3 Things That Make Me Stop Reading

I love to read. Give me a book and a healthy snack a bag of Oreos and I’m set for the night. I like a lot of different genres, too, so I always have a nice, big TBR stack just waiting for me. But there are some things that will make me put a book down without finishing it (or sometimes hurl it at the wall if it’s a physical book.) Recently several bloggers have listed the things that make them stop reading, so I thought I’d throw my own reasons out there, too.

3 Things That Make Me Stop Reading

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1.) Excessive dialogue tags. The occasional “he said” or “she whispered” don’t bother me a bit. In fact, I usually don’t see dialogue tags if they’re “said,” “whispered,” or even “asked.” But this weekend I ran across a book I just could not finish. The premise was great, the  story itself was interesting, and the characters were pretty captivating. The problem was that none of them ever said anything. No, they “growled,” “choked out,” “screamed,” “retorted,” “snapped,” “sobbed,” and everything in between. Even worse, one of these tags was appended at the end of every single line of dialogue. They totally interrupted the flow of the story, and by the third chapter I’d had enough and quit reading.

2.) Head hopping. I don’t see this a lot anymore, but every now and again I’ll read a book where the author keeps changing the point of view. One minute I’ll be reading from the heroine’s perspective, and then the next paragraph I discover I’m now in the hero’s head. When that happens then it’s over, and I put the book down, never to pick it up again.

3.) Lack of research. This is my biggest pet peeve. I don’t care how well-written a book is, if I discern that the author didn’t do his or her research on certain subjects then I’m done with it. I cannot read a book where a surgeon performs a delicate procedure on a patient in ten minutes, or a car mechanic replaces a transmission in a half-hour. I quit reading and fling the book at the wall when a Rock star wanders around backstage all by himself/doesn’t have a PA or hires one from a temp agency/has tons of time to kill while on tour/brings his girlfriend onstage (oh, God, that last one makes me scream aloud! That Does. Not. Happen. Ever. Actually, none of that stuff I mentioned ever happens.), or when a chef never cooks. If a book is set in New Orleans (or Denver, or St. Louis, or Dallas, or Memphis, or L.A., or any of the other many cities I know intimately) then the descriptions of those cities had better be spot on. I guess lack of research is my biggest sticking point because deep, painstaking research is part of writing a book. Any book. If Fantasy/Sci-Fi authors can build entire worlds from nothing, a romance author can take the time to learn about what Rock stars do in the studio and on the road, or what newscasters do to prepare for a broadcast, or what veterinarians do when someone brings in a cat that’s been hit by a car. Yeah, the book is fiction, but the subject matter isn’t. That part is real, and if it reads like someone’s daydreams of what they wish it would be, then I stop reading.

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Now that I’ve ranted all over the place and vented my spleen, tell me: What makes you stop reading?

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10 Responses to 3 Things That Make Me Stop Reading

  1. Diana Beebe says:

    I’m right there with you, Juli! Head hopping and dialogue tags kill me.

    Researching is a must–even in building SF/F worlds. The information dumps that sometimes happen with those (“Here, let me explain how this works…”) are just as bad as the “couldn’t have happened” bits.
    Diana Beebe recently posted…A Bee in the Blooming Broc!My Profile

    • julipagemorgan says:

      And the thing about dialogue tags is that they’re pretty much unnecessary. Instead of using one, all the author has to do is show the character, and we’ll understand that he/she is growling, sobbing, etc. If I see excessive tags then I’m pretty sure the rest of the writing isn’t as strong as it should be.

      I’m in awe of SF/F writers! The best ones are able to literally create an entire world, take us right into it, and make us believe it’s a real planet/universe/time. But I am so with you on the info dumps. Those are why I stayed away from reading SF/F for so long – the author taking pages and pages to tell every detail about their world. The best ones, though, show it instead of tell it, and that’s what makes it real!

      Hey, how’s your broccoli doing? LOVED the pic of the bee!!

  2. Becky Flade says:

    I picked up an older book, a favorite of mine by a much loved author, not that long ago for a “comfort” read. I received no comfort 🙁 I was tearing it up; picking out the head hopping, the continuity errors, etc. Oy!

    • julipagemorgan says:

      It’s freakin’ amazing how much writers have improved their craft over the years, isn’t it? In older books the head-hopping was epidemic. Thing is, I never noticed it when I first read them back in the day. Now? It’s all I can see. And that kind of makes me wonder if I’d even notice it now if I weren’t published and writing my own books! Oy, indeed!

  3. Debi says:

    Head hopping is one of my worst pet peeves. The last Nicholas Sparks book I read (okay, I’ve read more than one, namely TWO) was mostly because dog training was a large part of the plot. At least he changes chapters between points of view, but damn! If I wanted to know what each character thought about the other, then I should have been privy to conversations between the main characters, not the thoughts of Every Single Character.

    Info dumps are bad, but worse are info dumps from peripheral characters about them that have no bearing on the plot whatsoever. Another book I should have enjoyed, because it was set in Florida and one of the main characters raised Quarter Horses, was ruined by a church secretary. All she did was show a woman into the pastor’s office, but I was forced to fins out that the secretary was a widow whose husband had died abruptly a few years prior, leaving her childless and penniless, what kind of shoes she was wearing and where she got them, and that the preacher had kindly given her a job at the church when she needed. Okay, so the preacher was a nice man, she could have just said that to the young woman as she opened the door. “That Pastor Whatsit is such a nice man…” I did not need to know her shoe size or what she was having for supper that night. I gave up after two chapters.
    Oy.
    Vey.
    Debi recently posted…The desolation of the neglected blog…My Profile

    • julipagemorgan says:

      The head-hopping and dialogue tags all come down to Showing vs. Telling, don’t they? If it’s shown, the author won’t need to hop into the other character’s head to reveal what they were thinking in the exact same scene we just saw from the other character’s POV.

      Over-explained minor characters! If I had a #4 on my list, this would be it. If an author goes into that much detail about someone, I expect to have them play a role in the story. If they don’t, then I’ve wasted my time getting to know someone who essentially doesn’t matter when I could have been reading about the main characters.

  4. Laila says:

    It’s strange, head-hopping. Sometimes when I read a great book written in Third person omnicient, I sometimes wonder — isn’t this technically head-hopping? Then why am I not bothered by it? But yeah, it can ruin a lot.

    Here are some things that really kill it for me:

    – Body-shaming. I literally read a book (and then stopped reading) because the “hero” narrated “She wore hotpants, and he stared at her smooth legs. They were perfectly sculpted, not covered in disgusting cellulite like most of the women her age.”
    I also get turned off when a guy is too interested in women wearing hot clothes and make-up. Call me old-fashioned, but I want a guy to like me for me… and then I can wear hot things to surprise him, but I don’t actually want him to care about that stuff.

    – When I get the feeling the authors is trying to convey some kind of moral values to me. I dunno, that just wakes my inner anarchist.

    – Wooden dialogue. I think that’s my biggest peeve. I can’t stand it when characters talk in a way no human ever would.

    • julipagemorgan says:

      Laila, I agree with every one of those! That whole “disgusting cellulite” line would have probably had me stabbing the book with a knife or something. What a shallow hero! Also? I love the term “inner anarchist!” 🙂

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I can’t stand the old “I know you want me…your mouth says no but your eyes say yes” bullcrap that a million fictional predators have spewed at their victims to justify the rape they’re trying to commit in the name of love, baby. You just don’t know you love me yet. Lemme force myself on you so you can fall under the spell of my magical weener. There. Dont’cha feel loved now, honey?

    So tired of the knuckle dragging alpha male trope. I thought we were beyond the hunter/gatherer cave people days oh, some millennia ago?

    • julipagemorgan says:

      God, yes! I am so over the uber-alpha males. Confident males? Love ’em. Strong males? Yes, please. Bossy, overbearing, rude, borderline emotionally abusive males? Nope. Any one of my heroines would end up incarcerated for slapping the ever-loving hell out of one of those guys.

      Unfortunately, the “I know you want me even though you’re saying no” trend is escalating, and in a very, very bad way. There’s a book out there that women are losing their (questionable) minds over, a book that glorifies kidnapping, rape, sexual slavery and human trafficking. Puts it out there as titillating and sexy. WTH? That’s the line that crosses from alpha male to sick fuck, and no doubt about it.

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