Musings From A Bookmammal

I is for I DON’T LIKE TO READ ABOUT . . . –The April A-Z Challenge/Day 9


IWelcome to Day #9 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.

I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post about topics I generally don’t enjoy reading about:

I read a lot of books covering a lot of different topics and genres. In fact, my bookshelves look as though they contain books belonging to about ten different people! However, there are few genres and plot points that I tend to avoid. Here are a few of them:

Animal deaths—I usually just can’t handle these. I’ve never read Old Yeller or Where The Red Fern Grows. Stone Fox had me sobbing at the end. I’ve read essays by Anne Lamott and Ann Patchett about the deaths of beloved dogs that have reduced me to a sobbing mess—we’re talking ugly crying face here. I respect the talent of these authors, and I admire that kind of powerful writing, but I generally avoid these types of books/essays unless I’m really feeling the need for a cathartic cry.

Child abuse—I’ve had to deal with a few instances of real-life child abuse in my previous career as a teacher, and that’s enough. I have absolutely no desire to read about it. I don’t read nonfiction books like A Child Called It or novels that include this topic as a major plot point–no matter how many stellar reviews they receive.

Foreign lands—OK, I know I’m totally going to catch flak for this one, but I’ve got to be honest. I prefer to read books set in America. I think most of this preference stems from the fact that I’ve never traveled outside my home country, and I find it hard to completely lose myself in characters and plots set in other countries. Of course, the natural argument would be that books are the perfect opportunity to explore other lands and cultures, and I completely agree in theory–I just don’t put it into practice very often! I do find that I’m becoming a bit more open to reading books set in other countries lately—for example, I really enjoyed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, and I like most of Maeve Binchey’s books set in Ireland. But if given the choice, I’ll usually pick a book set in the US over a book set in another country.

Ghosts and Paranormal Topics–I think I’m just too much of a skeptic to enjoy or appreciate most books about the supernatural.

Poetry—I just don’t know enough about poetry to truly appreciate it. I never took any poetry classes in high school or in college, although my high school language arts classes always included a unit or two on classic poets. I envy people who have read enough poems to actually have favorites. There are some poems that I enjoy, but I generally don’t seek poetry out when I’m looking for my next book.

How about you? Are there any genres or plot points that you avoid? Please share!

Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

47 thoughts on “I is for I DON’T LIKE TO READ ABOUT . . . –The April A-Z Challenge/Day 9

  1. Animal deaths though. I can’t handle them.

    • I know. . . if I’m reading a book and I think that the plot is heading towards any sort of animal abuse or death I start getting tense.

      • Did you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? I lost it when an animal died.

      • Nope–never read that one, but probably won’t be looking for it now, either! 🙂
        Again, I don’t have anything against this kind of book–I just don’t choose to read them and get myself get all worked up.

      • It was an amazing book but it made me so sad that I had to put it down for a couple of days! Haha

  2. I’m a bit like you. I don’t like child abuse books at all. And I can’t honestly understand why they are so popular. Why would people want to read things like that?

  3. I’m with you on child abuse. I can’t read about it. And I also agree about ghosts and paranormal activity. Usually I know when a book is going to be about those things, so I avoid it, but if I’m reading a book and a ghost appears, I lose interest in the book.

    • The only exception for me on the paranormal thing is I do like reading about “regular” people who may have evidence of psychic ability–the recent “Sisterland” by Sittenfeld is an example. But in that case, the psychic plotline wasn’t the only plotline in the book, and I thought it was presented in a pretty realistic way. I guess that’s the tipping point for me–I need the plot to be fairly realistic in order for me to buy into it.

  4. I agree with most of yours except the foreign countries. But that’s probably because my book (a memoir) is about my life in Paris. So if I didn’t like reading about other countries I probably shouldn’t have written a book about one! I’ve never been able to get into poetry. I’m probably missing out but with all the other stuff I’m trying to catch up on reading, I don’t know how I’d have the time anyway!

    • I think that if I was going to spend any time in a foreign country I’d probably feel differently! I think I’d want to read as much as I could to immerse myself in that culture and would probably read anything I could get my hands on. However, I have no plans to do so in the near future!

  5. I am still haunted and turned off by Carolyn Parkhurt’s The Dogs of Babel. Ugh. I do like books set in foreign countries, though. I read my first Maeve Binchy book while flying home from Ireland.

  6. How wonderful to meet someone else who doesn’t like to read the child abuse stories. What a lovely blog post, nice to follow and connect through a to z

    • Thank you!
      I just personally don’t see the point in reading about a subject that is going to get me all depressed and upset. I don’t mind books about difficult subjects, but after encountering child abuse in “real life” I have no desire to go there when I’m reading.

  7. I hear you about the sad animal deaths. If I no ahead of time that a pet dies, I won’t be reading it. I also do not want to read Nonfiction about child abuse. I know it is real. It hurts to know it goes on so I prefer to go the fiction route for my reading enjoyment. I’d rather escape in a book not dread up society.
    I will NOT read horror. Nope! Get it away from me. I’ve had friends that read Pet Cemetery years ago and still sleep with the lights one. I don’t like to be freaked out!

    • I haven’t read too much horror–I think I’ve read a couple of short stories, but no novels. I don’t have any strong opinions about it-it’s just a genre I haven’t really explored.

  8. Child abuse is something I find very difficult to read about.

  9. I started the Book “A Boy Called It” but I couldn’t finish it. I understand why these books are written. And some people who might have shared these same atrocities in their lives might need to read that others were in their exact spot and they are not alone. It’s just not my cup of tea. I feel the same about books that include torture of any kind. I love a good murder mystery, but just kill the guy, don’t torture him first! I like books set in America as well. Because I relate better. But I also like to read books that are set in places I have actually visited.

    • I agree with you–I know that there is an audience for those books and I certainly don’t judge anyone for reading them–it’s just not how I choose to spend my reading time.

  10. I agree about animal books, stories, and movies. Lassie can have me in tears in minutes, Bambi was the ultrabetrayal movie as far as Im concerned, and I read the Red Pony only once. No Lad, a Dog or White Fang or any of the other books on animals since 90% of them are simply too much.
    Most murder mysteries, most detective stories are fine, unless they really get into the brains-upon-the-ceiling genre. Any books which deal almost exclusively with torture, abuse, horrendous captitivies, are off my list. Horror books bore me, although the vampire lestat was really good, and was Ghost Story, which is almost the only horror story book i ve ever read that really scared me.

    Current blockbuster best sellers: expensive, doubtful, and I am almost always disappointed. I like to wait a few years, and if the books are still being sold, ill take a chance.

    • I usually wait a bit on the big blockbusters as well.

      I like your phrase “brains upon the ceiling” even though I don’t like to read that type of book either!

  11. I agree with you about not reading child abuse stories, and I go further and won’t read books with abuse/rape of women. There’s too much of that in real life. I don’t want to read about it. I also won’t read horror/gorefest books. I read for fun and escapism and want to enjoy myself.

    • Yes, that’s another category I probably could have included. I agree with you–I also read either for pleasure/escape or to learn something, and books portraying explicit abuse of anyone or anything just don’t fit those categories for me.

  12. I recently read a sci-fi book set in Thailand, The Windup Girl, that was really good. It was very heavily set in Thailand, steeped in local culture. I spent a three week trip there, with some amazing tour guides, and I felt like I actually got most of the references in the book, at least from an outsider’s perspective.

    Your comment on foreign lands makes me wonder… would I have enjoyed this book nearly so much if I had never been to Thailand? I don’t know. Would I have gotten as much out of it? No way.

    However, that makes me think about science fiction and fantasy… where they have to present a new world to you, generally. Do these genres handle this sort of world-presenting better than books set or about real-world spaces? Maybe! You’ve really got me thinking now. Great post!

    • Actually, I don’t read much science fiction or fantasy either–I definitely could have included them on my list–so you may be on to something here!

      • Ah! Interesting. Have you tried something more like Urban Fantasy? Where it’s set in our world, but with fantastical things happening? Mysteries like the Dresden Files, or something like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods?

        And there’s Steampunk, where it’s kind of like science fiction set in history… thus steam creations in Victorian times, as the stereotype of the genre. Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series is a great version of that.

        I love science fiction and fantasy, and exploring those sorts of different worlds. But I don’t read a lot that is set in other places on Earth that I don’t know, so I still wonder at the difference in the storytelling between the two!

      • Hmmmm . . . I keep hearing about Neil Gaiman. He’s also the author of some of the best quotes I’ve ever read about kids and books and also reading in general. I think this will be the excuse I need to give him a try. I’ll take a look for American Gods — thanks for the suggestion!

      • “Make good art.” -Neil Gaiman

  13. Gah, animal deaths. I’ve a professor whose favorite book is Where the Red Fern Grows. I do not understand this.

    • I think some people just aren’t as affected by reading about fictional deaths–and that’s OK! I, on the other hand, can be reduced to a big crying mess when reading about the death of a pet or other animal or a child.

  14. Animal deaths, child abuse, and torture definitely turn me off. I also don’t like horror. I enjoy a good mystery or psychological suspense though. I prefer books set in the U.S., but do have a fondness for Ireland.

    • I do like a good psychological thriller–they usually seem pretty realistic to me and that makes them even more suspenseful. I would definitely rather read a book in that genre than in horror.

  15. Ditto for Ghosts, but I’m okay with Paranormal if it means vampires or supernatural powers, just not ghosts. I’d get crazy nightmares and hallucinations after and it’s no fun. Heh. And like you, I don’t know how to really enjoy poetry if they’re not direct or if they’re not of the rhyming type. I only enjoy those kinds, otherwise I don’t know how to appreciate them. We didn’t have poetry class in high school either, so yeah.

  16. I’m pretty open to anything, but an abusive relationship portrayed as a positive thing, is a big deal breaker for me (Beautiful Disaster is an example). Besides that, anything goes, lol 🙂

  17. I am not so much into YA these days, I used to like them but now there just seems to be too much stuff flooding the market. I am not very into self-help either.

    • I’m trying to make an effort to get back into reading YA–there’s a lot out there and it’s not all of the highest quality (but that’s true of any genre) but there are some WONDERFUL YA books and authors right now!

  18. I try to never say never about subjects an author chooses to deal with in a fictional work, but the writing has to be exceptional for me to want to read a book that deals with a subject that’s difficult to read about!

  19. I’m reading Lolita right now and while the writing is gorgeous, the topic is AWFUL. I can only read it in short sittings because it’s so revolting. Reading about child abuse has bothered me more since having a child – other than that I’m pretty open, though I don’t generally enjoy romance or erotica. I just think they’re kind of formulaic and boring.

    Maybe you could wade into international reading waters by books set half in America and half somewhere else?

    Thanks for linking up with Spread the Love!

  20. I actually LIKE supernatural topics for that same reason! I’m such a skeptic and I feel like some day, some how, a book is gonna make me change my mind. Great post!

    • That’s definitely one way to look at those types of books–and you’re right–you just never know when you’ll come across the book that may change your mind!

  21. I agree on paranormal and ghosts. They frighten me. Always did. Even as a child – if my book had a picture of an ugly witch, I’d be sure not to touch the picture and turn the page as quickly as possible. That said – I guess my novel A Beautiful Family which is to be published in the next couple of months, will be on your “do not read” list as it is set in South Africa, Israel and England.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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