What puts you off a book immediately?

(216 Posts)
EishetChayil Tue 23-Nov-21 22:04:48

For me it's opening a book and discovering it's written in the second person. I can't bring myself to read on. It makes me squirm too much. Just about acceptable in a (very) short story, but not a whole novel.

I'm also no fan of epistolary form, if I'm perfectly honest.

OP’s posts: |
Thehistorygirls Tue 23-Nov-21 22:51:34

Any kind of punctuation tricks, with a particular hatred of missing inverted commas. I tolerated it in Normal People but I think it never improves a book, often makes it worse and is almost always literary showing off.

Ladyrattles Tue 23-Nov-21 22:54:32

When you get too much of a background info dump in the first few paragraphs

highlandcoo Wed 24-Nov-21 00:21:23

I am detesting the - increasingly prevalent - use of the continuous present tense. Or any present tense in fact. It is never satisfactorily conveying tension, immediacy or whatever else the author is presumably aiming for. It is usually just jarring terribly and is preventing me from enjoying the book.

highlandcoo Wed 24-Nov-21 00:24:18

Oh, and also the refusal to name whatever character is speaking, so that you can be a few pages into a chapter and still not be sure whose voice is being used.
Far too tricksy and try-hard. Just tiring and pointless.

MimiDaisy11 Wed 24-Nov-21 00:25:44

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book in second person apart from those chose your own adventure children books.

For me over use of similes. I think even clever ones take me out of a story as they’re more clever than actually enhancing my understanding. I also notice cliches like starting a story with the character waking up.

CheeseMmmm Wed 24-Nov-21 00:35:00

Map of imaginary area at front.


FictionalCharacter Wed 24-Nov-21 00:39:30

Bad spelling and grammar. I can’t concentrate on the story if the text is riddled with errors.

LightDrizzle Wed 24-Nov-21 00:46:44

A cover featuring pink and a cocktail glass, shoes, sun hat and other bollocks.

Protagonists looking in the mirror at their painstakingly described reflections. Bonus if their breasts are mentioned. There is always a faux flaw or two thrown in to make them more accessible and avoid them sounding arrogant. This flaw is never a massive underbite or cystic acne but something like freckles that appear every spring despite their m best efforts, or stubborn curls, or a mole or small scar somewhere on the face.

LightDrizzle Wed 24-Nov-21 00:47:44


Map of imaginary area at front.


nancy75 Wed 24-Nov-21 00:49:24

Characters with stupid names. I know it’s a small thing & the story might be amazing, but if they have silly names I can’t read it.

ClaudiusTheGod Wed 24-Nov-21 00:50:10

Apple Tree Yard was written in the second person, wasn’t it? Awful book.

Joshua Ferris’s And Then We Came to the End was first person plural, I think. Couldn’t finish that either.

ClaudiusTheGod Wed 24-Nov-21 00:51:22

@LightDrizzle “This flaw is never a massive underbite or cystic acne”


Igneo Wed 24-Nov-21 07:44:58

When the author has so much capacity to think beyond their own existence, that they write a novel about... an author.

GeodesicDome Wed 24-Nov-21 07:53:27

Anything where the protagonists have invisible private means. Which cancels out most fiction actually.

CeeceeBloomingdale Wed 24-Nov-21 07:59:21

I hate it when a character has an accent so the author writes their speech phonetically. I get so hung up on reading it in the accent that I lose my way.

CeeceeBloomingdale Wed 24-Nov-21 08:00:12

Also long chapters. I much prefer a book with short chapters as I find it easier to
dip in and out of.

lazylinguist Wed 24-Nov-21 08:00:34

A cover featuring pink and a cocktail glass, shoes, sun hat and other bollocks.

Definitely grin.

Map of imaginary area at front.

This, on the other hand, doesn't pit me off at all. Although there are obviously plenty of shit fantasy books.

Soffana Wed 24-Nov-21 08:03:41

When the author is describing someone as beautiful, ugly, sexy etc and not from a character's perspective.

lazylinguist Wed 24-Nov-21 08:04:24

Any books that focus mainly on romantic relationships. Any book that is about normal people living normal lives - I can see plenty of that in rl thanks!

mdinbc Wed 24-Nov-21 08:09:50

When there are so many characters with familiar sounding names. Mary, Marie, Murray!

MagpiePi Wed 24-Nov-21 08:13:18

A list, usually extensive, of all the characters. I know I will never remember who they all are, and can't be bothered flicking to the front to look them up the whole time.

toastofthetown Wed 24-Nov-21 08:14:43

I’m put off by first person, present tense. I can read it if it’s a quick read but generally I try to avoid. First person isn’t my first choice, but I wouldn’t avoid a book based on that alone.

My other pet hate is when all characters, regardless of age, are given names which are currently popular, like the author used their entire baby name list. I just find it jarring. It makes the books cast sound like a primary school class despite most characters being 25-80.

hopeishere Wed 24-Nov-21 08:18:39


When there are so many characters with familiar sounding names. Mary, Marie, Murray!

Agreed! I'm reading the new Jonathan Franzen (meh) and there's a Russ and a Rick (also confusingly referred to as Ambrose). Just pick a different name ffs.

Also the punctuation thing. Really put me off Girl, Woman, Other.

I didn't used to like first person or present tense but can cope with them now.

MakkaPakkas Wed 24-Nov-21 08:19:44

What @lightdrizzle said. Plus hard sci-fi books where everyone has an unpronounceable made up name beginning with the same few letters, I just can't follow who is who.
I'm also not keen on books which minutely dissect the inner feelings of young women and their relationships especially with food or their own insecurities. So boring.

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