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.