Topics I don’t want to read about. Evah.

I’ve been musing about this subject for a while but seeing someone else articulate their own version of it has prompted me to put my own rambling thoughts down on screen. Partly this is because I have oodles of free time to ponder first world problems like this while I am on sabbatical from paid employment. But mostly it’s because I like the idea of having this documented somewhere so that when I receive pitches (or demands) from authors to read their book (as all book bloggers do) I can just point them here when I say “thanks but no thanks“.

To be clear up front these are my personal preferences. Or prejudices. Or whatever you want to call them. They are not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ they just are. I’m nearing 50 and I read for pleasure so in this aspect of life I am comfortable with having biases. I have no negative opinion about you if you write about these subjects and/or love reading about these subjects. Vive la difference as the French would say.

Gangsters, mafia, wiseguys and gangs in general

I don’t think The Godfather is the best film ever made and I’ve never gotten past episode two of The Sopranos. I would rather read a phone book.

Drug dealing, the war on drugs etc.

I would legalise all drugs (yes, even that one) and deal with drug taking as a health issue. If I, you know, ran the world or any significant part thereof. This is not a stance tied to any particular political persuasion nor any personal desire to consume large quantities of currently illicit drugs. It is a view I have developed after watching, on occasion very closely, how completely unsuccessful treating ‘the drug thing’ as a crime has worked out for everyone on the planet except the people who sell drugs in large quantities. For this reason books about ‘drug crimes’ just make me so sad or angry and I can never get into the story.

Bent coppers, with or without an associated criminal underclass surrounding them

Whatever the literary equivalent of Underbelly is I don’t want to read it. I’m not naïve enough to believe that kind of thing doesn’t happen in the real world but in my leisure hours I’m happy to pretend. I am, at heart, a character driven reader and I find it impossible to care when criminals (which for me includes corrupt cops) start murdering each other.

Paranormal goings on

This is not only about whether I believe in ghosts or vampires or whatever magic/made up/undead being is under discussion (though for the record I’m at the non-believer end of the spectrum). It’s also that just about every book I ever have read that tackles this subject takes itself way too seriously or spends far too much effort trying to convince readers of the authenticity of their particular brand of paranormality (creating whole worlds, languages, being-specific lore etc) that there is not enough story to keep me entertained. The same kind of inability to process made-up worlds and beings drives my unwillingness to read the entire fantasy genre and literature involving magical realism.

Serial killers with bizarre motivations

I’m pretty much done with serial killers as a whole though I’m open to the idea that someone could still have a new take on the trope. But anything that resembles an episode of Criminal Minds and/or a Thomas Harris wannabe is definitely not for me.

Men doing stereotypically manly things

Car chases, boxing, shoot outs, fist fights etc…I can handle a little of this but my tolerance level is pretty low.

Women doing stereotypically womanly things

Shopping, gossiping, crying, eating ice cream while mooning about over a bloke and, worst of all, women who repeatedly put themselves in stupidly dangerous situations (aka femjep). My tolerance level for this is probably lower than for the previous category.

Gratuitous sex, violence or bigotry

Yes I do get to define gratuitous and no I may not be as consistent as you think I ought to be. For me “too much” involves a combination of the extent of the language used and the intent of the author as I can discern it using my prior knowledge of the author’s work, reviews or the dreaded blurbs (when all else fails). With regards to bigotry I can be a little forgiving of older novels but only to a point.

What about you? Do you have subjects that you don’t read? Or do you judge each book on its merits? Are there topics on my list that you love? 






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16 Responses to Topics I don’t want to read about. Evah.

  1. Jose Ignacio says:

    I probably have subjects about which I don’t want to read, but I’ve not articulated it in the same sense that you have done it Bernadette. Just looking at the books I read, one might have an idea of which topics I prefer not to touch. Probably I don’t have ever desires to read paranormal novels, or science fiction. Gangsters and drug dealing themes are neither among my favourites, generally. But there are always exceptions I believe, if they’re well written. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You put this really well, Bernadette. My list of ‘won’t reads’ is quite similar to yours, actually. And it’s not out of whimsy, either. For me, anyway, it’s a conscious set of decisions that I’ve taken after reading one too many books about this or that, or because of my beliefs about one or another thing. Those perceptions definitely affect the way we look at what we read; I know they do me, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Annie says:

    Hahaha Even though we disagree with almost everything , I enjoyed reading your side of things 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rkottery says:

    “Shopping, gossiping, crying, eating ice cream while mooning about over a bloke and, worst of all, women who repeatedly put themselves in stupidly dangerous situations (aka femjep).”

    This is definitely a bugbear (I refuse to believe that I’m the only woman in the world who doesn’t suffer from an instant lobotomy in the presence of shoes).
    In fact, I think I’m in broad agreement with all of these except the paranormal/fantasy (I don’t believe in spooks, magic etc. but I do enjoy it).

    Although, I’m pretty sure that if I made a list of topics I try to avoid, I’d find at least one book in each category that was worth reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. No problems here at all, except: I think it’s only fair to accept viewpoints and prejudices as they were commonly accepted at the time a novel was written. Applying standards of today to a 50-tear-old novel just isn’t fair.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that applying modern day standards to older works isn’t really fair – but neither are any of my other choices – they are all just things I personally don’t want to encounter in my few remaining years of reading


  6. tracybham says:

    Interesting topic to consider, Bernadette. There is only one theme here that I consciously avoid and that is serial killer novels. Of the novels I have read in that area, there have been a few good ones, but in general I don’t enjoy them. I also don’t go for romance as a major element. Torture in a book is something I cannot abide, but sometimes you cannot foretell that. There are some authors that are known for giving the reader a high level of tension, unease, and discomfort (some by Ruth Rendell or Harlen Coben for example), and if I know in advance, I won’t read those. I cannot read Dennis Lehane books anymore, even though he is a wonderful writer, because the level of tension goes beyond my ability to enjoy the book. Apparently forensics bothers me, although I did not know that until I read that Kathryn Fox book recently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting point about the tension factor Tracy – I think I have changed a lot about this over the years but as I get older I’m less keen to be terrified for entertainment 🙂


  7. Bill Selnes says:

    Bernadette: Could it be that you will be the Monsignor Knox of the 21st Century providing a new set of rules for crime fiction?

    Personally I try to be open minded about the sub-genres of crime fiction though I struggle with an area you alluded to in your post. I have a hard time enjoying romantic suspense. Once in awhile I accidentally end up reading a work of romantic suspense but I have yet to repeat an author.

    What does drive me wild is a mystery purporting to be from real life but inaccurate. I am struggling with a Canadian mystery set in the Yukon which is impossible in that setting. In the same vein I have been upset when an author sets some hermit in the bush but a few kilometers from a town. It cannot be real. I grew up and live in a rural area. Everyone knows who lives in the area bush or plain. Sigh. I realize most fiction requires some suspension of disbelief but I cannot overcome that particular disbelief.

    Thanks. I feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting point Bill. I sometimes wonder how many of the books I read that I think seem authentic are way off the mark but because I am not local to that area I don’t know.

      I would never presume to write rules for everyone else…these are just mine. It didn’t help that I started reading a book that turned out to be about a corrupt cop that also had a gang in it a few days ago and after reading about a third of it I realised I just didn’t care about any of it. The book was not badly written but it was just not for me.


  8. Kathy D. says:

    Oh, I definitely agree with most of your categories of books you do not like to read.
    I don’t like books with mounting body counts or with torture porn. Nor the paranormal nor
    books with impossible events or coincidences … an earthquake occurs as the bad guy comes after the good guy with a gun or an armed gang. Nor lightning striking at exactly the right moment to show a face of a murderer clearly.
    I don’t like books with nothing to say, that are just inane.
    I also don’t like books about gangsters (give Denise Mina a pass on a few books), or about drug dealers. Don’t like serial killers or particularly vile murder, way-out murder methods. I’ve read a few Nordic noir books where the visuals of the murders were too awful. Can’t someone just use a gun?
    I don’t like a lot of car chases or non-stop action without character development.
    I don’t like gratuitous violence, and I dislike violence against children.
    And I can’t stand bigotry in books. I stopped reading Agatha Christie books when I was 19 after I read some anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, racist descriptions of characters. I don’t care if the books are dated. I don’t enjoy reading that stuff. People should have known better than to be bigoted years ago. It’s basic human ethics and kindness.
    I also don’t like to be bored, don’t like a book to take several pages to make one point.
    Anyway, if I ran the world of publishing, it would be different.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So I’m not the only one who fantasizes about running the publishing world eh Kathy 🙂

      At least there are plenty of books that aren’t about these subjects we dislike so we have plenty to be getting on with


  9. kathy d. says:

    So man (sigh), and then there is non-crime fiction,too.


  10. I enjoyed your list very much. Of course I have my own preferences – not too much torture, forensics or violence to children would pretty much sum it up… But at the same time I don’t like the other extreme of soft over-cozy mysteries. So not that far off your list…


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