Things I Hate In Books

I caught a snippet of Open Book on Radio 4 this afternoon while driving. Mariella Frostrup was complaining about books without chapters. ‘How are you supposed to know when to stop? How do you know when to turn off the bedside light?’ she raged. 

Good points, well made. 

Myself, I like short chapters. I like lots of opportunities to exercise that ‘read on/put down’ option. Some nights I’m so tired that a single page is pretty much my limit. Give me a 5,000-word chapter and I might actually weep. 

One of her guests confessed that they get cross when the narrator’s role is taken by a dog, which I thought was a bit unfair. I don’t see why that should be intrinsically any less interesting/worthy than a human perspective. 

The conversation got me thinking about Things I Hate In Books (and I’m really talking about nonfiction here), and I realised that it’s actually a surprisingly short list. Here it is: 

1. I don’t like being lectured at instead of talked at. 

2. I don’t like it when people pad out what’s essentially a half-decent blog post into a 50,000+ word book. 

Um, that’s pretty much it. Ideally keep the chapters short, but basically as long as you’re talking to me not at me and saying something worth hearing, you can pull any stylistic trick you like. 

What’s your pet hate in a non-fiction book?