The 8 uncomfortable lines I want to cut from the books I’m reading these days.

The books on my nightstand vary with the seasons. I’ve been deep in Summer Reading Guide prep for months, which means for most of the winter and all of the spring I’ve been reading contemporary fiction non-stop, trying to uncover the just-released or soon-to-be-released novels that deserve a place on your summer reading lists.

As always, it’s a mixed bag. I’ve found some novels that I am unequivocally pumped to recommend this summer. I’ve read some mediocre books from authors whose previous work I adored. I’ve taken a chance on some little-known titles: some I loved, some were meh, a handful were truly dreadful.

And this year, more than any previous year, I’ve found titles I absolutely adored but am hesitant to recommend because I’m not sure I want to go there. Depending on the genre, I’m prepared for salty language (to put it gently) and difficult content (to put it politely). Those are topics I’m accustomed to and comfortable talking about, for the most part.

But I’m noticing something specific in this year’s crop of novels: they all have about 8 lines I’d like to delete because they’re way too sexually explicit for my taste. (And I loved Outlander, so that’s saying something.) These lines are too visual, too descriptive, something you could never show on the movie screen.

We’re just talking 8 lines: not a huge portion of the book by any means. A tiny, tiny percentage of total word count. Barely more than a paragraph.

But those lines make me so uncomfortable when I’m reading (an HSP thing?) that I’m leery of recommending these titles.

I’ve spent a lot of time–too much time, probably–pondering what exactly’s going on here. Is the writer going for shock value? Does the publisher think it will sell more books? Do those 8 lines serve the story? (My answers: maybe, maybe, sometimes.)

An example: the most jarring instance I’d like to subject to the 8-line edit is a novel that’s being billed as one of the best books of the summer. It’s a good story, maybe a great one. The writing is terrific. But one unexpected line was so jarring, so shocking (and I rarely use the word shocking), I almost quit reading right there, halfway through the book.

But I didn’t quit, and as I approached the end of the book, and saw the way that character grew and changed, I suddenly realized: the author didn’t include that line to be gratuitous. The author was showing you something important about the character, something dramatic, something disturbing. I was supposed to be shocked.

I still didn’t like it, but I could at least understood why the author made that choice.

What does this 8-line edit trend mean for summer reading? If a book requires so many disclaimers about why you maybe shouldn’t read it that I don’t have space left to tell you why you maybe should, that’s a deal breaker, even if I thought it was otherwise pretty great.

On a larger scale, I’m wondering if this is a trend in publishing. I think yes, but others say no. (I’ve read several of the titles in question as galleys or advanced reader copies—editions where the text is still subject to change. I mentioned my 8-line theory to an editor friend, and expressed hope that maybe those lines wouldn’t make it into the final edition. Not a chance, she said. The sexy stuff is in for keeps.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on racy content, your own personal dealbreakers, and any recent literary trends you’ve noticed in comments.


Leave A Comment
  1. Brianna says:

    I just read a book this weekend that had a few lines I would have cut. They offered a bit of extra information about a minor character who didn’t have much of a role in the overall plot, and while they helped us understand her better, they were unnecessary. It was still a good book that I’ll recommend to people, but those lines might change who I recommend it to a bit.

  2. Gabriel says:

    I have to admit that racy content doesn’t usually make me stop reading. Completely stupid decisions on the part of the main character however do sometimes. With the former, I usually figure it either has a purpose or it was encouraged by an editor. With the latter, it can make me doubt my investment in the character. Yes, the character may learn and grow, but I have problems with obvious idiocy. That said I’m interested in the book you mention where the shock was purposeful and necessary to the story.

  3. I recently put down The Glass Kitchen, which was really appealing to me otherwise, because I felt like the sex was way too graphic for my taste (and completely in an unnecessary way). I may be a little prudish, but I don’t think graphic sexual scenes make a novel any better. I don’t read straight romance novels because I want to stay away from that!

  4. Rhonda says:

    I have read so many books I feel this way about. Also, I have a 15-year-old daughter who loves to read. Very often I have thought, “If I could just tear out this page, I could pass it along to her and she would love it!” But while I understand that kids have access to the sorts of lines I call shocking, I don’t think it’s appropriate for her to get it from her mother.

    • Dana says:

      I agree!!! I loved Outlander, but I can’t leave it laying around for fear of my 13 year old niece picking it up!

      • Rebecca Evers says:

        Not to be ugly, but IMHO as a retired HS teacher and college professor, you daughter probably knows those words, understands the act that is happening, and a whole lot more than you want her to know. When I was in high school I read some adult books, but when I got to bits I did not understand I asked my mom. She was able to put it into context for me and I learned about love and sexual behavior in the context of marriage… Now I can understand that you might want to protect her from the last bit of the first Outlander book, but rape and M/M sex is a whole other topic.

  5. Jamie says:

    Not sure you’d want my opinion, as I borrowed Outlander yesterday from the library and promptly returned it 3 hours later. 🙂

    • Anne says:


      But seriously, every reader needs to learn what books are right for HER. And it sounds like you have a handle on that. That’s a good thing. 🙂

      • Beth says:

        I couldn’t hang with Outlander, either. Not because of the sex scenes (which I flipped past), but because I felt like there was an undercurrent of sexual violence in it. Maybe this is because I’m an HSP, but it made me feel icky and anxious reading it, so I gave up.

        • Marina says:

          I’m glad you said this. I stopped in the middle of the second book for the exact same reason. Now whenever someone talks about how great the books are, all I can think of is the unnecessary sexual violence. Thank you for pinning it down for me.

          • Saskia says:

            Yep. I would probably love Outlander, but I don’t read or watch rape. When authors, tv producers, movie writers stop treating rape as a plot device, I’ll give it another go.

        • Conni says:

          Same here. The sexual violence was glamorized– and the main character never saw it for what it was. Definite deal breaker.

          • Beth says:

            I never even got far enough to read any scenes of actual sexual violence–but even early on, it felt like the threat was always there, even from characters that Claire liked, which made no sense to me. After I put it down, I confirmed that there were actual scenes of it later, and I was so relieved I had quit.

      • Dana Hartness says:

        Unpopular opinion alert but, while I certainly didn’t enjoy watching any of the violent scenes (I’ve only watched Outlander), I felt like it served the story in a really crucial way. I read some articles from the writers/directors who were talking about how committed they were to telling the victim’s story in those cases instead of just moving past them like a lot of shows are doing. So the conversation has kept going for Jamie and Clare in multiple episodes. Is this just privileged ignorance on my part? It’s not a trigger for me, but I certainly don’t want to embrace a decision that causes the majority of people angst.

  6. Kathy says:

    I agree with you completely! I will stop reading a book for that reason. There are some great books if it wasn’t for the language and or sexual content. I wish they would rate books like they do movies so we would know what was there before we bought it. If we allow a few to slip through then we become accustomed to them and next thing we know we are not even aware of them anymore.

    • JEA says:

      Yes! I wish books had a rating system and I’d love a review site that offered reviews with ratings, kind of like we have here in the UK for films: U for Universal, PG for Parental Guidance, 12, 15 and 18 for Over 12s, 15s and 18s. It makes buying a new film so much easier than buying a new book these days. I love reading, but a few lines (language, s*x or violence) can spoil the whole experience for me.

    • Wyndi says:

      I often read the one and two star book reviews. Usually, graphic sex scenes will pop up as a reason someone didn’t like the book. At least that way, I’m prepared if I still decide to go for it. After all, we all have different standards. I judge it by the totality of the reviews.

      • Jill says:

        I had never considered that!! But it’s so obviously brilliant! As an HSP I have never had any trouble putting a book down, it would be nice to know not to even bother picking it up in the first place. You are brilliant Wyndi!

      • Annette says:

        That’s a great idea. It could work for anything you are looking into. Asking myself “why did people dislike this?” Makes so much sense!

    • Julie says:

      yes! Agreed! I want to know if there is explicit language, violence or sex scenes in a book. Would love a ratings system. Or at least ya’ll here are aware of it and note any explicit-ness as a caveat when recommending a book.

    • Ramona_W says:

      Why can’t they add something like this to the Goodreads site since they already have so much infrastructure? Or add a “Parental advisory” section like the one on IMDB? I actually began using that section of movie reviews as a heads-up when I was planning what to watch with my mother on Netflix. I understand most people use it to filter things their kids will be seeing but there are certain moments Mom and I don’t need to share even if we’re both adult ladies over the age of 21.

  7. Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

    I’ve read books that don’t fit with that – and I wish I had not. It reminds me of the song we used to sing in pre-school Sunday school: Oh be careful little ears what you hear, oh be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down in love…

    As a Christian, this changes what I’m willing to watch and read, because in the end, is it really adding to my life, or is it causing me to think about things that are not edifying?

      • @LoriM – my husband and I are in the process of adopting 5 siblings from Costa Rica, and it’s made me look at EVERYTHING differently. I look at the movies we own, and think, “Would I be okay if my child watched that? Would I be okay if my child knew I thought it was okay to watch?” Some movies are out of their reach because they aren’t age appropriate (hard to grasp content), but other movies – well, shouldn’t I hold myself to a high standard as well? It’s a switch that flipped when we started this process, and I’m still working through it.

    • Jennifer says:

      I could not agree more. You have said what I was trying to formulate in my head. And I understand that not everyone thinks this way. It is however, how I think about it. I don’t want those thoughts or scenes popping up in my mind. And I don’t want to recommend a book to a friend that may come with such a disclaimer. There are plenty of really great books out there. Sex sells for sure, but I don’t have to buy it.

      • @Jennifer – I totally agree. I used to do “Booking It” with Anne and Jessica (over at Life as MOM) once a month, and at one point I was reading through the “Call the Midwife” books. While I loved the history of the stories, there were a couple of VERY graphic scenes that I had to give a disclaimer about, and that made me start to think. I own a lot of books, but there have been times in the past when I have found myself blushing when a friend looks at my shelf and says, “Oh – did you like this?” I don’t want it to be that way… as you said, there are so many great books out there, why fill our shelves/minds with less edifying work? No, it’s not how everyone thinks, but it is what I’m personally striving toward. 🙂

        • Vanessa says:

          I agree, “Call the Midwife” was harsh and I had to simply skim through a couple of chapters. Still, I have thought about it an awful lot since I read it last year.

    • Sarah says:

      Yes. This. That verse is exactly what came to mind when I considered my own taste in reading/watching preferences. Not to turn this into a Bible study, but as far as living according to my own values and principles, I’ve so often had to realize that many of God’s laws for Christian living are for our own good. Too often I have read or watched something completely inappropriate and then have had to live with a mental baggage that weighs me down. I can find enjoyment and depth of meaning in so many novels, that I don’t really think that anything graphic or shocking would constitute a “must read” because of some purpose or narrative that would eventually justify it.

  8. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been more likely to quit reading from boredom with a book or over the top drama (the kind that makes me roll my eyes and throw a book down in disgust). That said, there have been a few lines/paragraphs that have really bothered me. One was in the death scene from The Lovely Bones. My husband also read a book called The Girl Next Door that I wouldn’t touch if you paid me.

    • Rebecca says:

      I second your comment about The Lovely Bones. I read that at age 14 or 15 (maybe a little too young in retrospect, but one of my friends was reading it at the time) and the death scene profoundly disturbed me.

  9. Jenny says:

    I totally appreciate what you are saying, especially as a fellow HSP. I hate being blindsided as I am enjoying a book with something I have to process for days. I think it is valuable to mention in a book recommendation that there is an 8 line edit needed for sexual content. That way the book can still be recommended but the readers who would rather not deal with that, can pass. Thanks for writing this post.

  10. Sarah says:

    That’s why I always read the one star Amazon reviews before I pick out my next read. If the reviews say that a book has too much language, sex, or violence, it’s not for me. I’m a highly sensitive, highly imaginative type. When I’m reading, I see the action and hear the voices in my head, so explicit material is just too disturbing for me. (I’m also one of these people who just can’t watch the news because it’s too stressful.) I appreciate the fact that you give your readers a heads-up about explicit material in your reviews, Anne, but I do wish that modern writers would trend away from the more shocking stuff.

  11. Robin says:

    I finished Outlander, but I hated the ending and re-wrote it in my head. I haven’t been inclined to read anymore in the series. I read the first two Cormoran Strike books, but midway through the third I just couldn’t deal with the language another page. Gratuitous sex and too much salty language are reasons I quit a book. Also if it’s just a terrible story.

  12. Megan says:

    I’m really curious what book you are referring to! I tend to keep reading a book even if there are lines that are too much to take. Specifically, Luckiest Girl Alive, which was very popular last summer/fall, had MANY lines that made my skin crawl because of the hatred spewing main character.

  13. Jane says:

    I tend to stop reading if the book is boring, otherwise I’ll read anything and everything. Sometimes I do think a book could benefit from having lines cut if they don’t add to the overall story or they are repetitive (I just can’t stand that). But sex scenes don’t tend to bother me.

  14. Christine says:

    I refused to read the Fifty Shades series despite its popularity. That popularity is an understatement. It was a huge moment for women to read, reread, and discuss to excess mass accepted erotica. It was “the thing” to do. It will change you. It can fix your marriage. And, it made people rich. I think the publishers/authors/etc are just looking for the next hot thing to profit from. The art of writing can suggest intimacy without shock or exploitation. If a reader is curious, there is plenty of erotica available. But it does not need to be in every new release. Some women actually want quality in their books, not profit porn.

    • Monica says:

      I agree. I read the first Fifty Shades and it was like looking at a car accident. I finished the book, but was appalled by the content. I don’t even think I’m a prude! I didn’t read any more of them and refused to watch the movie. It was strange to me how into it everyone seemed to be. But then I also don’t understand the popularity of movies like Saw. Why would I want to watch people being tortured?? Just not for me. It would be nice for ratings on books so I don’t waste my time.

      • Terri says:

        You’re not a prude when you want to read something that makes you uncomfortable or is against your standards. I applaud you for standing up for your standards.

    • Skully says:

      The Fifty shades series wasn’t well written regardless of the content. I tried to read it while staying over at a friends house when I had forgotten my own book. I stared at the ceiling instead. There’s much more wrong with that book than what she chose to show (and obviously has no actual knowledge about).

  15. Jeannie Reid says:

    I appreciate your willingness to address this. Art will always be subjective; great art may even be disturbing. We must be willing to see beyond the lines that disturb us to the greater picture of truth and the beautiful mess of humanity.

    • Mary says:

      After another depressing read (Edith Wharton ‘ s “Ethan Fromme”), I asked my college lit professor if we had anything a bit more upbeat to read. She said,”Great literature is a reflection of the human condition!” (Hey, Dr. Sellers!) I mentioned that cupcakes, kittens, and water balloons were also part of the human condition. It didn’t go over well.

      • Laura Thomas Boren says:

        Perhaps that means that the human condition has improved somewhat? I hope so. Because although I know of the negatives, it’s also good to remember and celebrate the positives!

      • Liz says:

        I love your response to your professor! Sometimes I reflect on something that feels like a cultural phenomenon and then ask myself if I’ve ever met anyone in real life to whom that has happened, or if it’s only reflected in stories. That ranges from something gruesome that a lot of people fear (like kidnapping) to classically rom-com (big, huge, traffic-stopping declarations of love). If I’ve never met somebody to whom a common plot device has happened, I have to wonder if it’s really reflecting the human condition. And somehow, when they’re big, flashy comedies or love stories, we’re able to recognize them as fiction, but when they’re scary, sad, or disturbing stories, we internalize the fear.

      • Mishqueen says:

        I think what appeals to many people is the UNRESOLVED aspects of the human condition. Cupcakes and kittens are settled, comfortable and (usually) not hurting anybody. While I understand, and to a degree agree with, what your prof was saying I prefer to read about the aspects of my very own personal unresolved human condition. Which actually does include many uncomfortable and less-than-ideal experiences, but does NOT include graphic language, violence, and sex.

  16. Cheryl says:

    I almost quit Outlander (audio) because of this exact issue. I think if you are reading it, you can skip ahead. But when you listen, well…let’s just say I’m very VERY glad my kids weren’t in the car. And I didn’t realize that about Outlander before I read it. Now my husband calls it “Fifty Shades of Plaid.”

    I appreciate your addressing the issue. Frankly, I had almost given up a lot of contemporary reading before I found your blog because I just don’t want to spend my time reading this kind of thing, or excessively violent/gory things. Those 8 lines would really ruin the experience for me, and I would be grateful you had warned me away. Also, I think it’s kind of tiresome and lazy on the part of many writers and publishers. I’m so tired of people thinking this is the way to be edgy and current.

    • Kimberly says:

      I love that “Fifty Shades of Plaid.” 🙂 I had to take a break from Outlander because of that….I like it, but sometimes I just need to read some other good meaty non-fiction so I don’t feel like I’ve been watching soap operas.

    • Robin says:

      While reading Outlander I found myself quoting Joey from Friends, “You’ve got porn!” That’s the only book in the series that I’ve read, it was way too much for me.

  17. Emily says:

    I will stop reading a book of the content gets racy or if there is excessive language, no matter how well the book is written or how popular it is. (Gone Girl, for example) I know I am more prudish than most people but I feel like there are too many books I could spend my time reading that will not make me feel uncomfortable. It’s frustrating because often those books that I put down have a great story and great writing but the sex and language seem so unnessasary.

  18. Alyssa says:

    I don’t feel uncomfortable reading books with racy content, but I do feel uncomfortable recommending them. There was one book in particular I read last year that I thought was amazing — beautifully written, and an intriguing story — but I hesitated to recommend it to friends (even though I LOVE making book recommendations) because some of the content was a little…much.

  19. Kimi says:

    I usually list Outlander as my “book I hate” because it should’ve been the perfect story for me. I loved the setting, the characters the story, but I have personal issues with rape and brutality and the expression of the emotions in this event.
    I ended up having to say ‘no’ to the rest of the series for this reason.

    That said, I think it is one thing to be gratuitous for pointless shock value, but isn’t this what expression of art should be? Isn’t that what art is supposed to do? It is supposed to bring out emotion and response in the viewer. Sometimes it is a positive and, but sometimes it makes us think and feel the hard things about life.
    I do appreciate a good story, but sometimes you need a push towards the uncomfortable so that you can evaluate who you are and why.
    This is why I value reading guides. I want to discover the story and message on my own, but it is nice to know if you will be forced to examine your life and be presented with art.

    • Anne says:

      “That said, I think it is one thing to be gratuitous for pointless shock value, but isn’t this what expression of art should be? Isn’t that what art is supposed to do? It is supposed to bring out emotion and response in the viewer. Sometimes it is a positive and, but sometimes it makes us think and feel the hard things about life.
      I do appreciate a good story, but sometimes you need a push towards the uncomfortable so that you can evaluate who you are and why.”

      Yes. Well said. Art can make the viewer feel very uncomfortable–as it should.

    • Brigette says:

      Everytime I listen to “What Should I read Next?” I think that the book that I ‘hate” is Outlander because I want to joing everyone in loving the book but instead the rape scene was so upsetting and disturbing to me that it ruined the whole series for me. Also, of all the people that told me that they loved the book, no one warned me about the very graphic rape scene. I’m someone that appreciates warnings.

  20. Susan in TX says:

    I think it’s definitely a trend, and not a trend for the better. I’ve got two kids in college and two kids in high school and we are a reading family. One series that we’ve all enjoyed has been Laurie King’s Mary Russell books. I recently read the most recent book in the series, though, and I told my kids to “skip it.” Why? Because there were just a couple of sentences that were unnecessarily graphic. I don’t think they were “shocking” by any means, but they were just enough for me not to recommend them to my kids. My kids have asked me to give them input like this (esp since I have more free reading time than they do), because they don’t want their view of intimacy marred by the world’s “artistic expressions.” And, they don’t want those images in their heads…once read, it can’t be unread, as some of the prior commenters have noted. I have to admit it made me angry just a tad since it was one of our favorite series to follow and discuss together, and it seemed “out of left field.” Granted, this book is a slight departure from the norm in the series, but *still*! So I’ll second Jenny above and say that I would highly appreciate and value a recommendation that had an “8 line edit” warning.

    • Anne says:

      I haven’t gotten far in that series but I resonate with the way you describe your issue with the latest installmetn: “just a couple of lines.” Exactly. Just .0002% of the words in the whole book. Ugh!

    • Anon for This says:

      Wow, what mature kids. I love that they have the perspective that their view of intimacy is affected by how sex is portrayed in entertainment. I know I’ve struggled a bit with my feelings about men and sex because of the way that intimacy is portrayed in movies and on TV. I try to largely avoid entertainment that’s sexually graphic, but sometimes it sneaks up on you.

  21. Ashley says:

    I think we all have our dealbreakers. I’m not overly conservative with language or sexual content, but I cannot handle much violence and gore. The question is, what do we do with that knowledge? Flat-out refuse to read those books, or try them and see, particularly if our dealbreaker adds to the story rather than gratuitous? (That is a fine, highly subjective line!) I’m in a stage of life when my reading time is limited, so I’m unlikely to spend my time reading something I will hate or abandon. Yet I’m also certain that having such limitations has made my reading life more sanitized. It’s a dilemma.

  22. Rebecca says:

    I mostly read YA fiction these days trying to stay 1 step ahead of my teens. I wonder, though, if the graphic sex fits the “How to Read Literature Like A Professor” model. Is it actually about establishing lines of power, or is it just blue for the sake of sales?

      • Rebecca says:

        In How to Read Literature Like a Professor, the author explains literary devices. Falling into water is a character’s “baptism” into a new way of thinking. Whether they are rescued or rescue themselves is significant. Deaths aren’t death, they’re the death of that part of the main character’s thinking or experience. Think JK Rowling with that one! He asserts that sex isn’t about sex, but drawing lines of power/empowerment in literature (and implies that gratuitous sex scenes downgrade a book out of the realm of literature and into porn.) There’s another chapter detailing what devices are used to portray actual sex. I think the book covers about 20 different devices. We read it at the beginning of ninth grade in our home school.

  23. Lisa says:

    Ugh! Why? It makes me sad that the mainstream has become a place I don’t feel comfortable with more as a rule than on occasion. I read a John Green novel last summer. As a high school English teacher my kids are eating these up. I couldn’t finish the last one I read as the inappropriate just kept coming. I know I remember reading a few things last as a teenager that I kept my mom from reading but it was no where near this bad.

    • Melanie says:

      One of my beefs with YA lit (some books at least) is that it portrays teenage sex as totally normal. I know that it is, for some, but I read an article just yesterday that said about half of teenagers don’t have sex during their teen years. I get that authors want to write realistically, but I hate that some very popular YA books and authors normalize teenage sex.

      • Bonnie says:

        Yes! And that portrayal just plays into the “everyone is doing it” mentality that causes kids to think they’re weird if they’re not doing it–even though the premise itself is incorrect. It almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. TV and movies are horrible about this, too.

    • Hannah Beth Reid says:

      I also have a big beef with YA novels that need the 8 line edit. I realize a teenage could be reading the non-YA books, but to put that content into a book specifically targeted at teens is offensive. And I can’t recommend great, easy reads because of one scene (even for artistic/symbolic purposes).

  24. Elaine says:

    I have difficulty with books that are violent (Game of Thrones, for example), those that include the sexual abuse of a child or that are simply gross (Running with Scissors comes immediately to mind). I am not interested in books, in general, that are sexually explicit or violently sexual (Outlander, for example–which I read more than 20 years ago and stopped after the first one ).

  25. Paula says:

    I quit reading His Dark Marterials because Phillip Pullman changed Bible verses. That bothered me so much. I also remember trying to read North and South by John Jakes when I was in middle school. I stopped because I thought I was too young for the sex scenes. I read it when I was older. lol

    • Laura Thomas Boren says:

      I’m sure you know this, but Phillip Pullman’s trilogy is explicitly atheistic and he’s a pretty famous atheist. I don’t have a problem with this, per se, but it’s always good to know where an author, even a fiction author, is coming from. I’m not surprised he would change verses from the Bible!

      • Paula says:

        When I bought it, I didn’t know. I just love fantasy and thought it looked interesting. It taught me to do more research for sure.

  26. Krystal says:

    So is it okay to read porn but not watch it? Where do we draw the line? Personally I’m tired of all the titillation in some current novels. I don’t need explicit details. I’m intelligent enough to figure things out on my own. I dislike books that use those 8 lines as their “wow factor”. I won’t waste my time on that kind of book.

    • Laura Thomas Boren says:

      I agree – and for some, it may not be okay to read porn but not watch it. I can much more easily read certain scenes than watch them, probably because I’m a very visual person and visuals will affect me more. I’m thinking more about scenes of violence, but disturbing sex scenes are the same way.

  27. Katia says:

    Outlander is my top pick for guilty candy fiction. I had a very tough time reading the rape scenes, but Gabaldon artfully makes up for it by taking us through the even more excruciating healing process that she outlines in great detail. That is what keeps me coming back to her books. My deal breakers are any kind of violence (including sexual violence). I also find it challenging to read about characters experiencing depression.

  28. Cindy H. says:

    I’m not an HSP and tend to be drawn to very dark novels. Racy ones don’t bother me although they’re not my genre (not into Outlander, 50 shades, etc.) but the dark novels I read tend to have racy, RACY, RACY scenes. Your eight lines would be 50+ in the novels I read. I recommend them (with disclaimers) but by the comments here, I won’t be doing that here. 🙂

    But as Jeannie Reid stated in her wonderful comment, Art is subjective and what’s great is that we all find something intriguing to discuss in the books we read.

  29. Andrea ( aka rokinrev) says:

    I’ll read just about anything, and I am far from prudish. However, I can’t abide horror for horror’s sake. And now, on the cusp of sixty, I have found the “formulaic sex” that is found in a lot of fiction these days is a huge “yuck”. Heck, I read 50 Shades, and it was just a bad book, and quickly got passed on. You want erotica…read Story of O.

    Reading is what I do now, and I recently returned a NetGalley of “City of Mirrors”. I really struggled with the first book in the series.But I got five pages into this one…when it was obvious I wasn’t going to enjoy reading zombies vs vampires, and let them know so.

    Movies and a lot of TV shows are focused on that “unknown male 18-35, hence the “boy humor”, dumb riffs and violence. Not my cuppa. And note: The Odyssey is my favorite book. I love storylines, nit stupidity

  30. E.Disano says:

    Maybe I missed it, but what are these 8 lines? Your post title suggests that these 8 lines actually are.

    • Anne says:

      I mean that there are, on average, 8 sentences that go a little too far. If I were the editor, I wouldn’t axe whole pages, or scenes, or even paragraphs. Just about 8 sentences.

  31. Jamie says:

    I skim and skip so often when it comes to sexually or violently graphic scenes in books. If, later in the book, I realize that I missed a huge plot point or development of a character, I’ll got back and carefully pick my way through those paragraphs to see what happened and how it related to the overall story. Ken Follet’s duo of Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are a great example. I love those books and have read them at least half a dozen times…but huge chunks of the story I have NEVER read because I just don’t want all that imagery stuck in my mind. I find that if a chapter ends with a scene like that, the next chapter usually opens with the result of the scene (she is pregnant, someone is killed, they are waking up in the bed after the affair, etc). I can stay current with the story line without searing my brain. Ha! And yes, there have been a few current reads that I’ve put down and walked away from because it was just too much, whether it be language or explicit content. I gave it a hundred pages or so and if I didn’t see the reason why or couldn’t read beyond the ‘8 lines,’ I moved on.

  32. Sarah H. says:

    It’s rare for me to actually stop reading a book because of racy content (but I’ll definitely stop reading because I’m bored :)), but I agree that a particularly racy passage in an otherwise great book does make me hesitate to recommend the book to others. Or at least hesitant to recommend without a big disclaimer.

    Completely unrelated but I just found out today that Susan Cain has a new book out specifically for introverted kids and teens—Quiet Power. I think it was here on your blog that I first heard of her book Quiet, which I loved, so I thought I’d mention the kid version in case it wasn’t on your radar yet.

  33. Corrina says:

    More often than not I feel that racy/graphic sex or language is so unnecessary. I have dumped many books because I came across something like that (though graphic sex bothers me more than language). I’ve read many beautiful, engaging books that have no graphic content. I don’t think it’s necessary.

  34. kelli says:

    Thank you for addressing this issue. I am a sensitive soul, and struggle to keep my own mind from getting the best of me. That said, I do appreciate art, written art, visual art, music, and I acknowledge that art is subjective. No one would classify a naked statue in Rome as porn, and no one would classify porn as art. I feel that 50 Shades of Gray brought a new “normal” for acceptable sexy content — soft porn is the new “mommy porn” and explicit sex and arousal scenes are meant purely for arousal and sex sells in this modern day. Porn addiction is on the rise, and I feel that modern fiction is contributing to it. I find it disturbing, and it’s a definite trigger for me, and I understand that others can read past it, others can read it and not be affected by it. I find it sad that many wonderful authors include the gratuitous sexy, instead of focusing on the original great story. Outlander, Pillars of the Earth, 50 shades will not stand up to the test of time for great literature. I definitely would appreciate a rating or warning label for explicit content similar to music and movies for literature, especially for explicit sex. On the other hand, I’m find myself gravitating to the classics, which is not a bad thing. Why my mom didn’t have me read Chesterton is beyond me… oh wait, she was reading Harlequin romance novels and dreaming of Fabio.

  35. Tamara O. says:

    I love that the readers and comments here are thoughtful and deliberate. As I find myself older, I find I cannot stomach graphic descriptions of sex or violence. In fact it can detract so much from my reading experience, I will chose not to read something that is over the top. With movies I do not watch many past PG-13. I am greatly disturbed by the trend of presenting sexual violence and the sexual abuse of children as matter of a fact and think it is detrimental to women and our society at large. I would find an 8 line rating very useful.

  36. Tara Seguin says:

    I think your editor friend is wrong regarding the long term – the 8 lines of terrible shock are not here to stay! To me it shows a lack of respect for the boundaries of the reader, like the popular thing now is to approach writing “literary” novels as if readers are passive receptacles for the will of the writer, rather than fellow subjects who are being addressed. Books should take you on a journey, challenge you, wreck you, rebuild you, but *respect* you – like living with a good spouse. Non-genre offerings these days tend to seem more like brilliant but inconsiderate boyfriends. :-/

  37. malissa says:

    This blog post resonates with me on so many levels. I have definitely noticed this trend, and honestly have yet to find a work of fiction that is 20 years old or less that doesn’t have this problem for me. I am definitely more sensitive about it than you are, which I am totally okay with, but your feelings still completely sum up what I try to articulate. It is so frustrating to me!!! Is this really what people want to read about? We are the audience these authors/editors are trying to reach. A novel (or movie for that matter) can be good without explicit content! This doesn’t mean it can’t address difficult topics! I always think of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as a great reference. It is about adulter and suicide, for crying out loud, but was so tactfully written! Thank you for this post. I’d love to hear more on this subject.

    • Melanie says:

      Right, think of Madame Bovary for example. You could read that book and not really have a clue what was going on, which is what happened the first time I read it. I mean, I knew it was about adultery but I was too young to pick up on all of the nuance and symbolism. It’s a pretty steamy book but it’s not at all graphic. I wish more modern authors would treat sex the way (some) 19th-century authors did.

  38. I recently read an article about the drastic increase of violence on prime time television over the past few years. The author felt like The Sopranos had opened the door for this trend. I don’t watch much TV, so I was surprised at some of the gruesome scenes the article listed that occured in popular network shows. Sadly, our society as a whole is permeated with violence, so I guess it would naturally find it’s way into literature as well.

    I usually go out of my way to avoid graphic sex and violence in books, although, like you, I also loved Outlander despite the prevelance of these elements.

    • Laura Thomas Boren says:

      Ah, but the Sopranos is in the line of The Godfather movies, but yes, those were moves, not TV shows. However, the Sopranos was on HBO and frankly, made HBO the powerhouse of scripted TV series on cable. I watched most of the Sopranos and although I didn’t like the violence or sex, truthfully it felt real to the characters and situation – the context. Same with Game of Thrones – the violence feels real to the context, even when it is most shocking (poor Sean Bean! – he never gets any respect.) But the trend for throwing it in without a context is what Anne is getting at and on this, I’ll agree completely. It often feels like an editor insisting on it for sales more than as an organic part of a storyline.

  39. Diane says:

    Anne, have you read EDUCATION OF A WANDERING MAN by Louis L’Amour? It is the rendering of his reading life which was profuse. He lamented at that time the obsession with overt sexual themes in literature.
    Fast forward to now and it seems to be a thrill for the writer, obviously the culture , to embrace shock and awe, violence and/or sexual quickie sentences.
    I was reading a book recommended and all of a sudden I had to mow through a scene that makes me wonder if I should continue, out of questioning the integrity of this novel. Why is that sentence there? The appetite for this kind of thing is there and growing just like junk food.
    I think conscience should be listened to and respected as what goes in will come out or at least be in the mind always.
    I appreciate your tackling and starting the conversation pertaining to this issue in modern literature.

  40. virginia says:

    Like Tamara above, I rarely watch an R rated film. I wish there were ratings for books, also. some authors will write great stories in the beginning, then as time goes by, they add more bad language and shocking scenes. Is this the way to sell books?

    • JerryT says:

      Tamara, I agree with you. There should be some rating system for contemporary books. Lacking that I spend most of my time reading classics and avoiding contemporary books with all their “racy” content.

  41. Susan B. says:

    It’s easy to be graphic and shocking and more difficult to be subtle and create a sense of what’s happening and why it’s important to the story (happens in books, movies, and television). I always think the subtle approach is more effective and let’s us fill in the blanks with imagination. It seems like the bar is constantly being moved and in order to stay relevant writers succumb and include material that’s increasingly vivid.

  42. Jennifer C says:

    My concern is — What am I putting in my mind? If I start a book and there is too much foul language in the first chapter, I will stop because I don’t want those kinds of words to become part of my thinking. The same with sex in a book. If it makes me uncomfortable, then I go on to something else. There are too many good books out there.

  43. I feel like such a minority here – but explicit sex does not bother me at all as long as it furthers the characterization or plot line. For example, you mentioned how you realized WHY that portion was there once you hit the end. I guess I feel like sex – even raunchy sex – is a part of everyday life. Just like washing the dishes, having conversations, driving a car – all the other normal things we find in books. Sex is such a huge part of life, so I feel like it has a real place in literature too – even when it gets descriptive.

    • Polly says:

      I agree with you! There is obviously a wide spectrum of readers who enjoy this blog, with very different criteria for choosing books. It’s impossible to make everyone happy but good to know that not all of us are upset by the same things.

    • Laura Thomas Boren says:

      Absolutely! And this is why this is such an important discussion, eh? We have to find our limits and how we view books and stories. Sex is definitely a part of life – for some, a bigger part than for others (and yeah, this is pretty age-related I’m afraid.) Like you, in context, raunchy, raucous sexuality can be a joy, or it can be a bore, or it can be . . . disturbing. A good writer who knows why she is writing that scene and how to write it – that makes all the difference in my mind.

      • Guest says:

        Your comment made me laugh, Laura, because I immediately thought, you know, really, sex isn’t a huge part of life AT ALL. Hollywood would have you believe it is but if you use this eight lines theory…sex is *maybe* eight lines in the story of life. It’s a part of life, it’s a pleasurable part of life but it’s really quite a small part of life (excepting porn stars and politicians :-D).

    • Meghan says:

      Yes! I feel the same way you do — art comes from life, and life has sex. And sex is normal and healthy (of course, everyone must decide for themselves where their definition of healthy falls), so it doesn’t bother me. Graphic sex scenes are more likely to bore me than to disturb — they’re all the same 🙂

  44. Laura says:

    There’s a way to write about sex (maybe even explicitly) that is done well. And when you read it, you can see the difference between that which is poorly done. It shouId have a purpose in being included in the book. I thought Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was a good example. I can’t stand when sex is used as a plot device and most casual one night stands are so off-putting that I’ll often ditch the book if the writing isn’t otherwise fabulous.

  45. Sharon says:

    And that is why I LOVE Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series which I found through MMD! Such great writing and character development, and so refreshing not to have to deal with those “8 lines”. Any time you find gems like these please let us know!

    • Amy says:

      I agree, Sharon, with the caveat that the most recent Gamache book definitely had disturbing themes. I had to warn my sensitive sister (who LOVES the series) to skip that one.


  46. Laura says:

    So appreciate the attention you pay to content when you make recommendations. When is the summer reading guide release? 🙂 Eagerly awaiting its arrival!

  47. Susan in TX says:

    Coming back for another comment (this topic is simmering in my brain today thanks to this post). I think what bothers me most about the “8 lines” is the insult to the reader. As Susan B noted above, there is a way to describe a scene of passion that can be incredibly moving to the reader without being graphically explicit. The insult – implying that your reader has no imagination! Don’t all good writing professors tell budding writers to “show, not tell” the reader what is going on? Isn’t that the kind of writing most people prefer? Vague lines that imply what is going on are usually more “romantic” than detailed anatomical descriptions…wouldn’t that be a case of when it is vague, you the reader can put yourself in the shoes of the character to experience the story, whereas if it is graphically detailed you feel like a voyeur watching other people? I don’t read many romance books for this reason. About the most “modern” romance author I ever pick up is Georgette Heyer. But, agreed, it is all a matter of taste and art takes many forms. But, we as consumers get to pick and choose which art forms we apply our time and dollars towards.

  48. Cassie says:

    I live a very G rated life. Not everyone does. I appreciate substantive inclusions in literature. It generally doesn’t bother me. A rating system would be nice though.

  49. I’m not deeply affected by sexually pervasive books, and slanderous language doesn’t bug me, but other forms of difficult content do get to me. The book, “Room,” by Emma Donohughe (sp?) stuck with me for many nights. I tossed and turned. But that was way more than a few lines- that was the entire premise of the book. I think jarring lines, as long as they end up having a purpose like you mentioned, are effective.

    Interesting topic!

  50. Jen says:

    I totally agree with you – I really don’t like when I start to read a book and then find it to have explicit or disturbing material – I feel like I can’t read any fiction unless a trusted friend has recommended it. I feel the same way about movies, but love the website for that reason and have always wished their could be a similar site for books. I’d love to know which books you’ve been reading that have that content, so I can avoid them!

  51. Alison says:

    I would love a rating system as well, but it will never come from the publishing industry. All they see are the “front end numbers”: people who buy or check out books from the library. They never see the data on who stops early, throws the book away, returns it without finishing. So it wouldn’t make sense from a business perspective to provide information that would mess with those numbers. At the same time, it would be great for readers who would prefer to screen the things they’re considering. It would have to be a third party group that puts the info out.

  52. Jean says:

    I don’t agree that an author would include eight lines in a 300-page novel just to be sensational, and the thought that we should remove those eight lines makes me uncomfortable, to say the least. It was sad and uncomfortable with Scarlet and Rhett’s daughter fell off her pony and died, but the end of the novel would not have been the same without her death — remove that part because it makes you sad? No way. General discomfort usually means a couple of different things — the least of which is that the author is unskilled and trying to shock you in an eight-line-kind-of-way. I always feel that discomfort and wonder why; maybe that discomfort is telling me something about myself.

  53. Heather M. says:

    I consider myself a HSP,and I admit that there are times where I find myself skimming love scenes because they feel like “too much” (although violence and gore tend to bother me much worse than love). However, there have also been times when the author fades to black or “pulls a curtain”, and I wish they hadn’t. Not sure if it is a testament to the writer and his or her character development or if I just have a stronger connection with some characters and want to know more about them. Either way, a sex scene doesn’t make or break my recommendation unless it also includes an element of violence.

  54. Lisa says:

    Bravo! Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront. I have stopped reading many books (and never picked up others) because of graphic sexual content. It may not be “visual”, but its pornographic all the same.

  55. This is a tough one. I have a hard time with child abuse, explicit sex scenes or too much gore (also on TV). But some of the most powerful books I’ve ever read have some truly unsettling scenes. I definitely hear the “8 line” thing, though – some books are 95% okay for me and then a paragraph can really disturb me. (I felt this way about Americanah.) I know that authors often make these choices for good reason – but it can be tough when it feels like a minefield. (Also: this is one reason I’ve been hesitant to pick up Outlander and the Cormoran Strike series.)

  56. Debi Morton says:

    Those 8 lines are often deal breakers for me. You may remember that “Gone Girl” had those 8 lines at one point, and for me it as too much. I stopped reading there. When I heard so many people complain about the ending, I was glad I had quit.

  57. Lee Bowers says:

    I applaud your position. It has made me think more about my reading choices. I read about a book and most of the time even if the book is reviewed with a caution, my desire to read it just draws me in. I get the book on my Kindle and then read the book…then I regret the choice.
    For years John Grisham has been writing one best seller after another and he is squeaky clean on language and sexual content. The plot and characters are the star of the book.
    There are other authors out there…I enjoy Alexander McCall Smith Number One Ladies Detective Agency. When I recommend those books it is hard to put into words why I really love to read them and wait for the next book to come out. Maybe its because the plots are interesting and the characters have integrity.
    Thanks for starting this conversation. We needed it as readers!

    • I read The Number One Ladies Detective Agency to my then ten-year-old son because I remembered it as being very tame compared to most mysteries. I had totally forgotten that Mma Ramotswe was raped and that her baby died. These things are not explained in explicit detail, but they are there in her backstory (not part of the “in the present” plot) enough that I had to explain and discuss them. 🙁

  58. FHC says:

    Great to find this amount of responses – obviously relevant question.
    I include a line in a review noting the issue or concern with any book b/c all readers have different reactions and I feel a responsibility to my readers/followers. They need to be aware of what is contained in the book and make their choice accordingly. I would prefer to have had that knowledge prior to so many books I’ve been asked to read or picked up unaware.
    Iona Grey’s Letters to the Lost being one with such dark sexual violence all the positives of the story were overcome. No mention of that in the synopsis! I was distressed for days and sorry I’d been duped by the gentle storyline presented. And others like it. I recognize others may have my response and if my thoughts can help them in choosing well I will be that voice.
    There are too many great books to waste my God-gifted time on lesser reading.

  59. Mary says:

    I totally agree, and I am so thankful you feel this way, too. Those few lines can ruin a book that I want to recommend. Great authors do not need to rely on graphic language. One can depict a scene, whether it be a love scene or a violent one, without foul or graphic language. I feel the same about using the Lord’s name in vain. I checked out Shogun from the digital public library just out of a lark… was not even on my “want to read” list. I had to stop after a chapter or two. It went way beyond the border I could tolerate.
    Movies are the same. I am actually loving the Anne of Green Gables series lately because it is so peaceful and fun and inspiring and delightful.

  60. Joy says:

    I just recently finished rereading Anna Karenina, and I think that one of the things that I most appreciated about it this time around was the masterful way that Tolstoy makes his characters vulnerable, and how he is able to give you as the reader such an intimate window into marriages and relationships without you ever seeing anyone naked. I think a good writer knows how to walk the delicate line between revealing and exposing (the former leaving you feeling like your best reading self-a privileged empathizer, and the latter leaving you suspicious that you are no better than a common voyeur).

    • Tara Seguin says:

      “Revealing and exposing” – exactly!! One is so valuable and humanizing, and the other is just dehumanizing. I hate reading something where I feel like characters are exposed to the reader, rather than revealed. So many times I literally have to blink, shake my head, and wave my hand around at the book, like, “Stop that. Put that away!” Then I put the book away. 😉

  61. Bronwyn Lea says:

    This made me laugh: “Depending on the genre, I’m prepared for salty language (to put it gently) and difficult content (to put it politely). ” Nicely said. (and FWIW, I just started book 2 of Outlander. The criticism is deserved, but I’m still reading…)

  62. Mary says:

    Oh, no. I just started The Kite Runner and now I read your review. Not another book in the trash! I just had to throw away the the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

    • Laura Thomas Boren says:

      I have to assume you threw away Marie Kondo’s book for reasons other than explicit language! (laughing)

      • Mary says:

        Yes, I tidied up by throwing it out. It was too “mystical” for me….talking to your things. etc. Here is the jest of the book: “Throw it out.”

  63. Catherine says:

    If there are books that miss the summer reading guide due to the need for an “8 line edit” can we expect to see a later post including those books? Something along the lines of “Great books I’m hesitant to recommend due to the need for an 8 line edit.”
    It would be interesting to see where your limit is in comparison to my own.

  64. Tara Seguin says:

    You know what else has been bumming me out about book-marketing over the last five years? How often new books are described as “uplifting” when they are very much the reverse. I started saying to the book jackets, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  65. Olive says:

    8 Uncomfortable Lines Book Reviews from the wonderful Modern Mrs. Darcy is an excellent idea!! We trust your opinion, know that you have no hidden agenda, and that you have thoughtfully considered the context – whether these lines truly add to the overall value of the novel. A book rating system like TV and movies at first sounds like a good idea but would be ultimately flawed as are the systems already in place. Having a trusted comrade sounds like a much better idea to me.
    I believe that the best artists, authors and publishers (as well as those in other media) should trust their own writing and their readers by using language and imagination in a such a way that most of those 8 lines would be unnecessary. I love art. I am not against telling a strong story, even if it is graphic. But sometimes using those 8 lines feels to me like they took the easy way out. They took the shortcut and the piece is lesser for it. If they are true to the art form and in good context, then yes, they should be there. It is what we should expect, even if it is unexpected when we find it. But, if at the end of the piece we are saying that the novel (or show, art exhibition, movie) would have been great only if they hadn’t used (insert 8 lines here) then you know they could have done a better job in making their art.
    Of course art is subjective, which is why having a trusted reader help me to sort through those novels which are worthy of my time and those that I should leave on the shelf is a great idea and exactly why I enjoy your blog so much.

  66. Grace says:

    How interesting. I don’t run into that issue too often, but I also sort of avoid books that I think could contain “too much.” Maybe have a section of the reading guide that’s specifically for these books you’re hesitant to recommend but think are great, and then people can heed the warning just one time.

  67. Sarah says:

    I can do without the sexy stuff. I prefer what is implied rather than explicit. I try to steer away from that type of author or book.

  68. I enjoy reading sex scenes, even when quite explicit, if it’s normal healthy sex. I have some trouble reading the rape scenes in Outlander and tend to skim, but I appreciate that all of the sexual violence depicted there has major consequences for the characters who continue to work through their healing processes for years afterward.

    What I can’t stand is books that depict BDSM as fun or normal or good for you. I really have a hard time with that. Sometimes I’ll finish the book and even read it multiple times, if other things about it are good, but there are parts I have to skip over. It bugs me when a book goes into excessive detail about BDSM and portrays it as having a healing effect that seems totally illogical to me. A good example is Cut Me Loose, reviewed here with trigger warnings!

    • Daphne says:

      Illogical to you; perfectly normal, healing, and super sexy to others. I found Shades of Gray to be completely offensive and horrible MOSTLY because the writing was crappy and also because it potrayed BDSM in such a crude, uninformed manner. I would have MUCH preferred if the main character had taken the time to understand it, and then decide for herself, rather than her absolutely stupid, rash, and offensive response. I read one just to see how it was, but I hear the others are even more insipid and bad.

  69. Tessa says:

    I’ve ignored a lot of recommendations from friends who simply have thicker skin than me for sexual content in books; I just can’t do it. I’m an INFP/HSP, and I think that’s part of it, but I also think I’m such a visual person that having to spend energy creating those scenes in my mind is a harmful practice. It’s kind of hard to trust anyone’s recommendation sometimes because everyone has different boundaries for what they’ll tolerate in what they read; my mom will throw books away if they have a little coarse language in them, while it doesn’t bother me that much at all. People are so diverse and it’s so interesting to see.

  70. Dana says:

    This is a great post that on a topic I have been thinking about lately. It seems to me that more and more “mainstream” books are becoming more graphic in language and in over the top sex or violence. I think it is an attempt to sell more books. Often a book will be a pleasant one in which no foul language should occur and suddenly the F bomb gets dropped with no real reason. It is as if the writer feels the need to throw it in a few times extraneously just to make sure they are hip enough or something. I am not talking about thrillers or detective stories.I mean stories about women and their relationships, chick-lit kind of stories and established authors who previously had not done that kind of thing.
    Just this week I read a highly recommend YA fantasy. YA is considered appropriate for ages 13 and up. The main character was a 17 year old girl, so this is targeting younger teenage girls. The graphic sex and really gruesome violence surprised me. I was imagining if I had a 14 year old daughter I would be appalled at her reading it.

    I do like the 8 line edit as a code!

  71. Helen Grace says:

    I so know where you’re coming from. I have the same problem with the gratuitous use of the F word. I’ve just finished Robert Galbraith ( aka JK Rowling) Cuckoos Calling, and just felt my sensibilities battered with this word multiple times in a single sentence for pages! The plot line was pretty good and interesting characters why did it need to be ruined by that. I’m sure publishers are of a mind that swearing and sex scenes sell books, but from all these comments clearly they’ve got it wrong. I read another book which really had the feeling that it was written, submitted to the publisher and returned with the instructions,rewrite bits using lots more foul words and sex! I’d like a rating system too. I’ve started reviewing what I read on Goodreads, and give gratuitous warnings. Thanks for raising this

  72. Daphne says:

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I find the suggestion of “ratings” on books to be horrifying. Sometimes I don’t like certain sex scenes or language in books, but I figure: this is the author’s book. I am reading it. I can judge it however I like, but I don’t want to censor it in any way. I skim over lots of stuff in books: boring scenes, excrutiating violence, animal-cruelty… but I would never, ever suggest that those scenes not exist. May I also say that I was allowed to read whatever I wanted, at whatever age I wanted, without much apparent damage. A good example is “Clan Of The Cave Bear” — my mom was reading this and I was fascinated with the story (she was giving us the highlights as she read it) and as soon as I felt like I could check out “adult” books from the library (age 10 or so), I checked it out. I skipped the sex parts because I was confused, but I loved the rest of it. Later, maybe age 15 or so, I went back and read all of it, and still loved it and understood it better. I do not consider myself scarred. Every person needs to decide for their own self what is and is not appropriate (and for their kids). However, it’s not up to us to decide for others. I don’t even want a warning — seriously, I am a big girl and know how to choose a book for myself. There are usually clues on the jacket or just flipped through, about what kind of content might be in there. (This is NOT to say that others shouldn’t feel otherwise… I just don’t want my books labelled with a rating system. I really hate that idea!)

    • Daphne says:

      A further thought about this… I really think a rating or “warning” system is a bad idea for books — you’d run into the same thing you have with movies, where movies get edited for content to achieve a certain rating, and lose their power — or, never reach a certain audience because of an imperfect rating system. I am absolutely ALL FOR a blog like this having a rating system if you and your readers find it acceptable — zero problem. Zero problem with “trigger warnings” in informal reviews or even a thoughtful discussion about content in official reviews — after all, this is how we make informed choices. I am totally against a large-scale, blanket rating system because I think it’s bad for readers, bad for authors, bad for books. However — recommendations from readers and bloggers and reviewers — that’s EXACTLY where that kind of information belongs!

      • Katie says:

        I can see your point, but I will say that the single biggest reason I don’t read more current fiction is because I don’t want to be blindsided by content I find offensive. Yes, I could research all the books I am interested in to see if friends, bloggers, or online reviewers found the content I want to avoid, but I would love a day when I could browse the shelves of a library or bookstore and pick out a book that looks interesting and not have to vet it myself first! I feel like there must be great, clean books out there, but I feel helpless to find them without a ton of work. I’d rather spend more of my time reading the books than reading reviews.

  73. Laura Thomas Boren says:

    So my take is a bit different, I think. (Maybe not – maybe I’m not that special a snowflake after all.)

    I edit my husband’s books – he writes genre stuff, some very PG and some in what he calls a “hard R” (and what I call pretty much NC-17!) The only arguments besides commas and other punctuation issues that we might have is over the sex scenes in his book(s). The PG-rated series are never a problem. I even gave a pass on a few scenes in a book where it was pretty much aimed to men (the violence was pretty explicit in the one book, too.) I figured that as long as his other audience was made aware of OUR rating of it (he sent disclaimers and warnings to his list) they could decide on whether to read it or not.

    More challenging has been a book (not yet published and this is partially why) that has at it’s main theme, going back into time into your parents’ (and earlier generations) brains and re-experiencing moments leading up to your moment of conception. Yep, it’s got a lot of sex for a sci-fi novel! I think too much, although none has been particularly disturbing sex so far. But this is an example where a major plot point revolves around sex, and taking it out entirely would gut the novel’s major premise.

    What I have had to do is divorce my self as a reader from my role as an editor – my reader self wouldn’t read these books at all, but my editor self is aware that the target, male-only audience will probably be fine with these scenes. Straight vanilla sex, they ain’t.

    And that’s my pitch to him – ‘if you want women to read your books, then you have to RESPECT them and their sensibilities.’ There’s that word again, but it’s so true. As a woman who’s not highly sensitive, I still prefer to see sex scenes both in context and, generally, in healthy relationships. And I prefer implicit way over explicit. Basically, I want my imagination to get engaged and not have to read every little sexual machination. That’s my main issue with porn – leaving more to the imagination is way sexier and the only thing that can make porn sexy for me is holding back a bit on explicitness, and a great sense of humor (some has it, some doesn’t – but I’m no expert on the stuff and haven’t seen any in years.)

    I really don’t want a rating system on books, at least not as a condition for publication. And this would be impossible anyway as so many books are self-published these days. However, third party groups rate books thematically and on issues of violence and sex, so I think in fact a lot of books are vetted. Personally, I appreciate when someone throws in a disclaimer even as they recommend a book to me and I always try to do the same.

    I run into people saying they want to read my husband’s books and I often tell them they probably wouldn’t like them! (great marketing there, huh?) But it’s the responsible thing to do and making a sale then having someone trash a book on is not going to help sales (or it may with certain folks.)

    More interesting to me, actually, is what a comment above mentioned – that a book is noted for being “uplifting” or some other positive trait, then seems to be anything but. Maybe that begs a larger question as to what we think this means to us, and has it changed? I think themes that feature redemption are always popular, but where the main character starts from can be challenging to say the least. And certainly when an author goes for quirky (as so many of them do – just stop it! I want to shout) they often confuse this with borderline, or full on, pathological or criminal.

    So I fight the good fight with my husband and sometimes I win the skirmishes on what should be kept in or left out. I don’t claim to have any answers for him, but I don’t think I’m far off the mark in terms of what women readers versus men readers can tolerate.

    Certainly we have some lively discussions!

  74. Shauna says:

    I don’t read a lot of racy stuff (not sure why: it doesn’t bother me the way violence does). I am, however, cringing my way through Lolita right now. I wouldn’t necessarily call it racy, though, because the narrator is actually engaging in criminal behavior. But, I can generally handle questionable content if it serves a purpose.

    What I AM struggling with, though, is content that violates my values (human rights and general respect for differing points of view). Right now I’m reading a book on cultivating children’s Imagination with mostly fascinating and enlightening content. But there is some of the content I just described that seems gratuitous and doesn’t advance the author’s arguments at all. Now, every time I pick up the book, those paragraphs are in the forefront of my mind.

    Does this mean I prefer an echo chamber? I don’t know. It’s important to go outside of one’s comfort zone when reading, but the parts outside of one’s comfort zone need to be essential to the story/character development/premise, in my opinion.

    • Daphne says:

      I agree with you… what is “essential” differs for everyone, though! What might make me uncomfortable, might be, for you, a crucial insight.

  75. Danielle says:

    I totally stopped reading a really fun mystery book series simply for the fact the the main character kept letting her teenage son treat her like a doormat! I guess that’s what comes from being a high school teacher (French at that). But those lines, they could have been cut……..

  76. Ang says:

    How interesting to read so many of the comments listed. I do also try to let my Bible trained conscience guide my reading material. I’m sure that some things I choose may not be acceptable to others, but I tell myself when I pick up a book that I don’t enough information about, I must be willing to put it down now matter how interested in it I am if it crosses my lines. I am willing to do that and I have done that many times. Maybe that’s why I am willing to wait for bargain books for authors I’m not as familiar with. I have read for as long as I can remember. My mother never had rules for me we just had an agreement that I would skip anything inappropriate. Hence in 6th grade I was reading books way beyond my years. I love books. I wish now she would have guided me more, but she did not. I had a lovely librarian at the local library near my school who did. My mom was into romance novels so the worst books I got were from here. The most amazing books were from the librarian. I remember reading the book that inspired Somewhere In Time when I was in 7th grade. So after all the rambling, I won’t go for those 8 lines. In my younger years I would have probably bought the book and then skipped them. Now, I won’t if I know something like that will be in a book, as one commenter said, there are just too many other good books out there for me to have to do that.

  77. JULIE CAVE says:

    Not surprised to see so many reactions to your post. Hot topic which I’ve wrestled with in recent months. I wish we had some form of rating system, much like the movie industry, so we can be warned if a title contains objectionable material. I, for one, do not wish to waste my time and money on books which do not edify or instruct. It saddens me to see what books include these days as it reveals a marked desensitization of humanity to what is right and wrong.

  78. Liza says:

    As I read this, Neil Gaiman’s Stardust came to mind. I’d let my kids read the book, if it weren’t for the one sex scene.

    I don’t mind sex, language, whatever, when it moves the plot forward. I have issues with it when it’s there just to be there, or is unnecessarily graphic.

    There’s one book I love that starts out with the main character cussing all the time. By the end of the book, he doesn’t cuss at all. Neither does he cuss in the rest of the series. Of course, he does go through a major change in attitude, but the cussing just didn’t seem to fit the story, the character, or the audience. I almost gave up on the book because of it, but I kept reading and in the end I’m glad I did. I still wish it wasn’t there, but since it tapers off and the writing is great otherwise, it’s not a deal breaker. A weaker book may have been different.

  79. Heather says:

    I don’t know if this has been asked, but will you be including this one book that you wrote about in the summer reading guide or did it get the axe? I’m curious to know what book it is :).

  80. Mary says:

    This is an interesting discussion. I’m not a prude, and I’m not morally offended by sex scenes. But when they’re more explicit or more frequent than is necessary, that detracts from the overall quality of the book for me. I’d also like to see more people specify the books that they react to in this way so that others can use the information in judging whether to read the book or not. Why are people so reluctant to be specific?

  81. Jennifer says:

    Thank you. I’ve recently discovered you and I trust your book recommendations. I think that’s in part because I haven’t read anything “shocking” in anything you’ve recommended. I’m very sensitive to these types of lines/scenes, etc. and sometimes they get stuck in my head for years. I’ve felt scarred by books like that before. So thank you for recognizing when stories have crossed the line and either not recommending them or giving a disclaimer. This reader truly appreciates it!

  82. Megan C. says:

    Wow, Anne! You struck a chord with your readers. I’ll be interested to see how you handle this in your summer reading guide and (hopefully) follow-up posts.

  83. Carol says:

    I am realizing that I must be an HSP because there are just certain words and scenes that I don’t want the image rolling around in my head after reading them. What is seen (or heard) cannot be unseen and a certain scene can affect me in ways I am not only uncomfortable with but also know I should not be reading…some may call that art and it may be, but I prefer to be challenged with good stories that feed my soul thoughtfully. Not all art is good.
    I am constantly on the look out for books that my 15 year old son will want to read and your podcast, Anne, has served as a great tool for this. It’s not me suggesting books it’s you…or your guest! 😉 However, I recently purchased Ready, Player One because it had a topic that he was interested in and asked to read. He read all of it but on one or two occasions he wanted to put it down (I didn’t realize the language and some sexual activities were included…my bad…) because the content was shocking, yes shocking to him. I now feel responsible for stripping away a bit of his innocence and I am sorry for it. But we have talked it through and he acknowledges that it’s not something he likes to read but the story on the whole was a very good one. (he actually whited out the sections that bothered him so no one else would have to read it…I think out of a bit of embarrassment perhaps)
    All this to say, please add a rating or your 8 lines guidance to your book reviews…it will be greatly appreciated by me and so many others who have responded! Thanks for this thought-provoking topic.

  84. sheila says:

    Books nowadays need a rating system. I hate when a perfectly good book throws in an explicit part like this. I’d like to know in advance so I don’t waste the time. Sex is everywhere so people have to keep making it shocking or so they think. I’m finding myself reading more juvenile fiction. ..knowing at least it will be safe…for now.

  85. Claire says:

    I admit, I haven’t read through almost 200 comments, but I’m so curious to know the titles of these books because that’s exactly what I want to read! While I don’t want to read about violence towards children and thrillers aren’t my go to, I can handle it and the sex scenes too. Please have a little subsection somewhere that mentions these books. I’m not going to pick up the mist read of the summer on my own much less read all those Su,met books in the hope of ferreting out the offensive line. Plus, I find a lot of the books you recommend are just a little too sweet for me so bring it on!

  86. Lynda Shaw says:

    This is something that I have thought about for YEARS. I supposed it was just a single woman past menopause but believe me I am not a prude? I just don’t find those parts interesting. I was so glad to read your thoughts on the issue. Thank you so much. I now know I am not alone.

  87. This makes me so uncomfortable and is the deal breaker for me around a book. Some books make me feel uncomfortable in parts, but when I get to what you describe I put it down. Hard to hear that they feel it won’t be left out.

  88. Nichole says:

    I just finished Eligible on Sunday. And I have been upset every since. I saw no disclaimers from anyone about how truly vulgar some of the story is. The epilogue about Mary in particular was so unneccessarily awful. I have always joked that Jane Austen would roll in her grave if she knew how I had named my Labradors for her characters. But I truly think she would be aghast at what was done with her characters in that book.

  89. Heidi says:

    I cannot handle violence against women or children. Rape, torture, kidnapping. I don’t mind graphic sex scenes if it’s clearly consensual, and I don’t mind some violence if it’s “in the line of duty” kind of stuff or not very explicit – I like spy stories and heist s. I used to love Ken Follett, but I feel like in the past fifteen or twenty years he’s gotten a lot more violent (including sexual violence), and I stay away from his stuff now. Pillars of the Earth was one of my favorite books as a teenager, and inspired in me a fascination with the architecture and building of cathedrals. 🙂 That being said, I’m not sure I’d be able to read it now.

  90. Ashley says:

    Racy content is a deal breaker for me, especially the older I get. Didn’t mind it so much back in the day, now it’ll ruin a book for me. I can think of one memoir that I didn’t like for this reason, even though I liked her subsequent work. The vast majority of the time I find that it doesn’t add to the story. Apparently sex sells books…just not to me. I appreciate the warnings.

    • Leslie says:

      Have to agree. Sometimes, it just ruins a book for me. Much like when a friend pasts a picture of roadkill on facebook, just to remind you to wear a seatbelt. There are better ways to get the point across without diarrhea of the mouth. Sometimes what’s left unsaid is more explicit.

  91. Kristy says:

    I don’t go out of my way to read sexual explicit books or ones with constant bad language but I do think that reading helps to broaden my mind on what is reality for others, and that in turn builds my empathy for people who’s life experiences has been different to mine. I didn’t read 50 shades of grey because it didn’t seem that there was a bigger meaning behind the book but a biography or memoir with lots of raw emotion and real experiences even if a little provocative often leaves me thinking and I like that about reading.

  92. Rachel says:

    I have a lot of thoughts and feelings around this topic…as do so many others, judging from the comment section here! As it happens, I am currently reading Trigger Warnings by Neil Gaiman (which I bought on my kindle thanks to MMD’s kindle deals of the day~thank you so much Anne!). I love Neil Gaiman’s work with the heat of a thousand burning suns, despite the fact that I am an HSP. His work always triggers me, and yet, it is always redeemed. He wrote a very thoughtful introduction to Trigger Warnings about this very topic, and I would highly recommend that essay to others for an insightful perspective on this subject.
    Thank you Anne for your lovely blog and once again providing me with some food for thought. I just love the topics you cover here!

  93. Diane says:

    Thank you for bringing up this topic! I have my own “boundaries”, and I read you because I am learning to trust you, and that you won’t violate my set “boundaries”. So if you have reservations about those “8 lines”, please let us know so we can make our own choice. I HATE being shocked/surprised in novels. And lately I think that Editors are insisting authors add those “8 lines”, because book authors that I used to be able to read (and then loan the book to my Mom), are now adding those “8 lines”. That’s stopped me from reading them, and loaning them to my Mom. And sometimes those “8 lines” are so out of place in the story, that it’s just ridiculous. You know they were added by the Editor/Publisher’s insistence for what sells. IT DOESN’T SELL IN THIS HOUSE! I’m anxiously awaiting the Summer List!

  94. Birgitta Qvarnström Frykner says:

    As i live in Europe the wiew of these 8 lines would be very strange. There are so many other things that makes me upset in Books. I remember Oprah choosing the Poisonwood Bible and so many years later it still make me feeling unsettled.When my son was 10 years his teacher read Michelle Magorians “Good Night Nr Tom” the same summer it went on radio as childprogram. After our holidays all people talked about this fantastic book. If you havent read it please do.This young guy is sent to the country during Ww2 for to escape the London bombing, the Only one able to take him is the Village old grumpy. I wont tell you more. MY son was really in the plot. If i had known the story from the beginning I font Think se would ever had read it. There are same nasty human behaviour to be able to go through. But i wouldnt have missed all our talks about the situations and times we had, uplifting for us all. Yes we shall protect ourselves and our Children but the daily news and the situation we have with all the refugees from Syria and other countries there is daily news of bombing, killing, rape on the Tv.

    I read a lot of historical books. There is tales about medieval killings that makes me shake. This is included in history and the computer games can be awful.

    I must at last tell you that real grafic so called love i just hastily skim.

    • Mary says:

      Oh my! I have only watched the first 50 minutes of the movie “Goodnight, Mr Tom” on YouTube. It is wonderful, Birgitta. Thank you for telling us. I have ordered the book for my grandsons and granddaughter. Very beautiful and moving.

  95. Abbey says:

    I would not consider myself prudish in any way. Still, I tend to just push through these types of scenes, or just glance at them quickly to get back to the story…the reason I’m reading the book in the first place.
    I agree a lot of this stuff is added to “sell” or make books feel edgier and not really do anything for the story or characters. But do authors and/or publishers not realize how much this can pull a reader OUT of a story instead of pulling them in? I remember watching Cold Mountain and thinking how beautiful the scene was where Nicole Kidman & Jude Law were making love after being apart for so long. I thought is was done tastefully and fit the story. But then…you see her nipple. It totally took me out of the moment and out of the movie…in a place in the story that you really needed to be drawing your audience in completely for the final blow at the end of the story.

  96. Jessica says:

    Thank you for having the dignity to post about this topic. I just recently discovered your blog and was very pleased to see this post. I know I would be considered a prude by today’s standards and I thought I was pretty much alone in my way of thinking. But I’ve been so uplifted to read so many comments from others who feel the same! Why isn’t intimacy treated with respect anymore? Why isn’t it private and special and sacred? It just seems so crass and vulgar to me to include sexual intimacies. These are depictions of complete lust, not real love. I really don’t read much anymore because of this problem I kept coming across. I never take recommendations because I have been sideswiped by explicit material one too many times and had to kick those books to the curb and then I’m left feeling a sort of…betrayal, I guess? It’s a shame because I love to read. I LOVE a well-written, inspiring and interesting book, (since I have seen you mention it so many times in just a few days of being acquainted with and exploring your blog, ahh Anne of Green Gables) but an explicit scene or language can absolutely ruin it for me. I won’t finish it because of the ‘shocker’ but then it’s in my head over and over and I don’t need or want that trash. I loved what one commenter said about the author needing to respect the reader and not thrusting this sort of material out of nowhere and into your mind where it’s there to stay. (Not an exact quote at all but that’s what I took from it 🙂 ) Thank you again for addressing this issue. I also vote with others for an “8 line edit” for any sort of sexual material in your recommendations! It’s so refreshing to hear someone say they find this sort of thing distasteful, even if we don’t have the same standards. Also thanks to all who have been so respectful of others’ differing points of view.

    • Birgitta Qvarnström Frykner says:

      I appologise fo the above comment, i wrote it on my tablet and there is a spelling program that all the time change everything to swedish. I have to all the time look for the changes it does. I realise now that i missed a lot and that it perhaps was hard to read. I must say that my favourite author is Jane Austen and therefore i was really chocked when reading of one of the sequels that has been madehhe The best is by in my oppinion Ann Collins that has by far let the story untouched and just let the story uavnrel with the later generation

  97. Traci says:

    I have trouble reading about sensitive topics (particularly sexual violence and abuse toward children) when the scenarios seem likely to happen in real life, or when the writing is so good that the characters feel real.

    When it’s purely imagined, in most cases, it’s just a story, and I can divorce myself from it.

    I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I read The Kite Runner, my stomach was so sick for children in cultures where that violence occurs and is met with extreme shaming and no help.
    Outlander didn’t bother me on an emotional level, but we had picked up the audio book for a 28 hour drive, and it was awkwardly funny to listen to with my husband and 18 month old. We never finished it (or got to the scene of rape, though we both agreed the tension of that possibility existed throughout the book) because neither of us were interested in continuing to sit in our car for hours listening to the recounting of another couple’s sexual experience. We would have certainly finished it had their early marital sex scenes been abbreviated or omitted; we would rather hear about the action!

  98. Tabitha says:

    I enjoyed this post, and I actually read almost all of the comments! While I understand that art, literature, music, etc. is meant to affect us deeply, I absolutely can and will exercise my right to avoid dumping garbage into my mind, because I don’t like the effects. I dearly love to read, but I’ve had a terrible time finding fiction written in the last twenty years that I am willing to finish. I can’t stomach graphic violence, profanity, or gratuitous/warped sex scenes. My healthy sex life is a lovely blessing, and I want that kept quite separate from my fiction reading. I don’t object to authors using tasteful and discrete ways of conveying their point, and I loved Joy’s comment!! “I think a good writer knows how to walk the delicate line between revealing and exposing (the former leaving you feeling like your best reading self-a privileged empathizer, and the latter leaving you suspicious that you are no better than a common voyeur).” EXACTLY!!!!!

    I actually read nonfiction way more often simply because it’s easier than wading through the muck of the new releases. As a matter of fact, that is PRECISELY what caused me to follow the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. I’m Christian, and yet I don’t like the sappy little Christian novellas. I turned to this blog and the “What Should I Read Next” podcast in hopes of finding clean reads with excellent plots and characters that I can truly engage with. Thanks to Anne, I’ve discovered Kate Morton and several other excellent authors.

    I’m all for an “8 line edit” flag for book reviews. I’ve looked in vain for a site/book club online to help me screen out the books with content that I’m trying to avoid, while still promoting literature that’s more than 2 inches deep. I’ll be following the comments on this post!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you, Tabitha , for expressing your thoughts. I empathize with you. I feel the same way but you put it in words so well. I completely concur.

  99. Kathryn H. says:

    I think an “8-line-edit warning” is a great idea. I have to be careful about what I read and watch because things make strong impressions on my memory and will be impossible to “un-see.” I’m very selective. When I’m reading reviews or blog posts by people I like, respect, and with whom I tend to have common interests, I would appreciate an “8 line heads-up.” It’s an easy way for a reviewer to indicate that while she appreciated a work, she has some caveats.

  100. Emily B says:

    Too much smut is a definite deal breaker for me. I wish book bloggers would make it a point to address offensive content in their reviews so a potential reader can be informed. I liked what you said about if the disclaimers outweigh the novel’s upside then the decision to recommend it to your readers becomes pretty clear.

  101. Alexa says:

    I do not care for graphic novels with language and strong sexual content. We get the picture. I find that beloved books and well written books have conved the same message and have not taken the easy way out. I do not feel good about any novel that has to devulge that type of writing style. It effects you-regardless of the character type. After awhile it’s a turn off.

  102. Gina says:

    I enjoyed reading The Nest overall but wasn’t comfortable giving it to my mother to read… I’m so glad I read this post and the comments. I’ve been wanting to read Outlander but now I think I won’t be reading it. I had no idea!!

    • Eilzabeth says:

      I’d rather skim and skip than miss out on a great story, for example Outlander. I loved this series, even with skimming and skipping on occasion (really not all that often). It’s a wonderful well-rounded story – worth nearly a year of my life to get through the series 🙂

  103. Ann Perrigo says:

    Very late with my comment on the 8 Line Edit. I’m reminded of my mom, who turned into an avid reader the last ten years of her life. When my sister and I were suggesting or selecting books for her we tried not to choose anything too graphic. Mom wasn’t fazed, though. When she was almost 90 she said, “I’d have missed a lot of wonderful stories if I let that bother me” going on to say that she did sometimes skim or skip offending passages. This always seemed very enlightened to me!

    • Eilzabeth says:

      Yes, I feely skim and skip if the content is too iffy for my sensitive self…but I’d rather skim and skip than miss out on a great story, for example Outlander. I loved this series, even with skimming and skipping on occasion (really not all that often).

  104. Charlotte says:

    I’m very late to this conversation but had some thoughts to add. I don’t appreciate 8-line content when it’s gratuitous, and I’m liberal in my media choices. My gauge for censoring my own reading is how I the content makes me feel; being uncomfortable isn’t the same as feeling icky, and being uncomfortable can be really good for me. I read The Casual Vacancy all the way through and did not like it. And yet, I came away from that book wanting to be more compassionate to those around me, and that is definitely not a bad thing.

    (And regarding the Outlander books–which I love–yes there is sex and yes there is violence. But to see how Claire and Jamie heal and weather the many storms they face makes me more confident in my own marriage, and that is not a bad thing either.)

  105. Nancy says:

    Very late to this blog, but certainly understand what you are talking about if it is a repetitive use of words seen from book to book (my word for is it the What-the-tuck trends). Your particular 8 line edit (not sure exactly what it is but guessing it is about gratutious sex of a non-consensual nature) is not necessary except where it is truly part of the plot and needs to be there. Otherwise, it is a WTT trend that needs to be pointed out to HSP in reviews. For what it is wort…nan

  106. Angie says:

    Anne, I am really uncomfortable with the increase in explicit content and I greatly appreciate you letting us know when there are lines like that within the book. I have read plenty of books that don’t shy away from letting you know what’s going on, and you can truly feel the depth of it without needing all the details. To me they are much more skilled authors, and truly we don’t need to actually live through and visualize every little part of it.

  107. Jordan says:

    I consider myself a highly sensitive person and excessive violence, saltiness or raciness turns me off. I understand when it’s necessary to reveal a character or story line, but when it’s way over the top or unnecessary I just can’t deal. I know personality so I tend to steer clear. This world is harsh enough I don’t need it in my leisure!

  108. Helen Ewan says:

    Last summer I abandoned a book halfway through. It was a very popular book, recommended by many women. I would have needed an 8-page edit to fix the problem! A graphic sexual encounter went on and on, and I was so annoyed that I put the book down and never picked it up again. I’m not a prude. I prefer subtlety in sex scenes. It can be intimate and revealing, but I don’t want to read the script for a scene from a porn movie. Because of that scene, I’m not interested in reading any of the author’s books. There are so many other good books out there.

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