89 Literary Pet Peeves As Shared By Our Community Members

Most of us enjoy cuddling up with our favorite book in the evening and immersing ourselves in the author's imaginative or actual world with a goal to learn, entertain and relax.

However, from time to time, when reading a book, we notice things that seem to spoil the entire appetite for reading! This is where our community members share the biggest literary pet peeves they noticed!


Women characters written by men. Especially when everything they do has to do with their breasts. Or when it’s an adventure/action novel and the woman has to be portrayed as emotionless, fully badass, and completely misogynistic to other women because god forbid a girl with stereotypically feminine qualities is also tough and powerful.


Where did putting the number of the series on the spine go? Huh??? SOMEBODY TELL ME!!!


Typos, misspellings, inaccurate changes in later scenes (in the first, he ordered a burger, but later in the same meal he cuts his steak), using the wrong name. Where the hell are the editors?


When you're reading a really good book/series, but its quality starts to go down slowly.


A series that revolves around a "Chosen One" who is often a whiny impetuous brat.


This goes back to Highschool. Having a book you loved as subject matter in English, and after the teacher and class have analysed it thoroughly, you can't even look at anymore.


How every single book that exists is a New York Times Bestseller or is written by a New York Times Bestselling Author... That's like the participation award for writers at this point.


In books when the "villain's" problems could have been solved by rational thinking, and the main characters are the actual jerks.


Incorrectness. Just they are straight-up wrong somewhere in the book. I also can't stand authors that like to sound smart (or just are smart....) and they use way too many words.

For example:

The quick brown fox jumped over the log.

The expeditious mahogany Vulpes vulpes (the scientific name for fox, had to look it up) ascended into the amalgamation of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water, etc. Thereupon, the creature plunged to the earth on the far periphery of the length of the limb of a deceased large plant enclosed in the bark.

I'm all for describing things and using details, but there is indeed such a thing as 'too many words'.


When an author is great at building suspense and creating a creepy atmosphere, and then, the silly and disappointing climax comes. (Looking at you, Stephen King!)


Lending a book to someone and it coming back dogeared, or otherwise messed up.


Books for teenagers and young adults that romanticize violent behavior.

This wouldn't be so bad if it was occasional, but I feel it's very common in books targeting those age groups. Sometimes, perhaps even often, that character is eventually ousted by a "better" character and the reader is supposed to see how terrible the abusive character's behaviour was. Unfortunately, it mostly serves to normalise that behaviour.


When writing a series, authors often do a bit of recap to tie in the new book to the previous book. I become annoyed when the author does this by having one character monologue the back story to a second character who already knows said back story.

I also dislike discontinuity. If a character has black hair and brown eyes, she shouldn't suddenly become auburn with green eyes in the next chapter.


Why does the fate of the whole world usually lie on a hormonal 16-year-old who can duel, hack and invent at level par to a 30-year-old sucked-of-life adult? Oh, and they usually are portrayed as social outcasts who will eventually marry their crush happily ever after.


It gets to me when I'm reading a novel with a character smokes three packs of cigarettes a day and never coughs once in the whole book.

And then there are the scenes in which three or four people have a serious discussion which lasts for four or five pages, and everybody's coffee stays hot until the last line.


If you're kidnapped, but fall 'in love' with your kidnapper, it's not love. It's Stockholm syndrome.


Female "characters" with zero personality that are simply a love interest or damsel in distress.


Reading the first book of a series, then waiting for ages for the second one because the author has decided to start a completely different one... I want to know how the story will end!


Generic villains. Let's make them dark, menacing, sinister, pointed, and ugly, and they must always be dressed in black and alternating between a sneer and a maniacal cackle. The kind where you can just take one glance at them and know with all certainty that "that's the bad guy."

The actual biggest threats in life are undetectable - take notes!


When the author changes something that was kind of major. For example, say the main character was in a fight, and it mentions that he/she gets a bad cut in the side, yet three paragraphs later, the author goes on describing a nasty cut on his leg - never even mentioning his/her side cut.


I get most of my books from an online website, Quotev. You can write and publish books there. I sure have my fair share of books on there. I hate it when I find a book I'm interested in, but the grammar is terrible! Run-on sentences, the paragraphs aren't separated, incorrect spelling, and no punctuation! It's physically painful to read.


When a story starts off as a mystery, but suddenly gets a big portion of romance right in the middle of the investigation. With many pages spent wondering if the feelings are mutual. Ugh... I want to know who the killer is and how they did it, not if the main character gets a mate.


Using glasses as props. I hate it in books, movies, and real life because people have enough problems without a necessity being treated like a piece of decoration.


I hate it when I read a story and the author writes: "this is relevant later." Yeah, no way, duh! If it's irrelevant to the story, it should be edited out.

I think what the author conveys when they include that is: 'I am the only smart person, and everyone else is an idiot that I have to tediously explain everything to'.


In a multi-book series, taking up most of a chapter catching readers up on the last 20 or so books. You can't get to the new story for having to reread the old one. Again.


Changing the look, style, size, colouring, text direction, font size part way through a series.


When characters all have similar names and descriptions, I keep getting confused. Or when they have a male hero whose personality is about being buff, female characters who are just there to look pretty.


When the author loses track of where what is. This is usually hands, arms, feet, background items, anything really, etc. It happens a lot, more than it should, and I know things get edited, but you need to keep track of continuity. I've read a book where they lost a whole dang character between two paragraphs.

They were sitting on the far left couch laughing silently at so-and-so, then two paragraphs later, they're climbing in the window with people welcoming them like they just got there and no mention of the person on the couch because it was the same person.

It is also a big issue in steamy books I've found. You lose track of what is where, and some things just aren't possible. I've checked the Kama Sutra - it agreed with me.


When the author uses the character's name a lot instead of using pronouns. I just read a book that used the name at least 7 times in a 5 line paragraph instead of using pronouns.


When you fall in love with a series, and it has some form of impact on your life - but the author turns out to be a douchebag. Separating art from the artist can be difficult.


I don't like when any novel starts to be focused on romance more than the actual story. Romance is an okay aspect, but that doesn't mean it should take over the plot of book that isn't under the category of romance.


When a famous writer has a book published only because they are a famous writer, not because the book is good or worth reading. Far too many examples to mention.


When stories just stop. There’s no proper ending to the book, it’s like the author just got bored and gave up. The amount of times I’ve read a book that I’ve been really enjoying and at the end, the writer has just thrown anything together to end it. It’s incredibly unfulfilling and frustrating.


Novels written in the present tense. So annoying. First thing I check for when browsing books in the library or bookshop.


What happened to actual chapters? Current fiction seems to have chapters of 2-3 pages. I grew up reading Dickens, Dumas and other classic writers. The chapters were dense and long but worth the read. I feel this is pandering to the "short attention span" of the current generations, maybe it makes people feel good about themselves that they read 5 chapters ???? I just feel like the current best-selling authors are phoning it in, some writers have series where the sex scenes between the hero/heroine are exactly the same from one book to the next (I'm talking about you, J D Robb) If you can't come up with something interesting and different, just skip it. That's what I do.


I don’t like when authors of fantasy novels feel the need to describe the qualities of a certain race every time that character appears. Like, you don’t have to mention that the elf is “fleet of foot” every time they do something.


I can deal with some misspellings, but, when the punctuation is a mess, such as commas where they don't belong, I will stop reading and return it, no matter how good the story.

Too much explanation and not enough dialogue. Gets tedious.

Explaining things in detail again and again and again.

Killing off important characters for no reason. MR Forbes did this in book 17 of an 18 book series. I have yet to read #18, nor any of his works since.


When the author spoils something that will happen later on in the book (i.e. a death, relationship, betrayal, etc.), or even just heavy foreshadowing.


Unnecessary details. Imagery and figurative language adds depth to the whole novel, but when it’s goes on and on and doesn’t end up contributing to the plot, that’s when I start getting bored of the book.


Not giving a reader all the clues needed to solve a mystery. Don't cheat, you can write a good mystery or you can't.


People in novels would sometimes finish a cigarette in the time it took to speak two sentences. More likely, it took one cigarette to write them.
Also, nobody ever seems to need to use the bathroom, except maybe to hide out.


When the "hero" refuses to kill the villain or wait too long and they escape. Like, really!?


I work at a library, and if a book's author's name is larger than or above the title on the spine, know that I personally want to hunt down and punch whoever at the publishing house made that decision


When what could be the character's first kiss is interrupted. Like COME ON!!


Using the character's name over and over again instead of using pronouns. I swear I read a book that had the character's name at least 7 times in a 5 line paragraph instead of using a pronoun.


Stereotypes and clichés. When you're able to finish the sentence before you read it.
Even in a thriller, where the literary level is not as demanding as for a deeper novel, I'm not against a certain amount of surprise in the writing, some clever words arrangements.
Or, the opposite : when a detective novel pretends to be the next Nobel prize and, in the middle of the action, trie to go deep in the human condition analysis.


When an author doesn't do their research. For example, say a character is in labor, and the author clearly has no experience in the matter. I'm like, did no women have a hand in editing this? Did you not SPEAK to any women, or know any?? That's not how it happens!


Stories that are tediously stretched over multiple volumes just so the author and publisher can have a "series".


I read a lot of books by different authors, and these peeves are in most books I read. I'm so tired of the word 'padded' to describe walking somewhere: ex. "She padded into the bathroom." Secondly, authors using names that start with the same letter for most of their characters; this happens with both first and last names. I just read a book where both female and male characters had names that started with C; six characters were introduced in the first chapter. Thirdly, I don't understand why authors feel it necessary to spend two paragraphs describing what someone is wearing, and using brand names to impress us. I'm reading a fiction crime novel; I don't care about every little thing the character is wearing. Lastly, many different characters in a book using a specific idiom; I just read two books by an author where "sharpest knife in the dishwasher" was used many times by different, unrelated characters.


Specific one:

In the Harry Potter series, the character 'Remus Lupin' is a werewolf. Now 'Remus' & 'Lupin' both refer to wolves so his name is 'Wolf Wolf'.

But, he wasn't a werewolf at birth was he ? Did his parents know what was going to happen ??! Did they arrange for him to be bitten !!!?


When a book changes between past and present or between character POVs and the only way to differentiate them is the font changes or is italicized


I just really miss fun chapter titles or, you know, tables of contents in fiction at all


Investing my time reading a novel, only to get to the end and the ending is just so cheesey that it made me throw the book across the room. Yes I did!


When characters should die but in the end everyone is saved/brought back to life.


When a book uses an unnecessary amount of detail that has barely anything to do with the actual plot, and the story doesn't start until you get to the middle of the book.


When a book is described as ‘unputdownable’
In the blurb. Nothing more guaranteed to make me not buy a book than describing it as that. So irritating it’s not even a real word !!!


When people forget the second comma. It's "books, cheese, and more!" not "books, cheese and more!"

At least that's how I think of it.


Books that pretend to be completely original but are highly derivative and refuse to acknowledge it. We are all inspired by our heroes and become a synergy of all we've read so I have no problem with someone taking an idea and running. However, don't pretend you invented the wheel and expect me to be surprised when the story's climax is IT ROTATES!. This is quite prevalent in young adult fiction that is pushed on adults as well (Twilight, Harry Potter, etc). The worst is when someone straight up jacks a character, put them through the same story arc, and just changes the name.


Follow through on world-building. This is especially true in fantasy and sci-fi when the author has the MacGuffin in the story but only focuses on it for the main plot. But if you have magic or tech or some object or whatever, show how it affects the rest of the world if you are adding detail about that world! Otherwise the book just seems lazy to me and pulls me right out of the story.


Fantasy books without a comprehensive map of the world. It really does help one orient themselves to this new world you are creating. It shows committment of thought in the execution of the plot.

Fantasy/Science-Fiction books with no glossary or pronunciation section if your going to use bits of languages and/or names that are not frequently heard or created for the purpose of the story.

If the story has an extensive cast of characters or family then either a tree or a short bio section on who's who (examples can be found in Agatha Christie's books such as Murder in the Calais Coach; The A.B.C. Murders; etc.)

Reviews on jackets or inside covers. I want the author description to make me want to read the book some some critic. If I wanted their opinion I would read their column.


A good antagonist who is wasted. When introduced this person (or organization) is a smart, capable, dangerous, opponent who needs to be taken very seriously and who may even win occasionally. But later they just become a punching bag who only shows up to get knocked down by the hero.

Also MAPS, dammit, especially when writing fantasy or science fiction. Show me good detailed maps of where your adventures are taking place.


The "strong woman" who is written by someone who has a rather skewed idea of both 'strength' and 'women'. Example: Lois Lane is supposed to be a "strong woman" - in reality, she is someone I would love to shove into a swamp. Being *unreasonably rude*, placing your own wants (not even needs) above others and shoving self-aggrandizing quips into every comment is not 'strong'. It's like there's this anathema to having a solid female character having the same heroic qualities as a male character. The 'strong woman' is constantly doing stupid, rude, and arrogant things for **no reason** (is it part of a plan? Nope. Is it part of her cover? Nope. Is there even a backstory that covers why this behaviour is the only choice available? NOPE.) - she is just 'like that' to show she's 'strong'. Eejits.


Loving a whole world series [Disc world] .... And the author dies in real life ¦(


This applies to all writing (so films and games as well as books) but I really don't like stories that have a sort of 'chosen one' theme where the whole situation relies on one person to solve it and only they have the ability. I don't find it motivating at all. I like to imagine what I would do in the situations I read/watch and if that person is naturally superior or was born with a gift that is made for this I can't get into it 'cause I'm not that person. I prefer it when all characters work together and bring their own strengths, where it could have been any group of people. I find those more motivating and fun to read.


Trying to set an ambience by describing the protagonist listening to a very particular song:
"She sat near the window, listening to 'How Deep is Your Love' by the Bee Gees. I know the author wants to set a mood, but not all songs do that! What if the reader hates the song? or does not know it?


When the child-aged main character of a novel set in the past somehow has the fully-formed values and life view of a 21st century urban liberal and goes about pluckily defying social norms left and right. Not saying characters can’t have subversive views but authors take it way too far.


Overuse of context-irrelevant descriptors instead of pronouns or names (ex. "said the blonde").


literary ads/blurbs that tell you nothing about the book. often they say, "for fans of x books or y authors" and leave it at that.


Infodumps. It's called 'backstory' for a reason: it informs the text, without being a part of it. I don't want to be fed all the author's research, world building, and character sheets in enormous indigestible lumps, I just need to know what's important to the story as it progresses.

I could also do without pointless interpersonal conflict. Or at least, if the story hinges on everyone in it behaving like enraged geese over some Big Misunderstanding or another, lean into it and make it a comedy.


When an author comes out with information in an interview or on the internet that changes big things but has nothing to do with the story (Dumbledore is gay for example) it feels like they are just pandering.


Switching to italics for long periods.
My vision is sadly, not what it once was, and italics are a royal pain in the bum. I find myself having to hold the book up to my face and even then I have to angle it just right. I know I need glasses but I'm vain.


Romance books: The word “moist.”


1. My biggest one is when books that are otherwise very good shove a romance in. Not everything needs a romance!
2. Romances that always start and end at the same stage of the relationship, (meeting, developing feelings, getting together) or always have a happy ending, or turn from a crush into love too fast.
3. ALWAYS refusing to kill, even in self-defense. The character could prevent mass murder, if they just shot the villain.
4. Talking forever at unwise times during combat.
5. That "strong female characters" can't like feminine things, not even just a little bit. It's ok for characters to not be feminine at all but the trope is so overused that it can be harmful.
6. All-or-nothing labels. Old or young. Feminine or masculine. Good or bad. Gay or straight. Poor or rich. One race or the other with no mixing ever.
7. SPELLING EVERYTHING OUT IMMEDIATELY. Whether it's characters or plot I enjoy a few things either left to the imagination, unlabeled, ambiguous, etc.


Humourless writing. I don't care what you're writing. Essay? Add humour. History book? Add humor. Story? Add Humour. Unless you're talking about something really serious (like slavery or hate crimes etc.), humour will engage, interest and entertain your reader. It doesn't have to be complicated, just some simple sarcasm or witty comment.


in English class,everything has to symbolise something
Flowers can't just be flowers anymore


when literary snobs try to read too much into everything as if every everything is metaphor!


When you get to the end of the novel and the author has made the "murderer" the person who showed up once , in passing at the very beginning of the novel... like the guy named Ted who lives three doors down and passed the protagonist on the street and said 'hi".


Where the protagonist is an author going through some type of turmoil…. Seriously, a writer writing about being a writer?! What type of laziness is this???


Anne of Green Gables is an amazing book, but the plot felt all over the place. Whenever a book is doing this, and I already feel like it’s lacking I will spank the book (yes im aware how weird I am and how this hurts paperbacks, but honestly they deserve it)


Bad editing!! The improper use of 'lie' and 'lay'. FFS people, you lie down. You lay something down. You do NOT lay down.


When the recap for a book in a series isn’t well written, and it is very obvious that the author is being lazy and doesn’t have the time to delicately weave the information into the opening chapters, but just blurts it out. I’d almost rather have a paragraph that summarizes the previous books before the story starts.


The past tense of smell is smelled. Smelt is a fish. Drives me crazy when I see that.


I hate it when authors write the hero as an absolute idiot, e.g. DBS Goku. In Z, Goku wasn’t as stupid but the writers then wrote him as an idiot. You don’t need a character to be funny from stupidity, also, Majin Buu, stupid character. Like, when he separates from himself, then combines again, he’s somehow smarter?


When there are key-components in the plot that are missing and only revealed at a later time. For example, The Princess and Pauper by Kate Brian. Ok, sure, don't tell me Princess Carina takes on an American accent until she spills her real identity to some random dude from Arizona.


The "puppet master" trope with titles like "Master" or "Director": all-knowing, all wise and always in control. It really bugs me how authors like Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer or Susan Collins portay these master-manipulators with infinite resources, infinite connection and nfinite power that, however, are defeated by the rag-tag group of heroes with simple strategies.
I love the character of Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, exactly because the fact of the three heroes "winning" does not affect him, it is just a minor inconvinient, as it would be in real life.


"And then" choppy writing. "Marco grabbed his sword, and swung wildly. He landed one hit and dodged a second. His opponent dodged and faced him. "


I’m almost afraid to let this be published, but ….

Jane Austen.


Writers who assume you are intimately familiar with the real-world settings and temporal culture references. When stories are set in a real world location that the author has grown up in, you need to dig out dictionaries, atlases, and newspapers from the applicable era to even have a remote clue what they are talking about. Just 2 decades out is bad enough, but when you cannot properly grasp a story without a bachelor's degree in the societal structure and political details in the relevant setting, the author HAS FAILED. Just about every 'classic' suffers this, yet we are force-fed the content (Looking at you Shakespeare, whoever you might be, and Dostoevsky". Yet this can be overcome - Most of Hemmingway and works such as "A Clockwork Orange" can be read & understood without requiring expertise in the backdrops.


This is kind of a corollary to the ones about continuity within a book, but...continuity within a larger series (Raymond Feist was pretty awful about this in his Riftwar novels). I realize that it becomes harder and harder to keep track of all of your characters' details the more books you write, but...at least MAKE AN EFFORT, FFS.