- Any new autobiography by someone you assumed was dead.
- Any collection of essays, criticism or collected journalism that follows hard on the heels of an author's large, acclaimed novel.
- Anything described as "a novel of ideas."
I saw this courtesy of Sarah Weinman's blog, and thought I'd continue this thread as it relates to historical fiction. If a historical novel fits one of these categories, while I might still read it (because authors don't write their jacket copy, after all), it will likely cause some eye-rolling on my part.
- Anything described as a "historical fiction novel"
- Anything described as "written in the tradition of Cold Mountain" (this claim is so overused, it's meaningless)
- Any work that insults its readers by describing itself as "more than just a historical novel"
- Similarly, any historical novel in which the author proudly proclaims that s/he does not write historical fiction, s/he writes "profound meditations on the human condition" or some such
- "Concept novels" that make you remove little notes out of envelopes and read them in order to follow the story
- Anything describing the heroine as a "saucy wench" or one of its variations
- Any coming-of-age story about a naive young man going off to fight in WWI or WWII
- Anything dealing with the secret illegitimate child of any British monarch and the struggle to prove his/her so-called "inheritance"
- Any historical novel based on the author's history PhD dissertation
- Any novel whose cover looks like a Rorschach Test for idiots, though I may change my mind if the British cover is more attractive
- Any novel that claims it won a literary prize that neither you nor Google has ever heard of
I am sure there are more.