THINGS I HATE READING ABOUT (and some exceptions)

hi everyone!! today I thought I’d do something different and discuss some things that I hate reading about. I’ll give some examples of books that have incorporated some of these themes/topics, but, to keep things interesting, I also thought I’d include some exceptions whenever possible–that is, books that I’ve read that included those themes/topics that i hate, but that I still loved despite that fact.

#1: Art

Example: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Exception: Tender by Belinda McKeon

I just hate reading about any kind of art: music, painting, dancing, singing, whatever it is. Every time an author tries to describe a piece of art my brain shuts down. I can never imagine what that piece of art is supposed to look like or sound like or feel like. And ultimately I think that’s why I find it so difficult to read about art; I have a hard time really wrapping my head around it when it’s verbally described as opposed to experienced in person. In Little Fires Everywhere (which is a novel I didn’t like that much anyway), there are a lot of descriptions of little artistic objects that one of the characters crafts, and I just never had any idea what they looked like when they were described lol. They might as well have been blobs for all I knew.

Tender by Belinda McKeon incorporates a lot of descriptions of photography, since one of the characters is a photographer, but McKeon’s writing is so beautiful that I never really minded. With photography, too, it’s just a bit easier to visualize what the author is describing because more often than not, a photo will have a person, object, setting, etc. to ground the reader. So maybe that’s why I ultimately got along with the artistic aspects of Tender.

#2: Whiny Privileged People Doing Whiny Privileged People Things

Examples: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

Exception: White Ivy by Susie Yang

I feel like it should go without saying that it’s not fun to read about completely oblivious privileged people whining about dumb things and ignoring their immense privilege, but apparently it doesn’t, so here I am. The foremost example of this is definitely The Dutch House. I did not like that book, namely because its protagonist was SUPREMELY IRRITATING. The protagonist’s father dies and leaves him a huge fortune, but he can only use it for his education. The protagonist’s sister then convinces him that to take revenge on his father or stepmother or something (I don’t really remember), he should go to medical school since it’s the most expensive. The protagonist doesn’t really wanna do it, but he does it anyway, and the whole time he’s like but i don wanna go to medical school ! 😦 i wish i could use my dad’s big bags of money for something else 😦 but i can’t 😦 like ???? am I supposed to sympathize with him ??? I feel like some books would not exist if their characters took approximately 1 second to think about the immense privilege that they have.

White Ivy by Susie Yang is an exception to this theme, but not really. Choosing it as an exception is kind of cheating because it’s a book about whiny privileged people that actively unpacks and discusses that privilege and the kind of strange world that it wraps people in. Unlike The Dutch House, it’s not just a book with privileged characters, but one that’s also about privilege itself.

#3: Marriage/Marriage Problems

Examples: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane, Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Exception: Fault Lines by Emily Itami

I really don’t like books that focus on marriage, especially affairs and nuclear families. I feel like I’ve read one too many books about failing marriages and disaster marriages and affairs and I’m just fully burnt out on that particular theme. My feeling towards these themes basically boil down to the same thing: I don’t care. I’m just not invested in that kind of conflict. I’m not married myself, and it’s not really something I find relatable in any way, shape, or form. I would never dismiss a book because it’s not “relatable,” but marriage is just one thing that I find so painfully unrelatable to me.

On the surface, Fault Lines by Emily Itami seems like the kind of book I would not get along with, to say the least. It has literally all the things I just mentioned: a failing marriage, an affair, a nuclear family. But I don’t know, something about it just worked for me. It certainly has its dramatic moments, but on the whole I found it a really earnest and grounded book. The main character’s narrative voice drew me in, and I loved the Tokyo setting of this. It’s been one of my fav reads of the year.

#4: Taxidermy

Examples: Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett, The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

Exception: none, as of yet

I absolutely loathe books about taxidermy. Every time I’ve read a book about it the taxidermy always ends up being used as a very on-the-nose metaphor for the character who engages in it. In Mostly Dead Things the main character feels very emotionally repressed and does taxidermy. She feels dead inside and she does work with dead things ! do you get it ???? Like, yes, I get it, I didn’t need the tired and very obvious metaphor thank you very much. In The Doll Factory taxidermy is basically a shorthand for evil: the evil villainous very bad character does taxidermy because he is evil and when things are dead that is bad ! Alright.

Other random things I don’t like reading about that I don’t have any examples for:

  1. Cults: I don’t know why, but I have zero interest in any kind of content about cults.
  2. Sports: I’ve never had an iota of interest in sports, and I don’t think reading about them would be very interesting or enjoyable.
  3. Math: I hate when books try to make math poetic. It all goes over my head.

I hope you enjoyed this lol. It’s not really a post that I thought I would do, but I found myself thinking about all these things that I don’t like reading about, and started making a list, and next thing I knew this post was basically writing itself. Please let me know what things you don’t like reading about, and if there are any books that are exceptions when it comes to those things!

Also I would absolutely love it if you wanted to do this on your own blogs!!! please feel free to take this idea and run with it (tag me so i can see your posts as well)!! 😊

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THE DNF book tag was created by Gunpowder, Fiction & Plot over on YouTube!

1) Do you DNF?

ALL THE TIME. If I’m not enjoying a book, or if I start feeling like reading it is becoming a drag, then I DNF it. Simple as that.

2) If you do DNF, does it count for your finished books for the month?

Nope. I have a tab in my reading spreadsheet that I use for tracking which books I’ve DNFd, and how much of them I read before DNFing them. I don’t count books I’ve DNFd in my reading challenge though.

3) Is there a difference between DNFing & just putting the book down for a little bit?

Yes! Sometimes I start a book and I’m not enjoying it because I know I’m not in the right mood for it; in that case, I just put it back on my TBR so I can come back to it later when the time is right.

4) What popular books have you DNFed?

SO MANY. White Teeth by Zadie Smith, A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, Trust Exercise by Susan Choi, The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy, Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, the list goes on.

5) What are some books you wished you DNFed?

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum, The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey — basically any book that I’ve rated 2 stars is fair game here. I skim read the last 25% of all these books, which is almost always a sure sign that I should’ve just given up and DNFd them.

6) Have you ever re-attempted to read a DNF? And was this successful for you?

Yes! I recognize that my reading tastes change over time, so I’m always open to revisiting books that I’ve DNFd. Two books that I DNFd in 2019 that I revisited last year were Milkman by Anna Burns and The Idiot by Elif Batuman. Coincidentally enough, both those books ended up at the top of my favourite books of 2020 list, so I can definitely see the value of going back to a book you’d DNFd after some time away.

More recently, I went back to Fingersmith, which I’d DNFd a long time ago, because I had a feeling I would like it, and surprise surprise, Sarah Waters is now one of my favourite authors.

7) What do you do with DNFed books?

Nothing? Almost all the books I read come from the library so if I DNF a book I just return my loan and never look back Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―Β 

8) Do you choose more or less risky titles based on your DNF policy?

I think reading from the library and also being pretty liberal with DNFing makes me read a lot of books on a whim/very randomly. I just add stuff to my TBR based on ~the vibes~ and if I don’t end up liking the books then it’s back to the library they go. I feel like DNFing books that I’ve borrowed from the library makes everything very low stakes, as compared to buying a book and feeling the pressure to at least read the whole thing because you spent money on it.

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hello hello!! today I’m talking about something that I’ve wanted to write a post about for a while: US vs UK book covers! (though this is definitely not my original idea or anything; I love the ones that LitHub does) I’ve been seeing a lot of very cool and diverse interpretations of covers for the same titles, and I thought I’d compare the US covers with the UK ones to see which ones I like more.

The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee

I think at first glance, I liked the UK cover of this book more. I saw it in one of Eric Karl Anderson‘s book hauls, and it looked beautiful, especially since all the gold details on it had shiny gold foil on them. On second thought though, I think the US cover is ultimately my favourite of the two. It’s so much more unique as a cover, and it has a lovely painterly quality that gives it a sense of gravitas and presence. The UK cover is nice, but it’s a little generic–I’ve seen a lot of covers that are done in that same illustration style before, so in the end the US cover’s unique design wins for me.

Winner: US cover

Fault Lines by Emily Itami

To me, the US cover is the obvious winner here. As with The Great Mistake, the UK cover is just so generic and boring. It’s just a photo of a flower with some bokeh in the background; there’s not that much going on there artistically. The US cover is much more cohesive and impactful: I love the dual pink and blue tones, and it’s also much more indicative of the content of the book, which is set in Tokyo (albeit not in a very subtle way–cherry blossoms for a book set in Tokyo ? groundbreaking !)

Winner: US Cover

Alligator by Dima Alzayat

I always love a cover that experiments with typography (e.g. the cover of Bina by Anakana Schofield). The UK cover of Alligator very obviously does that, but I just find it so cluttered; the text is arranged in a way that’s jarring rather than interesting or cohesive. I also just don’t like the fonts they’ve used, especially that extremely bold one they’ve used for “Alligator.” Also why is the ampersand so disproportionately big compared to the other text on the cover? It’s literally just an ampersand like it’s not that important lol. Needless to say, the UK cover is not my favourite.

The US cover is so much more interesting to me. It’s very unusual, and you might not really be able to tell what’s on it at first glance, but that’s why I like it, I think. It’s weird, but it’s a kind of weird that works, for me at least. I love the little cutout with the alligator head, and the green is an obvious choice for a collection that has “Alligator” in its title.

Winner: US cover

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Another case of generic cover versus striking cover. The US cover is, to me, generic. It’s not bad, but it’s a kind of pretty that’s very boring rather than interesting. I’m also not fond of the very clipart-y feel of it. It feels like a bunch of random clipart was just tacked onto the cover, rather than the cover being cohesively designed. (I do like the typography on this cover, though, especially the crosshatching details under the letters.) The UK cover, on the other hand, is just absolutely striking. I find the photo so effective–it immediately draws you in–and the neon green is an anachronistic touch, yes, but one that complements the cover rather than takes away from it. The two together are very compelling, so ultimately it’s the UK cover for me.

Winner: UK cover

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Both these covers are very similar, and are doing very similar things. There’s a photo in the background, with text overlaid on it in more or less the same way (with the exception of the placement of the author name). Both covers aren’t *amazing* in my opinion, but I think the UK cover ultimately edges out the US one. I just like the birds more ?? The colours on the UK cover are much more appealing to me–I love the bluish background with the yellow and black birds–whereas the US one is just black with a random watch on it–not very visually exiciting.

Winner: UK cover (though this one is complicated because I think the UK cover is also the one that’s sold in Canada ?? i’m not really sure tbh)

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

Again, very similar: both pretty much the same shade of teal, with an illustration on top. I feel lukewarm about both covers, but the UK cover is just so deeply underwhelming to me. It’s giving me absolutely nothing; just zero energy. Oranges on a teal background, the end. I’ve seen a lot of covers that are similar to the US cover–flowers are pretty much everywhere on book covers–but at least the cover makes some effort compared to the UK one. It’s more detailed as a cover–the letters of “Small Pleasures” peeking from beneath the flowers, the “A NOVEL” placed beneath the title, the details in the flowers themselves–and so is much more dynamic in the end.

Winner: US cover

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Another case where the UK cover is not really giving me much. I like the violet font colour for the “Detransition, Baby,” but other than that, I don’t really like the design. It feels tacky, somehow. I’m not into the red ribbon, and there’s not much to the cover aside from that ribbon lol. Conversely, I love the US cover. I think the faces are so cool, and the colour combo is just wonderful. It also has a really nice sense of texture, especially on the green faces where you can see lighter and darker shades of green in a way that suggests ink or paint (or not ? i don’t know anything about art lol).

Winner: US cover

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

I have no idea which one of these I like more. There are things I like about both covers. I love the typography on the US cover; the fact that all the detail on the cover is incorporated into the typography works really well to center that typography as the main element of the design. As for the UK cover: I love the way that Ruth Ozeki’s name is arranged on it, especially the fact that the letters at the bottom look like stickers, with their edges bent. Ultimately, though, I don’t think I love either cover. They’re both nice, but neither of them is really speaking to me. This one might come down to what each finished book looks like once it’s in print.

Winner: undecided (?)

this was definitely one of my longer posts, but I hope you enjoyed looking at these covers with me!! I absolutely love analyzing book cover designs, so this was a lot of fun. 😊 i know a lot of the winners were the US covers but i promise I didn’t plan it that way lol, i just apparently like US covers more??

i’d love to know which of these covers are your favs!! better yet, let me know if you disagree with any of my opinions! i’m really interested to see if there are covers that people on the whole just like more πŸ‘€

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