Let’s Talk Bookish: Cliches and Tropes

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. You can check out more about this meme here!

The topic for this Friday is about cliches and tropes included in books.


Tropes are recurring themes or patterns frequently used in literature. Every book and story has some kind of trope and that’s because they work. Those recurring themes and devices become tropes over time because it’s been shown that they’re popular and well received by readers. For instance, the (dreaded) love triangle trope. Love triangles showed up in YA books everywhere in the late 2000s/early 2010s, sparking many Team A vs. Team B discussions amongst readers. Whether you loved or hated that trope, it kept showing up in books because it was a part of the YA formula at the time that proved popular and generated sales.

Tropes also give books a small degree of predictability that can be helpful to the success of a book. When a synopsis hints at a well-loved trope, readers are given a sense of what to expect from a story and are more likely to pick up that book. Tropes are typically selling points for many readers. One of the best things about reading a book with a popular/well-loved trope is the uncertainty surrounding it. Tropes encompass an overall theme or plot device, but there are so many different ways for authors to incorporate those tropes into their story. The specific way in which tropes are written can lead them to be considered either successful or “overdone” within a book.

On the other hand, I would argue that cliches are “bad” tropes, or tropes that have proven to become unpopular, are overdone, or executed poorly. Cliches could also be certain phrases or characterizations that are used frequently. One of the best examples of a cliche is the phrase, “I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.” This phrase is so over used, that it’s become a bit of a joke in bookish community. Another great example of cliche is the Mary Sue/Gary Stu characterization of a protagonist, in which they lack any flaws, are universally like by all other characters, and can easily and unrealistically overcome any and all obstacles thrown their way.

One important distinction that can be made between tropes and cliches, is that cliches are more subjective. Every reader’s tastes are different, and therefore what I may consider a cliche is not the same as what someone else might consider cliche.


Enemies-to-Lovers Romance – This is the crème de la crème of tropes, in my opinion. Give me two characters that can’t stand each other guts slowly develop feelings over the course of a book (or series) and I will be in heaven.

There’s Only One Bed – My greatest delight is reading a book and the realization dawning on me of where the author is taking the next chapter. I’m not sure where or how this trope originated but I would like to thank each and every author who’s ever utilized it.

Heists – These are always such fun books! I honestly think a lot of my love for these tropes stems from my love of heist movies. Nothing beats a team of well-loved characters working together to pull off an amazing heist.

Morally Grey Characters – I’m a sucker for a good anti-hero/heroine. I love watching them either start out that way and slowly redeem themselves as the story goes on, or begin good and watch their descent as they begin to make questionable choices.

If you want to read about all my favorite romance tropes, you can check out this post!


The Chosen One – I don’t know why, but this trope has always bothered me. A lot of the chosen one characters seem to have a Mary Sue/Gary Stu characterization which may be why I have such an issue with it.

“Not Like Other Girls” – Nothing gets on my nerve more than seeing a character describe herself as ~unlike other girls~ or even worse, when the love interest says he likes the protagonist because she’s ~not like other girls~. Ew.

Love Triangles – Love triangles are the bane of my existence because they are wholly unnecessary to the plot of the book. There have been only a few instances where I think they were executed well, but usually I absolutely hate when I realize a love triangle is developing.

Alpha Male Love Interest – One day I’ll write an entire post on the issues with toxic relationships and romanticizing abuse within the YA genre, but for now I’ll stick with talking about how much I hate the overbearing, possessive love interests.

What are your favorite tropes? What tropes do you think have become cliche? Let’s discuss in the comments!

12 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Cliches and Tropes

  1. ahh ok breanna it’s like you read my mind while writing this post because the amount i relate to it!! i am an absolute sucker for a good enemies to lovers, there’s only one bed, morally grey characters, and heists in my books!!! i also absolutely loathe love triangles, and the “not like other girls” and chosen one trope!! ahhh i also HATE toxic relationships with “alpha males” like we don’t need that!! i loved this post so much 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! 💕 I agree that sometimes tropes and cliches can be confusing as they’re pretty similar ideas. I wanted to share my thoughts on how I tend to distinguish them 😊


    1. If I even get a whiff of a love triangle brewing my enjoyment of a book decreases drastically. And every time I see a female character as “not like other girls” I get so frustrated as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hoohoo! My favourite tropes are definitely enemies to lovers and found family! One gives me all the delicious tension, the other gives me warmth and fuzzy feelings 🙂 I absolutely hate the love triangle as well! It’s so annyoing and makes for a lot of unnecessary drama

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love triangles seem to be included solely for the sake of creating drama, and I totally agree that it’s unnecessary. There are so many better ways and tools to create tension in a story!


  3. Totally agree with you about “the chosen one” trope literally could go the rest of my life without reading that one. But a HUGE yes to morally grey characters give me all the antiheros plzz


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