Stuff That Happens in Books But Never in Real Life

Happy Friday, everyone!

Again, this week has been an extremely busy one for me, but things are getting better! For one thing, my best friend and I knuckled down last weekend and went through all our lecture notes on Mori theory – and we understand stuff now!! I mean, it’s still not a lot, but compared to nothing, it’s progress!

Happy Very Funny GIF by Disney Zootopia

I’ve also been spending a ton of time correcting first year students’ linear algebra homework, so I’m hoping to see improvement there soon. Newbie math students almost always have a hard time with the insane lecture tempo and all the formalism at first, but after a couple of weeks, it usually either clicks or they quit. So one way or another, my workload is bound to go down soon… πŸ˜‚ Although I am having a lot of fun teaching my linear algebra tutorial, so I’m hoping at least a couple of the students decide to stay πŸ˜‰ And there are some pretty bright people I have high hopes for!

Anyway, with all the stuff I’ve had to do for uni, I didn’t feel like doing anything that required brain cells during my evenings. Instead, I got into full-on Advent-anticipation-spirit this week, baking PlΓ€tzchen (traditional German Christmas cookies) and watching absolutely terrible Christmas movies on Netflix…

cute christmas cookies GIF by Best Friends Animal Society

And you know what I noticed? In almost all of these movies, this girl will eventually go to some cafΓ© to grab a cup of coffee – and never, not once, does she pay for it!! Seriously – she doesn’t use cash, she doesn’t use a credit card, no phone… Did I miss something? Because, honestly, when the girl leaves the store, coffee in hand without a care in the world, my anxiety almost goes on overdrive every time, because I keep expecting someone to call her out for stealing πŸ˜… Only, it never happens…

Which got me thinking: Some things that would never happen in real life are obviously okay in fiction. And just like movies do, books have their fair share of unrealistic tropes that would seem utterly absurd in the real world. Of course, there are a few pretty obvious ones, such as supernatural beautiful men popping up everywhere to be in an instalovey love triangle with you. But today, I thought I’d focus on a few that aren’t talked about as often 😊

So, without further ado, here it is: My list of ten unrealistic things you get to see pretty often in literature. I hope you enjoy!


#1 The Protagonist Who Only Has That One Friend (Or Better Yet, None)

It’s not that she’s wrong. It is just like me. But I can’t help it if she’s the ant and I’m the grasshopper in this relationship.

Christina Lauren: Autoboyography

You know how in all these contemporary novels, the protagonists are these shy loners who have that one (usually outgoing) best friend or, even more tragically, no friends at all? Well – that’s always struck me as a little weird. Yeah, I guess there are people out there who truly don’t have many or any friends, and I don’t want to be dismissive of that, but seriously? The way books make it sound, you’re pretty much the rarest of specimens of you have more than one friend…

And I just don’t buy it! Honestly, I’m the definition of an introvert, and even I have managed to find more than one person who finds me agreeable enough to hang out with. So why do so few book characters have bigger friend groups?


#2 We’re All Family!

jace wayland GIF by Shadowhunters

A father, sister, and mother, were gained, and lost, in that one moment. Joy and grief were mingled in the cup; but there were no bitter tears: for even grief itself arose softened, and clothed in such sweet and tender recollections, that it became a solemn pleasure, and lost all character of pain.

Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist

I can never help but roll my eyes at this one. Somehow, characters who met under the most random circumstances find out that they’re actually long-lost family members in a teary and heart-wrenching finale… Everyone’s related, yay!!

Or, in some cases, maybe not so yay. When you realize you may be desperately in love with your brother or sister, this trope can also cause quite a few problems. So maybe we’re lucky that it doesn’t happen too often in real life…


#3 Children Being the Spitting Image of Their Parents

mythical animation GIF by Greg Gunn

“An easy mistake to make,” said Dumbledore softly. “I expect you’re tired of hearing it, but you do look extraordinarily like James. Except for the eyes… you have your mother’s eyes.”

J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Look, I get it. Family members do often look similar. But I have yet to come across someone who looks exactly like one of their family members and isn’t an identical twin… And not once have I met a person who looked so much like one of their absent relatives that I immediately thought “Wow, that must be so-and-so’s daughter/son/nephew…” Sure, I can see similarities when both people are in front of me, but with only one of them? Not a chance, guys.

And even when one person might pick up on similarities, it’s highly unlikely that EVERYONE will. In fact, loads of people always say that my siblings and I really resemble each other, but that didn’t stop the lady at the cinema from asking my youngest brother and me how long we’d been a couple when we went to see Frozen II together πŸ™ˆ And mind you, we’re seven years apart, so I think the sibling conclusion would have been the far more likely one in this case!


#4 Mysterious Estranged Family Members No One Has Ever Heard of Before Suddenly Turning Up

count olaf no kidding GIF by NETFLIX

“What does he mean, again?” she shouted, waving the e-mail before the headmaster’s perplexed face. “We didn’t even know we had an uncle!”

Roland Smith: Cryptid Hunters

This usually happens whenever young protagonists’ parents mysteriously disappear or die. Normally, you would assume that the relatives or family friends who’d step up to take these poor orphans in would be someone the children actually knew and who their parents would have approved of – but nope, not in books!

There, you’re bound to end up with some strange, eccentric uncle, grandfather or great-aunt. And I’d say you have a roughly 50:50 chance at a good life. Because either the relative is a super-villain out to steal your family fortune, or they actually turn out to be a loving, world-travelling guardian whom you’re bound to have tons of adventures with!


#5 Eye-Color-Hyperawareness

blinking make up GIF

Honestly, looking into her eyes now, I realized that brown was my favorite, too.

Stephenie Meyer: Midnight Sun

Be honest – Do you even know what color all of your friends’ eyes are? What about the last random stranger you came across?

For me, eye color is probably one of the last things that strikes me about a person. Their hair color, face shape, the color clothes they’re wearing that day – all that is way more likely to catch my attention than a person’s eyes are. Sure, if I strain my memory, I’ll probably be able to remember, since I picture everything pretty vividly in my head… But it requires effort!

In books, though, it sounds as though everyone is pretty much running around with these glowing, utterly ensnaring eyes, blue like the depths of the ocean, green like a sparkling emerald, a startling shade of a most unusual violet. You get the picture. Book characters are utterly obsessed with a person’s eyes the very moment they meet someone!


#6 The Boy-Girl Bubble

theo james GIF

The idea of two months alone with Edan made me nervous. I fidgeted as if I were sitting on a pincushion. “Maybe we could join a caravan?”

Elizabeth Lim: Spin the Dawn

If dating worked the way it did in books, I’m sure the world would have way fewer single people in it. Because, look: It doesn’t exactly take great interpersonal skills to end up together if you two are literally forced to spend every single moment of your waking hours with one another.

Whether it’s on an epic quest through the desert, during personal training to overcome your fears, a safe house during an apocalypse, stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere – if you throw two straight people of the opposite sex together and don’t let them meet anyone else for a really long period of time, it’s not that surprising that they eventually fall for one another. You have all the time in the world to get to know one another, and there’s literally no competition!


#7 The Coming-Out Speech That Rivals a Work of Literary Fiction

lesbian coming out GIF

But I’ve known, since I was a child, that I prefer females. That I’m… attracted to them more over males. That I connect with them, care for them more on that soul-deep level.

Sarah J. Maas: A Court of Wings and Ruin

You know those really stilted moments when LGBTQ+ characters come out to their friends in extremely long speeches with loads of elaborate metaphors that start to make you wonder whether they swallowed a book of rhetorical figures?

Well, I, for one, have never experienced them in real life. Granted, many of my friends in the LGBTQ+ community were already out by the time I got to know them, but even the ones that weren’t never gave me a speech like that. And I’m sure I can’t blame it on their lack of literary skills, either, because some of them are actually some pretty superb writers….

So is it just me? Am I not worthy of having these great coming out speeches addressed to me? Or do these “conversations” sound as weirdly unnatural as I think they do?


#8 Dead People Coming Back to Life Literally ALL THE TIME

gandalf the white GIF

“Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”

Morgan Rhodes: Crystal Storm

I absolutely hate this trope. In fact, I can currently only think of one book that did it right, and that is The Two Towers.

Why would you negate all that wonderful emotional turmoil you just put me through, authors? And make me even more upset that this will, in all likelihood, never happen to anyone I’ve loved who has passed away?


#9 Nothing Works Until the Moment When the Protagonist Has to Do It Under Pressure

Pressure GIF by memecandy

My spirit soldiers shoot through the water like dual-finned sharks, fiercer than any ship or cannon in sight. Though my insides burn, the thrill of my magic overwhelms the chaos of our fight.

Tomi Adeyemi: Children of Blood and Bone

You know how you study, and study, and study for exams, don’t know the material at all, but then, when you’re actually taking the test, you suddenly find yourself capable of things you’ve never understood before?

Yeah, I don’t, either. But book characters certainly do! The spell you’re doing won’t work? Don’t worry – once you’re in that life threatening situation, it’s sure to come through for you! You’re nervous about speaking in front of that huge crowd and have never done it before? Don’t worry – once you’re in the situation, you’ll feel so inspired that nothing really can go wrong anymore!

Yeah, I wish this one was a bit more realistic…


#10 Characters Finding Out Their Flaws Were Actually Special Talents All Along

baby animals smile GIF by Disney

“The letters float off the page when you read, right? That’s because your mind is hardwired for ancient Greek. And the ADHD – you’re impulsive, can’t sit still in the classroom. That’s your battlefield reflexes. In a real fight, they’d keep you alive. As for the attention problems, that’s because you see too much, Percy, not too little. Your senses are better than a regular mortal’s.

Rick Riordan: The Lightning Thief

If I wished that things I couldn’t do would work out perfectly well the moment I needed them, it’s nothing compared to how much I wish that all of my shortcomings were actually magnificent superpowers.

Oh, you know the reason I can’t throw a ball further than 20 meters? That’s because if I truly let the ball loose, the thrust would be so powerful it could destroy entire villages. Or maybe it’s because my arm muscles are adapted to holding a pen and writing great novels. Or something else that is actually cool…

And my social awkwardness? That’s actually a sign of my great sense of humor that is meant to put other people at ease!

Anyway, sometimes it’d be really nice if personal flaws were actually a mark of hidden greatness, but unfortunately, I have yet to discover mine πŸ€”


So yeah – that was it for today! I hope enjoyed, and please don’t take me making fun of these as a sign that I don’t love the books that include them. In fact, there a quite a few of my favorites on this list – the only book I quoted from that I really didn’t like is Children of Blood and Bone… Yeah, unpopular opinion alert πŸ˜…

But please tell me: Which books immediately came to your mind when you read these? Do you think any of these would really happen? Are there any other tropes you think are actually a little ridiculous? Do you have any bad Christmas-movie recommendations?

I’d love to know! πŸ€—

57 thoughts on “Stuff That Happens in Books But Never in Real Life

  1. Riddhi B. says:

    Wow, this was such a fun post!
    I am glad that you know a bit of Mori’s theorem now and that you made progress! (I have no clue what that is though)
    As for the post I loved how you described each and every point so neatly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Haha, I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking these are unrealistic! 😁 Though I actually have the very unpopular opinion of having loved the drama the incest plotline added to the Mortal Instruments πŸ˜‚ I did think it was gross, but since I never for once thought Cassandra Clare would actually make Clary and Jace brother and sister, I just went along for the ride and enjoyed the sheer ridiculousness of it all πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Strawberrys Corner says:

        I tried, I really did πŸ˜‚ I went through the whole second book wanting to quit or thinking they’ll stop acting that way or be told they’re not siblings but I hated how they seemed to act more like a couple after being told they’re siblings πŸ˜‚ I DNFed on page 4 of the third book because it was just everything I hated from the second book and I couldn’t do it again…I did like the film thoughπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Klaus Viedenz says:

    You’re so right πŸ˜€ especially #8, I so hate that! That’s a reason why I wasn’t that into the last Ember in the Ashes books. I hate it when people come back from the dead, and I hate it when they’re constantly in mortal danger and keep being saved at the last moment! I want REAL STAKES. I want books that make me fear for the characters I love, like the first three ASOIAF books. If the author keeps saving everyone (and uses Deus ex Machina, omg), I won’t get attached to these characters as much as I would if they were in real danger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh gosh, yes! That resurrection in A Reaper at the Gates also really annoyed me πŸ˜… But I think by far the worst case I’ve ever seen was in King of Scars – that one annoyed me so much, it felt like Leigh Bardugo didn’t want to come up with any new ideas and decided to milk her old plots for all it’s worth πŸ™„
      I must say I’m not the biggest fan of ASOIAF either, though πŸ˜… The only characters I was truly invested in were Arya, Jon Snow and Daenerys and then I’d have to read what felt like thousands of pages about annoying characters like Catelyn to get back to them πŸ™ˆ But maybe (once there’s a prospect of this series actually being finished), I’ll give it another try eventually…
      Oh, and by the way – I just preordered your book! I’m obviously way too curious not to give it a try, so that’s what I’ll probably be doing during Christmas break πŸ˜‰ And at least now I know you probably won’t be resurrecting your characters, so that’s reassuring πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Klaus Viedenz says:

        Oh thank you so much 😊 yes, the ending in king of scars was terrible. Just terrible. And ASOIAF finished? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚Never. I’ve stopped believing. Weβ€˜ll never get it, just like the last Kingkiller book πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

        Liked by 1 person

        • abookowlscorner says:

          Well, I don’t really care if George R. R. Martin doesn’t finish πŸ˜‚ But Patrick Rothfuss? That guy had better hurry up and write, or I will personally drop by his place sometime and drag the rest of the story out of him!!!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Nehal Jain says:

    Wow!! The moment I read the TITLE of the post, I knew that it would be a good one!!! I so agree here, these things are super unrealistic, especially the eye color part πŸ˜‚. I’ve never in my life looked at anyones eye color, πŸ˜†.
    I found this post pretty interesting, hope to read more such posts by you in the future 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pilar says:

    This was hilarious!!! The eye color one is so true, I have a really hard time remembering my friends and family eye color, I couldn’t imagine knowing the exact shade 😳 And for me one of the worst tropes ever is when friends end up being long-lost family members πŸ™„ But, I do have to disagree on family members that look exactly alike. I know many people that look IDENTICAL to one of their parents. It’s very weird and kind of creepy, but true 😬

    Amazing post Naemi!! 🀩🀩

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Haha, I’m glad you enjoyed it! 😊 And wow, that’s so interesting (and yes, creepy) that you know people who look exactly like one of their parents! I’ve NEVER experienced that, so I was convinced books must have been making it up πŸ˜‚
      And I actually don’t mind the long-lost family member trope that much 😁 But it’s definitely not one of my favorites, either…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Line says:

    Recently, I have noticed that eye color thing a lot! It’s so weird. I would probably only be able to tell if a person had dark or light colored eyes. Not that they were a “deep green with shards of gold”. Seriously, how close are book characters standing to be able to see that? Do they not know about personal space?

    And number 9 is such an overused trope! I mean, I get that adrenaline can do something to you, but I always feel like it’s such a cop-out for the author. Please be more creative than that. However, I think it’s totally fair to expect it to work in real life when it works in books πŸ˜„ It would solve so many problems!

    Fun fact: I also didn’t like Children of Blood and Bone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      That’s so true! I never really thought about how close the characters must be standing to be able to see each other’s eyes in minute detail, but now that you mention it, it’s seriously creepy πŸ˜‚ I would be so uncomfortable in those fictional worlds!

      And yes – the adrenaline rush solution always feels way too easy and unsatisfying! I want my characters to train, suffer and fail multiple times before they’re finally successful 😁 I’m sadistic, I know 😎 But yes, if if works in books, I totally expect it to work in real life, too!

      And I actually feel very relieved you agree with me on Children of Blood and Bone πŸ˜„ The way everyone else raves about it, I thought something might be wrong with my reading tastes. But if you don’t like it, either, I guess my tastes are fine as they are 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sophie says:

    HAHHAHAHA this is so accurate!
    But don’t forget that smart protagonist and dumb best friend/side kick trope.
    That’s litterly everywhere these days!
    πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh, yes! I keep seeing that one, too! Especially in combination with #1 πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ It’s so overdone! (Though, in all honesty, maybe I’m just the dumb sidekick, so I haven’t realized yet that this also applies to real life 😁 Because I think my friends are actually all pretty smart πŸ˜‰)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. universewithinpages says:

    omg I HATE dead people coming back to life! it’s like you already killed them off?? why are you reversing that?? it makes no sense!

    I totally agree with the eye color hyperawareness too! I literally could not tell you the eye colors of any of my friends.

    great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I know! What a way to negate all the trauma I went through on these characters’ behalf! Besides, if I can’t trust an author to leave their characters dead, none of the deaths will impact me anymore – I’ll just assume they’ll eventually be resurrected anyway πŸ™„

      And I’m glad I’m not the only one who never pays attention to eye colors πŸ˜‚ Seriously, how do book characters notice these things??

      Like

  8. Nefeli says:

    I love the amount of salt in this post! I totally agree with you on the one friend thing. I’m the worst pat socialising and yet I still managed to trick people into hanging out with me. How it is so hard for characters who are hella cool to have no more than one friend is beyond me.

    And omg the hyperawareness of eye colour!! Who notices these things?? The only reason I know my own brother’s eye colour is because it’s the same as mine and I’m forced to look at my eyes every day in the mirror. I don’t even know what colour my parents’ eyes are, welp.

    I also agree with what you’re saying about the poetic coming out speeches, solely based on the time one of my friends came out to me. He just told me he liked a guy while we were chilling at a coffee shop, there was no speech, nothing poetic about it.

    Number 9, in my experience, works in the complete opposite way. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong when you do something under pressure. I won’t suddenly find courage if I find myself nervous about speaking in front of a huge crowd and have never done it before. I will be on the verge of passing out like my good ol’ pal anxiety intended! I sure wish my flaws were secret talents all along, though. Life would be so much easier!

    I’ve been thinking of another thing that bothers me in literature and movies lately. There are no big families in stories. We always get protagonists with one or two siblings, but where are the cousins? The grandparents? Aunts, uncles? We’re lucky if they even mention their parents. It’s like the characters’ family trees are just small branches. It’s not realistic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      That’s so true! The lack of big families totally deserves to be added to this list! πŸ˜‚ Seriously, just about the only time anyone in books has grandparents is when their parents are dead and they need someone else to take them in… Or sometimes, there’ll be the wise grandmother the protagonist can talk to about all their problems, but she’s pretty much the only extended family member in sight – and dies halfway through the book to add to the protagonist’s personal journey πŸ™ˆ

      And, trust me, my number 9 experiences are no different from yours πŸ˜… Once you add pressure to the mix, I can’t even do things I’m normally capable of in my sleep, let alone anything difficult I’ve never done before… I need to know these characters’ secrets!

      And I’m also happy to hear you have similar friends, eye color and coming out moments experiences 😁 I was seriously starting to question whether my life might not be as normal as I though, but now that I’m getting everyone’s feedback on this, it’s reassuring to know it is probably just literary embellishment. And besides, I’d much rather have a normal conversation about a cute guy in a coffee shop than be on the receiving end of one of those speeches, anyway. Those are always so awkward that I wouldn’t know how to react properly – I mean, am I supposed to make a huge friendship speech in return or something? πŸ˜…

      Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m glad you liked it! 😊
      And yes – my family and I watched The Princess Switch together last year! It’s exactly the kind of terrible Christmas movie I was talking about – I don’t think I’ve ever laughed/cringed as much as I did when that girl tried to mount a horse πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I haven’t seen the second one yet, though. We’re waiting for an evening where everyone in the family is free, because obviously these movies are made even more priceless by accompanying sarcastic commentary from my parents and siblings. But it’s great to hear that you enjoyed the sequel! πŸ€—

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jazz says:

    Love this post! I read a lot of romance and the eye colour hyperawareness is a common feature in most of the books that I read πŸ˜‚ I’m a writer, but even I don’t take note of people’s eye colours in the same way that characters do in the books that I read πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it! And I’m also glad that everyone seems to agree on the eye color thing πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I thought maybe I just wasn’t very observant, but since nobody else seems to notice eye colors either, I guess it’s just a bookish thing 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  10. cherelle @ a bolt out of the book says:

    Ahh I am incredibly late to this post but I just wanted to leave a little comment because I absolutely loved it! All the pints were attacked with such humour and the GIFs were priceless! I agree so much on the β€šwe’re all familyβ€˜ – it seems way too convenient and becomes either extremely awkward or emotional at times haha… I much prefer found family! DEFINITELY, books have the power to raise the dead, and mostly to torment our feelings and make us wait on a cliffhanger ahaha… loved your point about the eye colour as well!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Haha, I’m so glad you could relate! And yesss – found family 😍😍 I adore that trope, and really don’t see the necessity of having the characters figure out they’re actually related at some point πŸ™ˆ Can’t they just love each other without having a few more genes in common? πŸ™„

      Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I should definitely try that next time! Though considering how long some of these literary coming out essays are, a B- is probably still really generous for a text message 😁

      Like

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