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Cozy Q & A > How much do bad writing, typing errors, spelling inaccuracies and grammatical mistakes influence your reading enjoyment?

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message 1: by Ramla Zareen (last edited Aug 06, 2015 09:33AM) (new)

Ramla Zareen Ahmad | 176 comments For some people the story concept and the story plotting carries more weight than the story execution, that is, the writing style, ...while others can ignore the flaws in the story itself but are bored with monotonous writing and irritated when there are continuity issues and numerous typing, spelling and grammatical mistakes. 

I thought that it might be interesting to discuss how much bad writing, typing errors, spelling inaccuracies and grammatical mistakes influence our reading enjoyment ...and to mention whether it is the quality of the writing or a good story that is more important for us, especially in Cozy Mysteries. 


message 2: by Ramla Zareen (last edited Aug 06, 2015 01:31AM) (new)

Ramla Zareen Ahmad | 176 comments For me one of the most important thing in a book is for the writing to be addictive, engrossing, polished, decent, appealing, entertaining and witty. 

In my experience, if the book fails to retain my attention and interest, and does not provide me pleasure, then usually it is not a problem with the story, but it is the way the story is written, that makes it boring.

No matter how unique the idea is, but if it's written in a dull and monotonous way then it fails to make for an enjoyable read. On the other hand, even an average story can come across as entertaining to me if the writing style is wonderful.

Also, in my opinion, characters are usually as vital as the story, as it's important to get mentally and emotionally involved not just with the story itself but also with the people living that story, and good characterisation depends on good writing skills. 

Moreover, while I can usually manage to suspend belief if the storyline is somewhat flawed and unrealistic, but it's difficult not to get distracted when there are too many writing inconsistencies, continuity issues, typing errors, spelling inaccuracies and grammatical mistakes.

Of course, an ideal situation would be that both the writing and the story be excellent. 

Especially, when I consider the genre of "Mystery" then I think that the story concept and the story plotting play as important role as the story execution, that is, the writing.

However, I have read several "Romance" books by various authors that contained similar story plots but the way the different authors executed, that is, wrote, the stories, made a tremendous difference in my level of enjoyment of those books. 

So if I have to chose between the two, then I would have to say that it is the quality of the writing, rather than a good story, that contributes in making  my overall reading experience enjoyable.


message 3: by Valerie (last edited May 23, 2015 08:44AM) (new)

Valerie (Rainstar76) While I prefer grammar, spelling, etc. to be polished and correct, I can handle that a lot better than I can bad writing in general. If someone cannot make the story flow and/or cannot keep me interested, then I'm not going to finish the book. You have between 50 and 100 pages (depending on the size of the book) to capture my attention. If you don't, I'm done.

One of the biggest issues I have with series tho' (and books in general) is continuity errors. If the diner is called "Joe's Diner" in the first 5 chapters, don't suddenly make it "Pete's Diner" in the 6th chapter or you're going to confuse me and take me totally out of the story trying to figure it out. Also, please, please, *PLEASE* keep character lists of who is related to whom. Don't confuse your readers by suddenly calling someone "Uncle Tim" when they've been "Uncle Bob" in the other books of the series. THOSE errors irk me more than grammatical errors or punctuation errors. They irk me enough to make me stop reading a series if it happens often enough (more than once or twice).


message 4: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Barr | 21 comments I agree with both of you. I've wondered if maybe my expectations are too high for this genre, and chick-lit, because I'm so often disappointed in the quality of writing. Sometimes I try to ignore it to get through the book.

The one I'm reading right now is kind of like that, Santa Cruise A Holiday Mystery at Sea by Mary Higgins Clark. I'm enjoying the story, but not the writing. I find it monotonous, and I don't care about any of the characters. Plus, quite a few of them just annoy me, but I still want to know what happens.

So, writing quality is definitely very important for me. I haven't yet noticed any inconsistencies, but I can imagine that would drive me nuts too. It does in sitcoms.


message 5: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 16 comments While writing quality and story plotting is essential in my enjoyment of a book, I find grammar, punctuation, and typing errors occurring with any frequency totally distracts me to the point of making me stop reading. I think it must be the old typist/proof reader coming out in me. :)


message 6: by Joanne (new)

Joanne | 2 comments I'm in total agreement with Ella's Gran post. My education was strong in written skills and the career that followed my education demanded/required superb writing and editing skills.


message 7: by MadameZelda (new)

MadameZelda | 261 comments If I'm really irritated and it spoils the enjoyment of my reading the book, I will subtract at least one star.


message 8: by ❂ Jennifer (new)

❂ Jennifer  (jennevans) I can't stand continuity errors; they are probably my biggest pet peeve in the category of editing/plotting. Grammatical errors or missing/wrong words drive me nuts but I can get past them if they are minimal and the story, characters and setting are worth it.

But I do lose respect for authors as professionals (editors too) who put out books with more than a couple of errors; it says to me that they don't take what they are doing seriously, or have much pride in what they are creating. I know it's almost impossible to accurately proof-read your own work, but just about everybody can find someone capable of proof-reading for at least basic errors.


message 9: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 16 comments Slightly off subject, has anyone else noticed the use of then when it should be than appears to have become more prevalent recently. I wondered whether this comes about because people rely in that infernal spell/grammar check function.


message 10: by Melodie (new)

Melodie (MelodieCO) | 638 comments Ella's Gran wrote: "Slightly off subject, has anyone else noticed the use of then when it should be than appears to have become more prevalent recently. I wondered whether this comes about because people rely in that ..."

I have, but the thing that gets me more than anything is seeing "should of" and "could of" for should have or should've and could have or could've. I see this in books every now and then and it absolutely makes me want to throw the book across the room!


message 11: by ❂ Jennifer (new)

❂ Jennifer  (jennevans) Phonetic writing: people are typing what they hear instead of either thinking it through or knowing the grammatical rules in the first place.

("could've" sounds like "could of" and "then" and "than" sound close enough to each other in speech that they become interchangeable in people's minds, even though they definitely are not.)

I imagine these types of errors are even harder to catch in the proofreading process since they 'sound' correct; I'm guessing that I miss these quite a bit for that reason - they don't trip up my 'inner voice' the way bad grammar, errors or typos do.


message 12: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 16 comments ❂ Jennifer (reviews on BookLikes) wrote: "Phonetic writing: people are typing what they hear instead of either thinking it through or knowing the grammatical rules in the first place.

("could've" sounds like "could of" and "then" and "th..."


Wow, you are so lucky. They trip up my inner voice all the time, and that includes here at work! It's small wonder I'm not on blood pressure meds.


message 13: by Karen (new)

Karen (xKAMx) | 273 comments Ramla: You come up with the best questions!

Ella's Gran wrote: "Slightly off subject, has anyone else noticed the use of then when it should be than appears to have become more prevalent recently." ~ AND ~ Melodie wrote: I have, but the thing that gets me more than anything is seeing "should of" and "could of" for should have or should've and could have or could've. I see this in books every now and then and it absolutely makes me want to throw the book across the room!

I'm right there with you both -- "of" isn't even a verb! I get that people will use less when they should use fewer, that they use chomping at the bit instead of champing, and other little word choice errors most people, including me!, make at times. I smile at some of these, but my biggest peeve in grammar comes from using X and I when it should be X and me when used objectively. It just grates I! I can't believe how prevalent it is in spoken word -- and by people who supposedly are educated (journalists, teachers, etc). The error has become so accepted that it doesn't even raise eyebrows. When I see it unintentionally (not for a character) in writing both author and editor lose points.

I agree with Ella's Gran and Joanne that grammar, spelling, and punctuation are just as essential to good writing as story crafting. I am taken out of a story when I hit grammar and spelling mistakes. They stop the flow of my reading as I notice that there's something wrong and go back over the passage to see if I really read what I read. I am not the be all end all of grammar, but when I see errors, it leaves me wondering how the editor didn't get tripped up the way I did. (Is it sad that I derive pleasure from "correcting" these professionals in my mind??) However, mistakes here and there are not enough to ruin books/series for me as long as, as many of you said, the overall writing is engaging, the story well crafted, etc. Everyone makes typos now and then. Thankfully, most of the books I read are written and edited well. I find grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors mostly in the the e-freebies I get, many of which are self-published. A lot of them have good stories, but are HORRIBLE when it comes to editing. (Have you heard of a little thing called grammar and spell-check? Even that doesn't catch all mistakes, but a quick check will catch a lot.)

I also agree with Valerie. When details of series are changed or forgotten it's as if the author doesn't care and just cranks out stories. I wish I could remember the name of the book that changed a character's name midway through the book or attributed something to one character early in the book and to another later. I remember looking back chapters to make sure I had read correctly. This doesn't happen too often, but I am thrown for a loop when it does.

Having said this... I hope there aren't many errors in my postings. :o)


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't know of any book that is typo-free. It's the mark of a good author and editing team when subsequent printings are fixed.

Like some of you have mentioned, I'm bothered more by the use of the wrong word. I suppose some are missed because they are 'correct' in spell-check programs, but that only suggests that there was no editing (if there are many), and likely no beta-readers. The less rather than fewer grates on me even in adverts.

Continuity issues are also problematic as they really do pull me right out of the story whereby I then note every error I find. Typically, this doesn't bode well for a review.

Oddly, a book I read recently was riddled with typos, odd word choices and grammar mistakes in the first 2-3 chapters, but beyond that, there were only a few grammatical issues.

I find it an indicator of the author's knowledge of grammar and spelling capabilities when the same errors are made throughout a work; a constancy of sorts.

By far the worst is when it's clear that I'm more of an expert on the subject matter than the author. I usually want to send the book flying if they get it really wrong.


message 15: by Ramla Zareen (new)

Ramla Zareen Ahmad | 176 comments Karen wrote: "Ramla: You come up with the best questions!"

Thanks Karen, I must say that I am very much enjoying participating in these discussions with everyone ...and I am learning loads too :-)

By the way, I am aware that my own comments can be at times long-winded and probably contain many mistakes as well ...so please feel free to suggest improvements or point out my errors by messaging me privately ...and I will try my best to make a prompt edit :-)

Moreover, I won't mind ...in fact, I will appreciate everyone's help in enhancing my writing skills :-) Thanks...!


message 16: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Barr | 21 comments I also find, especially in this genre, really obvious information dropping annoying. The details and info that lead a sleuth to a deduction should be seamless and natural. Often I find it feels so obviously inserted that it's jarring. It's like continually stubbing your toe throughout the book.

I've given up on having expectations for grammar for most books.


message 17: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (MsThestral) Great question, Ramla!

The occasional typing or spelling error doesn't bother me. It is when it becomes prevalent in the story that it pulls me out of the story.

One thing that does bother me in this regard, is when the author gets the names of the characters confused. In one of the recent books I read, there are several suspects. One is named James and the other is Jason, and the author often gets the two mixed up. This is significant as one of them is the villain. It is so easy to solve this issue by having characters with vastly different names rather than choosing ones that are so similar :0(

The other element that ruins a book for me is stilted or even idiotic dialogue. When that happens, I DNF.


message 18: by Ramla Zareen (new)

Ramla Zareen Ahmad | 176 comments Lauren wrote: "Great question, Ramla!"

Thanks Lauren :-)


message 19: by Penny (new)

Penny (Veteran1976) | 128 comments In anything I read, I find misspellings, grammatical errors, etc. extremely annoying. Having worked for a textbook publishing company for several years, doing page layout and proofreading, I became extremely conscious of any errors. I've always been a good speller and enjoyed the study of the English language. I know it doesn't cost that much to pay for a proofreader. The fact that publishing companies are so cheap that they can't put out the money for one is absolutely ridiculous. I don't blame it on the author completely, but you would think they wouldn't want their books published with any errors in it and they would hire a proofreader. Bottom line, it really bugs me. I'll get off my soapbox now. (I hope I didn't misspell anything!)


message 20: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 16 comments I totally agree with you Penny, but I'm not sure it is just publishers/authors being so cheap as to not employ a proofreader. I wonder if it is an honest belief in the computer spell/grammar check. Unfortunately the operator still has to have a good command of spelling and grammar to make it effective - we can think, the computer can't.


message 21: by KnowledgeGeek (new)

KnowledgeGeek | 15 comments I find ALL of the the incorrectness mentioned by every one so far, is bothersom to my reading enjoyment. However, what really irks me into wanting to throw a book across the room, is when the author has the audacity to state their work's been "proof read" by "many" then goes on to ask the reader to please contact the author with any oversights. To me, this is asking for free proofing from people who've already paid to read their work & who expect it to have already been proofed. I don't know who they're getting to do the editing & proof reading but, they must be friends who offered up their unprofessional help for free. It really gets me when the author states their work's been professionally proofread & edited & it's a mess. I'd be embarrassed to make such claims, especially if professionals were indeed involved as this says to me, the "professionals" take no pride in their work, otherwise, the rampant mistakes listed here wouldn't be in the first place.


message 22: by Penny (new)

Penny (Veteran1976) | 128 comments Computers and computer programs are wonderful, but technology has created a lot of lazy people. They depend on them way too much.


message 23: by Penny (new)

Penny (Veteran1976) | 128 comments I totally agree with everything you said. I just scream. At least I can vent my emotions that way!


message 24: by Randee (new)

Randee Baty | 17 comments Continuity errors drive me nuts. I have to stop reading and go back to check if what I'm thinking they said earlier is really there and so that throws me out of the story.

Changing character names has happened in several things I've read recently and it blows my mind! You don't care enough about your characters to know what you named them?

Grammar and spelling errors are the kiss of death. If a person wants to call themselves a professional writer and can't use the English language correctly, they need to rethink their career. Unless something is deliberately written in a non-standard dialect, I'm not continuing with a book that doesn't use grammar and punctuation correctly.

Every author has an error now and then, even some of my favorites, but I'll never understand an author who has no more respect for their work than to put it out there unedited.

This all probably sounded harsh but it's so exciting when you find yourself in the hands of a professional author who know what he's doing that the other stuff makes you want to run for the hills.


message 25: by Amaya (new)

Amaya | 14 comments i dont expect a book to be 100%, esp now days, but its annoying when there's so many errors that u cant actually understand what was written throughout a good portion of the book


message 26: by Amaya (new)

Amaya | 14 comments Penny wrote: "Computers and computer programs are wonderful, but technology has created a lot of lazy people. They depend on them way too much."

hate to say it but i agree


message 27: by Elyse (new)

Elyse It's very important to me that a book is written properly. I can ignore one or two mistakes, but I lose interest in a book fairly quickly when I notice a lot of errors. It doesn't feel "professional" and makes me feel like I'm proofreading a middle school paper.


message 28: by Amaya (new)

Amaya | 14 comments Elyse wrote: "It's very important to me that a book is written properly. I can ignore one or two mistakes, but I lose interest in a book fairly quickly when I notice a lot of errors. It doesn't feel "professiona..."

exactly! @ proofreading a middle school paper


message 29: by Chris (new)

Chris A book has to be thoroughly proofread and free of grammar and spelling errors. I can go through and forgive a couple but when the sentences are run on sentences and the structure of the words don't fit the characters then I begin to get annoyed. In cozy mysteries I find that the lack of plot and using cliches get to me faster and make me skip to the ending. Especially find this happens more with the self published books and ebooks than I do in regular print books put out by major companies.


message 30: by Cati (new)

Cati (Ihriel) | 1 comments I for one find spelling mistakes and bad grammar utterly unsettling and bothersome when reading a book. Maybe others can get over this if the book is compelling but I cannot, especially since they really pepper most pages.


message 31: by Karen (new)

Karen (xKAMx) | 273 comments Okay... Since we're on the subject... :o)

I just read an e-freebie that kept using wont for won't. It was so annoying. It's bad enough that I stopped the first time I saw it because it's not a word people are wont to use ;o) and it didn't fit the sentence, but it wasn't a one-time typo. I stopped at the error every time I saw it. It became one of those things you get into your head and can't help but count as you read.

On top of that, there were typos when using he and she. For example, I'm reading a dialogue exchange and I have the back and forth set. New paragraph, her turn to speak, when I read "he gasped when he...." Next dialog paragraph him speaking again... Wait. What?? I went back over the passage again. Ah... She gasped. Jeezopete!

I had to laugh because KnowledgeGeek mentioned being irritated with errors when people say their work was proofread. This listed an actual editor right next to the author in Amazon's listing. I enjoyed the story overall, but the noted errors as well as errors like other stuff mentioned here (character names mixed up in passages, other non-wont typos, etc.) -- all in one book! -- did not make for a smooth read. That's one editor to put on the do-not-hire-list!

It's funny the things you see and don't see. I know I sort of skim-read when reading for pleasure. That is, I read, but I know unless I'm reading out loud or forcing myself to read at a slower pace -- though I'm not speed-reading -- I tend to see groups of words in my head rather than each individual word. You would think I'd miss errors reading this way, but errors always stop me dead, taking me out of the flow of the story as I reread the passage(s) to sort out what my brain told me was incorrect for some reason.

I don't (or is that dont) expect writing to be perfect (my certainly isn't), but I do expect major errors to be caught. Continuity is one of those errors. So is continual use of the WRONG word. There is no way a simple run of grammar/spell-check would not find I wont call. I wont text. Wont is a correctly spelled word, but it is not grammatically correct in that sentence and would be flagged. Missing the apostrophe once is problematic, but every single time is bad editing.


message 32: by Karen (last edited May 22, 2015 09:27PM) (new)

Karen (xKAMx) | 273 comments Reading... Quote -- "Is that even aloud?" I ask, not wanting to threaten his job security. -- Unquote.

And, they weren't speaking about noise. For crying out loud!


message 33: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (Rainstar76) Karen wrote: "Reading... Quote -- "Is that even aloud?" I ask, not wanting to threaten his job security. -- Unquote.

And, they weren't speaking about noise. For crying out loud!"



Ugh... that definitely would be something that would make me bang my head against the wall.

It's interesting, but sometimes I don't always notice continuity errors until the 2nd or 3rd time thru the series. J.D. Robb's "In Death" series has a few that I didn't catch the first time around, but it's a series that I read over and over again (when life is stressful, I re-read in order to not have any surprises in what I'm reading) and I've spotted things in those subsequent readings that I didn't notice right away.

I do have one author that I really enjoy that I can manage to overlook continuity errors for. Mostly because they aren't so horrible as to really confuse me in the stories. It doesn't really matter what year the medieval knight was born if he time travels to the present day. :) Suddenly, age really is just a number. ;)


message 34: by Tina (new)

Tina McCright (TinaMcCright) | 32 comments I don't care if there are a couple of mistakes. I've seen mistakes in manuscripts read half a dozen times by different people. Your mind replaces the error with what it knows is supposed to be there.


message 35: by Karen (last edited May 26, 2015 04:11AM) (new)

Karen (xKAMx) | 273 comments Tina wrote: "I don't care if there are a couple of mistakes. I've seen mistakes in manuscripts read half a dozen times by different people."

I get that nothing's perfect. I don't let mistakes affect my enjoyment of a story -- the creative -- but they can affect my enjoyment of a book -- the product. And, a couple of mistakes are one thing. I understand typos or the odd missed punctuation. Sometimes, however, the error(s) -- especially unintentional (not for characterization) bad grammar, word mistakes, even continuity errors as Valerie mentioned... -- or the number of errors can make me think the author (or editor or publisher) is careless or doesn't care about the product produced -- regardless of how good the story is. That lowers my enjoyment of a book.

I just read a book where the name Mia was used in place of Missy over the course of a page (continuity error). The Mia character wasn't in the particular scene. I really liked the story and characters. The overall writing was great, very involving. However, that continuity error is something I won't forget. It affected my enjoyment of the book itself.

~AND~ Tina wrote: "Your mind replaces the error with what it knows is supposed to be there."

I don't really find that to be true for me. I know my mind can flip words and letters to make sense or insert the proper homophone, etc., but my brain usually knows when they're out of order or wrong to begin with. Even if I skim by with my eyes as I read, my brain catches up and I stop and go back to reread to make sense of what my brain signaled was incorrect.

I knew with the "aloud" error noted above that the correct word was "allowed," but my brain still stopped because the error was glaring, the word as it was spelled was not right for the context. Same with the Missy/Mia error. I could substitute the correct name, but I still had to stop to do so. If these errors were glaring enough for readers to notice, aren't they glaring enough for editors to notice?


message 36: by Tina (new)

Tina McCright (TinaMcCright) | 32 comments You should be an editor.


message 37: by ❂ Jennifer (last edited May 25, 2015 04:47PM) (new)

❂ Jennifer  (jennevans) Karen wrote: "Tina wrote: "I don't care if there are a couple of mistakes. I've seen mistakes in manuscripts read half a dozen times by different people."

I get that nothing's perfect. I don't let mistakes aff..."


I'm much the same as Karen - I pass over a lot of small errors, because I don't think it's economically feasible to catch every single error (I think the mind starts to replace errors after you've read something a few times - or if you've written it). But sometimes, well, it's obvious that a couple of people either failed at their job or just didn't do their job.

I recently finished a book that had a great story, setting and characters; lots of potential. But after the first 1/3 of the book I started tracking the errors (something I don't normally do) and:

The MC mentions specifically her apartment is round and has no corners. Then proceeds to describe the room as having corners ("the iron day bed... tucked in a corner").

The mayor tells the MC he's going to bring his friend's daughter to one of her lectures. In the next paragraph, she's his niece (he also tells Lucy he's an only child, so niece is not possible).

Word errors:
waived instead of waved
providence instead of provenance
corner instead of counter
setting instead of selling
injunction instead of injection
whorl instead of whirl

This is an Obsidian/Penguin publication - how do this many errors slip through the cracks?

So, yeah, it was a good story, but this? This definitely had an impact on my enjoyment of the book.


message 38: by Tina (new)

Tina McCright (TinaMcCright) | 32 comments Wow! That is a lot, especially for a big publisher.


message 39: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie Drummond | 6 comments Very bad when you have to figure out what the word is suppose to be and try to read it like that or read the page over and over again makes me upset about this because I like that series I'm reading.


message 40: by Moonlight (new)

Moonlight | 17 comments So let me re-state the original question of this thread:

How bad a job of writing can I do before you stop reading/buying my books?

And my answer is: If you don't want to even try to give me your best effort, I don't want to even know you are writing/publishing books.

Imagine if the chef asked you how many health code violations he could have before you stopped eating in his restaurant?

How bad the car repairs could be before you stopped bring you car in for repairs?

How poor the construction of the shoe could be before you stopped buying them?


message 41: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 177 comments I am very sensitive to errors in books I'm reading. I will stop for even small typos or the like (I know they happen in all books, maybe 1 or at most 2 in just about every book I read, regardless of the publisher), but forgive them.

I have very, very little patience for mixing up words and using the wrong word, and none at all for anachronisms and continuity errors. Those throw me completely out of the story, and make it impossible to engage my Wordsworthian "willing suspension of disbelief."

Being this fussy of course makes it very frightening when I put my own work out there, since I obviously don't want to be guilty of any of the stuff I can't forgive in others :D


message 42: by Linda (new)

Linda Brue (LBrue) | 5 comments Jennifer, you're talking about a book with an uncommon amount of errors. I'm with the group that can accept a few typos, run-together words and the like, but a string of mis-used words and the other examples you gave would NOT be acceptable to me. Ugh.


message 43: by Gayla (new)

Gayla Glass (GaylaHambyGlass) I can handle a few typos and grammatical errors, but what drives me nuts is when an author gets a characters name wrong or references the wrong character. I read one recently that not only referenced the wrong name, granted the name was only mentioned three times in the book, but all within one chapter. The book wasn't that impressive anyway.


message 44: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Decker | 85 comments I don't mind a few minor mistakes here and there, it happens. That being said if someone has a book before me (I work in a library) and tries to "correct" mistakes (some of which aren't even mistakes) that bothers me more than the original typo.


message 45: by Chris (new)

Chris Katherine wrote: "I don't mind a few minor mistakes here and there, it happens. That being said if someone has a book before me (I work in a library) and tries to "correct" mistakes (some of which aren't even mistak..."

I also work in a library -- hate when we have one patron who goes into the books and corrects them and also likes to cross out every swear word -- don't bother to read if you are going to be an editor after the fact with public books!! We talked her into using audiobooks....
I also have problems with reading some books when the dialogue is suppose to be urban lingo and incorrectly used -- slang is hard enough to read and figure out in some foriegn books -- British, Australian -- but hate when translations don't come through correctly.


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