Neglected Children, Sweet Potato Pie, and Other Book Turn Offs

I am not a picky reader, in fact, there are few things that will make me stop reading a book once I’ve started it. However, the craziest things will turn me off while reading a book to the point where I will have a harder time finishing it. The ones that annoy me the most involve small, seemingly insignificant incidents where characters take strange turns.

Below are a few incidents that I’ve encountered while reading that left me scratching my head, searching for answers and wishing I could call the authorities.

  1. Macho Men using the phrase “Oh, Honey”.

In books published by a certain author, she tended to have non-male lead characters as having careers in law enforcement, the military or pro athletes. Not only are they characterized as having “tough” jobs but as being  very rough-around-the-edges when it came to displaying their emotions as well. Book after book, scenario after scenario, when they encounter a female loved one in distress, they’ll say “oh, honey!”, and it completely throws me off.

The characters written are very macho and to write them as saying “oh, honey!” feels inauthentic to me. While I haven’t lived on earth for more than a quarter century, I have yet to hear a man use this phrase in a way that was not condescending (or out of the closet).

  1. A 7-months pregnant woman taking a hot Jacuzzi bath.

I am not a mother. I have no plans on being a mother for the time being, however, a pregnant woman being in a hot Jacuzzi bath rang alarm bells in my head. I had to stop and complete internet search to investigate.

When I am forced to go to WebMD while reading a book, that is never a good sign.

  1. A neglected child.

While reading a book recently, I became so distracted with concern for the heroine’s goddaughter that I couldn’t focus on the storyline. The heroine let her new friend-with-benefits, who she barely knew, have free reign with her goddaughter. The six-years-old child gleefully sitting on the stranger’s lap, getting into tickle fights, crawling into bed and falling asleep next to him when she couldn’t find her Godmother.

If you barely know this man, why are you letting him be so hands on with your goddaughter? There has to be a way to show that a man is good with kids without the children coming across as being neglected.

  1. A Black man, born and raised in the American South, who has never had Sweet Potato pie.

I get it. I know that as an author you want to create multi-dimensional characters that do not fit the norm. However, what I don’t understand is creating an attribute about a character that leaves me puzzled.

Paraphrasing of scene:

Jerome enjoyed Thanksgiving with Veronica’s family. Having a slice of Mama Pearl’s World-Class Sweet Potato pie was the icing on the cake, he’d never had Sweet Potato Pie before. He’d been missing out!

Jerome wasn’t missing out, Jerome is lying not being truthful.


I understand that my turn-offs are just that, mine. Language isn’t uniform and what I know to be true in my neck of the woods, certainly isn’t true in another. Society is currently shifting and stretching to allow room for all people to freely, and safely express themselves. That is much needed and great to see.

However, as a reader, when I come across something that doesn’t make sense and isn’t explained well I tend to  lose interest in the book.

Do you have any #BookPetPeeves?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s