This is one big complaint

I’ve been reading some books that are just not doing it for me lately. I am not talking trash here, like in my post To trash or not to trash. One is a fantasy book that you will see in my sidebar, and took me weeks too long to read. Another is a historical fiction (that I haven’t put there yet). Both received great reviews. Both seemed interesting and light – just what I needed. To hop into a world and be taken away. Yet, this didn’t happen with either.

Still, I read, and continue. I am not capable of quitting a book without getting to the end. I asked myself why do I continue? The characters, I told myself with the fantasy novel. I want to see where things are going, even though this is the first in a set of three. I even find myself considering reading the other two just because I began the series.

In the historical fiction book, I read because I should like it. Does that make any sense?

The novel is written by a woman who spent years researching it. She has a list of credentials and endorsements. Plus, I bought it, so I have to read it. The other came from the library.

The main problem for me with both novels is so simple I cannot understand why the editors did not insist on the change. The POV switches non-stop between characters. And I don’t mean at intended points or three asterisks or end sections, I mean from one paragraph to the next, and multiple times and viewpoints.

As a reader this is my biggest pet peeve. How can I get to know anyone this way? And, how can I trust the author?

So, what do I learn from this? Two things: 1. anything can be published (sorry for being so cynical) and 2. make certain I do not make the same mistake.
Ok 3 things. People will read (I did).

As a reader and writer, what is your big pet peeves when reading?

PS. This goes against my outlook of, if you have nothing good to say, don’t say it all. I just had to get this out – it’s been bugging me!

26 thoughts on “This is one big complaint

  1. I always love it when I come across one of your posts. ^^ I hate books that have just enough of a hook to where you can’t put it down, but not enough of anything else to make you want to read it. These books tend to be pretty thrashed by the time I finished reading because I’ll pitch it across the room determined never to read it again, start doing something else, find myself wondering what’s going to happen, and finally storming over to pick it up again.

    1. Thanks Uninvoked!

      I share this passion of yours! This need to know/finish even though it is so evident or boring. Arg! Ah well, perhaps it is part guilt. If someone when through all that work then I should have the courtesy to finish?

  2. My biggest complaint is when I find my mind wandering. It usually means the characters and the world are missing depth (at least the kind I like). That said, I have kept going in books that struck me that way at first (Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice comes to mind) that turned out to be enjoyable.

    I generally like to finish books I’ve started in order to fully judge. I read Eragon, thinking it might get better. Once I closed the cover of Eragon, I felt no compulsion to open up whatever the next one was called.

    1. Yes, I know what you mean Jonathan. There are many things that make the mind wander, but all that matters is that the reader is not hooked. If I do not get drawn in to a world there is no point to my reading.

  3. What ticks me off is the whiff of pretentiousness. You can tell when a writer is trying to sound haughty, like a college freshman writing a term paper with words that are too much for them. When an author is trying to tell you more about themselves than about the story.

  4. It’s difficult when I come across a book that I know I should like – and might like, if I were at a different point in my life – but just can’t bring myself to appreciate. I had to start Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy on three separate occasions because, on the first two attempts, I just wasn’t open to his style and story. (When I was open to it, I loved it!)

    I’m actually okay with putting a book down and not finishing it. The way I see it, there are too many books out there to read to waste time slogging through one just for the sake of finishing it. That being said, I greatly admire you for starting what you finish! 😀

    Your point of view criticism is interesting. From what I’ve read on publishing/writing blogs, the trend seems to be first person or limited third person, so it’s interesting that you’re reading two books, both with multiple third person points of view (or is it third person omniscient? I’m always forgetting the terms!). I think that’s probably the most difficult point of view to manage – for just the reason you raise. It’s too easy to head hop and lose character consistency and voice in the process.

    I’m currently in a place where I can claim no pet peeves … because I’m my writing embodies all possible literary sins! ;-D

    Hope the next book you read is more enjoyable!

      1. Typos. I make a ton them – you are not alone!!! 🙂

        I jut copied this line from

        “But one defining characteristic of omniscience is this: The Narrator of an Omniscient Point of View novel remains far from invisible.”

        That is not the case in either novel. I think it is just poor writing technique. I think that the authors just didn’t know how to get the information out in a fluid way. Sorry to be so blunt!

        A great example is given on that website – Austen, of course:

        When Jane Austen writes, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”, that isn’t one of the characters of Pride and Prejudice speaking – it is Jane Austen offering the reader her opinions

  5. All my life I’ve loved reading. My biggest pet peeve is when I’m not loving it, for any reason, but I think the biggest reasons are a contrived plot or very weak writing (it doesn’t have to be brilliant, but I need some flow and grace to the language).

    I can’t keep going when I’m slogging through, I agree with Christina, I’m ok putting it down, but also admire your tenacity.

    1. Cathryn, I just realized that it might have to do with the fear of missing out on something good. It has happened that halfway through a novel there is a marked improvement and things become great! For me, The Gargoyle, one of the best books I have ever read, I really only began enjoying after either the 100 or 200 page mark (I can’t remember). And then, wow, what a read!!

  6. Bad books make me realize that it’s much more about effort, perseverance, etc, than inborn brilliance that gets someone published. And that’s great. 🙂

    I don’t mind putting a book down if it’s annoying or dull, so I don’t have many pet peeves. Showing Canada in an ignorant light is pretty frustrating, though. Or being extremely ignorant about anything like that. There’s a Chuck Palahniuk book “Invisible Monsters” that I adore, yet at the very beginning there’s a scene where he pretends all Canadians call their money loonies rather than dollars. He does this to make a joke of sorts & increase tension, but it’s bullshit. It drives me crazy.

  7. As Christina said, sometimes it’s just not the right time to read that particular book. But I have too little time to read a book I don’t enjoy. If it doesn’t grab with within a few pages, I put it down.

    I can overlook a few typos in a book, but if I find myself noticing bad syntax sentence after sentence, I probably won’t continue … especially if it’s fiction. I want to be carried away by fiction and I can’t be, if I’m constantly reaching for my mental red pencil.

  8. I read a story recently where the main characters plot line finished half way through the book and the author picks up the life of someone else. What ticked me off is that main characters plots weren’t finished. This is a literary award winning author, but it made me mad.

  9. Like Nathan said, pretention doesn’t work for me. Also, it reminds me that they used a thesaurus and chose the least used words in the book just so I can stop reading every few minutes and look it up.

    Another peeve, what I find most in commercial fiction, is trying too hard in the beginning to hook the reader. Like they had to start in the wrong place and then go backwards to set the scene. It’s gimmicky and it cheapens the reading experience.

  10. You have to keep re-reading good books to remind yourself that, if you’re mind is wandering, it’s not your fault, it’s the author’s. I find the same books keep my interest every time and the same books lose it, no matter how often I go back to them. I love to find new authors, though, which means ploughing through a lot of mediocre narrative, and it’s very unsatisfying to leave any book unfinished, no matter how bad it is. If you picked it up, it was for a reason. There was at least a glimmer of interest there and it’s true that some books get better towards the end. But my pet peeve is endorsements from other writers. I used to be influenced by them but I’ve been fooled too many times and now I never buy a book if it has an endorsement from another writer on the cover.

    1. Hi Joseph!
      “if you’re mind is wandering, it’s not your fault, it’s the author’s”. You are absolutely right! Since those two books I have been lucky enough to read 3 that pulled me in immediately and deeply. That’s the way it should be. The whole reason behind reading fiction (for me.)

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