Should We Judge Books By Their Authors?

solitaire books by their authors

I am 100% guilty of buying books because of their pretty covers. I know that the author has no part in the design, and that a good cover doesn’t always equal a good book, but all the same… I WANT PRETTY BOOKS ON MY SHELVES.

I’ve started thinking that I’m also quite guilty of judging books by their authors. It’s not quite the same, because, y’know this time the author actually is responsible for changing my opinion, but I’m still not just basing my opinion off a book. If it’s by an author I already think is cool, I’m waaay more likely to enjoy the book. Maybe we should all cover our books in brown paper so we can’t judge them before reading…

My opinion of a book can change so much once I look more into the author. When I read Solitaire by Alice Oseman at the beginning of this year, I didn’t enjoy it that much… It was okay. I think I dove into it a feeling bit jealous because A BOOK PUBLISHED AT 19?!?! (The same goes for The Catalyst by Helena Coggan. I spent a lot of time wondering how on earth she managed to write a cohesive novel at the age I am now.) Now, though, I will tell you that I ABSOLUTELY ADORE SOLITAIRE AND ALICE AND I WILL READ EVERYTHING SHE WRITES. Diverse characters and Welcome to Night Vale and amazing art, what a cool author?!? (And also she is cute as heck.) I’m super excited for Radio Silence.

Social media has really connected me. I’ve seen how badass Maggie Stiefvater is. I’ve even found new authors and actually gone out to read their books! Being in the book community has led to me attending so many book events, and I seriously just respect Patrick Ness even more than I did before. I enjoy seeing that writers are actually HUMAN BEINGS and not unicorns with mystical powers. (Because how else would you create worlds, right?!)

I think I enjoy many author’s work more because of their online presence; Alice Oseman is only the start. For instance: is it not awesome that Rainbow Rowell loves Sherlock too, and that you can literally go and read her favourite fanfiction? And Malinda Lo does so much work for diversity in literature beyond writing awesome books. And Samantha Shannon answers all the crazy asks on tumblr about the world of The Bone Season.

Maybe I should be judging books on just their content. But I think if all the books I read were just stories covered in blank paper… I wouldn’t enjoy them as much! I love getting excited about books and authors and seeing behind their writing process. It’s really cool. It isn’t even always a conscious thing; sometimes I can enjoy one trope in a book by my favourite author and utterly dismiss it in another, without realising. I’m a terrible reviewer because I’m so biased. 😛

Despite all the lovely benefits of authors on social media, I don’t think it should be used to excuse you from faults in yours book. I love Harry Potter, but it really annoys me that JK Rowling announces diverse characters all over her twitter that she didn’t include in the books. I’d be cool with it if she admitted her mistake, but as far as I know…she hasn’t. I respect her, but even if you’ve written the most popular modern series of all time it’s not okay. (But as this excellent tumblr text post will tell you, Harry’s complete inability to notice literally anything allows for a lot of fandom headcanons.) Yep, it works the other way, too: I know that many people who experienced all the Cassandra Clare Harry Potter fanfiction drama don’t like to read her books out of principle. I wasn’t there; I don’t feel I can make a judgement on it, but I like to keep that knowledge in the back of my mind.

I like that I can make emotional connections with authors. Sometimes I find that I love the text far more than the person behind it, sometimes it’s the other way round — it’s still a lovely relationship to have.

Which authors do you look up to? What do you think of authors on social media? Have you read any books with beautiful covers but disappointing contents?

8 thoughts on “Should We Judge Books By Their Authors?

  1. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I do the same as you. If the cover is pretty, I immediately pick it up and see what it’s about. It’s the first thing a reader sees and it needs to pop out to them and draw them into the summary.

  2. I look up to John Grenn because his books are so inspiring asdfghjkl. And aren’t there already a social media website for authors, Wattpad? Like some authors ther I think have already published books from that website alone such as After by Amanda Todd.

    1. Aaah yes John Green is awesome! I find it so cool that he does Youtube as well — it’s really cool to see him, like. as a person.
      I don’t use Wattpad that much myself, but yep, I know it’s great for connecting writers! What I more meant in this post was looking at authors beyond their writing, but swapping stories is always fun. 🙂

  3. Fabulous discussion post! I’m not super guilty of this — I’ve intensely enjoyed some author’s social media presence but am meh about their books. I am guilty of this in two instances though — I bought ADSOM because VE Schwab was way too awesome about it on Twitter, and I started to like TWATD a lot more after I followed Renee Ahdieh on Tumblr and she reblogged awesome fan edits that made me rethink my opinion. And I DIE FOR BOOKS WITH BEAUTIFUL COVERS. I do normally check in with book reviews, though, so it’s not like I’ll pick up anything with a pretty cover XD

    1. Thank you! I bought ADSOM mostly because everyone was raving about it — and then I discovered VE Schwab on Twitter, which was awesome. Ooh, I haven’t read that one yet! I really enjoy seeing authors who interact with fans. 🙂
      If I’m buying a book, I’ll probably read far too many reviews, but I’ll totally pick one up from the library on a whim. BEAUTIFUL COVERS ALL THE WAY. ❤

  4. Ah, I loved this post! You raised a lot of great points and I’ll readily admit to being prone to the same things too (although I already knew how cool and cute af alice oseman was/is BEFORE reading solitaire 😉 ). My bias can be quite extraordinary and I know for a fact that if I didn’t love certain authors so much I /maybe/ wouldn’t have rated their books so highly.

    And WOW the point about cassandra clare… guilty as heck here, because I never finished the mortal instruments series after that explosion of controversy. I don’t even know if it’s true tbh but at the time even looking at her books made me feel sick?? I think I’ll read heavenly fire eventually but ???? it’s so weird how social media and perceptions of an author can change how you view the actual story so much

    1. Thank you! (Okay, I just looked up the tumblr on the back of the book because I was VERY CONFUSED WHAT IS THIS.) Aah I’m not alone in this! 😛 I can enjoy things I maybe wouldn’t otherwise if I love the author, or it’s been recommended by someone I trust.

      I didn’t find out until after I read all her Shadowhunters books, but now I think I’m less enthusiastic about reading new ones… And I’m not that keen to meet her anymore or anything. I mean, I don’t know myself but everything just seems so toxic and horrible. It does kinda sour the experience when I enjoy a book but see an author being horrible on social media — just. UGH. It really doesn’t make me want to read more of their work. It’s so strange.

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