incorrect book details bookish gone wrong

Bookish Details Gone Wrong: What’s Your Pet Peeve?

For those of you that don’t know, I am in the medical field. After four years of a biology degree, I had four years of a medical education. It’s my job to know a lot about medicine. Unsurprisingly, not everyone knows as much. I don’t expect people to, but that doesn’t prevent me from having an apoplectic fit every time I read a medical inaccuracy in a book.

Let me clarify:

I don’t expect authors to know the intricacies of medicine. There are more subtle inaccuracies that I can excuse.

But then there are some mistakes that are so inexcusable they lead to my husband (also medical) and I having an enraged conversation about fact-checking and who the heck the beta readers were.

For instance:

Veins do not pulse. Arteries pulse. *taps fingers frantically on table*

Pus is not produced in a matter of seconds, but rather, hours to days. *eyelid twitches* [Disclaimer: I totally understand why someone wouldn’t know this one, so I forgive the author who made this claim.]

If you’re going to insist on being anatomically specific, be anatomically correct. *face palm*

You cannot “plunge” a needle into your arm and quickly hit a vein (unless you’re a heroin addict). This procedure actually requires some finesse and concentration. *asks rhetorically if you’ve ever gotten your blood drawn*

A fever over 104F (40C) is a really big deal and doesn’t simply warrant staying at home and feeling crummy. YOU CAN ACTUALLY DIE. *double face palm*

Okay. I could go on. But you get my point.

So here’s my question for you:

I am sure I am reading tons of other inaccuracies about things (no author can know everything about everything!), and I don’t realize it, because it isn’t my area of expertise. Do you have an area of expertise that results in a lot of eye rolls and sighs of frustration while reading? 

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26 comments

  1. Loved reading this hahaha! I am a medstudent so I can totally relate to this and the number of facepalms these kinds of phrases induced. I can see why authors want the things to be dramatic or whatever but at least check the facts.

  2. So many times! And Logan complains about inaccuracies regarding the throwing of grenades and running of power equipment. But in movies for him, he hasn’t read a book since 2008. 😂

    1. Bahahahaha. I am not surprised you, too, would have an apoplectic fit with medical inaccuracies. And LOL @ Logan – that’s actually kind of interesting, since I wouldn’t even think twice about reading how a weapon is used in a book (or movie..).

  3. Hi! First time reading your blog but found the topic so relatable I have to comment. I’m a licensed social worker and therapist so when I read things about inaccuracy on mental health it makes my heart pound like if words like “bipolar”, “trauma” and “schizo” are thrown around in a deragatory or inaccurate way it kills me. The last time I felt this was about a month ago when I read The Girl On the Train the therapist in that book had my eye twitching so hard with his awful ethical and boundary issues…thanks for this post it felt good to share!

    1. Thank YOU for sharing! I find it interested to see what other people’s pet peeves are. I can TOTALLY see why this would be a difficult thing for you, and mental health is a huge topic in literature, so I bet you encounter it quite a bit. I remember that therapist from Girl on the Train – he pissed ME off quite a bit, so I can’t even imagine how much it ticked you off! Thanks for chiming in (:

  4. Omg the medical stuff gets me too!! Sometimes I’m too absorbed in a book so don’t always notice but on TV shows I can”t. My housemate and I (also a vet student) were watching some of the 100 and every time they tried to get blood or do a transfusion we’d just look at each other and scream because it was so wrong. It’s not that hard to put in a bit of research, especially since sometimes the characters involved are either the doctor or the doctor’s daughter.

    1. Hahaha OMG TV is the WORST with this. Let’s take a moment to talk about CPR- Um hello, you actually have to have chest excursion to pump the heart. You can’t just move it a few milimeters XD. And let’s not even talk about veterinary medicine in books – thank goodness it’s rare, but I swear every time it does show up, it’s 100% inaccurate. It’s either acting like we’re some backwards idiots or we do absurd miraculous feats.

  5. Ha, this made me laugh! I’m definitely going to try to pay attention to this from now on.

    I was trying to think of any related pet peeves I have, and I guess it does bother me when books take place in Germany—so presumably the characters are speaking German to each other—but are written in English, and then the author randomly throws in German words. (This also applies to other languages, obviously, but German sticks out to me most since I studied it.) A perfect example of that is Wolf by Wolf. It’s all in English, except the author likes to use German swear words, I guess to be cool? I don’t know, but it didn’t work for me.

    1. OMG stop it, now I am NEVER going to be able to read books that have that without majorly being annoyed. That IS annoying, but I’ve never thought about it until now! I am going to be reading Wolf by Wolf some point soonish – so now I’m going to laugh every time and think of you! Thanks for chiming in XD

  6. I once wrote a whole post about how unrealistic/incorrect details in books are often so much more frustrating than when big things are unrealistic, so I completely agree. I do sometimes wonder how many inaccuracies I’m reading without even realizing it lol. But sometimes I’ll come across something and be like, “I’m not even an expert on this, so if even *I* can tell this is completely incorrect…” But anyway I used to do circus and I read some circus books in a series once and was literally offended by the time I finished not because anything about it was inherently offensive but because it was like she didn’t even bother to watch a single YouTube video let alone do actual research because the terms for equipment/acts/skills were being used incorrectly, characters were doing things that weren’t even physically possible, random non-athletic people were sudden experts their first time on the equipment, doing things it takes people years to learn… Seriously twitch and face palm inducing lol.

    1. Hahaahahah. Yes, I agree that sometimes it’s more about the details than the big stuff that make or break a stroy. I mean, don’t just guess- look it up! That’s interesting about the circus. Definitely something I would probably read and not even realize is inaccurate. Thank you for chiming in! And also, thanks for the compliment about the header (: It’s photos from my bookstagram.

  7. OH I love reading this, and I understand how some books and moments would make your eyes roll ahah 🙂 I don’t know my area of expertise, really, haha so it’s kind of a hard question to answer at the moment, but now…you’re making me think about this way too much hahaha. I think I’ll pay attention to lots of details the next time I’ll pick up a book and think whether or not this is actually realistic, haha 🙂

  8. I do get this! At the same time it annoys me, I also do know sometimes it’s hard for authors to get everything right and for them to always have the right betas to catch the mistakes. Buuuuuut, it is freakishly frustrating. I know a LOT about music, particularly stringed instruments, and I’ve read books where a girl strung a violin and then went out on stage and played immediately with the new strings. Erm. No.😂 New strings go out of tune like nothing else. She wouldn’t be able to get through the performance, especially for 4 new strings! So things like that do make me twitchy when I’m reading.😜

  9. “asks rhetorically if you’ve ever gotten your blood drawn” lololololol I got my blood drawn for THE FIRST TIME since I was like 5 last year. I’m 25. So, I would have no idea hahahah sorry, I just found that part funny. And I had a fever of 103 in December and refused to go to the doctor. You can tell I’m an expert at medical things. lol

    I can totally see why these things would bother you though! Fun post 🙂

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    1. LOL Molly! You’re so bad! Next time you have a temp of 103 you let me know and I’m going to drive down to wherever it is you are and drag your butt to urgent care!

    1. Hahaha, no they definitely can’t, and I don’t actually hold it against them! That being said, I still do a face palm every time I read something entirely inaccurate XD

  10. Inaccuracies like this drive me mad, although I notice it more on tv! I loved The Fall, but there was one notable part where (spoiler free I hope!) where a victim and her attacker were brought to the same hospital and were only across the hall from each other! That would never happen! I even asked my friends who are in the police force and they were in complete agreement with me. They said the complete opposite would happen and they would be brought to separate hospitals as far away from each other as possible. Things like this do detract from the story and it becomes hard to believe in it 🙁

    1. Yes! I think TV is probably even worse (for whatever reason I don’t really watch TV so I don’t encounter this too often)! It’s like, GUYS can we just think this through for a few more minutes!