new, but if I’m reading them for a class or something I’ll take them in any condition higher than “okay.”)
Unfortunately, sometimes when you buy books online, they are sent in shipping envelopes instead of shipping boxes, which is not good. Those envelopes are so easy to get smashed. I’ve had several books arrived damaged (one of them being a collectible Firefly book!), and I’ve had to contact the seller for a replacement. If you would package your things properly in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this conversation!
#2: Putting Stickers on the Front Cover
I could not care less about stickers on the back cover. In fact, at the bookstore I worked at, those small stickers on the back cover were how we knew where to shelve the book without having to get one of the hand scanners and scan it. Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for those who bought the books), those stickers came off so easily that we would always have to keep a hand scanner on us because 99% of the time those stickers would disappear.
Now, stickers on the front are the WORST. Sometimes they will peel off, but the majority of the time they don’t. There’s a used bookstore called 2nd & Charles near my house, and they put bright orange price tags on the FRONTS of their books, and they never peel off. Barnes & Noble puts their clearance stickers on the FRONTS of their books, while Books-a-Million puts theirs on the back, covering the original barcode. I bought a copy of Clockwork Princess years ago that has a sticker advertising the City of Bones movie on it, and I’ve never been able to get it off, so I stopped trying and just stuck the sticker back on as best as I could. It still looks atrocious because they put it dead center of the book instead of somewhere like the corner.
#1: Redesigning Covers in the Middle of a Series
This one is the BIGGEST. I collected The Lost Years of Merlin series as they came out several years ago in a new cover. Imagine my surprise when, right before book five was (re)published, they announced they were not only redesigning the covers (again) but were also renaming the entire series! I had to hunt on eBay for years to complete my set of Merlin books, and now they’re under a different name entirely and they’ve even renamed the Great Tree of Avalon series to fall under the Merlin saga, instead of being a trilogy all on their own. And let’s not even talk about the Diviners redesign, because gross. Oh, and the Kiki Strike redesigns. I will never be able to complete some of the book series I own because for whatever reason the publisher redesigned them with much more terrible covers. RIP all the series I will never complete because of this.
WRITTEN BOOK PET PEEVES
#5: Unnecessary Sequels
Okay, maybe this one is just me. But personally, I feel like Inkheart could have been a stand-alone book. There was no need for it to become a trilogy, because each book got progressively worse. The same goes with A Great & Terrible Beauty. I feel like the authors could have wrapped things up in just one book. Don’t drag a story on for another book (or three, or five!) when it can easily be told in just one. Yes, some books I would love to see a sequel to, but I know that it would probably not be as good as the first one. Let good things stand on their own. Not everything has to have a sequel!
#4: The Hero Who Can Do Everything
Okay, it’s a post-apocalyptic world, but our heroine still finds time to shave her legs. All right, this takes places ages in the past, but our hero has knowledge well beyond his timeline. Give your heroes some limitations, y’all. If they’re the best at everything they do, that’s not going to work out very well for anybody! Let them have some flaws. People usually prefer a flawed hero to someone that’s a Renaissance Man, or at least I do. Give me some reason to be afraid for the protagonist; if I know they’re the strongest/fastest/whatever, I’m not going to feel the tension that needs to be felt in fight scenes, etc.!
#3: Declaring the Book to be the “Next [Whatever]”
I don’t care if this book is deemed “The Next Harry Potter,” but you better believe that if a book lauds itself as “The Next Twilight,” I am going to stay as far away from the book as possible. Why don’t we just let these comparisons die and go back to the original way of doing things, by letting the books rest by themselves?
#2: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl
This is also something problematic in Ernest Cline’s books, Ready Player One and Armada. There’s a character who is so blatantly a manic pixie dream girl that I just find myself cringing thinking about the fact that the author thought this was a good thing to include. It’s one of the reasons I like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The girl who is pegged as the MPDG is not interested in Scott, really. (If I remember correctly…)
#1: Unnecessary Romantic Subplots
You heard me. I can’t stand books that throw in romantic subplots just because they’re something do to. I would rather it not be as painful and drawn out, and just go ahead and tell us outright. Also, don’t just throw a third person into a story and declare that they’re now part of a love triangle, because that’s not how relationships work. If you really loved someone, you wouldn’t have fallen in love with the second person, okay?
This is similar to how I feel about romantic plots in movies. Let’s take Avengers: Age of Ultron for example. I’m sure Black Widow is a great person, but I simply cannot stand her subplot with Bruce Banner in that film. It’s the same with novels. Don’t force a romantic subplot if it’s not meant to be there. We can tell when it’s something that’s been shoehorned in. And editors, not everyone needs to end up with someone to be happy. Just something to think about.
So there you have it, folks. Surefire ways to get me started on a tangent that I can’t stop. I hope you at least learned something from this, and I didn’t scare you away with all of my complaining!
Do you have any of these pet peeves? Are some of these things that you’re actually okay with? Let me know in the comments!
And as always, keep reading.