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???
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?
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!
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.
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...