Monday, 2 August 2010

Book Prejudices

Hi. My name's Lesley and I'm going to admit that I have book prejudices. In some ways this is a good thing, otherwise every time I went into Waterstones I'd be maxing out my credit card. But maybe it also means that I'm a little harsh on some books that I might otherwise have enjoyed.

Now I'm talking more here about things that stop you picking up a book in the first place or things that you read on the cover which mean that the story has to work harder to pull you in. (Niggles and grumbles with the actual story is a post for another day.)

The Cover itself

Now I hate to admit this but covers do play an important role in book purchases. More if it's a first time author. If it's come down to a choice between two books and one has a great cover and the other has a god-awful one, I know where my money's going to go. I think e-books get away with this more because they aren't going to be on your bookshelf where you have to look at them.

Cover Quotes

I try to take little notice of these because a lot of the time there seems to be little consistency in the recommendations. But one thing that does set off my readerly defences is if a quote says - laugh out loud funny, or any variation on that theme. Mainly because I then open the book almost challenging it to - 'Make me laugh!' And once you're in that mind set it means that the story has to work twice as hard as it might have done without the quote.

Strange character names

If an author is going to call their character Calliope, Ricochet or Teakettle. I wish they'd remember that the reader is going to be stuck with that for the whole book. I'm not saying don't use the name, I'm saying make sure you have a good reason for using it rather than Cathy, Richard or Thomas.

For example Cherijo in the Stardoc novels has that name because it's an acronym of her experiment designation. Also there's probably a little more leeway in science fiction.

Please tell me I'm not alone in my Monday morning moaning. Does anyone else out there share these prejudices or do you have some of your own? I have a copy of The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn to give away to one commenter on this post. Winner to be chosen by random number at on Saturday.


Chris said...

Not entering. Hmm. Having two main characters with names that are similar (in length, sound, etc) so that I have trouble keeping them sorted.

Sullivan McPig said...

I've two prejudices I know of:
1 - Contemporary romances. I'm convinced they aren't any good even when other people tell me I will enjoy them as they're about something I like.
2 - when the cover quote is by an author of a book I do not like.

Stephanie said...

I really only have one book prejudice and that's a bad book cover. I dislike really cheesy romance book covers.

Mary M. said...

Don't enter me, I have the book already, but I think my three main book prejudices are:

1. Harlequins. Can't stand them anymore - formulaic, short, underdeveloped with emo heroines, bleh.

2. 1st person POV narration. That's a personal biais, but I just can't stand it. I feel like I can't make up my own opinion about the characters or situations when I'm stuck inside one person's head. It takes a hell of a lot of good word of mouth, great reviews and an intriguing summary to get me to read a 1st person POV book. I usually put them back on the shelf straight away and if I do buy them, they usually languish on MY shelves for months. It's the main reason I haven't read Twilight yet.

3. Boring covers. I'll take cheesy over colorless and unoriginal anytime.

Darlynne said...

I agree with all your prejudices, Lesley, and will add the over-use of exclamation points in blurbs. I subscribe to the notion that writers are only allowed so many exclamation points in their work and putting them in cover quotes makes me think the book must be particularly horrid.

Tracy said...

Please don't enter me. The only thing I can think of is if the hero has some quirky nickname - that drives me batty!

LSUReader said...

I hadn't thought about challenging names before, but it is a good point (Teakettle?) Hum...I'll have to pay more attention to the names in the books I read. I do have a cover prejudice. I frequently find that if I'm influenced by a book's cover, that influence is negative. As for cover blurbs, if they are by an author I know and follow, that's a positive for me. Otherwise, it's just more clutter.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

Even though I started out reading historicals I shy away from them now. Too much work. I don't want to learn when I'm reading. LOL

Also, I don't have kids, so I don't want to read about families or single moms or lonely pregnant women.

Wow - those sound pretty rough when I see them "out loud".

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Chris sent me here with her linkity links! Not entering but yes, I have prejudices - if an author introduces too many characters in the first chapter...I'm done.
If the author introduces too many characters in the first chapter with similar sounding stupid names...I'm done.
If the author introduces too many characters in the first chapter with similar sounding stupid names and paranormal powers that I can't keep straight who all sort of resemble each other...I'm done.

Stephanie - as an author who has been the victim of a few bad book covers over which I had no control - it's not our fault! I hate bad covers too!

Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

I definitely have prejudices.

Covers definitely play a role in that. God-awful covers make me think the book wasn't good enough to warrant paying a professional to make a good cover so why should I invest the time to read it? It has nothing to do with the covers being on the shelf though so I still judge e-books harshley.

I'm also with Chris on using names that are too similar. That is an immediate turn off.

Then lastly, I dislike books that have really long chapters. For some idiotic reason I always want to put a book down at the end of a chapter. But, because I'm awful tired these days and I do the bulk of my reading before falling asleep I dislike when the chapters are so long I can't finish one before I start nodding off. 20 page chapters are kind of my cut off. Though I have to confess I've never not bought or checked out a book from the library for that. It just takes me much longer to read those books than books with shorter chapers.

LesleyW said...

Chris - that's annoying, and it's worse when the author mixes them up. I've had that happen in a book.

Sullivan - I'm not a huge fan of contemporaries either - unless they're m/m.

Stephanie - I know they shouldn't but I do think that bad book covers put people off.

LesleyW said...

Mary - I finally got into first person point of view but still don't like present tense. I keep trying to like it and not.

Darlynne - I'm with you on the exclamation points.

Tracy - Do you have any examples? :)

LesleyW said...

LSUReader - Okay - Teakettle is made up. But I didn't want to name and shame. And there are some names out there just as ridiculous.

SVZ - Yeah, when you start listing things that annoy it can come across as having a bit of a moan. But it's a good thing to get niggles off your chest.

Julia - I think you do have to have some personal rules as regards your reading. Something to help you cut down on the vast amount of books you want to buy.

LesleyW said...

Kristi - I think regarding covers that's possibly in the back of a lot of readers minds. If this is the cover that the publisher lumbered the book with they obviously don't have much confidence in it.

Nicole said...

(Not entering this one)

I agree with your prejudices, and I regret to say that book covers are my biggest turn-off for a book. It's the first thing I see, and if I don't like it, I don't usually even read the blurb to see if I might like the story. (For instance, I haven't yet read "Moon Called" because I hate the cover, though many friends tell me I'd love it.)

I also agree with Chris that similar names drive me batty. If I have to flip back in the book to see which of a similarly named character has done what action, I get mad. It's better if there's a reason (like a case of confused identity) but still annoying.