Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Words/Phrases That Make Me Avoid A Book

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Instalove or "mysterious new boy/girl"

I have a feeling this one will be on a great many lists, so I put it first to get it out of the way. UGH. I can't stand instalove. CANNOT STAND IT. Insta-attraction I don't mind, because it's real. You glance over, there's a cute guy, boom. Insta-attraction. What's not real is looking over, spotting a cute guy, and deciding that he is your One True Love and that you must forsake your friends, family, and everything you hold dear to be with said boy for all time. I mean, seriously? You don't know anything about him! What's his middle name? What's his favorite color? His favorite book? His childhood pet? Do you know ANYTHING about him other than that he's hot? No, you do not.

I combined instalove with the mysterious new person trope because no one falls into instalove with someone they know. They fall in love with handsome and mysterious strangers. It is very rare for a mysterious person to be mentioned in a synopsis without being a potential love interest.

Star-crossed lovers

Waahhhh our life is so haaaard! All the big, bad adults are keeping us apaaaaart. Waaaahhhh.

The South

Talk about your stereotypes. I live in the South. My family is from the South. I know the South. And while I don't doubt that the parts of the South that authors choose to portray exist, I wish they wouldn't all pick the same types over and over. Books in the South tend to show either` 1) small-town country bumpkins with a heart of gold, 2) snippy Southern Belles and class war, or 3) the mystical South as represented by New Orleans.

Geez. Despite stories to the contrary, there are big cities in the South. We have tall buildings, universities, and suburbs. No one's walking around in hoop skirts and bonnets or cowboy hats and overalls. Nor is the entire Southeast covered in swampland and cow pastures. I tend to steer away from books set in the South because I come out feeling irritated and/or patronized. Show a little imagination and research properly, or leave me alone.


Over. Done. Dead. Don't care.


Theologically annoying and both types fall neatly into another category I try to avoid - the seductive "bad boy." Most angel/demon books tend to read like an overwrought angst fest. No thank you.


Not a fan. Next.

Love triangles

Granted, some love triangles pull it off well. I understand why the MC is torn between two decent, likeable people who offer different things. However, most love triangles are not written that way. Most love triangles feature a waffling MC (usually female) who thinks with her fleeting emotions instead of her head. She then bounces back and forth between both boys, leading them both on and generally acting like a fluffy, waffling, horrible person. Love triangles often have a nasty habit of combining with instalove, the mysterious stranger, or the bad boy trope.

Clearly, anything with Shawn and Gus is the exception to the rule.
Civil War

My sister Sunny probably won't like to see this, but I don't enjoy books set during the Civil War. I think my hesitancy comes from the semi-predictable plot points that inevitably arise. The book will most likely feature one white and one black main character. They will encounter racist people. There will be problems and hardship. There will be at least one Rousing Speech about racism and inclusion and equality. Northerners will be good. Southerners will range from ignorant and misguided (more hoop skirts!) to actively malevolent and hateful.

I acknowledge that books about the Civil War and racism are important. But so many are ridiculously formulaic when it comes to including the points above, and very few bother to use shades of grey. (No, portraying a Southerner as merely clueless instead of evil is not a shade.) I read a Civil War book and I feel like I'm being lectured. So I close the book and find another, better one.

Yep, homeschooled. Watcha gonna do about it, Miss Priss?
Christian/Homeschooled Characters

As with books about The South, books about Christians and homeschoolers seem to tread the same old (incredibly inaccurate) paths. I have a hard time picking up secular books with Christian characters because the theology is inevitably wonky, and the characters in question are generally portrayed in an unflattering light. (Gee, Author, glad to see what you really think of me.)

Homeschoolers in fiction are portrayed as awkward, sheltered, naive kids who just need to learn to live a little, and it drives me NUTS. Personal experience and official studies have proven that, on average, homeschoolers actually socialize more than public schoolers. Their education is often more varied and intensive than public education as well. Or, as I've had to snarkily ask a time or two to a condescending public-schooler who worries that I have no friends, "Are you really so sheltered that you can only make friends at school?"

Again, quit it with the sloppy, stereotyped writing. Until then, I'll stay far away from books with these character types.


I like romance. I like sweet gestures, gentle kisses, and passionately spoken declarations of love. I do not like knowing what goes on in the backseat of a parked car or behind closed doors. Such scenes make me feel incredibly voyeuristic. Any book that tries to entice me with words like "sultry," "seductive," or "steamy" will fail utterly. Keep it in your pants and out of my books.

As you can see, I have pretty strong opinions about what should be in my books, and I'm sure I'll think of a few more I should have added once I read yours. But that's enough about my opinions. Tell me yours. What do you think of my turn-offs? Are they yours, or do you like them?