Archive | 10:35 AM

When An Author Affects a Book

9 Mar

My husband asked me an interesting question the other week that I think merits a whole blog post.

Does the author ever effect how you feel about a book?

At first, I thought that was a ridiculous concept. Why would the author make me think differently about the book? If the book is good, it’s good. If it sucks, well, then it sucks. But maybe that’s not always true.

Good author, bad book. I think this happens a lot more than we admit. I adore John Irving and as much as I’d like to say I like every one of his books, I don’t. Some are better than others. The Cider House Rules is better than In One Person. When it comes to J.K. Rowling, I’m guilty. I had a lot of trouble saying I didn’t like The Casual Vacancy and I never would have read the Cormoran Strike novels if I didn’t know they were her. Authors I love get higher ratings from me, even from their bad books.

Bad author, good book. I’m probably guilty of this as well. There are authors I’ve read and not liked. It’s not often I read another of their books to compare, though. I can only think of Alice Hoffman off the top of my head. I read The Ice Queen and hated it. When my book club wanted to read The Museum of Extraordinary Things, I begrudgingly agreed to participate. Of course, I hated it because I went into it knowing I would hate it. I couldn’t give it a fair chance.

There are other things about an author that can affect how I feel about a book, too.

  • Male author with a female protagonist. This sticks out to me a lot. Examples include One Thousand White Women and Brooklyn. I become very critical of the characterization. Does it seem like the female character reacts like I would? Is she experiencing things in a relatable way? I get really upset when it seems unreal.
  • Known controversy around a book. I didn’t know the controversy around Zeitoun when I read it, but my feelings of it in reflection are tainted by what I know about Abdulrahman and Kathy. Sometimes knowing there’s something controversial in a book like 50 Shades of Grey or Gone Girl can get me to be interested in reading it when it’s outside what I normally read.
  • The author is a terrible person. This doesn’t happen often, but the more I read about Zelda Fitzgerald is making me hate both F. Scott and Hemingway. When I read their books, I see influences of the authors themselves and it makes me hate the protagonists and be embarrassed when I like them.
  • Celebrity memoirs. The more I like the celebrity, the more I’ll like the book. Tina Fey? Love it! The book might have flaws, but my love for Tina Fey covered them up.

I can think of a bunch of other times hype around a book can make me think differently about it but as far as just the author, I think most of mine experience fall into higher ratings for books that don’t really deserve it. Any thoughts from you, Reader?

Until next time, write on.

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