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Tell Me Something Tuesday #177: Topics I Avoid in Books

Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and covers a range of topics about books and blogging (you can check out their answers here).

This week’s question:

What are things that make you steer clear of a book?

Excessive violence, especially against women. This is where Pat Conroy lost me. His writing is beautiful, but after being shocked by reading brutal rape scenes in several of his books, I decided I couldn’t do any more. I tend to steer clear of a lot of thrillers as well, since I’m not the hugest fan of reading about murder…or heists, for that matter. Crime in general, really.

Titles/covers that show the book is obviously sci-fi or western. Just not genres that really interest me, for the most part.

Sometimes size matters. (Insert inappropriate joke here.) I’m not opposed to gigantic brick-sized books- Alaska and Hawaii, both by James Michener, were gloriously enormous books and some of my favorites ever, despite being close to or over 1000 pages- but at this point in my life, I prefer shorter reads. Hit me up again when my daughter’s older, giant books.

Man vs. nature books. There are exceptions; Jon Krakauer’s books are awesome for this, but in general, I’m not a fan of ‘the plane crashed and now we’re all fighting to survive in the jungle/desert/side of a mountain!!!’ books. I find them stressful. And in that vein…

Books about or containing animals. If there’s a beloved pet in the book, you can be sure I’m stressing from the first mention that that pet is going to die (or be horribly injured) somewhere in the book. This was like the Number One Plot Device in books when I was a kid; the author would kill off the main character’s pet in order to foreshadow the death of someone even more important, like a parent or sibling. It was horrible and traumatizing and to this day, I get uncomfortable when the plot centers too closely on an animal. I LOVE animals and don’t need to stress about them more than my own two cats make me. (See pic of me doing yoga and Turd Cat Reba, also known as The Bitey One, getting all up in my face. Not shown: the blurry pictures of her climbing across my face, the pictures I couldn’t take because she was jumping on me when I was trying to downward dog, and the other cat, Piglet, who likes to stand at the edge of the mat and scream at me. Yeesh!)

I’m half-tempted to put religious fiction here, but I’m not entirely opposed to that. I don’t enjoy religious fiction when it comes on too strongly, but I’ve read a few that were okay, so that’s not a never for me. It doesn’t necessarily have to be my faith for me to appreciate how it works for someone else.

Very Serious Biographies About Historical White Men. I don’t necessarily want to read, say, a biography of Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln. It’s not that they’re not interesting people; I just got my fill of that in school. Now, say, a Very Serious Biography about Harriet Tubman or Maya Angelou? YES PLEASE.

Literary Fiction. When it gets too literary and the writing gets too flowery and convoluted for my tastes, I’m out. Just not my thing.

That’s about it for me. What about you? Are there things you run screaming from in the bookstore or library? Any certain genres you refuse to engage with? Certain tropes you can’t stand? (I’m not adding this to the list, but years ago, I somehow managed to read three or four books that year that involved cousin love, and not like, “Here is your cousin, the Earl of Moneyton. Marry him to increase our fortunes!”, more like, “Dude, my mom’s sister’s son is freakin’ HOT!” NO NO NO. SO gross, and I will nope out of books that do that, because seriously, there are so many other people you can get it on with besides one you’re related to.) I’d love to hear what doesn’t do it for you, literarily-speaking!

9 thoughts on “Tell Me Something Tuesday #177: Topics I Avoid in Books

    1. Yup, The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini. Both were beautiful written, but after The Great Santini, I decided no more.

      There seems to be a lot of us who don’t enjoy animal books! Glad to know I’m not alone in that.

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  1. I love this post so much! I agree with the pets thing — hate it when an author kills off a beloved pet… I hate reading rape scenes, especially when they’re written systematically by the same authors. Makes me think that the writer cannot conjure up a plot that doesn’t profit off of the pain and trauma of female (and male!) character — ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES. Rape as a plot device just doesn’t work for me. It happens, we know it happens, it has happened to far too many of us…it’s not something I need more of in the books I read, unless it’s the voice of a survivor. Those stories, I’ll read, because their voices deserve to be heard.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some great answers. We had some similar views. Totally agree about an animal showing up, I sit there and worry the whole time. Yes, to the thrillers with the graphic scenes as well. I don’t like that. I love big books, but with the blog, I don’t have much time to read them anymore. Thanks for participating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, I love big books (I’ve read and reread Stephen King’s IT and The Stand multiple times, and they’re bricks as well), but it’s just so much harder to read the huge ones right now. I’m rethinking my policy of reading one book at a time; I may be able to tackle the bigger ones IF I own them and IF I can read just a little bit each day- I’ve been considering doing that with Les Misérables once my daughter goes to school. That might be the only way! 🙂

      There’s a Jennifer Crusie novel I really liked where the female main character adopted an elderly dog at the start of the book and I spent the entire book waiting for the dog to drop dead (he didn’t, thankfully, but JEEZ. I did end up enjoying the story as I read it, since I like most of her books, but to this day, that’s the one thing I remember about the book: DOG STRESS).

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    1. I’m finding I need more balance when it comes to the heavier stuff than I was allowing myself previously. So far, I’m doing a better job this year, so fingers crossed, I can keep it up. It’s hard to read so much emotionally difficult stuff and get no break from it!

      Liked by 1 person

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