Top Ten Book Turnoffs

toptentuesdayThe Broke and The Bookish blog has this fun meme in which book bloggers post on a particular list theme every Tuesday. They apparently love lists as much as I do. I thought I’d jump into the fun this week. This week’s theme: Top 10 Book Turnoffs. My list is based on reading middle grade and young adult books. If I created a list for adult books it would be different.

1. Too many main characters. Yes, in fact I am easily confused. Make me sort out who’s who from the start and I’m annoyed.

2. Preachy adult characters that are trying to teach me (the reader) a moral lesson.

3. Unnecessary stealing (not theft by poor people in order to survive) that is regarded by characters as okay.

4. Too many Briticisms. (Sorry British fans! I know you are numerous!)

5. Too much conversation in dialect that is hard to read. No one likes this. No one.

6. Plot elements that add nothing to the overall richness of the story. Why are they there?

7. When a kid really wants a dog or cat and gets one. I’m not saying I don’t want children to have pets; I am not that cold-hearted. It’s just that in books if they want one they always get it. The reality is a lot of parents do not want a new pet. I especially hate when a kid in a book finds an animal and brings it home and their parents have no warning whatsoever but let them keep it. Fleas, anyone? Admittedly, this happens more in picture books, but still. (My exception to this dislike is a picture book the title of which I wish I could recall where a woman with Down Syndrome who lives in a staffed house for people who need a little extra help gets to keep the cat or dog she finds. I liked it because it was so refreshing to have the main character be a woman with Down Syndrome.)

8. Total cliffhanger ending of the first book in a series. I understand putting something at the end to make you want to read the next book, but I believe every book should be able to stand alone, and readers shouldn’t feel cheated when they finish the last page.

9. Attempts at humor that I don’t find funny, that only make me groan inwardly.

10. Interchangeable main characters because there are not enough books with main characters who have special needs: on the autism spectrum (if interested, click on the “my Pinterest board” logo at the bottom of this page to see my board of Chapter Books with a Character who Has Autism), learning disabled, attention deficit disorder, hard-of-hearing, etc…

Boy, did this blog post write itself. It’s frighteningly easy to be negative. I’ll try to make my next post more positive!


About Susan

I blog about middle grade and YA time travel books. I'm the author of Time Jump Coins.
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6 Responses to Top Ten Book Turnoffs

  1. Harriet says:

    Hi Susan, Enjoyed your list! I totally agree that many middle grade books can get “preachy” with too much of an adult’s viewpoint. That must be the hardest thing about writing for a young audience. And, #7 (about the take-home pets) is hilarious and true. Enjoyed your post!

  2. lipsyy says:

    Yes! I had preaching on my list too….sometimes they don’t even try to hide it!

    • Susan says:

      The preachiness factor is interesting. Some of the aspects of books that turn us off as adults might not be the same as what turns kids off. I imagine many middle grade kids are turned off by preachy books, but I’m not sure. Perhaps many young readers don’t notice it because they’re used to being preached at by adults? I supposed it depends on the individual kid.

  3. J. Lee Graham says:

    Great article! I too am not a fan of #8 and #9. If there is too much ‘poor humor;, I usually throw the book away before finishing it.
    Cliffhangers just to ‘get me’ to buy the next one: it is enticing, but after awhile, it irks me because it smells of cheap manipulation.
    Preachy adults in MG? I see your point. Not every book has to have a ‘point’. Some would argue: not any book has to have a point. The tales of adventure can allow each reader to come to his/her own conclusions.

    What I do like: the protagonist who discovers something emotional about him/herself. Discovers something dark, discovers something good, does not matter, but the uncovering of our soul, our animus/a, so to speak, fascinates me.

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