My bookworm pet peeves
Hello, lovely Internet friends!
I've been listening to a lot of book-related podcasts lately, and one of the ones I quite like (quick plug for "He Read, She Read") did an episode on their book-related pet peeves, and I was motivated to do my own quick list - since I felt like being petty today, this seemed like a good way to scratch that itch that wouldn't run the risk of texting people I shouldn't or potentially getting fired from my job.
Anywooo, I put together a real quick list of my top 10 pet peeves related to books - some of them are reading-related, some of them are linked to the actual physical act of owning or holding books. And, in the spirit of what motivated this lest, some of them are really, really petty.
Dog-earing pages: A common one, I think. Why would you dog ear a page? Why would you do that? Firstly, it's permanent - once you fold down a page that page will never again lie flat, no matter how much pressure you put on it. It will make the book even fatter. It will damage the book. Why would you wantonly damage a book??? "But Amélie", I hear you wail, "how else will I know where I left off in my reading?" It's called bookmarks, people. Literally anything can be used as a bookmark. Don't dog ear your pages. If you insist on dog earing pages, I will never lend you a book. Which brings me to point #2...
People borrowing my books and not returning them: Another common one, and one that I have literally ended friendships over. If I lend you a book that I have purchased, I intend to get that book back. It is a part of my personal library. It does not belong to you. It is MINE. Don't borrow a book off me if you're not planning on returning it. You wouldn't borrow something from the library and never return it, would you? No, you wouldn't, because that is THEFT. The library will FINE YOU for such reprehensible behavior. Don't borrow a book from someone and not return it. I want my books back. And hey, look at that, this also leads quite smoothly to #3 on this list...
People who try to convince me that I need to Marie Kondo my book piles: It's somehow become trendy for people to insist that owning books is inherently pretentious, since you own books to show off to other people the type of literature you like. To that I say, my dear readers, HORSESHIT. Even though I'm not a big re-reader, I love having physical copies of my books and carting them around with me, because I can look at them and hold them and remember where I was, and what my state of mind was, when I was discovering the story for the first time. Also, I like giving recommendations and loaning books to friends and coworkers (as long as they promise to give them back) and I need to have the books in front of me, or at least somewhere I can easily grab them, to make my recommendation lists. And as someone who goes through books at a pretty quick pace, I need a big supply to pull from regularly and my reading moods and desires often shift around quickly enough that I need a bigger pool of options. I do a yearly cull, where I donate books that didn't grab me enough or that I don't see myself wanting to revisit or recommend; but I'm not ever going to not have a personal library. Stop suggesting it. You know who you are.
Books organised in visual rather than helpful ways: There is only one way to organise books, and that is alphabetical by author last name, and then chronological by date of publication if you've got multiple by the same author. One of the most violent fights I had with my ex-boyfriend was when he wanted to organise his recently-purchased bookshelf by cover color. Don't come anywhere near me with your "organised by color" or "organised by size" bullshit. You might be able to get away with that if you read 4 books a year and have a library of only 10 books, but if you've got a library worthy of the name, you need to be able to find books quickly on your shelves. Have you ever walked into a bookstore or a library and said "I don't know the author name or the title, but the cover was orange?" No. No you have not. There is only one right way to organise books and I am unwilling to discuss this further.
When my series don't match visually: Having said that, it really bugs me when my series aren't all of the same edition. This was particularly difficult when I was purchasing Dorothy Dunnett books, as the House of Niccoló and Lymond Chronicles books were hard enough to find that I had to cobble the series together in different editions. It just doesn't look as pretty on the shelf.
Calling books 'guilty pleasures': Listen, this is a recent one, as it's taken me a while to be willing to admit the fact that I enjoy pulpy, cheesy, oftentimes quite sexy romance novels. But I am now a full-throated believer that there is no such thing as a 'guilty pleasure' read. Guilty pleasure reads are often called that to minimise fiction that isn't considered 'high literature' by a few critics, and is often used to relegate fiction written by young people, by women, by authors from disadvantaged backgrounds to sections of bookstores less likely to win the usual awards. But reading is about escapism, and learning new perspectives and new stories, and teaching yourself to see things differently. There's nothing about that that's guilty, and if you need a pulpy romance to unwind after a difficult day, or take you somewhere else when you're struggling, then that's called self-care, buddy. Let's all just be happy with the books we like to read and not let anyone try and make us ashamed of what we enjoy.
Being interrupted while I'm reading: I'm going to have to restrain myself here to not turn this into a feminist diatribe, but it continues to boggle my mind how comfortable dudes are walking up to me in a public place while I'm reading and have got headphones on and attempting to start a conversation. Look, it's simple - if I've got my nose in a book, please don't interrupt me unless it's to tell me the house is on fire and I have to evacuate, or something of similarly dire proportion. I don't like getting yanked back to this world when I'm in the middle of another one. It makes me grumpy, and I will be rude to you. Don't say you weren't warned.
Plot twists for the sake of plot twists: I've mentioned this in several reviews, but I think some of the modern thrillers (looking at you, Seasons 7- 8 of Game of Thrones) are the most guilty of this. A plot twist for the sake of a plot twist, and that doesn't feel earned by any of the plotting or characterization up until that point, makes me furious. It cheapens the entire book and makes me feel like I've been duped in the stupidest of ways. I love a gotcha if it's cleverly worked and makes sense, but a gotcha dropped in there where you can't go back in the novel and pick up all the clues - it's cheap, it's lazy, it's bad writing and there is no surer way to make me hate a book than having it thrown in there for the sake of a plot twist. The fact that it happens so often now is why I'm so wary of picking up new thriller writers.
Blurbs that don't match the story accurately: The blurb on the back of the book is supposed to give you a summary, a sort of idea, as to what the story you're about to embark on is. A review that doesn't match up with what's in the book itself is the textbook definition of false advertising and it's infuriating.
Deckled edges: This is what a deckled edge looks like:
It's awful. I hate them. The pages are harder to turn, they tear more easily, they're just the worst. I don't understand why publishers do this and I really, really, REALLY wish they'd stop. Give me a straight edge or give me death.
Anyway, there you have it, folks - my list of petty pet peeves.
Do you share any of these? Or am I leaning a bit hard into my inner Amy Santiago-ness, and being completely ridiculous? Let me know!
Happy (and non-peeved) reading,