I’m a little sensitive to cursing these days. And how I wish I meant witch curses by that. Then I’d say I’m a little tired of being turned into a toad. Unfortunately, I mean those bad words. My son is not quite nine, but already plays around with them. It’s gotten tiring trying to teach him when and where to use them because it’s basically an in one ear and out the other right now. We’ll get there. Eventually. I hope. Right now, it’s just exhausting and I’d rather scrub the world free of them so I don’t have to tell him every day that right outside the school right at pick up time is not an appropriate time to be flinging these words around.
But it’s not just my son who has me rubbed a little raw. It’s this book I’m reading. The Galactic Zookeeper’s Guide to Heists and Husbandry by A.C. Huntley sounded like a lot of fun. It’s a heist that takes place in space and features this zookeeper who has decided to escape the sad zoo planet she’s been stuck on by taking a job for a mob boss to steal and deliver a two headed llama. It has all the makings for a fun sci-fi story, and a bit of romance as this zookeeper is supposed to fall for the captain of a ship she’s found herself stuck on. Except this book is going on for too long, the romance is basically this zookeeper loving how muscular and good looking the captain is, and the only fun part is the llama eating the zookeeper’s hair.
Okay, so the story has turned out to be a little lackluster for me. All the number one and number two jokes are definitely old since I do have a six-year-old and an eight-year-old and practically live inside these jokes. I seriously can’t get through a day with them without both of them doling out these jokes on repeat and laughing at them long after everyone else has moved on to something else. So there’s a good chance I’m just shy of the intended audience. I do like the llama, though. Fred is by far my favorite character, and there are some other interesting caricatures, but I also kind of feel like there are too many and I can’t keep up with what they’re all supposed to be doing.
Anyways, back to the bad words. This book is literally littered with them. They’re on every page, and sometimes in virtually every paragraph. Now, as I said, I’m a little sensitive to bad words right now, so this is probably just a really bad time for me to be reading this one. I feel like I’m wading through a sea of bad words, and it’s making the story almost unreadable to me. I’m just not the kind of person who casually drops bad words into my daily speech. I don’t find them classy or refined, and everyone who knows me will agree I’m very ladylike. So, the bad words are wearing me down, which means I avoid reading this, except I finally reached the halfway point and I’m dying to finish and move on to something more savory.
On the other hand, this book has given me the opportunity to write and post a blog post that isn’t a Book Highlight, so that’s kind of a win, right?
There are a lot of thoughts I have on cursing in books. Personally, I don’t like it. To me, curse words are meant for some kind of emphasis or to help characterize a certain character. They are not things to be casually tossing out in every other sentence. One, it waters down what someone is actually saying or thinking. And, two, if I think they should be used for emphasis, then everything gets emphasized and that’s just exhausting to get through. A periodic sprinkle I can deal with. It adds some flavor. Then again, I am someone who routinely undersalts because I use a light hand when it comes to flavor. What can I say? I like tasting the food I’m making and not all the spices and salt I’m adding to make it taste like something different.
Which brings me to my beloved fantasy genre. Fantasy, now, is given a unique opportunity to take a different route with curses. I do have The Wheel of Time series to thank for this. I started reading them when I was a freshman in high school, not too long after I discovered these curse words (I lived a sheltered life at a tiny, private, Christian school where things like running on the patio, throwing sand, and using curse words were not tolerated. And yet we could convince our teachers to agree to a party a week later.). But The Wheel of Time has its own curse words, not these pedantic ones I’m tired of reading (unless you’re watching Amazon’s TV show, then it’s just disappointing all the delightful curses weren’t used). It made me think all fantasy novels should have their own set of unique curse words. Sadly, recently, I’ve read too many fantasy books that have failed to become creative when it comes to curse words. A missed opportunity, if you ask me. And it leaves me wading ever deeper into books littered with these so hated curse words.
Ugh. I’m now sick of writing about curse words, and I think my time would be better spent on things like working on my own stories (like The Queens, probably), and sorting out this treasure hunt I’m setting up for my kids so they have something fun to go alongside their summer work this year. Or maybe just making a mug of hot chocolate because this is posting the day after a really cold, cloudy day. I’m writing this on May 9th, when it’s usually sunny, hot, and maybe a bit wildfire-y somewhere. Instead, my toes are freezing, but at least this typing is keeping my fingers warm.
I will not leave you with some curse words in lieu of a farewell. I’ll instead say I’ll see you at noon my time with a delightful Book Highlight. (Though I’m actually away from the blog today because I’m chaperoning a field trip for my daughter’s class.)
4 thoughts on “Books and Bad Words”
It’s amazing how our mood or what we’re going through can effect the way we read or watch media. For a while there I couldn’t watch shows or read books where the MC was always disobeying orders and yet being rewarded for that behavior. I also don’t like MCs who are snarky teens with clueless parents who let their kids get away with being disrespectful. I have a teen and while she knows not to act that way, it bothers me that we’ve normalized that kind of behavior. Parenting is hard enough without pop culture making rudeness cute!
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So true! Our oldest is still a few years away from being a teen, but we’re already running up against problems, and everyone seems to be acting the same way and it’s just so exhausting to deal with. I dislike a lot of YA books because the teens get to do whatever they want and there never seem to be any parents around. I’m kind of hoping my kids will skip over those books so they don’t get any worse ideas than what teens usually come up with.
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I agree with you. I don’t mind a curse word here or there but I find them far more effective if they’re used to characterize instead of littering the page. And I looove how Fantasy uses creative curse words! It not only adds depth to the character usually but can also be a great opportunity for subtle world-building.
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Exactly! I wish more fantasy writers would take that to heart, because I’ve read too many lately that could have really made some creative curses. Sometimes I feel like authors write the way they would speak, so it really feels like a missed opportunity, and wading through curse words gets exhausting.
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