Mary's Minute: Book Buzzwords

While at work this week, I was processing a bunch of YA books that have been in the library for a few months when I noticed one I'd never given much attention to before except to put all the requisite labels on it. The title was interesting and the cover was peculiar so I flipped it open and took a look inside to see what it was about. You know how sometimes the formatting makes the first few words of the jacket copy or each chapter bold or larger than the rest? It was like that so it was really easy to see a bold type "1913" at the beginning of the summary. I immediately lost interest, flipped the book shut, and got on with my day, not sparing that book a second thought except to wonder if anyone else has bookish buzzwords. That is, are there any genres, phrases, comparisons, etc that immediately turn you off a book? And, if you have those, what are the ones that make you immediately pick a book up? Also, have these buzzwords changed at all over time?

Once upon a time, any book that was compared to YA heavyweights like Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars, Eleanor & Park, etc. would sell a book to most readers by principle. I know right after I binged Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse and was awaiting the release of Breaking Dawn, I was desperate for any vampire YA I could get my hands on. Ah, 2008. 'Twas a simple time. But that led me to Richelle Mead, who became one of my all-time favorite authors. But now for a lot of readers, the words "vampires" and "dystopian" are instant turn-offs. Comparing an author's work to John Green's elicits eye rolls and derisive groans.

For some readers, negative reactions to comparisons to A-list authors stems from those authors being problematic, either in their real life or in their work. There's no end to discussions about issues with Green, Rainbow Rowell, Sarah J. Maas, Maggie Stiefvater, and JK Rowling to name a few. To others, maybe it's because they don't gel with a certain genre. Many fantasy and sci-fi fans tend to find contemporary boring and melodramatic. My friend Danielle, who used to blog at Love at First Page, is well known for despising love triangles, and if she finds out you've read a book she can't tell if the romance is geometric, she will always come looking for spoilers. If yes, boom. It's on her do not read list. And for others readers, maybe even the book's publisher can be a turn off if they've been burned before.

So I'm curious what kind of buzzwords YOU have, dear readers. Feel free to share in the comments! And to get things started, I'll share a few of mine. Keep in mind that these aren't actual rules, just guidelines. For every turn off and turn on, there's a book or five that have proven to be the exception.

Buzz words that turn me off a book:
•historical (does not matter the time period)
•religious press
•verse / "a novel in verse"
•motorcycle clubs

Buzz words that turn me on a book:
•road trip
•road trip with royalty wins bonus points
•marching band
•basically any sports romance but especially those two
•"_____ in space"

These are a few of my favorite things!
Anastasia in space? Good. Anastasia riding unicorns in space while kissing a hockey player? Good.

For some extra reading on this topic, Lauren from Bookmark Lit has a whole series about Read Bait


  1. I usually don't pick up books that mention "sports", "vampires" or mention any Chosen One language.

    However, I'm trash for "royalty", "forbidden love" and "fantasy".

    1. You'd get along with my coworkers. I'm the lone reader holding down the sports romance fort! But YESSSSS forbidden love!

  2. I’ve never thought about it but there are buzz words that turn me off. Right now it would be dystopian, religious, religion, religious press. Now fantasy, witches, fairies, dark, angel, demons, space... those words would attract me to a book.

    1. Weirdly, I want more religious characters (because lots of teen characters are active churchgoers), but if I hear it's a religious press or there's a religious message, HARD PASS.

  3. I'm not a fan of most fantasy -- fae is an instant no. Wolves or alpha, too. Not interested in sports stories unless it's just a side of the character. Romance isn't my favorite, either, so when the author says "he deepened the kiss" it makes me roll my eyes!!

    Words that make me put it on my list immediately - ghost, haunted, or anything spooky.

    1. HA! I know "deepening the kiss" is so stupid, but I think writers include that to avoid using the word tongue.

  4. I agree with some of these, and I never want to read about WWI, WWII, the Civil War, Vietnam, Amish love, etc....

  5. One buss word that immediately has me dropping a book like a hot potato---multiple POVs

  6. Now that I think about it, I do have some buzz words that turn me off a book: love triangle, sports, paranormal, religion, demons, dystopian and war - unless the book is about the WWI or the WWII *don't ask me why those in particular*. I wouldn't pick a book that mentions those words, not in a million years. I probably have more, but those are the main ones. Now, if I read royalty, retelling, prince/princess, fantasy, anything related to the Victorian era... GIVE ME THAT BOOK, please! ♥ ahaha