Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Book Description Phrases That Drive Me Nuts

Derek Attig

Staff Writer

Derek works in graduate student career development and is (believe it or not) one of the world's foremost experts on the history of bookmobiles. Follow Derek on Twitter @bookmobility and on Instagram @bookmobility.

We all have our own peculiar book-selection procedures. My fellow Rioter Kim goes by the subtitle, where possible. Others are won over by blurbs by authors they trust. Me? Well, to be honest, I start off by judging a book by its cover. (What? So maybe I’m shallow.) But then I usually turn to the book description to see if a candidate is really up my alley, and I can usually tell within a sentence or two if a book is going to be a candidate. In fact, there are a whole bunch of words and phrases that, if I find them in a book’s description, usually mean I won’t be reading any further. It may not be fair, but there are SO many books out there—so many that you can’t read all the things—I have to be a bit particular with my time.

Here’s a partial list of words and phrases that almost guarantee I’ll continue browsing (developed with some help from my fellow cynical bastards here at Book Riot):

Unflinching“: Code for “unrelentingly depressing.”

Portrait of a marriage/family“: Bickering, boring straight people, usually obscenely rich. No thanks.

Exotic East“: Really? No.

Quirky“: Step right up, manic pixie dream girl and hipster entourage. But I won’t join you.

Moral dilemma“: Way too much thinking—I do enough of that in my day job. Blurgh.

Luminous“: Books don’t glow.

Tour de force“: The author tried really hard, so you should read this. And yet.

Triumph of the human spirit“: If the human spirit is inevitably triumphant, why should I bother reading your book? I know how it ends, which is boringly.

A meditation“: SNORE

Fathers and sons“: Daddy issues

Mothers and daughters“: Mommy issues

Spiritual“: Not only not my cup of tea, it’s not even in the same cabinet.

Unputdownable“: That’s not a word, so why don’t you tell me why I won’t want to put it down instead of embarrassing yourself?

Still haunted by“: As in the protagonist is “still haunted by” the death of a child, a terrible thing s/he did as a teenager, the bad shellfish at dinner last night, etc.

Psychological thriller“: I’m going to be anxious and annoyed throughout much of this one.

So what turns you off when you’re searching for a book to read?


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