Bookish Pet Peeves (2023)

I was searching through my drafts recently for a specific post that I thought I had never finished, and ended up coming across two separate drafts that I’d started and never finished for my bookish pet peeves. I was partially tempted to keep holding off on this post on the off-chance that a pet peeves topic comes up on any of the weekly memes that I do, but so far I don’t see it as a scheduled topic any time soon. It looks like one of my Pet Peeves draft was inspired by the fact that I was prompted to write about the topic a couple of weeks before, and I guess I decided to start compiling my next list soon after. The second draft came up about 6 months later, and strangely enough, I had at least one or two of the items in common on both lists! I guess I’d forgotten that I’d already started to draft one, but was still particularly annoyed by that one. Given that it’s now been a full year since the drafts were first written without any hint at the topic coming up soon, I decided it just makes sense to go ahead and post my lists. With my luck, that means that another Pet Peeves topic will be coming up soon so I guess I’d better start compiling some new peeves! Unfortunately, because it’s been so long, I’m not sure I remember exactly which books prompted my annoyance, but there are definitely a few that I remember clearly.

1) When the character falls in love/sleeps with the cop, police officer, lawyer, etc. who is helping with their case – I love that this was on my list for about a year and a half already since it is something that still bothers me! I’m sure this is something that happens more often than I’d think, but it was something that I was noticing very often in thrillers that I was reading and I found it so annoying. It just seems ridiculously unprofessional to me, and can cause so many logistical issues when it comes to actually working on the case, collecting admissible evidence, etc. It’s something that tends to ruin my immersion in a book since all I end up thinking about is how the relationship can mess things up.

2) Realizing that a thriller is actually from a series with characters that carry over from other books – I really wish I remembered which book I was referring to with this one! I even looked back at what books I had read around the time I made that draft and none were from series as far as I remember, but I think the peeve still stands. I don’t like feeling like I’ve missed out on potentially important information by not reading a previous book, which is why I will generally make a conscious effort to read series in order even when there isn’t much carry over. Most authors do a decent job of catching the reader up adequately, but sometimes I find references to storylines I’ve missed confusing. It’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, but I wish books would be clearly marked if they have any carryover from others.

3) No quotations marks, or when unclear who is speaking or when someone is speaking – Again, this seems to be a reference to a very specific book, but as a general rule, I find this irritating. I can’t remember which book it was, but I remember reading something that didn’t use quotation marks, and I kept getting confused whether the character was saying the words out loud or just thinking them. There have also been times where dialogue can be confusing even when quotation marks are used if it’s unclear who is speaking. I’ve definitely had several cases where I’ve had to reread sections of dialogue in multiple different books because I lost track of who was saying what. I don’t think it’s necessary to say the character’s name on every single line, but sometimes a little context might be needed to help keep track.

4) Inability to separate a character’s words/views from those of the author – This is definitely still a big pet peeve of mine, and has just become more annoying over time. There are certainly authors who have problematic views that bleed into their writing, but many times, a characters are just written to be horrible people on purpose and do not reflect the author’s personal views. I find it especially annoying when people complain when characters that are intentionally meant to be unlikable (or even a villain) show objectionable behaviour or thoughts. While I can understand how these views could still be hurtful to readers, I think it is important for readers to be able to think critically about the author’s intent and purpose and how the character’s words and actions fit into the context and their role in the story.

5) Long chapters with no good stopping points – This is a pet peeve of mine because I tend to do most of my reading in the evenings, and I hate having to stop midway through a chapter when I have to go to bed! I don’t mind it as much if there is some kind of natural page break or section break, but I’ve sometimes had to leave a book just randomly in the middle of a chapter, and it makes it that much harder to pick the flow up again the next day. I don’t mind chapters being on the longer side in general, but it’s frustrating to start a chapter and get invested only to realize that it’s much, much longer than you thought!

6) When only one book in the series is not available, or not available in the format you want – I’ve actually been able to find some of these “missing” books within the past year, but this can still be very annoying! I’m pretty sure the series I had in mind was The Bone Witch since I could easily get the last two books in hardcover but not the first, but I also had a similar struggle when the first and third book in Emily Duncan’s Wicked Saints series came up at different times on Book Outlet and it took several months for the middle book to show up. I know some people don’t care what format their books are, but the more I’ve started to buy my own books, the more picky I’ve become about format and I especially want my series to match as much as possible. It’s annoying not to be able to complete a set when you’re just waiting on one book!

7) Special editions, box sets, etc. that come out after you’ve already collected them all – This has always been something that I’ve hated! While I theoretically loved the idea of special editions, I have never seen the purpose of purchasing another copy of an item that I already own. Given the choice between an “exclusive” version and the regular one, I’m more likely to buy the exclusive if I can, but it bothers me when those versions only come out after most people have already purchased their copies. It just comes across like a cash grab to me and a waste to rebuy something I already own, especially when books are already expensive so I’ve likely already spent a decent amount on my copy. Box sets are also frustrating because they are often a little cheaper than collecting them all individually, and guarantee that they all match!

8) “Bait and switch” of the main characters – This was so much of a peeve that it made it to both of my drafts 6 months apart! There are a few specific series I read around that time where this happened, and it annoyed me every time. I have no problem with multiple perspectives, but I find it a bit misleading when authors lure you in with one main character and then switch focus for the rest of the series to someone else, especially when that other character is not someone you were particularly interested in. The three series I have in mind are: Lifelike by Jay Kristoff, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, and to a lesser extent, A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. Maybe it wouldn’t bug me as much if I hadn’t read several series close together where this happened or if I actually ended up liking the other characters (which I did in ACSD&L), but when you switch to a character that you already find annoying or not so interesting, it can really put you off a series.

9) Multiple timelines that are not very far apart – I actually remember what I was referring to with this one! It was one of Megan Miranda’s thrillers, which had two timelines that were only a year apart, and I ended up being so confused. I’ve read many books with dual or even multiple timelines without a problem, but I find two timelines so close together is rarely done well and ends up being very confusing unless there is something very distinctive to set each of the timelines apart. Otherwise, both tend to blend together and it gets hard to keep track of when things happened.

10) New characters presented with no context about who they are – I find this happens a lot in sequels, where the author just suddenly drops you in with a few brand-new characters, and you can’t remember whether you’ve forgotten them from the previous book or if they’re completely new. Sometimes, though, it happens in a book while you’re already reading it and a new person will just suddenly be name-dropped without enough information to understand who they are or how they fit in. I know it sometimes takes some time for this to be revealed on purpose, but if I don’t know who a character is, I tend to assume that I’ve forgotten something that I’ve already read and waste time trying to backtrack to figure out what I’ve missed. It tends to ruin my immersion in the book, which can be really frustrating when I was already enjoying it!

And a bonus one, since I’ve apparently been sitting on this post for so long…

11) When the same character is referred to by multiple different names/titles throughout the book – I chalk this one up mostly to me not having a great memory when there are a lot of characters in a book, but I find it extra confusing when the same characters are referred to by multiple different names and/or titles. Unless I have a very solid idea of which title belongs to each character, I tend to forget from day to day, and have to relearn it when I next pick up the book. I think the Ember in the Ashes series was what I had in mind just based on the timing of when I noted this one, but there have been several times where this has happened (mostly with fantasy books). Having trouble keeping track of who characters are or how they are connected is one of the quickest ways to lose my interest in a book.


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