- Lists of what a character packed for a journey (e.g., His Dark Materials, Homecoming)
- Breaking a narrative rule (killing the narrator, never letting the reader know what happened to a character, etc. — Tomorrow When the War Began is good at that). I applaud daring.
- Australia (just, in general)
- Blitz-era Britain settings (especially The Secret Keeper)
- Post-apocalyptic homesteading (Alas, Babylon being the greatest example)
- A sense of the hauntedness of a place. It’s hard to explain. The Secret Garden has it, and the seriously flawed The China Garden, this indefinable sense that generations have passed through a place.
- Pausing in the action of the novel for nursing and naps, where babies are involved (Sisterland is just terrific at this; almost all television is awful at keeping track of babies)
- Descriptions of eye color (exception: L.M. Montgomery)
- Descriptions of outfit worn by heroine
- Ending chapters with ellipses for suspense (e.g., Dan Brown)
- Present-tense narration
- Lack of quotation marks and other useful punctuation (Cormac McCarthy but also this The Dog Stars I’m currently losing faith in.)
- Use of the word “erotic” in the blurb. Eww.
In addition, I abandon books without guilt (if no one has assigned them); read multiple books at once; re-read shamelessly, and, at least when I’m feeling crummy, return to my childhood reading posture: fetal position, glasses off.
What are your inexplicable reading hangups and soft spots?