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What Are Bookish Pet Peeves That Get Readers Riled Up? [20 Top Annoyances]

Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Louisa

Reading is a joy for many people, and I think I speak for every reader when I say that it’s still one of the best past times.

However, there are some book-related pet peeves that can make the experience less enjoyable.

For me, my biggest pet peeve is dog-earing pages. I like my books to stay beautiful, and it makes my insides turn when I see people fold down the pages as a bookmark.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets frustrated with this. In fact, there are many other bookish pet peeves that I’m sure to rile up many readers around the world.

If you’re feeling frustrated about a pet peeve and you’re wondering if you’re alone, then I’m here to put your mind at ease, as below are some of the most common annoyances when it comes to books.

20 MOST Common Bookish Pet Peeves

The following pet peeves are some of the most common that we’ve found in our reader circle.

1. Poor Editing

The first pet peeve that many readers have is poor editing. Most readers expect books to be edited for grammar and spelling errors, as well as basic factual inaccuracies or missing parts in the storyline.

It can be frustrating to read a book that is riddled with typos and mistakes, and in some cases, poor editing can even make the book unreadable.

I would say the most common reason why I DNF a book is due to this reason. It also puts me off buying other books by an author.

This is why it’s important for authors and publishers to invest in good editing services so that readers don’t lose trust in the author.

2. Too Much Description

Another pet peeve that some readers have is too much description. While some description is necessary to set the scene and build the world, too much can slow down the pace of the story.

Too much description can also take away from the action and makes it difficult to stay engaged with the story.

In fact, over-describing can either remove the reader’s sense of imagination or even confuse the reader. It also means the author has to remember every last detail they mention throughout the book to ensure they don’t contradict themselves later.

3. Unlikable/Arrogant Characters

Most readers don’t like reading about unlikable characters unless their unlikeability changes throughout the book.

Character development is key to an engaging book, but many readers find it difficult to connect with a story if they don’t like the characters from the beginning.

It can be frustrating to read a book where the main character is unlikeable or unrelatable. One of the biggest character traits that put people off is arrogance.

When writers incorporate an arrogant character into the book, they need to be flawed in some way to make them relatable.

Essentially, when writing about unlikeable characters, even if they are villain or meant to be unliked, the reader still needs to find some way to connect to them in order to enjoy the book.

4. Plot Holes

Everyone hates plot holes. This refers to inconsistencies in the storyline or unresolved plot points, or even when more questions are raised than answered.

Plot holes can be frustrating because they often break the reader’s suspension of disbelief and make the story less believable.

Readers want to feel like the story is consistent and makes sense, so plot holes can be a major pet peeve for many.

5. Clichés

This is a pet peeve that’s true for some more than others, but from our research, many readers are also put off by clichés.

This can include overused phrases, predictable plot twists, and stereotypical characters.

Clichés can make a story feel unoriginal and uninspired, which can be disappointing for readers who are looking for something fresh and exciting.

6. Slow Pacing

Slow pacing is a popular bookish pet peeve since it can make the book feel boring or unnecessarily dragged out.

While some books benefit from a slower pace, others can feel like there’s no real purpose to not getting to the point.

Slow pacing can make it difficult to stay engaged with the story and can make readers lose interest altogether.

7. Lack of Diversity

This is becoming more and more common, but many readers are starting to get frustrated by a lack of diversity in books.

This can refer to a lack of representation for marginalized groups or a lack of diversity in the story itself.

Many readers want to see themselves and their experiences reflected in the books they read, and a lack of diversity can make them feel excluded.

8. Dog-Earing Pages

If you’re not familiar with dog-earing, it’s a term used to describe when someone folds down the corner of a page in order to mark a place in the book.

For some readers, books are cherished possessions and something they want to keep in pristine condition. When pages get dog-eared, it can be seen as a form of damage to the book.

In some cases, dog-eared pages can even cause the corner of the page to tear off.

9. Annotating in Books

While this is not something that ticks me off, another pet peeve that many readers have said they have is annotating in books.

Annotating refers to adding notes, underlining, or highlighting passages in a book or even drawing pictures in the margins.

While some readers may find annotating helpful in keeping track of important information or making connections between different parts of the book, others dislike this practice as it can be seen as “going back to school.”

Like dog-earing pages, it’s also seen as damaging books to some readers. Those readers who like to keep their books in pristine condition are likely to find this a huge pet peeve.

Related Reading: Why & How To Annotate A Book

10. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

Even when a book has been professionally edited, spelling and grammar mistakes can cause huge annoyance to readers.

Of course, the odd one is frustrating but forgivable, as mistakes happen, but when a book is riddled with them it can cause a reader to lose trust in the author.

This might be a bigger pet peeve for me than others because I’m a teacher, but from my research, it’s something that ticks off a lot of readers.

11. When Audiobook Readers Mispronounce Words

If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you might find that one of the biggest pet peeves you have is when audiobook readers mispronounce words.

When words are incorrectly pronounced it can take away from the immersion of the story or distract from the content. Sometimes it can even cause confusion for the listener and may even change the meaning of a sentence or passage.

12. Gratuitous Scenes

When I talk about gratuitous scenes, I’m talking about scenes that are done for no good reason and have no importance to the overall plot.

This is quite common amongst romance books, where authors like to include more smut in the book than is necessary.

Having scenes that don’t add anything to the overall plot slows down the pace, disconnects the reader from the story, and can make the reader think the author was “stuck” in their writing and didn’t know where they were doing with it.

If scenes are added purely for shock value or titillation, without contributing to character development or advancing the story, then it can make the overall book less engaging.

13. People Who Brag About How Much They Read

For many people, reading is not a race. Some readers may not like people who brag about how much they read because it can come across as pretentious or insincere.

No matter what it is in life, bragging is generally considered a common pet peeve for most people. When bragging about reading, it can create a sense of superiority and make others feel inferior or inadequate.

It’s ok to count your books, and if you are competing with someone directly, then this doesn’t apply. But when engaging in general chit-chat about books, the person playing the numbers game tends to rub people up the wrong way.

14. Stickers on Books

When you go to a vintage thrift shop or a charity shop, and you see a book with a little price sticker on it, does your heart sink?

If so, you’re not alone. Many readers find the little stickers on second-hand books incredibly annoying. It goes back to wanting to cherish your books and have them in pristine condition, which had stickers on them can be seen as a mark of disrespect or damage.

Stickers are a big no-no for antique books, as the glue can damage the fragile pages or cover. Many thrift store owners are not aware of how to properly store antique books or display books, and this can rile up many readers.

Fortunately, sticker residue is not difficult to remove if you know how.

15. People Who Remove The Jacket from the Hardcover

Some readers may not like people who remove the jacket from a hardcover book because they consider the jacket to be an important and integral part of the book’s design and it also protects the book from damage.

Hardcover jackets often feature eye-catching artwork, and in some cases, the hardcover could be a special edition of the book.

When the cover goes missing, it can take away the aesthetics of the book.

For readers who like to keep their books looking neat and tidy, this is a major pet peeve.

Related Reading: How to organize a bookshelf

16. Lending Books To People and Getting Them Back Damaged

I don’t think I need to say any more about this one. Who wants to get their books back damaged?

“Oh it’s ok Nancy, I wanted my book back in two pieces.”


17. A Synopsis With Just Reviews and No Summary

This has become something I’ve seen a lot lately, and while some readers may not notice this, the ones who do can share in my aggravation.

A book with reviews and no synopsis is like me running to be the British Prime Minister without having any policies, a party, or any reason for someone to vote for me, but with a lot of people saying “Yeah, she’s ok.”

Having a few people say it’s good is not enough for readers.

Books need to have summaries.

Summaries tell the reader what the book is about and ensure them that they are making a worthwhile purchase if they buy your book.

18. Repeating Words or Phrases

Repeated words or phrases can be monotonous and disrupt the flow of the narrative. It can also appear lazy or unoriginal and may indicate a lack of effort or creativity on the part of the author.

Most readers find it frustrating reading the same lines over and over again, especially in separate books in a series.

19. When Authors Add A Book To A Series With Different Characters

This is something that will annoy some readers and not bother others.

It’s quite common in romance tropes to have books in a series that contain different characters and plots but are still connected by the same world. An example would be a series about a biker gang but through the perspective of each character in the gang.

If you’re not into romance and don’t come across this often, then it can be seen as quite annoying.

20. Books In The Same Series With Different Heights

This last one may be a bit nitpicky, but if you have book-related OCD or like things looking perfect, then this one might resonate with you.

Have you ever bought a series of books, and each book in the series is a different height? It can not only make your bookcase look untidy but also make the series not look like part of the set.

Final Thoughts

There are many book-related pet peeves that readers find when reading books. While not every reader will be bothered by all of these pet peeves, there is probably at least one on my list that gets under any reader’s grill.

Whether you’re a reader, or a writer looking to keep your readers happy, it’s important to remember these bookish pet peeves for future books.

If you have a pet peeve that I haven’t mentioned on this list, feel free to let me know about it in the comments!

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About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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