Thursday, December 18, 2014

Books that Lack Research

A recent discussion with my friend Elizabeth on Twitter made me really think about one of my bookish pet peeves that I’d never really discussed until now. Lack of research.

I will never write a book. It’s not a skill I have or even feel like I can develop – writing this blog frequently feels like it’s taxing my writing abilities. But if I was a writer I think the one thing I’d be good at would be researching facts necessary for the novel so I didn’t get them wrong. And it’s inevitable that research is required unless every character is a version of yourself.

I’m a pretty big sports fan and I know several other readers who are too. Readers and sports fans are not mutually exclusive groups, but I have read several books where the author clearly didn’t research ANYTHING about the sport before putting it in the book. As a reader it’s distracting when you read something like, “I was a 37th round draft pick. That’s kind of a big deal.” The character was referring to the NBA.

At this point instead of my brain staying in the story (it’s a book I love BTW and have read multiple times) I get distracted and my brain goes through that following thought process.

The NBA draft has only 2 rounds. The only major league draft that I can think of with that many rounds is the MLB and even then the 37th round is definitely not a big deal. Odds are you’d be toiling in single A ball for a few years before getting cut or quitting cause the money sucks.

While these errors might seem minor to the overall story, they distract me as a reader, taking me out of the story while my brain says, “That’s not right”. It’s frustrating, especially with the ease of acquiring the information in this day and age. One word. Google.

This problem is not limited to sports, but it’s the most frequent offender for me. I could also talk about the book that quoted prices for an emergency rental of a small Lear jet and the price quoted was about a quarter of what it should be but that is pretty random info for me to have – although I don’t think I’m the only reader who noticed.

Any topics you are a subject matter expert on that authors frequently fail to research properly?


  1. It drives me nuts with academia stuff. I remember reading one where a doctoral student was writing a thesis (nope, that'd be a dissertation) and it was going to take her 2 years or something silly to get her degree finished. And also the sports thing... seriously, the Dallas Mavericks as a hockey team? I just don't even know how that gets published.

    1. The academia one is another good one! I don't how that gets published either. Don't lots of people read these before they are published? None of them are basketball fans?