Strange Pet Peeves: Physical Books (Part 2)

I made a part one talking mainly about fantasy and young adult pet peeves, around plot. This one is more the actual physical books and the format.

Book covers changing look mid-series. Or SIZE! It could so easily just be an alternate version, please why.

Misuse’ of foot-notes. I know footnotes in general is a touchy subject. But I’ve just decided on this personal policy ranking use of footnotes on that you shouldn’t have to read the footnotes for the plot to make sense, it should either be additional info for those interested or for example funny remarks or any other remarks that add to the story, but isn’t cruicial. I often say fuck Nevernight by Jay Kristoff for other reasons, but the footnotes … well, it’s saying something how I found that to be such a small problem compared with the rest because those footnotes are a mess.

Here’s a couple bad ones in quick succession; movie-edition covers. the trend of normal paperbacks being way too tall and large so they don’t fit on any regular shelf. I totally get it if it’s illustrations or more nonfiction with photos. Stickers on books! Like just why?

Ugly hardback dustcovers. Well, honestly I think most dust covers are annoying at best and have come to terms with that so that I can throw them away immediately (unless extremely pretty, but then the actual book underneath usually is as well). I’ve just now started to not feel guilty for it as well.

Those small reading lights. I always got them as gifts or bought them myself thinking that this model might work, but then realizing they all got some kind of feature that makes them extremely annoying. Like too narrow a lightbeam so constantly have to adjust or clipping them on a book and struggling to turn pages because it’s in the way. I would have just used a head light, but I often fall asleep reading and that doesn’t seem comfortable. Ended up just buying a kindle and haven’t looked back to be honest. I might even read a book on the kindle during the night or, back when I commuted for three years, in the darkness of the bus in the morning and then read a completely other book in physical copy during the day.

Some Strange Book Pet Peeves (Fantasy & YA)

I didn’t think I had book pet peeves, like I don’t care if books have dog-ears for the most part, but I’ve certainly collected some related to book plots over a period of time. Here’s that collection and I’m warning you that they are mostly personal, as in I know they’re not the most popular ones out there and people will disagree.

Fictional fandoms. I don’t know why this bother me so much, I think it’s something about there, in best case, being this entire subculture readers either don’t get access to and just have to live with imagining existing or have to wade through what I find to be unecessary amounts of facts for something that isn’t real. A good example of this is “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell, that spun this whole Simon Snow trilogy out of the fantasy series the main character is a part of the fandom of. Had I read the Simon Snow series before Fangirl, I might’ve thought different about it (not that it was published yet), but hence all details included in the book felt like a waste of time in a strange, unlogical way. It’s truly a weird pet peeve, I think, and I totally admit so. But it makes me dislike books I don’t think I normally would. The only exception I can think of is “I was born for this” by Alice Oseman, but I suspect that’s because the fandom there is based around a boyband that is a huge part of the story (and also very recognizable from the ‘real world’) and so the fandom and their culture is also very based in something and understandable without much background info.

Here’s a kind of specific and small one; what the magic is called in a fantasy/magical realism world. Most often I just hate the magic of the world being called something similiar like Magik, but the author/character insisting it’s not the same as magic, like they haven’t just changed the language. I’ve seen so many cases of this. But sure, do that if you’re creating magic with a couple conditions/limits, that’s just smart.

Fairytale retellings that doesn’t either make the story their own OR stay true to the feeling of the original material. Same problem with stories from mythologies. With making it their own, I mean things like a genderbent version, a modernized one or maybe a queer one. Like truly reworking the material, but with clear inspirations. I think my other critera, staying true to the ~vibe~ so to say, has more to do with my next point. But if you retell a fairytale, without changing much of the plot or characters, maybe just setting them in another setting, how are you going to tell a better story than the one honed through mouth-to-mouth retelling for far far longer than you’re working on it? Like what do the author even add, far too often? I’m all for an author daydreaming in this fairytale realm that’s already built up, but then have the basis of the fairytale realm and create your own story in there instead, which would’ve kept the feeling (maybe even keep short format) that brings the magic to the story, and have higher chance of telling a good one. Truth is, I’ve read my fair share of queer fairytale retellings where there’s a good romance, but everything else is boring/predictable still (side-eye at Ash by Malinda Lo). I would’ve just cut them out completely, but as with Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, any Riordan series or Circe by Madeline Miller it might be some of my favourite books as well.

Mythological creatures included in stories completely separated from any of the other parts of the mythology. Just to have a ‘cool’ lesser-known creature, without really taking into consideration what makes it cool or unique. Of course, at worst it could be some type of cultural appropriation, but that’s not really what I’m talking about as a ‘pet peeve’.

Including politics, but not really. As in not actually going into the politics or even spending time thinking about how a political system would work in their fictional world. Typical is (what I would call) YA book with princesses or kids of high-level politicians/diplomats, but I’ve also seen non-YA versions of this. “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuinston did it well in that the author kept its focus on certain topics and didn’t go too heavy into how policies was changed or what their parents did politically, but the limits and system was still set (even if very similiar to present day America) and you saw that in the story. I would’ve still wanted there to be more going into the politics, like I usually do, but it was a choice made rather than an obvious dodge. Like why even write a book around politics if you’re scared to interact with any part of it or do any research??