Before I get into the actual post itself, I just want to comment on how much I absolutely adore The Grinch as a book! Christmas is not my holiday, and I’ll admit to being a bit of a Grinch about some of the holiday season. It annoys me to hear Christmas music non-stop, seemingly from Halloween on. I like some of the songs, but I find it irritating to listen to the same few songs over and over for an entire month. I also hate the whole controversy about “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays.” I really don’t want to get into this debate here since it is not what this blog is for, but I honestly don’t understand the outrage about using the all-inclusive “Happy Holidays” greeting. I honestly couldn’t care less if someone wishes me “Merry Christmas” even if it is not my holiday, and I’m not going to make a big deal about it. If anything, I’d just assume it’s their holiday and wish them “Merry Christmas” back. I’m not a huge fan of most Christmas movies or Christmas-themed episodes of TV shows because I find many of them are too similar and don’t fit well when watching the episodes outside of the Christmas season.
The Grinch has always been one of my favourite Christmas stories because I think it perfectly captures how I feel about Christmas. I have nothing at all against people celebrating the holiday, but I think it has become extremely commercial to the point where the meaning of the holiday is often obscured. In a sense, I tend to differentiate the “real” Christmas as a religious holiday, from the “public” Christmas as a holiday season that is a bit more accessible to everyone (ie. gifts, dinner with friends and family, themed drinks, etc.) and that helps a bit. I love The Grinch as a book because I think it really reminds us of what Christmas is meant to be about: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”
I was pretty excited to see a Grinch-y theme to this week’s topic, although I feel like I have covered many of my complaints in my Pet Peeves posts (here and here). I’m going to do my best not to rehash any of those complaints again, although they definitely all still annoy me!
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Getting books in the “wrong format”
I’m quite picky when it comes to the format of my books. I only really read and buy physical books, and it really bothers me when books are only available in a specific format. I really hate the short “mass market paperbacks,” although that used to be my favourite. I used to strongly prefer paperbacks, but I started to get annoyed with them because I felt like they got so easily damaged. On the other hand, hardcovers are so expensive! I know most people gripe about cover changes mid-series, but I also really hate format changes mid-series or mid-collection. I had that issue with Jodi Picoult’s latest book, Small Great Things, which to this day is only available as a hardcover. It bugs me since all of my other Jodi Picoult books are paperbacks (which was an annoyance anyway, since I had to wait 6 months or so for those versions to be released). I like my collections of books from the same author to be in the same format. My Series of Unfortunate Events collection is ridiculous since half are paperback and half are hardcover, and it’s not even in any kind of order!
2) Movie tie-in editions
I honestly don’t get too hung up on cover artwork since I’m more interested in the content than the covers, but even with that said, I still tend to really hate movie tie-in editions of books. The covers rarely look very nice, and I think part of the problem for me is that I don’t want to associate the book too strongly with the actors or the movie. I like to be able to picture the characters myself as much as possible, but when the image is of the actors, it’s harder to do that. I also find it annoying because I find the movie posters or whatever image they use for the cover don’t necessarily represent the book that well. It just feels like they don’t really capture the spirit of the book since the focus is on the famous person instead. It’s not going to put me off reading the book in general, but given the choice between the movie tie-in edition or the regular version, I will almost always choose the non-movie cover.
3) Stickers on book covers
Bookstores and publishers always seem to put the stickers in the worst possible places! They are always supposed to be easy to remove, but in my experience they always leave some kind of weird residue which is often still sticky enough to be annoying. Or, it leaves the very irritating fragments that are nearly impossible to pull off without ripping anything. The worst for me is when the sticker is covering up a big chunk of the synopsis. If I’ve bought the book, it’s not such a big deal because I can just (spend the long time it takes to) remove the sticker, but if I’m at a bookstore or library, I can’t just start taking the stickers off. If it’s a book that is new to me, it’s especially frustrating because it’s hard to decide if I want to borrow or buy the book without being able to read the synopsis. It’s a good thing I tend to look up most books on Goodreads first by now, but there’s always the possibility of finding something brand new while browsing the shelves. I get the need for stickers when it’s a price tag, but stickers just advertising other books are so pointless!
4) Multiple perspectives from characters with the same “voice”
I have no problem with books that are told from multiple perspectives, when it is done well. I think it can be a great way to explore the story from different angles, and develop a variety of characters with a variety of views. The problem is when the characters are not developed effectively and all “sound” the same. For me, the main culprit is still Allegiant from the Divergent series. The idea of getting the story from both Tris and Four’s perspectives might have been interesting, but the characters sounded exactly the same! I had to constantly keep flipping back to the beginning of each chapter to see who was talking, or wait for the narrator to be addressed by name to figure out who it was. In these kinds of cases, the attempt at multiple perspectives ends up detracting from the story more than it actually helps. It makes the experience of reading it so frustrating!
5) Using other languages without translations/adequate context
This one is definitely very petty, but I find it off-putting when authors include dialogue in other languages without either translating them or at least giving enough context to figure it out. I am currently reading It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, which includes quite a bit of Japanese dialogue that I didn’t feel was adequately explained. The struggle with this is that dialogue in other languages might be more realistic and authentic for the characters, but as a reader, it is difficult to read and it frustrates me to not be able to understand what characters are saying. I get that having the translation for the English-speaking (or whatever other language) reader can ruin the immersion in the story. People don’t usually say what they want in their own language and then repeat themselves in English. Sometimes, books do a good enough job of having the next character respond in such a way that it really does not matter if you don’t understand words from other languages, but that’s not always the case.
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