Top Ten Tuesday: Ten things that turn me off in a book

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s topic is actually ten books I decided to DNF too quickly, but since I’m not sure that I’ve even DNFed ten books total in my entire life, I decided to turn the tables and do my own topic: ten things that turn me off in a book. (AKA things that make me want to DNF.)

1. Cheating in any form. I don’t care if you’ve known each other forever. I don’t care if you’re in a loveless marriage. I don’t care if it was an accident or you were drunk or you’re fated to be together. I hate cheating.

2. Purposeful misunderstandings. I hate this trope. I hate, hate, hate it. You know how two people can be having a normal conversation and one of them will be like “yeah I’m going to visit my mom for the weekend, see you soon!” and the other one is like “what the actual heck I can’t believe he just broke up with me!” I also hate when the characters flat-out refuse to communicate.

3. Slut shaming. Honestly, there’s enough of this in real life and it doesn’t need to spill over into fiction. The only time it works for me is when it’s only brought up to be tackled later in the book. It has to be addressed in a positive way that educates young, impressionable readers that it’s not appropriate and that it’s not cool to tear people down.

4. Rape and sexual assault. I mean, I know it’s not supposed to make me happy or anything, but I really hate it when this is used as a plot device. I hate when it’s used to make a girl seem “damaged” or prove that the villain is a bad guy. Be more creative than that.

5. A slow, meandering plot without character development. The plot doesn’t always have to be heart-pounding. But if it’s slow and there’s not even character development happening, what’s the point?

6. When everyone knows what’s best for the main character except for the main character. This is super common in new adult romances when the two sides of the love triangle try to convince the main character that they know better than her what she needs in her life. It happens to a lesser extent in YA, often with the parents insisting upon sending a child away for their health or safety when nothing’s really wrong.

7. Continuity problems. Please, please employ an editor to at least glance through your work. Your book can be amazing but if Christmas happens twice in the same year or a character’s defining characteristic suddenly disappears without explanation, it becomes hard to take a book seriously.

8. Grammar mistakes or editing gone wrong. This kind of goes along with #7. I’ve gotten books before (both ARCs and final copies) that still have notes from the editor in them. All I have to say is YIKES.

9. Factual inaccuracies. There are fantasy novels, there’s suspension of disbelief, and then there’s blatant lying. Unless you’re rewriting history (and that’s a main point of your book!) it’s probably best to do research and find out what actually happened at the event you want to discuss.

10. Not like other girls. Please excuse me for a moment while I quote Meghan Trainor.

First you gonna say you ain’t runnin’ game
Thinkin’ I’m believing every word
Call me beautiful, so original
Telling me I’m not like other girls
I was in my zone before you came along
Now I’m thinking maybe you should go

There’s nothing cute or funny about this cliche. It assumes that the love interest is more desirable than other women because she doesn’t actually act like a woman, that a woman is somehow inherently undesirable. It pits women against each other and turns dating into a competition. No thanks.


What are your dealbreakers?

44 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Ten things that turn me off in a book

  1. VSBbooksBlog says:

    Ha. Great list. I have to say I’m pretty easy-going as a reader but some of the things in your list turn me off too. And surprisingly, it’s not the cheating. If there is a purpose and reason and it’s well explained I can deal with cheating just fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. stephaniedanielsonauthor says:

    With you on most of this except the cheating; if there’s a good explanation, then I’m fine with it. Keen on no sexual assaults/rapes…definitely a dealbreaker for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Winged Cynic says:

    Girl, this is an amazing list! I’ve dropped several popular books due to the stuff you mention here, like slut-shaming (or girl on girl hate), miscommunication and sexual assault plot devices (they’re soooo annoying), and the “I’m not like other girls” trope. Yeesh, I will drop these books like a hot potato if they ever happen. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pagesandpugs says:

    OMG number 2 and number 7!! I HATE the purposeful misunderstandings trope SO MUCH. And the continuity problems make me nuts. i feel like i’m going crazy, flipping back and forth to see if i missed something.

    Liked by 1 person

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