Did you ever discover a mistake in a book, and then it just bugs you?
Did you ever discover a mistake in a book, and then it just bugs you? In the book I’m reading now, they mention that Thanksgiving “falls on the 28th this year”. Then a few chapters later it’s Christmas… on a Monday. Which can’t be right! Ugh.. I just wish authors would take the time to get details like that right. Oh well, I’m probably being too fussy about it. Deep breath, and let it go.. The book, by the way, is “On Turpentine Lane” by Elinor Lipman, and otherwise it has been an enjoyable read..
I notice continuity problems and they bug me. You’re right, they need to take the time to get the details right. Nothing more than sloppy writing followed by sloppy editing.
I can’t stand that either! It ruins the escape of a book for me!
Yes! This puts it perfectly. Could never place my finger on it. Thank you
An Anne Rivers Siddon book had boy scouts with cell phones in their pockets back in the 80’s, don’t think so.
Ooooh, that’s a really bad one!!
Haha I would never have noticed the dates but probably would have ended the book for me
Yes. I found a bunch of typos and just-plain-wrong facts in the first printing of Bag Of Bones.
Grammar mistakes really bother me. Like making a name possessive when it already ends in S. I’m also a huge fan of the Oxford comma and hate when reading fiction and it’s omitted.
i agree ! when in chapter 1 a person has blonde hair, surely in chapter 3 it must stil be blonde and not raven black ! i hate inconsistency
Happens to me all the time. I feel your pain!
I hate when the editor doesn’t close the parenthetical. (?)
Ever changing eye color. And getting the names of secondary characters wrong. One book went from Peg to Pat seemingly at whim.
I see this more in amateur writing. Bothers me.
I say let it go and enjoy the story, but go out and find an editing job. Some fun!
I’ve contacted the author when that’s happened. We turned out to have a really nice series of conversations and much in common.
I read one book that I was so tempted to contact the author because she spelled the name of a famous person wrong three times three different ways within 2 pages.
@Vicki you should have. It’s not too late.
How does one contact an author? Do most authors have websites now that you can go through?
@Margaret I knew that this author was on the faculty of a particular law school. It was easy to go to the university directory and contact him.
Harry Potter books… But more with the plot holes and unexplained events.
Prior to WWII Thanksgiving was celebrated in the US on the last Thursday in November. could that be the case with your book?
No, it is set in modern day. The math still wouldn’t work anyway.
Christmas is on a Monday this year, which is why the mistake jumped out at me. Nov. 28th is a Tuesday. If the 28th was a Thursday, as it was in this book, Christmas would have to be on Wednesday.
@Rebecca I’ve read several books that involve holidays at odd times (IMHO). After doing some research, I find the world is bigger and more diverse thn my little universe!
I really used to enjoy Anne Rivers Siddons years..it is because of her Hill Towns that I visited Tuscany.
Yes. I just finished a book where the author used “of” instead of “have” every single time he used a phrase such as “could have”, “might have”, etc. Every time, every character. It wasn’t to show a character’s speech pattern since everything else was grammatically correct. Drove me nuts!
That’s even worse! No, no, no… 😀
Thanksgiving falls on the 28th in 2019 and again in 2024 but that would make December 25 a Wednesday.
I do that all the time…for example in one book the main character was mentioning about a bird being out on a pond …except that particular species of bird would never be spotted in the Northeast on a pond…drove me crazy for the rest of the book..lol
The book I read before this opened with a murder taking place on Thanksgiving Sunday on a crisp October morning… Threw me for a minute until I realized the book takes place in Quebec..
Yes. Sometimes I just let it go, and sometimes it drives me a little crazy. In one favorite series, a character’s height jumps around from 6’2″ to about 6’8″. Another character is orphaned at different ages, etc.
Ugh – how is an editor not finding these mistakes?
Books are published using so many methods now. I don’t think an official editor is always in the loop anymore.
The ones that really bug me are cover illustrations that don’t match up with the facts of the story. Seriously?? This is how you present the carefully woven story within?
Yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot lately — where the picture doesn’t match the story at all!
Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series: the cover picture always has her covered in tattoos, and she isn’t. Really bugs me.
In the book “Hidden Figures”, the author refers to the song ‘Carolina in My Mind’ being popular long before it was written.
I can’t remember the series now but when I started the 2nd book which supposedly took place 5 years after the first book, the child who was 5 in the first book was only 8 in the 2nd book. That bothered me. Also, in another series the name of a baby somehow changed between the 1st and 3rd book. The baby was a minor character but I even went back to check and it was the same baby with a different name.
I feel like when I find one mistake I end up searching for more and not enjoying the whole story…
In the annoying category, does anyone here read large type books from the library? Particularly annoying is the publisher convention of tossing random words or thoughts into boldface type. I always email them and complain, and more often than not return the book unread.
That drove me nuts with the LP edition of Origin. I found that it was like hitting a speed bump; I kept having to re-read sections to see if the boldface emphasis made sense.
simple spelling mistakes get me everytime 😀
Don’t get me started. If I discover such mistakes, in the first third of a book, I’ll put it down and never go back. I don’t want to be aggravated when I read. To me the book, the author, and the editor (if there was an editor…) lose credibility, and as a reader I won’t be disrespected that way. This is especially prevalent in fiction, so I mostly read non-fiction. Books printed by vanity presses where the author pays to have their book printed, are often loaded with mistakes and incongruities, like no one bothered to give this thing a second read. As long as I’m ranting, one of my biggest pet peeves is the use of language that’s not compatible with the era the author is writing about. People in 1850 did not say things like “I don’t have a clue” or”whatever” or name a daughter Kennedy and a son Tristan. And please authors, don’t be politically correct and try to clean up the WW II era by not letting anyone smoke–everybody smoked in 1942. The cell phones in the back pockets of the 1980s Boy Scouts, as mentioned above by Bonnie McMillen, would have been enough for me to terminate that book. It must be the historian in me.
I’ve noticed a lot of that deal with the language like a book that’s supposed to take place in the 50s and the characters say “high 5” and give each other a high 5. Did they high 5 in the 50s?
@AJ No. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. To me that’s a lazy author and/or editor.
Huh! I started reading a Lipman book a few years ago and got frustrated by it and gave up. But yes, mistakes piss me off. Being Jewish (and knowing a bit too much about Judaism for my own good), I often get angry when someone who isn’t Jewish tries to write about Jews and gets things very, very wrong. The last book I read had a religious family preparing for a meat meal and talking about potatoes dripping in butter. Um… no, butter is milk and no Jew who keeps kosher would ever serve anything with butter at a meal where meat is served. AARRGGHH!
This is probably less important than your example; but I’m a retired forest service employee, and writers always get information about National Forests/National Parks/Game Wardens/etc. wrong.
Not less important at all. But, don’t you wish sometimes you could sell your knowledge to writers? I know I do!
Davida Chazan Yes. I was a writer-editor for the US Forest Service. Sometimes writers from magazines like Vanity Fair and the New Yorker would “consult” with me, but they usually ignored my suggestions and got it all wrong anyway. Small local newspapers were the most accurate, because they understood their own locale, and weren’t trying to put a spin on someone else’s world. I think most novelists and screenwriters just don’t do enough research.
I hear you! I’ve actually corresponded with novelists who made bad mistakes like that and they all said they asked experts. Some “experts” they are!
@Catherine Research. Another reason I find non-fiction more dependable than fiction.
Yes, but I often find that non fiction isn’t as richly written as fiction.
Authors who confuse sleet and hail. Arghhh…totally different processes.
The moon rising and setting in random directions. Decorative apostrophes and quotation marks.
Wow! You really pushed my buttons with this one — I was reading a spy novel by a highly respected and famous writer (in political circles) for his insights on international relations. I don’t recall the title ’cause it went straight into the recycling bag. The first/biggest “mistake” was that he said the first WTC attack (before 9/11 was in 1991. It wasn’t in 1991 but was in 1993. Such a stupid mistake for someone with a reputation for accuracy. It’s a particularly big deal to me as I was on the 97th floor of 1WTC and had to walk all the way down.
Neither the author (David Ignatius) nor his editor bothered to check and I consider that a huge sign of disrespect for readers.
As a nurse I am either enraged or amused by the frequent medical errors.
I read a book once and first few lines were a date and the day was a Tuesday and the day I opened it up was that date and day (Different yr)
@Linda I am so happy that you offered your comments! I had to read The Nightingale for book club. Within the first few pages, the sister’s age changed. It was all downhill from there. I blame the author for these kinds of errors. It’s his/her book, though writers, such as Hannah, who churn out one book a year have no time to research or do fine tuning. May even have assistants who do some of the (very bad) writing. Ugh!
@Sherri did you notice this in the book?
No. But I read for enjoyment, not critiquing.
I’m glad I never noticed that. it would have bugged me.
I got in an argument with R A Salvatore over a mistake in his paperback. Let’s just say he wasn’t grateful for my attention to the error
Been there, done that. But after some correspondence the author promised that the errors would be fixed with the paperback version, so in my review I told people that if these errors would bother them, they should wait for the next printing.
I’m a journalism major and career corporate communications director. If I happen upon a book that is poorly edited, i.e. misspelled words, poor sentence structuring, incorrect or lack of punctuation, information errors, etc, I put it back on the shelf. If the author doesn’t care to put out a quality product, that tells me something about their quality of writing. I’m not going to spend money on such a book when there is a plethora of “knock your socks off” book titles and authors out there!
Yes! I think Blake Crouch had a bad editor/publisher at some point because I LOVE his work but have been really, really, REALLY bugged and put off by errors in some of his books.
I am fairly certain he started as a self-published author and many times those have not been edited well. That isn’t an excuse but it maybe the reason the books have improved.
That’s good to know, Leslie! I do think he’s phenomenal.
I had to add that I also hate it when the movie adaptation doesn’t pick actors or actresses that physically match the “detailed” descriptions the author gave .. for example…the female is described as being older, packing a few (20) extra pounds with dull gray-streaks in her shoulder length hair” and who shows up on the screen but some blonde, svelte twenty year old… grrrrrr
The example you give would definitely bother me because I feel like that casting would greatly change how the character is viewed. Sometimes however, I’m ok with actors being very different physically than the book characters. For example, in the book Big Little Lies, Bonnie is blond and white unlike Zoe Kravitz who played her in the tv adaptation. But I think it worked.
It drives me nuts when something is brought up, but doesn’t get resolved. In 13 Little Blue Envelopes, the main character doesn’t seem bright enough to figure out which bathroom to use in an airport and then seems to spend the day in Copenhagen with a full bladder.
Bad editing – they should catch that stuff
Yes. Almost every single Sarah dessen book I’ve ever read has a minor issue. Ie in just listen the incident happened in May at the beginning of the book but then June later.
One book I read set I my state had the two universities mixed up.
Bill Bryson said that he rode through Peach Bottom (nuclear reactor) on his way to Three Mile Island (nuclear reactor). No he didn’t.
He also said he rode over a vridge to get to Ocracoke Island. Nope, only accessible by ferry or airplane.
shortage or lack of editing. spelling errors, grammar forget it! then things that just aren’t right. i reread and go back a lot thinking i read wrong
I love the variety of examples in all the comments above. Publishers used to hire fact checkers and/or proofreaders and/or copyeditors, but I think that’s getting more and more rare these days. Now I think authors are often expected to do that (or hire someone) themselves. Not good. My most recent example is a memoir that mentions conducting the “Mambo” from Bernstein’s West Side Story and how it is supposed to sound like it’s from Cuba . . . I actually screamed WTF!! out loud . . . because I can’t believe anyone who knows anything about West Side Story wouldn’t know that the immigrant family is from Puerto Rico!! not Cuba.
Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. That date varies depending upon the year.
Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December. The day of the week varies.
Much the same as anyone else’s, suppose.
Just my contribution to the conversation.
Oh, I see now. The math of it, I mean.
(feeling somewhat slow on the Uptake?)
Just finished a book that mentioned Eugene McCarthy instead of joe McCarthy. Major faux pas
I can’t stand misspelled words.. I cringe…
But in the story, in the story year calendar, those dates /days may be correct. Like I could say Christmas is on a Monday this year.
Valerie Huels, I don’t think you’re understanding. Of course Christmas could be on a Monday in the story, and it was. But just a couple chapters earlier in the story it had been Thanksgiving, and they made it a point to say it was the 28th. Thanksgiving has to be on a Thursday because this story took in modern day in the USA. If Thanksgiving is on Thursday Nov. 28th, then Christmas would have to be on a Wednesday that year, because it is always on Dec. 25th. 27 days after a Thursday can’t be a Monday; the math doesn’t work.
I’ve read books written by US authors that are set in England with a variety of errors including:
– wild turkeys in the woods
– ships sailing to America from Brighton
– character falling into poison ivy
A little bit of research or decent editing would have caught such errors, yet these were bestselling novels.
My ‘favourite’ was in a book by Santa Montefiore, a UK author who, in a book set in Ireland had the heroine walking through the soft rolling hills of Connemara, hearing woodpeckers in the woods and seeing molehills – firstly, the mountains in Connemara are rugged, steep and anything but soft, and secondly, woodpeckers and moles are not found in Ireland, they have never been native species. Again, a bit of research would have caught these errors.
It is really annoying to read such errors as I find it jolts me out of the story and annoys me to the point that I find it hard to continue with the book.
It would me too, CarolAnne. Credibility is all.
No, not fussy at all. I’m a freelance editor. Although things like this keep me in business, they still make my eyes cross.
I’ll bet they do, Lynne. How does one get into the freelance editing biz? Before I retired, I was an editor/writer for two newspapers, and also freelanced for magazines for 20 years before that.
I’m reading a book of Christmas romance short stories. Every single one has errors in it, and they’re driving me crazy. Some of these are well-known authors who should know better. The last story I read I almost stopped because apparently the author has never heard of commas. Only reason I kept going was because I knew it was short. I really like my Kindle since I can actually mark errors and send them to Amazon to look at. I don’t actually think they look at them, and I don’t think anything ever comes of it, but it certainly makes me feel better every time I fix “he” to “her” or the spelling of the character’s name (!!, yes, even that!).
It really bugs me!
Yes it really annoys me too. I recently read a book where the author mentioned a blood pressure of 54 over 140. Not possible and a silly mistake.
i hate it when commas are not used. I have to re-read the sentence to make sense of it
Yes, occasionally. Mainly it is historical things – I remember once someone referred in a book to eleanor of Aquitaine having died in prison, whereas in fact she lived for many years after her release. And you quite often get witch trials referred to as ‘medieval’ for example, even though most trials took place long after the medieval period.
Oh yes, I HATE it! Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors are bad enough, but what REALLY gets my goat are the story inconsistencies or errors. I drive myself nuts paging back, trying to find the initial thing that I now think I must have misunderstood. And even after I find it, I still spend time trying to figure out why it just doesn’t make sense to me ?.