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6 Things That Suck About Reading

I love books. You love books.

But let’s be honest, some aspects of books and reading suck. They just do.

I’ve told you about my some of my issues in my bookish pet peeves series. The items in this list today haven’t quite reached “pet peeves” status, but they may be getting pretty close—so you could see them again in that series!

Here are few things that irk me, because we all love a good list of irksome things heading into the weekend.

Books without chapter or section breaks.

Dear authors, you don’t have to title your chapters. You don’t even have to build chapters into your manuscript. But, please, for the love of God, put some type of section break in your books. That can be a number, an asterisk, or just a frickin’ double space. But, please, give my eyes and my brain a rest.

Falling asleep while reading a book.

This is a self-directed critique. Why do I do this? I read and I read until the side of my head is parallel with my shoulder blade and a steady stream of drool has slowly dotted page 352 of my novel.

I need to learn to just put the book down when my eyes start getting heavy, because my reading comprehension is worthless after that. I’ll read 5 more pages until I totally pass out—but it’s pointless, because when I pick the book back up, I’ll remember nothing from those pages.

Book covers in which the author’s name is larger than the title.

I used to blame this on the author, like it’s an ego thing. But that’s likely not the case. When you see an author’s name in the spotlight, larger than the actual title of the book, that was more than likely a design decision that came from the publisher. For example, here’s the cover of The Corrections.

300px-Thecorrectionscvr-800x600

Now I wouldn’t put it past Jonathan Franzen to request that, but I doubt that was his call. Nonetheless, as a reader, it’s a bit off-putting to me.

Unfinished manuscripts released posthumously.

You know your half-written draft of the love story in which Peter Pan falls in love with Gandalf during a vacation on the Death Star? The one you’re kind of embarrassed about? Now what if you died tomorrow and your cousin decided to publish that unfinished, underdeveloped manuscript next year, after cleaning out your house?

I know that example is extreme. But a lot of the greatest writers were perfectionists, and I don’t think they’d take too kindly to having their unfinished work put out there for the public to see. One example—do we really think David Foster Wallace would’ve been okay with The Pale King getting published? I don’t.

Typos, typos, typos.

Bad writing is one thing. You can at least try to explain it away, like “I used that misplaced modifier there for artistic effect.” But when your protagonist Jacque tells his lover, “Your beautiful”…there’s no better way to lose me, the reader. Or when you’re narrator says something like “Damian hid in the alley under teh shadow of night,” I’m out.

These egregious errors pop up more often than not in self-published books, though I know I’ve seen many in traditionally published, classic books too. I’m looking at you Judy Blume. That’s why, if you choose to self-publish, do yourself a massively huge favor and hire an editor. Yes, they can be expensive. But if your book is worth it, you’ll work some extra hours and save the money you need to hire one.

Novels that get crapped on by their movie adaptations.

Most of you will likely kill me for this, but I thought Baz Luhrmann did a better job with adapting Gatsby than Stanley Kubrick did with adapting A Clockwork Orange.

I’ll duck the tomatoes now!

Books have and will be written on this, but I feel like if you are adapting a piece of art—not creating that art yourself—you have a responsibility to uphold the original artist’s intent in your adapted work. Luhrman’s methods were different in showing the rebellion of the 1920s, but they still showed the rebelliousness and the extravagance of the era in a way relevant to a modern audience.

Kubrick just changed the entire meaning of A Clockwork Orange by eliminating Anthony Burgess’s preferred ending. To me, that’s not art…that’s just P. Diddy ripping off a loop from a 1970s song, throwing in his own lyrics, and making a bunch of money off it.

Ducking more tomatoes now!

Please be kind! Don’t hate me too much!

But what do you think? What irks you when it comes to books and reading?

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65 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gah! Typos. It’s my biggest fear as an author, to send something out with a missing apostrophe or comma. Truly!

    But I have to agree on all of these, especially the book covers. But really, are there books with no chapter or section breaks? I’ve never seen that before!

    Like

    March 7, 2014
    • Oh yes. Some just have the breaks ridiculously far apart. Like Infinite Jest. My eyes need a break.

      Like

      March 10, 2014
  2. Reblogged this on Anakin's reveries in multiverses.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  3. Typos and no chapter breaks are high on my list. I also don’t like it when I pick up a book to see what it’s about and there is no where on it that tells me. Nothing on the back, inside the front cover, or anywhere else.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  4. Books without chapters! Argh! How do I know when to stop if there’s not an end to a chapter? I’ll purposefully be late for an appointment in an attempt to reach the end of a chapter. Section breaks are for when you need to visit the toilet. End of chapters are for sleeping and eating. Don’t authors know these rules?

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  5. Delilah #

    I agree with you on all accounts.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  6. Typos can be really fun in academic books, too. In one class, I read more than once when an author had mistyped “public discourse,” giving it a *very* different meaning! 🙂

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  7. Interesting.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  8. Typos are AWFUL. Enough said.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  9. Lucille #

    Oh, yes, falling asleep. During those short drop-offs into unconsciousness I find that I have taken the story with me and events totally unintended by the author take their own course in my dream. When I wake up, I have to backtrack in my reading in order to erase the dream version.

    A typo in a non-fiction book immediately stirs doubt in the veracity of the material. If they can’t fix that, what else may be wrong? This may be unfair, but I can’t help.it.

    Don’t like books lacking chapters of section breaks? Try reading W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz some day. It’s a wonderful book but sentences that go on for pages and paragraphs as long as a novella will test the most intrepid reader.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
    • Lucille #

      And yes, I caught my typo in there after posting. Or, not of, in the last para.

      Like

      March 7, 2014
  10. Books with out chapter or section breaks are horrible. They make books feel so much longer (even if they are “good” books). Nothing is worse than a solid, constant block of text with no white space.
    Typos are irritating as well, especially misspelled words. I can usually look past one or two in a book, even though they take me out of the story. When there are many misspellings in a book, I have a difficult time bringing myself to finish it.

    Great post! You brought up a lot of issues that bother a good portion of us book bloggers and readers.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  11. Dragoncorn #

    When I find typos I end up losing the immersion I have in a book, and that is when I start reading it thinking a child was writing it. It’s kind of weird, but it’s true. I hate it, and I wish I could tell the writer “Bro! Fix that, it’s bugging me!”

    I am afraid that I may have had a few misspellings that I didn’t see in my book. That terrifies me.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  12. Nina Kaytel #

    I have never read a book without chapter or scene breaks.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  13. I agree with all except the ‘chapter breaks’. This may be because the only books I have read (that I can think of now anyway) without chapters are by Terry Pratchett, a fantastic author and all round genius. I didn´t even notice his books don´t have chapters until I read his reason for doing so in an interview, his stories are that absorbing! His reason for not using chapter breaks is that life doesn´t have chapter breaks, so why should books 😀

    Apart from that, I agree with all the peeves, especially ‘Novels that get crapped on by their movie adaptations’

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  14. Yes, even my 10-yr-old son is annoyed by typos in his books. I’ll leave the drooling to my husband, though. I have to read when I’m fully awake or not at all, which explains why I took such a long hiatus from reading after I gave birth to our son.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  15. Movie adaptations! They rarely receive my approval :/

    Like

    March 7, 2014
    • They rarely receive mine either. When i see a movie adaptation with my friends, I am usually the only one to have read the book. I have to bite my tongue (sometimes literally) whilst watching because otherwise i would be constantly saying “That didn’t happen in the book. That never happened like that in the book. Why is SHE doing that? The OTHER woman did it in the book!” Having said that, i much prefer to read the books first so that my imagination is used to its fullest to interpret the words. Otherwise you see the actors in your head and you hear their voices.

      Like

      March 13, 2014
  16. Yeah spelling mistakes are annoying but also when the name of the character changes. I’ve read books and thought I’m sure that character was called something else or spelt differently before.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  17. Books so good that you never ever want them to end.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  18. L.E. Ellis #

    Books that spend the first 300 pages doing absolutely nothing but building the world, and by that I don’t mean developing the plot or the characters but spending page upon page describing everything from the paint color on the wall to the microscopic spec of dust on the floor.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  19. I completly agree with. Also, now I will duck de tomatoes with you telling that, most book don’t have to have a second or a third part. God, why, why do that? Stop at the first one, the good one. Why everything in this days need to be writen in trilogies?

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  20. Reblogged this on julieveve and commented:
    Thoughtful 🙂

    Like

    March 7, 2014
  21. Great post. I agree with all of those peeves and I’d like to add another. Too much “he said” “she said”. If they take more care with the actual dialogue, then we know who’s talking.

    Like

    March 7, 2014
    • Good call. Even worse, when writers try to come up with too many synonyms for “he said.” I swear I’ve seen “he ejaculated.” Seriously?

      Like

      March 10, 2014
      • I don’t use too much “he said, she said” (or other variations) but i am having a problem with a story i am writing which is centered around just one person, who is often on her own. How many way’s is there to say ‘she’? How often should you use their name instead? This writing lark is much harder than it looks.

        Like

        March 13, 2014
  22. I hate very little about reading because I can close most books that don’t suit me. But I have to admit I hate the thought of entering this brave new order…

    http://elitedaily.com/news/technology/this-insane-new-app-will-allow-you-to-read-novels-in-under-90-minutes/

    Like

    March 7, 2014
    • Oh yes! the new speed reading thing. No thanks, i rebelled against the eReader for a long time because i just prefer the feel of a physical book. I have a kindle app on my tablet now because it is a lot easier but that doesn’t mean i would stop reading proper books. This new app seems silly to me. If i really enjoy a book, i will read it again. The first time i am consumed with what happens next. The second time round, i want to spot all the little details i missed the first time. How do you do that with this app? its just words. Would it not be like: Reading. Every. word. with. a. full. stop.?

      Like

      March 13, 2014
  23. jwcgd23 #

    Reblogged this on Lita's Corner.

    Like

    March 8, 2014
  24. Kubrick ruined The Shining, too…I see a pattern here.

    Like

    March 8, 2014
    • Yes! Glad someone agrees with me about him.

      Like

      March 10, 2014
  25. Reblogged this on purplestar24 and commented:
    i couldn’t have put it in better words myself.

    Like

    March 8, 2014
  26. This is very true; I can barely read a book if there are typos or no chapter breaks. I also hate when I pick up a book and there is no description whatsoever on if, so I don’t know what it’s about of if I would like it or anything really.

    Like

    March 8, 2014
  27. Reblogged this on Writing from the Twelfth House and commented:
    I’ve just discovered this brilliant blog and since I am short of both time and inspiration this week, thought I’d share this typically forthright, witty and original post from Robert. Sorry, don’t know his second name….

    Like

    March 8, 2014
  28. Hi Robert hope you are ok about me reblogging your latest post. Greetings from wet Scotland where even the daffodils are soggy….

    Like

    March 8, 2014
  29. anaispaeonia #

    I think the worst is the feeling you have when you finish reading a book, that you got excited about, the kind of book you never want to end but still want to get more of, it’s like losing a dear person. Then it’s really difficult for me to start reading a new one right away.

    Like

    March 8, 2014
  30. Your comment about the author’s name size is perceptive. I suppose that’s just publishers trying to promote their brand. On the unfinished manuscripts, though, I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed Kafka’s The Castle so it’s not all bad.

    Like

    March 8, 2014
    • Yes, I’m sure that’s more of the publisher’s call. But still. It reflects poorly on the author in my opinion.

      Like

      March 10, 2014
      • Another thing i hate to see relating to this, is when a famous author is writing under a pseudonym and the book cover has “REALLY FAMOUS AUTHOR” in absolutely huge lettering, and then underneath, almost like smallprint in a contract it has “Writing under some obscure pen name.” If they want to use a pseudonym, then the publishers should let them. Don’t go putting their main writing name all over the book and completely defeat the purpose of writing under a different name in the first place.

        Like

        March 13, 2014
  31. One thing I hate is writer who take the money from a movie producer, then complain about the movie that got made. Later the writer does a new movie version of the book and that movie really sucks. I’m talking Stephen King.

    Like

    March 8, 2014
  32. I actually read a self published book recently without page numbers. It drove me bonkers.

    Like

    March 8, 2014
  33. Dinara #

    Don’t get me started on books with no chapter breaks. Reading “Mrs. Dalloway” was like trying to swim in quick sand. As for the “loose” adaptations a la Kubrick: I couldn’t agree more. He changed King’s original idea of “The Shining”, its ending and message.

    Like

    March 9, 2014
  34. Reblogged this on Dentro il cerchio.

    Like

    March 9, 2014
  35. Fantastic post. Agree on movie adaptations; when the director suddenly feels the need to assert his creative juices by distorting the novel.

    Like

    March 9, 2014
  36. Mr and Mrs Bo Jo Jones is one of those books with no place to put a bookmark. It wasn’t that great, but I couldn’t put it down because there were no chapters.

    It annoys me when the story ends yet the book goes on for several chapters so we can resolve everything that happened to all the characters with a walk on part, like Jennifer Chiaverini does, or at least did in the one book of hers that I read.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
    • This would annoy me too. I have seen, however, a writing tip that says you SHOULD tie up all loose ends, but that you don’t necessarily have to publish it. It’s just good to have decided what happens after the proper end so you can answer questions from fans.

      Like

      March 13, 2014
  37. I like the “Novels that get crapped on by their movie adaptations” header xP especially the ‘getting crapped on’ part XD

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  38. I read to fall alseep, and after 20 minutes I’m fighting to keep myself awake because the chapter is not quite done or there is a plot twist or a hundred other reasons.

    this made me giggle. YAY

    Like

    March 11, 2014
  39. I like it 👌

    Like

    March 13, 2014
  40. I laughed out loud at the comment about the author name being larger than the title. Fine, you’re Jonathan Franzen, but how bout take it down a notch. My first novel will be released next week, and I didn’t have a lot of say in the design, but we certainly do judge a book by its cover a little, even if we try not to. Anyway, thanks for the LOL. You’re spot on with that one.

    Like

    March 13, 2014
  41. Typos are horrible (and why I don’t read self-published books among many other reasons) as are a lack of page breaks. As for the cover making the author name bigger than the title…while it’s annoying that’s on the publisher not the author. Authors generally (unless you’re J.K. Rowling) have very little input on cover design. My mother is a children’s author and she has no input to the cover or illustrations. The author can make a suggestion, but the often have very little impact upon the art/design at all.

    Like

    March 14, 2014
  42. Something that really bothers me in books is when authors switch narrators a million times per chapter. I don’t mind when authors have each chapter coming from a different characters or chunk books into sections based on who the narrator is but when it happens several times in one ten-page chapter, I just end up losing sight of who’s talking and what’s happening to who in the story. It over complicates things. It’s nice to see different points of views on the same events but it needs to be done smoothly and simply.

    Like

    March 16, 2014
  43. Reblogged this on Bienvenido Amigos!.

    Like

    April 9, 2014
  44. Valerie #

    To be fair, Kubrick didn’t know about Burgess’ intended ending– he used to American published version of the book which for some mysterious reason left off the final chapter of the original, British publication.

    Like

    April 9, 2014
  45. lightheadedone #

    What irks me are Typos and inconsistencies in the character/ plot. Example: Character was born with black hair… Then some time in later chapters, the character is born a brunette…

    Like

    April 24, 2014
  46. Suh Dude #

    cool

    Like

    March 21, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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