Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a prompt for a different themed list. This week's list is: Bookish Pet Peeves.

I've been meaning to do Top Ten Tuesday for a while now but always forget about it until it's too late for my list-obsessed self to put enough thought into it. This week's theme, however, is something I've long thought about. So without further ado, in no particular order...

1. Covers that retain fingerprints

I like my books immaculate. So I can't help but cringe when the dust cover jacket material is of the glossy kind that inevitably gets fingerprints all over it. Ahhh!

2. Female characters with boys' names

I'm not sure why this bothers me so. I think it's a carryover from those teen TV dramas in which all the girls have the same-sounding names of Joey, Benjy, Kris, Riley, Charlie... so on. I mean, I get that fiction allows us the opportunity to use names and nicknames that occur less in real life, but... I don't know. A girl doesn't need to reject traditional conceptions of femininity to be able to be a protagonist, you know? Having a boyish nickname seems to symbolize in literature the character's freedom from these gender conventions, when I'd rather think that what makes a female character a strong protagonist is more her characteristics and less her name.

[ETA] And yes, Frankie mentioned a good one that the same kind of devaluing of femininity is in place when female authors are told to use only their initials, so as not to turn off male readers. In what state of mind is it right to teach people that females are inferior to males???

3. Soap opera-esque names

This is similar to #2. Names--especially boy names--like Hayden, Kailee, Blaise, Blaine, Fielding...aka names that are more commonly found on soap operas than in real life. It's almost like the use of these names in fiction puts yet another layer between fiction and our lives. Kind of like how soap operas are so melodramatic that you know things just don't happen like that in real life. I feel like the soap opera-esque names do the same thing at a small, but more pervasive, level.

4. Paranormal romance YA taking up too much space in bookstores

Alright, peoples. Twilight is so over. I would like to see other titles having space on the shelves.

5. YA books being marked as [BIG YA TITLE] meets [OTHER BIG YA TITLE]

The following titles should not be allowed to be used in marketing descriptions anymore: Twilight. The Hunger Games. These big-name titles are so charged that you're essentially setting people up for certain expectations. And we all have very finicky relationships with hype. Why couldn't a book's synopsis just stand for itself?

6. Tru luv at first sight

Need I say more? Okay, maybe I'll say a little more. I don't believe in love at first sight, so when characters lock eyes across the room and immediately feel a connection with one another I'm inclined to be irritated because that doesn't fit with my conception of reality. However, I'll acknowledge that others have perhaps experienced love at first sight, and society certainly promotes that idea often enough as an extremely desirable part of idealistic romance.

7. When cover designs change halfway through a series, or when the book format/size changes mid-series

This goes back to #1 and my desire to keep everything orderly and immaculate. I just balk every time publishers change the look of a series between one book and another, or when a series that originally came out only in paperback starts selling extremely well, causing the publisher to publish future books in the series as hardcover first. What can I say? I like my series to be uniform!

8. The stereotypical popular mean girl

This character is often so flat and formulaic, it's frustrating. Look, even the popular mean girls in high school are still real people. What happened to make them feel like they have to behave that way? That's what I would like to see more of in YA. And gosh, people, can't we be a bit more creative with our insults and bullying, please? I understand that people use words like "skank" and "ho" when trying to put other girls down, but I also feel like those types of words have been filling in for more creative--and thus more harmful--insults in literature. It's like, we see one character call another character a skank, and we're supposed to feel bad for the character being called a skank, because skank is a negative word. But, for me, the menace behind the word is lost because the words are used so frequently that they don't really mean what they used to mean. Does that make sense? I think I'm beginning to think too much into this...

9. Boarding school settings

Every once in a while the boarding school setting works for me. But all too often it feels like just a convenient way to take the MC away from the restricting family structure and basically stick them into the dramatic adolescent high school setting 24/7.

10. Love interests with dark, luscious hair and brilliantly green/blue eyes

I think this might be a carryover from the Harry Potter years. There is no one else, I think, who can be black-hair-green-eyed in my mind. Not to mention that this is a genetic combination that I've seen very rarely in person, and they seem to occur in YA at a higher rate than they do in real life. Again, this is small and most likely inconsequential, won't make or break a story for me... but I've noticed.

[ETA] A lot of people are commenting on #10. I do not mean to say that this genetic combination is not possible, nor am I saying that I dislike it! (In fact, I think I like it a bit too much. Comes from reading all that YA, I think.) I'm just saying that there are other genetic combinations out there, and that I wish the dark-hair-light-eyes combination would not be associated with dreaminess at the exclusion of everything else. And for those of you who have dark hair and light eyes... believe me, I am so so so envious of you. Buuuttt I think therein lies the problem: if someone like me, who has dark hair and dark eyes, is conditioned by all my reading to believe that only people with dark hair and light eyes can be desirable, well, that's really sad in my opinion. Characters with all kinds of genetic combinations should be celebrated! *sings* The world is a raaaaaainbooooowwww...

26 comments:

  1. Oh ~ I know! Often I get really irked just by the characters name. Especially ones that I wouldn't really feel confident with the phonetic punctuation. Sarah Dessen picks unusual names...

    And I agree with needing my series to all be uniform in design/style.

    Aussie book shops don't have massive paranormal sections :) Well, not my local ones. OUr YA sections are mostly a blend of Aussie stuff and contemp and fantasy.

    THEN there's a whole separate area of the books shop full of urban fantasy and paranormal ~ where you can find the YA stuff blended in with the adult. i don;t know why they shelve them like that/

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  2. THIS LIST! So full of win!! I'm so glad that you participated. I'm so with you on a bunch of these...but YES to covers that retain fingerprints. OMG. Grosses me out.

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  3. Oh, I agree with almost all of these (all but #2, which I will admit I'm fond of most of the time) Awesome list! And I swear green eyes is the new blue xD Oh, and Twilight meets The Hunger Games, it just makes me grown because like you said, what happened to originality? Great post! Cheers to paranormal YA taking up less space!

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  4. Haha I agree with most of these!! Great list.

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  5. I agree with everything on this list.

    Have a great week!

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  6. Gahhhh I agree with just about all of these! Especially the fingerprints cover one. Delirium and Catching Fire both have that problem and it bugs me to no end!!! Haha. :)

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  7. Great list! I agree with them all, except perhaps for the fingers on covers thing, most of my books look kind of worn so I don't care much for that, though I do hate when the pages start to yellow :(

    Oh and the boarding school, I like that setting. LOL

    But in general I was nodding along.

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  8. LOLOL

    The last one really got to me with Matched. It reminds me of the redheaded heroine problem. Why is every girl a redhead?!?

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  9. I enjoyed your list...especially no.10 - I have- or rather had - almost black hair and blue eyes...kind of bright blue, although sometimes they look blue grey, and other times they look a little darker....mostly they're blue. My dad is the same, dark hair, very bright blue piercing eyes...and my uncles on his side - the only brown eyed uncle happened to have blond hair. Go figure.

    Then again, while I was growing up - (my parents were divorced) all of my siblings had brown hair, and olive skin...so I felt like I didn't quite fit in....and of course acted up more than the others....*g* It wasn't til much later in life that I heard my particular combo of skin color, eye and hair color seemed uncommon.

    I totally get you on all the other peeves you've listed. I would just add that it sucks when a paperback series gets changed to hardback the resulting costs are hard on us loyal readers.

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  10. I completely agree with you, especially with number 8, 6 and 4. I am so over the whole true love at first sight/instant love!

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  11. Oh great list Steph! I agree on the over-used mean girl character. I get tired of reading about her. It's funny you mention the love interest with dark hair & green/blue eyes because I recently read a book that described the character as complete opposite & even though he was meant to be "beautiful" I just couldn't see it. I'm so used to my dark hair, dreamy eyes dude! haha

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  12. I have dark hair and green eyes. :(

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  13. I dislike the popular girl stereotype too. I don't feel like any one group rule the school when I was in high school and there wasn't that blatant cruelty. That was more middle school. Maybe I just missed it, but I think it's just a convenient way to create a villain.

    BTW...I have dark brown hair and light green eyes :-)

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  14. What about female authors with boys names? ;)

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  15. I agree with you on all of these, except maybe for #10. I have dark hair and green eyes and so doesn't my brother, mother, grandfather and a few other family members. I think it is an Irish thing, but still pretty uncommon I suppose. Doesn't quite bother me--at least they are moving away from gray eyes.
    And I hate fingerprints on my book covers. Also, all my books have to be the same too if they are in a series. If I buy a hardcover, the rest have to be hardcover and vice versa.

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  16. I'm with you on the girls name, the love at first sight (this one bothers me the most), and the paranormal romance everywhere, because I don't read paranormal. Ghost, wolves, vamps,ect. Ugh. So tired of that.

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  17. Great list, but it's funny when I read Harry Potter I never in my mind pictured him as good looking, really just kind of plain--that's why the eyes stand out. Kaye—the road goes ever ever on

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  18. THIS!!!

    I would like more dark haired/dark eyed heroines who are clearly good looking. (Basically someone who looks like me.)

    I'm down for dark hair/light eyed male leads though, my boyfriend has that coloring. And it's awesome.

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  19. Oh #5 annoys me to no end. I almost didn't read It I Stay because the cover had something like, "Will appeal to fans of Twilight" on it.

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  20. Heehee! I, too, hate stereotypical mean girls. Also, green-eyed hot dudes are getting a little old. Thanks for this fun post!

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  21. Lol, I love this. Very funny and oh so true.

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  22. I can totally relate with #1, 5, 6, 7.

    So bothersome. Happy to know I'm not the only one who noticed this stuff!

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  23. Oh, this post just made me so incredibly happy! I agree with you 100% on just about all of these. Where I differ - boarding schools. I am a total sucker for boarding school books. My love affair with that premise started way back in the 1980s with The Girls of Canby Hall. *draws hearts around boarding school books*

    Soap opera names and instant true love drive me batty. I will put down a book if the character's name is too out there. Ugh.

    You don't even want to get me started on having covers change mid-way through a series... *mutters*

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  24. I agree with most of these, but I have to disagree with boarding school settings and girls with boys' names. Love it.


    Here is my list: http://hawthornescarlet.blogspot.com/2011/03/top-ten-tuesday-i-hate-that.html

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  25. I agree with your list so much (except for boarding schools - I love them!), especially #7! I can't stand it when the look of a series changes! It's such a problem that I've put off reading Leviathan (Westerfeld), which I own in hardback, because I don't want to have to buy the non-matching second book. I'm contemplating buying both in paperback instead. Ridiculous. Also, easily avoidable if publishers would just remember us collector types!

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  26. This is such a fun meme! I haven't seen it before.

    1) I'm the same way. I like my covers to look PERFECT. Lately, I've started pre-ordering books in the store to get the cheaper online price AND let the store get the credit so they don't go out of business. When they arrive in the mail, sometimes they're a little dinged. Most people won't care, but I always do. This week, I'll have to take back Wither. It has an actual tear, and since it's one of the prettiest covers EVER, this just won't do!

    2) I was going through my baby name book this week looking for character names for a guy and kept coming across ones that I've seen girls use. Even though a name like "Bailey" or "Riley" might be a boy's name, if a girl uses it, it's just out! I never thought about it from a feminine standpoint before, though. You opened my eyes there!

    3) I know, right! If it's a soap opera name, I'd better be reading a romance novel. (What do you mean I don't read those...?)

    4) Ugh, YES. And even further--every non-paranormal book having a dark, angsty cover. For example, the recent Cindy Pon re-design. The original cover for Silver Phoenix is BEYOND gorgeous. Why mess with that? And what's up with all the classics now getting black covers with flowers on the front and quotes such as how it's Bella's favorite book? Ugh. Move on, please!

    6) Haha, I had this happen just this week while reading M.J. Putney's Dark Mirror. It is overdone, though. I'm making sure to develop the relationship in my current WIP.

    7)This is my biggest pet peeve, too! Like above with Cindy Pon. Fury of the Phoenix will pale in comparison on the shelf next week. Or Forest Born, the latest book by Shannon Hale. I LOVE the original hand-illustrated covers. Do I really need one with a model on the front and a quote from Stephenie Meyer? Seriously considering purchasing the re-issue of the HC with the new illustrated cover later this year...

    8) But sometimes mean girls work, too. Like in the upcoming Lost Voices by Sarah Porter! At some point in my WIP (not the first book, though), I'll have a mean girl. I'll have to work hard to flesh her out!

    9) Um...I guess I shouldn't say that my WIP (series) takes place at boarding school. And it isn't to get the MC away from the family. So that's one plus. I've actually been TRYING to find good boarding school books atm to see how other authors handle it. I just read all the Ally Carter books last week. They work well as a boarding school. One of my favorite 2010 books, The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney, also takes place at such a school. It could never have taken place elsewhere.

    10) I think authors do this to get away from the "blond-hair, blue eyes" image. I know that's why I tend to use darker hair more often. But most of the time, it's brown. Though I do have an Asian boy in my current WIP, and also a red-head, so it's not so uniform!

    This meme is fun! I'll have to try it sometime myself. I loved reading your responses; we agreed on quite a bit!

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