What Makes You Stop Reading a Book

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bannerfans_962234You loved the blurb. First page sounded interesting. You bought the book. What makes you throw the book you’re reading againstthe wall, stomp on it and go find another?

What makes me stop reading? Grammatical errors.  Telling, not showing.  Bad writing, poor editing.

Sadly, I’m reading a book right now I’m probably going to abandon. It’s a cute concept, but it starts with three pages of back story, and boring back story at that. The whole thing is full of missing commas and run on sentences. The author’s favorite word appears to be suddenly. Too bad, because with more work this could have been a nice book. As it is, it’s not one I can enjoy reading.

My father was a nut-case when it came to English grammar, and he never let anything slide. I’m a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan, and as a teen I took full advantage of the city. My father, an attorney, was a workaholic, and usually arrived home around seven PM, and I often arrived home after he did.  “It’s me,” I’d announce as I pushed closed the door.

Dad would correct me. “It’s It’s I.

“Dad, I know, but nobody says that.”

“You don’t know, or you wouldn’t say it.”

Of course, this caused me to grind my teeth. Once I made the mistake of saying that C’est moi is grammatical in French. I got a lecture on the difference between the rules for pronoun agreement in the two languages, a lecture I can repeat in both languages to this day.

I’ll spare you all. But it did leave me with a solid knowledge of grammar, and a real aversion to printed material with grammatical errors.

If you want to write, learn the rules. And if you can’t, go hire someone who does. If you don’t, do not expect me to be one of your readers.

Check out the posts of my fellow bloggers and see what they think.

* Heidi M. Thomas  http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com
* Anne Stenhouse at http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com
* Diane Bator at http://dbator.blogspot.ca
* Fiona McGier at http://www.fionamcgier.com
* Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
* Geeta Kakade at http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
* Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
* Beverley Bateman – http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
* Rhobin Courtright – http://rhobinleecourtright.com

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9 Responses to What Makes You Stop Reading a Book

  1. Lilliana says:

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  2. Anne Stenhouse says:

    Hullo Margaret, I sympathise. English is a difficult language, but beautiful when used properly. I do also sympathise with your teenage self. Anne Stenhouse

  3. Robin says:

    Sadly, many students today do not have the foundation in grammar of previous generations, plus texting is changing common usage no matter how much I rail against it. I teach formal English but know fiction often uses informal and also know fragments can be used effectively. I’ve also noticed a change in comma usage from publishing house to publishing house. It’s confusing.
    Robin recently posted..Another Book Hits the Wall

  4. Fiona McGier says:

    My dad was from Glasgow and he was always railing on about what sloppy speakers of “the Queen’s English” that we are here in the USA. If it wasn’t my Midwestern accent, (“Just how many sounds are in that diphthong as you murder the short ‘A” sound when you say ‘dance’?”) it was my slang. Now that he’s gone I miss the lectures!

    When I sub and the high schoolers ask me, “Can I go to the bathroom?” I fix them with “the look” and say, “I don’t know…did your mom or dad teach you how to go by yourself? Do I need to send someone with you to help?” They think a minute then laugh, nodding, “Oh! May I go to the bathroom?” Then they get the pass. Most of them know what correct grammar is, they just don’t bother to use it. I say if English teachers don’t correct them, who will?

    Incorrect grammar definitely makes me throw a book across the room!
    Fiona McGier recently posted..Round Robin Topic

  5. Ginger Simpson says:

    Funny you should mention “it.” That’s a big pet peeve of mine. Too many “it” starts to sentences that leave the reader wondering what the heck “it” is. I’m in a critique group and I’m sure I’m driving my teammates crazy marking all of theirs, but if it bugs me, it must bug others. Also get frustrated by the other reasons you mention…just hope I don’t utilize them when I write. It’s so hard to remember all the writing rules. :) Great post.

  6. Ginger Simpson says:

    Funny you should mention “it.” I’m currently in a critique group and probably driving my fellow authors nuts by marking all the “it” starts that leave the reader wondering what the heck “it” is. I’m sure “it” is the most overused pronoun. Also agree with your other reasons. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Heidi M. Thomas says:

    It is sad that grammar isn’t as important as it once was. While I always encourage my writing students not to get hung up on grammar, punctuation, etc. WHILE WRITING THE FIRST DRAFT, it is vital to correct those errors before the book goes to an agent or publisher or gets published in e-book form! Learn the “rules” (guidelines) before you break them.

  8. Marci Baun says:

    Hear, hear, Margaret! Poor grammar and punctuation drive me nuts. Being a publisher and knowing how hard it is to eradicate every single typo, I let a few slide. If it is rampant and obvious the editing was slipshod, I can’t. I also hate when authors use polysyllabic words just to show how “smart” they are. (Just like I did with polysyllabic. :D ) Oh, and don’t you love it when they use a thesaurus, but the word they choose doesn’t quite work with the way they’ve used it? HAHAHAHA I’m laughing, but it drives me a bit nuts. LOL

    Great post!

    Marci

  9. Beverley Bateman says:

    Good post. I agree on correct grammar. Loved your example with your father.

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