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Is it cliché to talk about clichés?

So, someone’s come up with another list of the most annoying clichés book reviewers use. There’s 20 of them compared to the last list, which contained “seven deadly words” for reviewers.

So, how big an offender am I? Here’s what a search of the 158 posts in my “Book Reviews” category shows:

  1. Gripping — 0
  2. Poignant — 0
  3. Compelling — 10 times since November 2005 (I now fell compelled to avoid the word.)
  4. Nuanced — Once, although in my defense it was not used to describe the book itself but one end of the spectrum of the writer’s humor.
  5. Lyrical — 0
  6. Tour de force — 0
  7. Readable — OK, shoot me. Seventeen times. Making it worse, I think most of them are preceded by “very” or “highly.” Yet I have called a portion of one book I reviewed “unreadable.”
  8. Haunting — 1
  9. Deceptively simple — 0
  10. Rollicking — 0
  11. Fully realized — 0
  12. At once — 0
  13. Timely — 0
  14. ” X meets X meets X” — 1, although I had only only have one style meet another, not two others.
  15. Page-turner — 0
  16. Sweeping — 1
  17. That said — 12
  18. Riveting — 0
  19. Unflinching — 0
  20. Powerful — 0

Not too bad, if I do say so myself. “That said,” I feel “compelled” to reduce even the limited use to help make things more “readable.”


It is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés, that cliché is untrue.

Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot

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