Bookish Chat : Lets Talk Dirty

November 9, 2013 Bookish chat 30

When a book is crude and explicit in its language does it make you smirk or cringe? Are there certain words that you can’t overlook and that will make you put a book down? I have been thinking about this topic ever since I read this review for Sweet Surrendering over on CeCe’s blog.

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For me personally, as long as it fits with the tone of the book and isn’t done for shock value then it’s fine by me. Some words can make me laugh away to myself in a book and I don’t think I really have a shock value with it comes to words. Which is probably funny in a way as in my normal life, I don’t tend to curse or swear as a general rule. This is considered a bit odd as most people around me swear like troopers and while it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I just choose not to. Well most of time! If aggravated enough, I can cram an impressive amount of swear words into just one sentence and can even bulk out one single word with multiple curses if the occasion demands it.

I can’t think of any one word that would make me decide not to continue reading a book. If I felt a book was all crude talk and no plot or the characters weren’t engaging me at all, then that’s a different story and that would annoy me. Sometimes I think an author just has a character spout curse words just to give a character an edge or cool vibe but that doesn’t hit the mark with me.  Actions speak louder than words and are a far more effective way of getting this point across.  But I would never choose to filter my books just on the language used in them. A couple of books that come to mind when I think of this topic are Tangled by Emma Right (which I loved and spent most of the night rubbing the tears of laughter out of my eyes) and Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian (another one where the language used hit home the plot).

I like books that push the limits a little bit. And I’m of a similar vein of thought when it comes to explicit sex scenes. They don’t upset me and I won’t rule a book in or out just because the scenes don’t fade to black. Again I want to sex to be an integral point of the story and not just there for the sake of filling some pages with controversial hook ups. When done well, I can really enjoy getting all hot and bothered along with the main characters. And trying to tie this back to a book, the one that comes to mind is Hopeless by Colleen Hoover which I adored.

Bookish Chat : How about you? Are you easily offended by certain words or topics. Is this something you actively screen your books for?

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30 Responses to “Bookish Chat : Lets Talk Dirty”

  1. Chelsea @ Starbucks & Books Obsession

    Great post! I’m not easily offended or put off when it comes to language or sexual content. I actually read a lot of books that have a lot of swearing and dirty talk (as you know). 🙂 I actually think I swear more now than I used to before I started reading these books Haha. While it doesn’t deter me, I’m not a huge fan of the word c$*t (I think you know the word. I didn’t want to offend anyone by using it). I actually really like it when a guy tells a girl he “F*&%ing loves her”. For some reason, that really makes me swoon.
    Chelsea @ Starbucks & Books Obsession recently posted…Review: Cross Country Christmas by Tiffany King #HoHoHoRAT

    • trish

      Yep, not too fond of the C U Next Tuesday word myself! And I dislike the other C word too C**K, you know the one. Neither will ever upset me in a book though, I just would never use them myself and I kinda cringe when I hear people using them in real life.
      LOL that that expression makes you swoon, I suppose when it’s used for emphasis, it really makes the it seem stronger and more assertive. I get it!

  2. Jennifer

    Swear words and sex scenes in books don’t bother me at all and never have. I judge a book based on a lot of things like plot, characters, setting etc. but never on whether or not the characters curse and have sex. It just doesn’t play into it at all in my opinion. I suppose I’ve never read a book were either of these were used as filler in between scenes that actually mattered. I’ve always been lucky in that all the books I’ve read that use swear words and sex scenes do so as part of the plot line or character development. I’ve never really given any thought to how these are utilized before.
    Jennifer recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get My Hands On

    • trish

      As part of plot line or character development, it’s fine and I think it can work very effectively. However I have read some books where the sex just took over to the extent that there was no plot and that just bored me. I’m all about the emotional connection and the build up.

  3. CeCe

    I love how the post I inspire is called “Lets Talk Dirty” – how fitting! Since you referenced my review of Sweet Surrendering, it must be obvious that I like dirty bits. I curse in real life and I like characters that do as well, though I agree with you when you say they need to feel natural. I hate when characters purposely won’t curse and use made up or childish words instead – kills the vibe for me. I also hate when a book has a male POV and the only thing that makes it male is extra cursing. I can’t think of a good example at the moment, but have you ever noticed that?
    When it comes to sex scenes, I actually prefer the tension more than the explicit writing. You referenced Hopeless which is the absolute perfect example – the “non-kiss” scene in that book – holy shit was that sexy! I would take something like that over all of the more explicit scenes in say last Sylvia Day Crossfire series.
    So I suppose what I’m trying to say is that while I am admittedly a pervert and do love smut, I think it mostly stems from the attitude such behavior shows in characters. I don’t need an anatomy lesson, I just want to see the relationships and changes to the relationships that the words/actions force.
    Great discussion post! It’s 6:30AM in Boston but you already have my brain working : )
    CeCe recently posted…Book Review – Undeclared by Jen Frederick

    • trish

      Good thing you have a sense of humour CeCe! I’m like you I love the emotional build up and the simmering tension, if done right it fizzles with chemistry and is hotter than lava! I loved Hopeless so much and when they finally got down to it, it was so intense due to all the emotional stuff also going on. One of fav books ever, it just got it all so right.
      Love your line about not needing an anatomy lesson! So true 🙂 Even though I liked 50 Shades, I didn’t love it and that was because the sex took over and just got boring. I was like, what..again!

  4. Charleen

    I have no problem with language, but I’m definitely not a fan of sex scenes. The ones that bother me the most are of course the ones that feel like they’re only there for their own sake and don’t fit the story… but even if it does fit I don’t particularly like reading them. I like the build-up and the emotion… but as soon as a body part is mentioned, it loses all its magic for me.
    Charleen recently posted…ITW Must-Reads: The Eight

    • trish

      I prefer the build up and the emotion too Charleen. And sometimes a kissing scene can be far hotter than a sex scene. And yes, if it is just there as a filler or for shock value then it never works, as it just seems so out of place and adds no value at all to the story.

  5. kimbacaffeinate

    Wonderful post, and my opinion has always been that as long as it fits within the context I have no problems with it. After all if a zombie is close to chewing your leg off, I don’t expect the you to say, “oh my” many other four letter words come to mind. As for romance scenes I am sure everyone has preferences and there are some words that turn me off.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…The Marriage Wager by Jane Ashford

    • trish

      LOL, you are right, “oh my” just wouldn’t work in that situation at all! Or “please stop” either :O Like you, I think in context it works and also it’s realistic so I have no problem with it. I have read great books both with and without strong language and explicit scenes so it’s never a huge issue for me either way.

  6. Karen

    I don’t swear much in real life but like a teenager I love a song that drops an f-bomb lol

    For books, none of it bothers me except in some erotica. Not that I’m offended per se – more that I don’t find really dirty talking erotic in any way.

    I think swearing is acceptable in YA. I don’t know many teenagers that don’t swear, at least a little. Sometimes it feels forced though. As if the author is cutting corners and using swearing as a way to sound authentic but doesn’t.

    • trish

      I kinda love that too in a song, it seems so wrong that the risqué factor really appeals to me!
      I hear you on not finding dirty talk erotic, I’d be far more likely to laugh my head off than get turned on!
      And I’m fine with swearing in YA, it would be far more unrealistic without it. I do agree that adding swearing just to make a character seem real won’t cut it, the author needs to work a lot harder than that.

  7. Citra

    I don’t swear in real life but I don’t mind if a book contains swear words as long as it’s just not full of them. Sometimes when it is rightly done, I think it would create memorable character. Otherwise too much of swear words makes the book cheap.
    Citra recently posted…An Open Letter for George R. R. Martin

    • trish

      Our thoughts are very much on par, I agree totally with you on this issue. It be very right or a disaster if done wrong.

    • trish

      Exactly Mel, if it’s done for shock value it falls flat. When used properly, it can add an extra element to the story.

    • trish

      Yes, as long as it suits the character, then it earns its place in the book. And as most people aren’t angelic with their speech, it’s also realistic :O

  8. acps927

    Generally, a little bit of mild language doesn’t bother me so long as it feels natural. I tend to filter books with “stronger” language though, largely because I don’t want the words in my head. I know some books use language in a way that can be impactful, but if it’s too much or too strong I personally am just not interested.
    acps927 recently posted…Review: Ender’s Game

    • trish

      I can totally understand that point of view too Amy. How do you filter just out if interest, do you do it by reviews? I think this is where your idea of a rating would come into play and I can see how useful it would be.

      • acps927

        There’s a website I go to called Rated Reads sometimes to see if they’ve reviewed the book since they review content. Sometimes I just glaze over the quotes on Goodreads and see how it looks. This is why I’ve tried adding content advisories on my reviews now, because it’s not always easy to find but there are people who want to know. And there have been times I wasn’t sure before I got into it, and thankfully with several YA books it’s not usually a big problem, especially if it’s not a contemporary, which is why I generally read non-contemporary YA. 🙂
        acps927 recently posted…Review: Ender’s Game

  9. Dee @ Dee's Reads

    I think it’s all about if it’s natural in the book or not. Some people swear (I do) while others don’t (like you).. And different varying degrees in between. It has to do with who we are and our personalities… And, even in a book if the character is well developed swearing just kinda makes sense, You know? Sometimes it doesn’t though, and I have read books where the character swears and it just doesn’t…fit. That’s when swearing bothers me. Also, a gratuitous use of the C word bothers me, again — if it’s gratuitous. It’s use in, for instance, the classic novel lady Chatterley’s Lover does not bother me.

    Very interesting discussion post, Trish!
    Dee @ Dee’s Reads recently posted…Winner of Dystopian Giveaway!

    • trish

      Well I do on occasion! I think the C word bothers a lot of people in the scenarios you describe. I don’t like it but it won’t turn me off a book. I’m with you in general though, if it’s natural it’s ok but if it’s just dropped in there and doesn’t fit at all, then it just becomes a bit annoying.

  10. Cayce

    “as long as it fits with the tone of the book and isn’t done for shock value then it’s fine by me.” Yep, I’m the same. The one thing that could bother me though is made-up cuss words. Most of the time they feel constrained and stilted and just sound fake.
    And I read MM Romance, so explicit sex scenes don’t bother me, at all 😛
    Cayce recently posted…[Rant or Rave] Spoil me ROTTEN!

  11. Michelle @ In Libris Veritas

    It takes a whole lot to offend me, and language usually doesn’t do it unless it’s out of character or extremely gratuitous. Even then it doesn’t offend, it mostly just annoys me.
    Sex doesn’t bother me either but I will get irritated if the story is lost because of the sex, unless it’s erotica and then the story basically is sex.
    Michelle @ In Libris Veritas recently posted…Saturday Issue Review: Bandette Vol. 1 Presto! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

  12. Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads

    I used to not swear. Then I met my husband and it rubbed off on me. Now we have a 2.5 year old and we don’t at all censor ourselves around her. Why? She’s going to hear it anyways, at least I’ll know where it’s coming from.

    No, I don’t mind swear words. But it has to fit with the tone of the book and the author isn’t doing it just to shock people. Although, sometimes it can be overdone. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist for example, there are 335 f-bombs in it. The book is only 183 pages long. I thought it was a bit much.

    As for sex, I don’t mind it in the slightest, unless it’s just thrown in there willy nilly. Example? Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. Never once while reading her books did I mind a sex scene. Then there is the one in this book that I just felt awkward reading about. It shouldn’t be awkward to read…
    Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads recently posted…Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

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