Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I Won't Read A Book by Morgan Mandel

Why I Won't Read a Book - These are some, but not all of my reasons for not reading a book.

1. Too much description - I like the basics, such as a general idea of a character's appearance, or habits, or surroundings. If I'm inundated with details about every little aspect of locale and its history, I'll put up with it for a while, but if it continues, I'll stop reading and go onto a book that flows for me.

2. Details I don't want to read - This is a delicate and highly subjective subject. Since I'm being honest, I have to include my own take on the matter. I don't like reading books dwelling on every little detail of a person's sex life or acts. As I mentioned, this is subjective, and I know many will disagree. I respect their right to do so. Many books sell because sex sells. Many readers look forward to such scenes, but I find them boring if they keep going on and on for infinite pages. I get the picture. I know how it works. I don't need the minutiae. That's not saying I expect characters to abstain. I just don't want certain aspects to take over the book.

3. Political or religious views I don't agree with - Again, I respect every person's right to not have the same standards or beliefs as I do. However, if an author tries to cram their standards down on me, I won't put up with it. Exceptions are if what a character says or does in a book makes sense within the framework of his own conscience or life experience and the author has done a good job explaining the reasons. Then I might continue reading.

4. Sloppy editing - Almost every book will have one or two errors, but when they multiply and become so obvious they get in the way of the story, it's too irritating to put up with.

5. Character names - Certain character names will turn me off, no matter how well written a book may seem. I can usually tell this on the first page, and won't even buy the book. I like names that are easy to read, not ones I can't pronounce out loud.

6. Too much backstory right away - I get irritated if at the beginning of a book the author throws in all kinds of explanations or events which happened before. Hints are better. However, if backstory is included later in a book I can handle it better.
7. An author's past writing history - If I've been disappointed by an author before, either because of the quality of a book, or an ending I particularly hated, I'll think real hard before deciding whether or not to read another book by that person. Usually, I won't, unless the first few pages really entice me.

8. A boring topic - This is obviously subjective, but that's okay, because I'm giving my reasons, which may be different than yours. I'm tired of books or movies about people doing daring heists. I just don't care about them. That's only one example of what bores me.

These are only a smidgeon of my reasons. Do you share any of them? Or, maybe you disagree. Share with us your reasons for not reading certain books.

Morgan Mandel

Morgan's Romantic Suspense,
Print link - Killer Career
Other links -
Kindle and Smashwords.

Coming Soon - Forever Young-
Blessing or Curse


Unknown said...

Too much backstory is a real turn off for me too. I want the details, as a reader, but I prefer that the book start with action. Kind of like James Bond movies. They start with an action scene to hook us, and then they move into the backstory or set up. I'm trying to follow that pattern with my own books.

Oh, and as for sex, I'm with you. I don't need a "blow by blow," so to speak. A passionate kiss followed be a door closing is fine by me. Most authors don't write x-rated scenes well and shouldn't try.

Farrah from The Book Faery Reviews said...

Oh I'm right there with you with too many detailed descriptions/backgrounds. Especially when it takes up CHAPTERS and CHAPTERS before we get to the good part of the story...Sometimes I end up not getting there or I'm frustrated forcing myself through it.

Debra St. John said...

I agree with a lot of these, Morgan. My biggest pet peeve lately have been stories with unhappy endings. I know that not every book I pick up is going to be a romance with a HEA, but when I've invested a couple of hours in a story and the hero winds up drowning in the end ( happened in the book I just read.), it kind of irritates me. And with that, there's just no telling until the end.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Morgan,

It's easy to become disenchanted with some author's works. I find I have less and less time to read for pleasure these days. As my writing craft has improved, so has my critical eye, for books, TV shows, and movies.

We rewatched a classic movie the other day - Turner and Hooch, and there were two instances where Tom Hank's character made plans to do stuff with Mare Wittingham and then that was never shown. It wasn't like it happened offscreen, because he was shown doing other things when he said he'd be with her. I didn't turn the movie off, I continued watching it because I loved the dog, but still, if I wrote a story like that for publication today, the plot errors would kill it before it ever got off my computer.

I agree with what you said about books I don't enjoy reading. However, I often find myself in the position of needing to support a local author, buying the book, and being soundly disappointed. In that case, I try to say as little as possible.

Enjoyed the post!

Stephanie Barko said...


Yours are some of the reasons I won't accept a book from a potential client as well.

Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

HI. Great topic. I remember reading a quote that said, "I try to leave out the parts people won't read." But as you said, that is subjective. I don't like a lot of discription, though I like to write it. In one story, I did research on furniture and described the living room furniture. My editor had me remove it. I was disappointed, but understood why.

I agree, Maggie it's difficult to comment when you didn't enjoy the book (or even finish it). But that's subjective too. It's also hard if they right in a genre you're particularly fond of. Tge story may be great, but it just doesn't 'turn you on.'

Patg said...

Major thumbs up for the too much description. Sorry don't care if you take a right on Jefferson to get to whatever, and flora and fauna bore me to tears.
This seems to be a blog topic this week everywhere.
OMG! My verification word this time is 'kedscula'. Do you think that's a vampire running shoe?

Vivian Zabel said...

I agree with all of your reasons for not reading a book, Morgan. Plus I have another one to add to the list.

I will not read an author again who doesn't do her research and gets facts wrong. I read one book by an author I had enjoyed for years. She set the book in Oklahoma (which I know intimately) in the horse and buggy days. She had a wagon ride taking less than a day from Woodward to Red Rock (a four - six hour drive in a car). She had Red Rock an hour horse back ride from Lawton, which is about 250 miles distant, and the Red River right outside Lawton. No way. Therefore I won't read any more of her books. All she had to do was look at a map. Ish.

Vivian Zabel

Kelly McClymer said...

Hi Morgan,

I am not a picky reader, but that's because I read like a writer when I read a book that doesn't totally grab me (trying to analyze why it isn't). On my writing desk, I have 5 or 6 books that I read like a reader (forget all about the writing and get sucked into the story). I will pull one out sometimes to see how the writer managed that...and then I read from the section I was checking out, all the way to the end again.

I feel absolutely no guilt when I like a writer but don't like his or her books, and I would wish others to feel the same for me and mine.

I just remind myself that reading tastes are subjective, just like food, wine, beer, and fashion. After all, someone thought that Princess Eugenie and Beatrice's hats were all that, even though I blinked twice when I saw them!

Morgan Mandel said...

I have to admit those hats were very unique, to put it kindly.

Bob Sanchez said...

Debra mentioned stories with unhappy endings. I know a reader who reads the ending first. Only when she can see it has a happy ending does she go back and read the book.

Sex scenes are so easy to overdo. I'm reading a book where a guy has a couple of drinks with a woman and wakes up the next morning naked and doesn't remember why. That's good enough. Readers can be trusted to fill in all the details they want.

Morgan, the big killer for me is excessive narration. Your list looks good.

Cheryl said...

Two, four and six can kill my desire to continue. One can be a stumbling block too, but it has to be a real overdose of description for me, since I love historical fiction, which can be description heavy.

One big reason I'll stop reading a book is if the back cover blurb doesn't capture what's inside. The back cover blurb should entice, but it also has to be honest. I once picked up a book supposedly on the 2012 prophesy, thinking I would learn more about it. Instead, I got tortured with the author's spiritual journey and his political manifesto. By the time I was over halfway in, the 2012 prophesy wasn't even mentioned. I finally gave up.


hotcha12 said...


Unknown said...

Hi, Morgan--you hit on every one of the imporatant reasons. I agree with all.
About made-up names you can't pronounce..I've seen this in books, usually fantasy or historical--old, old historical. I just finished judgin seven entries for an RWA contest. I got all Regencies, and every one of them had made-up names that made me sit there and try to find some sensible way to pronounce them. I didn't say anything and didn't count off points, but I do not like books with this sort of thing. Thanks for the reminders for us writers, too! Celia

Stephanie Burkhart said...

Morgan, 1, 2, and 6 are biggies for me. Too much description is a big turn off, and too many or odd details that don't seem to fit just show me this is an author who needs to work on their skill. Too much backstory too soon makes me yawn.

I just started reading Game of Thrones by George RR Martin and his style is pitch perfect. Engaging, and not too much backstory in your face.

Character names really doesn't matter to me., but I do want the character names to fit the time/place/setting.


Gladys Hobson said...

I agree with all you say!

Heidiwriter said...

Too much description and backstory are my two biggest pet peeves (info dumps).

Kathy Otten said...

I agree with you 100%. I have bought books for my ereader that I thought would be good then found to be passive, with too much backstory and poorly developed characters. In the endless sea of ebooks, it may take a while for the cream to rise to the top, but I know I'll never by books from those authors again.

Paula Martin said...

I'd also add pages with hardly any 'white space' - and also short sentence conversations between two characters where you have to count back to work out who's saying what!

Carol Gordon Ekster said...

Morgan, you have good reasons, but one the turns me off quickly is the introduction of too many characters early on. It's hard to keep them all clear in my mind. Thanks for this topic. It's important as a writer to know what readers don't want to see in your story. Though I write picture books, which can have its own set of does and don'ts.

Barbara Weitz said...

All good points. As a reader, I like the detail, but as a writer, I try not to bog folks down. When I read your adversion to names I laughed out loud. I can remember being irritated by names I was never sure how to pronounce. Fun blog today with things to keep in mind while writing a story.

Mona Risk said...

Good points Morgan. Weird names don't bother me that much. But here are two more things that make me grind my teeth: authors who used foreign language sentences to impress the reader without knowing how to spell them. I read French sentences that were more Creole than French. Authors, please check your foreign language with someone fluent. Also I would stop reading if the pace is too slow and there is so much telling the story puts me to sleep.

Keena Kincaid said...

Great topic, and these are all good reasons to not read a book. Although as you say, most are subjective. I like enough description to set the tone and fix me in time and place, but no more. The James Michener passages of the seas swelling, the mountains folding, the grass growing drove me nuts.

feathers said...

I have been known to give up on a novel because of bad dialogue. I have wanted to give up violently, to throw the book at a wall, just to teach it a lesson. Bad dialogue! No biscuit!

Specifically, it's dialogue that repeatedly involves names and too much tagging. For example, an exchange between Jim and Sally.

"But Sally, I told you I was going out tonight," said Jim.

"You didn't tell me, Jim," Sally replied.

"I did, Sally. You were making the coffee and you said it was okay," Jim argued.

"You were in the shower when I was making the coffee, Jim," Sally snapped.

aaaaargh! There are TWO people in that exchange. In normal conversation we do NOT use each other's name every single time we address each other and please give the reader some credit for being able to figure out which of the two characters is speaking in such an exchange. A tag every now and then to keep us on track is okay, but stop bogging the show down with them.

The other thing that drives me nutoid is exposition in dialogue. Any time I read the phrase "As you know" I feel as if I should drive around to the writer's house and give a stern lecture. Don't even get me started on why this phrase should be completely banned from movie scripts (unless they are spoofs).

P.I. Barrington said...

I agree with ALL your reasons Morgan and would like to add one more: If I see PASSIVE VOICE in the first sentence, paragraph or page I drop that book like a white hot pan handle! Nothing turns me OFF like passive voice from an author and or their editor. Most of us go through great pains to use active voice/verbs or already know NOT to USE PASSIVE VOICE!! It irritates me because it brands that author as either an amateur or sloppy. Besides that there is an incredibly vast amount of information out there for writers to learn about passive voice/active voice--there really isn't ANY reason for an author to use passive voice. JMHO!

Liana Laverentz said...

I think you covered all my pet peeves, and I agree with every one of your reasons. Great post, Morgan!

Maryannwrites said...

I agree with the lengthy descriptions and set-ups in a story becoming boring. As one of my writing instructors once said, "Less is more." Give just a single brush-stroke of description that is so cleverly written the reader gets an immediate mental picture.

SBJones said...

I was half way through this blog post before I realized that you were talking about books in general. I read the blog title as why you won't read a book written (by) Morgan Mandel.

I like your part about character names. I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy books and there are a lot of names that you cannot pronounce and when you read the book, you skip over the name, but you recognize the spelling of it.

When I wrote my novel, this played a part when I named my characters. Most of the names are common like Angela, Xavier and Vincent. But others are not for that sci-fi fantasy feel like Therion and Bastiana.

Because names can be hard I specifically do not have any characters who's names start with the same letter. Even town names and names of ships follow this rule.

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books are very hard to read because of the 100k characters whose names all start with the letter A or L that all look alike. If I cant keep the names strait, how would I expect the reader to?

Morgan Mandel said...

That's funny,SB
Maybe I stirred up some controversy about not reading my own books! lol

CA Verstraete said...

Your headline threw me for a minute. haa!

To each their own, but I don't like those "literary" books with lots of pretty words and nothing going on. Boring!

D.M. SOLIS said...

Great list, you already know. Cliche' descriptions and metaphors get me cranky. I love to see a comparison I've never met before. Too many commas make me want to get out my comma gun.

Thanks, peace,