Today I thought it would be interesting to look at our idiosyncrasies as readers, things we dislike that almost guarantee we will not pick up a book no matter how beautifully written or how well-reviewed. Our reading prejudices, if you will.
Perhaps you don’t like profanity, or explicit sex, or depressing stories. These preferences aren’t reflections of a book’s quality but rather reflections of you as a reader. It’s no secret we don’t all enjoy the same books, but as writers, it still hurts when someone doesn’t care for our work. It’s difficult not to take what seems like an arbitrary criticism to heart, despite the fact that not a single one of us is immune from individual bias.
Here are a few of my prejudices to rev your imagination.
Unless the book is a biography or historical fiction (portraits are okay), I’m turned off by photographs of people on covers. Put a face, body, or even a figure running away—especially a figure running away—and if I’m not familiar with the author, it’s automatic rejection. This arbitrary no people rule pretty much eliminates all romance novels regardless of quality.
I’m a great admirer of Michael Robotham and have read all the books shown below—but only because I was already a fan. Had I not known his work, I wouldn’t have given any of these books a second glance.
Is it logical to dismiss a book because there’s a person on the cover? Of course not! It’s idiotic, but there you have it. Making matters worse? I love most cozy mystery covers—a genre I never read.
A WOMAN TORN
I have no interest in stories that involve women torn between their careers and their children and families. It doesn’t matter how well written, how compelling, how poignant. I decided at the age of six I wouldn’t have children, so I never cultivated a maternal mindset. Career vs. family is not a struggle I can relate to. Perhaps this is why I find it easier to relate to male protagonists both as a reader and a writer.
I don’t want to be preached at by a novel. Doesn’t matter if the message is religious, political, or promotes a social cause. If dogma eclipses story, then it’s not for me. While I don’t read novels for spiritual or political guidance, politics and faith are two of my favorite themes. For example, A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving’s book about the relationship between faith and doubt, is amazing.
So, those are a few of my peculiarities. Things I would never mention in a review except as a warning to other’s who share my biases. Um… not that I’m likely to review a book I wouldn’t read in the first place. 🙂
What about you?
Any reading prejudices that trump the quality of the writing?