Chat Between Chapters: What are your reading turn offs?

February 16, 2014 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 20



 What turns you off in books? Are there any tropes you just can’t stand? Any overused phrases?

Julie Review Avatar Julie:

There are certain phrases or tropes that I find overused and kind of grate at me. The list below is not all inclusive, but it is a handful of such tropes that I shake my head at. I’m sure I’m not the only one so please share with us your own reading turn-offs.  

  • The phrase “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding”. I seriously feel like this phrase is in way too many books. It almost feels like a cheap trick now to show the character was nervous. 
  • Overly descriptive paragraphs with TMI. For example “I felt a bead of sweat form between my breasts and slide down my stomach”. Um, ew? I get that it is hot, but come on! I didn’t need that visual.
  • Characters needing to look in a mirror to describe their appearance to the reader. Sometimes you gotta mix it up, like have them see their reflection in a window instead. 
  • Fantasy novels where the main character starts out living a normal life and going to school then bam finds out he/she is some magical thing and has to go to another realm for some mission/quest/save someone/etc and completely ignores their previously normal life now. Overdone. Can we start a book another way please?
  • Romance books that describe a male character’s scent as something woody plus man. WTF does “man” even smell like? 


Rose review avatar Rose:

Hmmm .. man? I agree. Julie. Describing a male character’s scent as something (soap) plus man is actually rather disgusting. Honestly, it is so overused, it sort of makes me laugh now. I like your list Julie, but honestly, I cannot say that I have really been bothered by too many of these. My biggest reading turn off is simpler than that. I cannot stand the insta-love connection with little to no explanation save that she “felt drawn to him in some inexplicable way.” Other than that, I am really drawing a blank on this one. I dislike strange similes. I dislike sad endings and cliff hangers and as a general rule, I typically dislike second books in a series of more than three books. The only exception to that rule thus far is the second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly In Amber. I really loved that book best in the series so far. Oh! One thing that really turns me off in a book is descriptions of rather personal aspects of characters’ anatomies.  Completely unnecessary in my opinion. If the writing up until that point has done what it should do, I find there is little need of awkward and often times coarse descriptions of anything steel-like or velvety. Just no. Do NOT go there.    

Note: Some posts may contain affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase a product, we will receive a small commission for the sale at no additional cost to you. Chapter Break is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Subscribe to Chapter Break posts.

Never miss a post on Chapter Break. Subscribe today for all the bookish awesome in your inbox.

Join 17,530 other subscribers

20 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: What are your reading turn offs?”

  1. Felita

    My pet peeve is when they tell you something/anything “it’s hot outside” and tell you the exact same thing one page later, and then two pages later they tell you “it’s SO hot outside.” It either insults my intelligence or I wonder if they are padding the word count.

    • Rose

      well considering that a lot of REAL men smell like a combination of beer, cheese curls and onions, perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on authors making their male heros smell good, right? But yes, totally unrealist, I agree.

  2. Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog)

    That letting out a breath sentence is the worst!! I also get annoyed when someone in a book waves a thought away with their hand. Like is everyone everywhere waving their hands all the time?? BC if they are, I am never seeing it. Description of smells to me are really tricky… as are descriptions of sweat. And as someone above said I hate when first and last names are awkwardly introduced. Who meets a random person for the first time and tells them their first and last name?? I know I never do unless I’m on a job interview or something. “Teen talk” is another thing that makes me want to throw a book. If you don’t know how teens really talk to each other, don’t write about teens. And lastly I’m not a fan of constant recapping. A little is ok but I do not have a short term memory loss problem… you do not need to remind me (and by remind I mean a full summary) of something that I read 100 pages ago. Cool discussion I love it!!
    Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog) recently posted…The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

    • Rose

      Very good points, Michelle. I never really thought about the waving hands thing. FUNNY! And inauthentic dialogue grates on my nerves as well. Keep stopping by every Sunday, when we always have a new Chat Between Chapters discussion.

  3. Mark

    Now I’m going to notice every held breath. It’s never bothered me before, but it will now. Thanks.

    My biggest pet peeve is authors who can’t track the timing of their story. I once read a book where the characters sat down to breakfast, had lunch, and then left breakfast. Or another book where every other day was Saturday. Those kind of things drive me bonkers.
    Mark recently posted…Book Review: Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan (League of Literary Ladies #1)

    • Rose

      WOW! that would bother me, too. I know that author Rebecca Donovan said that whenever she wrote her Breathing Series, she actually would have a calendar beside her computer and map out the times and days and when stuff would happen so she knew, like okay, Christmas fell on a Tuesday, so New Years has to fall on Tuesday. it helps to make the story appear more seamless and real.

  4. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    One thing that drives me bonkers is when characters call one another by their full names. Why are you doing that? Who does that in real life? Once in a while it seems realistic but in most books it just smacks of a way to get us to remember a last name…or as a very poor way to “prove” that this couple really KNOWS one another because they say full names.

    Am I making any sense? lol

    • Rose

      Jennifer, omg, I just finished reading a book yesterday and the male main character was professing his deep undying affection and love for the female main character and he used her full name and I found it sooooooooo annoying. That is not romantic. Its weird.

  5. April @ The Steadfast Reader

    Yes to the fantasy books with normal guy turned maaaagic! J.K. Rowling cornered this market in the ’90’s with Harry Potter – time for something new.

    Hm, recently I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs/living better books and I keep running across a lot of ‘God-given X’ can’t we just have ‘talent’ or whatever? It seems extraneous to me, especially if the book has been marketed as secular.

    Thanks for linking up!
    April @ The Steadfast Reader recently posted…Spread the Love Linky Party 2.0: Week Two

    • Rose

      “God-given” really shouldnt be a descriptive turn in a secular book, I agree April.

    • Rose

      Oh Charlotte, I never really thought about the description of “prefect” to describe the MC’s but you are right, that DOES get annoying.

  6. Annie Cosby

    Bahaha! Great lists guys – especially the smelling like “man.” Reading would have you believe all men smell wonderfully alike! (Not the one I live with!)

    • Rose

      ha! ya, I am lucky that the one I live with never really smells bad, which is saying something! but yeah, fiction would have you believe that men all smell wonderful and woodsy and like soap. BIG FAT LIE! try sweat and stinky feet.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge