Book Things I’m Sick Of

Book Things I’m Sick Of

Hello again! 👋🏻 It’s been a while since I made a post, but I’ve missed blogging regularly so now is as good a time as ever to make a comeback!

I have never really considered myself to be a very active participant in online book spaces, but I do consider myself to be someone who is very easily annoyed. Almost 13 years of book blogging has made me into a bit of a grouch because I’ve seen so much crap that gets on my nerves.

Is a vent post a good post to make for a first post back? Probably not, but this is my grump space and I will grump if I want to.

A GIF of Professor Farnsworth (an old cartoon scientist) handing a card to someone. The caption reads 'I expect you'll want to see my Angry Crotchety Grandpa discount card.'

Edit 13/06/23: Better late than never to throw my hat into the ring for 2023’s Book Blog Discussion Challenge!

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song title titles

Usually, I would call this a fanfiction thing, and it’s something that I’ve been guilty of too, but there are so many books now that share their names with songs that I’m bored of them.

Off the top of my head I can name You’re the One that I Want (Simon James Green), both Carry On and Wayward Son (Rainbow Rowell), Owner of a Lonely Heart (Eva Carter), Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami), You Should See Me in a Crown (Leah Johnson), Never Ever Getting Back Together (Sophie Gonzales), Don’t You Forget About Me (Mhairi McFarlane), and while it’s not actually a title but a line from a song, As You Walk on By (Julian Winters).

They could have been placeholder titles or maybe the author and publisher really liked it and wanted to stick with it, but I’ve seen enough of them. I want some different titles.

‘booktok sensation’ stickers on covers

If my memory serves me right, non-removable ‘stickers’ on book covers have been a long-hated thing. When YA paranormal romance and dystopian books were all the rage, I remember seeing ‘great for fans of Twilight/The Hunger Games!’ on the covers of so many books that had nothing to do with either of those series, and it drove me and so many other people completely up the wall.

I don’t want to know whether something was popular on BookTok because I’m not interested in BookTok or BookTube or even Book Twitter, I just want to see the cover design without all of this crap on it. They could really be saved for the back cover because that’s usually where the reviews go, but no, publishers insist on them being on the front where they cover part of the design.

circular discourse

Circular discourse isn’t something that’s unique to online book spaces, it happens in all spaces. Online queer communities have the annual ‘no kink at pride’ argument, CBM Twitter goes around in a circle about Man of Steel and Zack Snyder movies, and book spaces do the same thing.

One month people are arguing about book piracy, the next it’s about mature content in books (whether that’s in books for teens or adults is up in the air), next some authors are being rude or straight-up terrible, the next it’s about consumerism, and it’s a wheel that just keeps on turning and turning.

I’m not saying that we should be coming up with new things to fight about, but when I’m watching the same arguments every time, it gets annoying.

A GIF of Bender (a cartoon robot) gesturing angrily with a bottle of beer. The caption reads 'Cram a ham in it, you twerps!'

book banning and censorship

I’m lucky to live in a country where backlash towards books containing certain subjects (i.e. discussing racism, gender and sexuality, or teaching children about basic human biology) hasn’t resulted in books being pulled off of library shelves, but seeing it happen in other countries makes my blood boil.

In the library where I work, we used to have a regular nuisance customer who would complain about our adult LGBT+ section and call it ‘pornographic’ whether it actually contained graphic sexual content or not. Which you wouldn’t know about if you didn’t actually read them. Those books are still there and we get new LGBT+ books all the time while that customer has been banned himself. Multiple times.

Watching how parents are pressuring libraries and schools to ban titles reminds me of the video nasty scare from the 1980s. If you’re unfamiliar with this, conservative groups who wanted to ‘protect the children’ put pressure on the government and the BBFC (our version of the MPAA) to prosecute movies that they deemed to be unsuitable for children and therefore shouldn’t be seen by anyone.

Pretty much every film targeted by these groups was horror and they are very violent, but what makes the current situation so reminiscent of this is the way they did it. Police would raid video shops looking for bannable material but the only thing they did was look at the covers and the titles. They would look for words like killercannibalzombie or anything to do with Nazis. One police constable tried to ban The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas because they thought it was pornographic based on the title alone (it’s actually a musical starring Dolly Parton). None of the movies were watched by the moral guardians or the government and owning them on video was a jailable offence.

Obviously, the subject matter isn’t the same because books banned in conservative US states are just about people of colour or queer people, but the outcome is pretty much the same: it’s censorship. Banning things like books and movies does not work because people will find a way to get their hands on them. And if you agree with these people that things should be banned because they talk about things that children ‘shouldn’t know about’, you’re someone I don’t want to be around.

A GIF of Fry (a young cartoon man with red hair) talking to a monkey sitting on a bunk bed. The caption reads 'I don't like you.'

reader snobbery

Unfortunately for all of us, snobby readers are people who are just never going to go away so the best thing to do is to ignore them and remember these things:

  • read what you want to read, not what you think makes you look cool
  • if you read 100 YA books in a year, it still counts as reading 100 books in a year
  • the kinds of books you read have no impact on the kind of person you are: reading erotic romance doesn’t mean you have a ‘porn addiction’, and reading YA books as an adult doesn’t make you ‘anti-intellectual’
  • challenging yourself to read things you don’t normally read is good for you
  • staying in your comfort zone isn’t a bad thing
  • judging other people for their reading habits isn’t cool and being pretentious isn’t an admirable trait.

smut vs ‘clean’ debates

The biggest problem I have with discussions about sex being depicted in books (and in media in general), is that it almost always ends up sounding so puritanical and childish. The internet doesn’t really know what nuance is these days so whenever I see this argument happen, it turns into accusations of being a child or a virgin or having a ‘porn addiction’ and it’s just infuriating to see.

The idea that ‘sex scenes don’t add anything to the plot’ is one that’s been worn out but it also implies that erotic romance is completely plotless and is just a string of sex scenes. I don’t read erotic romance myself, but even I know that romance books that focus more on sex aren’t completely plotless. Even if some were, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t ever be written. Every author is within their right to write their stories however they want and imposing restrictions takes away that right.

Another thing that bugs me about this is that the words the ‘no smut’ side use come off as so juvenile. If you don’t want to read books with sex in them because they make you feel uncomfortable, I totally understand. But if you say that they make you uncomfy or feel icky, I’m not going to take your point as seriously. I’m not trying to police people’s language, but when you want your argument to be taken as an adult one, maybe don’t use words that make you sound like a child.

At the end of the day, read and let read. Just leave people alone. The books that we choose to read have nothing to do with our morality.

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talk to me!

What are some book things that annoy you?

10 Comments

  1. Avatar June 3, 2023 / 3:07 pm

    Sometimes I find the cycle of bookish conversations tiring, as well. One thing I try to remember is that I’ve been blogging a long time, but new people keep joining the bookish community and these conversations are new to them. But, then, I usually feel like I have nothing to say on it since I already wrote a post three years ago, or whatever.

    And the book bans. Where to start. I saw an article in the Washington Post the other day saying that most book bans in the U.S. are filed by the same 11 people. (Some are actually part of organized networks and they file on behalf of people who are afraid to be on the public record for banning books. This also means the person filing may not have read the book they are trying to get banned.) Yet for some reason everyone’s running around trying to take books off the shelves to appease this minority.

    • Louise
      Louise
      Author
      June 9, 2023 / 6:03 pm

      It’s totally understandable that there are always new people, but I also don’t really have much to say about things anymore unless my opinions have changed.

      And that doesn’t surprise me about the book bans. Most people will just ignore books that they don’t like or don’t want their kids to read, but there will always be that vocal minority that thinks nobody should be able to read things that they personally don’t like.

  2. Avatar June 7, 2023 / 1:40 pm

    I can agree with all of those, although I do enjoy song titles! The ones that bothers me most are the one with « of X and X » of the fantasy genres 😅

    • Louise
      Louise
      Author
      June 9, 2023 / 6:04 pm

      Ooh, those annoy me too! There must be some publishers meddling with titles because there’s just no way all of these authors are coming up with those titles themselves.

  3. Avatar June 15, 2023 / 1:55 pm

    Oh, those unremovable stickers are so irritating. Hate them! And I totally agree with the cyclical arguments. I get that some of those issues are still being debated because they haven’t really been resolved, but a lot of times it’s just difference of opinion, so why keep rehashing? And, of course, I totally agree with you on banning. Florida has become its own dystopian universe lately, and it’s spreading!

  4. Avatar June 15, 2023 / 6:29 pm

    Love a good rant post too! Snobbery is ridiculous, just enjoy your books and move on. Stickers on covers will never be acceptable, no matter what crazy thing they say on them.

    • Louise
      Louise
      Author
      June 17, 2023 / 12:41 pm

      I’ll never understand what makes people feel like they have to be judgemental about what other people read.

  5. Avatar July 3, 2023 / 12:59 am

    So the song title ones really get to me because then the song in question is ALWAYS stuck in my head! I feel you with the banning/censorship. It has been rampant here, and I am so sick of it. And yeah, the discourse is so OLD at this point bwahaha. I also don’t like when people are snobs about books. Like who CARES- if you don’t like, you don’t have to read it! Don’t ruin it for someone else! These are all SO true. And honestly, does ANYONE like those dumb stickers? Who thought they were a good idea!?

  6. Avatar
    janette
    July 4, 2023 / 8:43 am

    Rant posts are a good way to get back into blogging. It’s always good to blog about what you feel strongly about 😃Definitely agree with pretty much of all of this. Reading is personal to everyone and we’re all entitled to read just what we want. Book banning makes me so cross and I’m very glad that it’s not really a thing over here.

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