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