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2015 Book Blogger Discussion Challenge – Authors As Villains

2015-Discussion-Challenge3

Hi, hope everyone is reading really good books this month. As for me, I’m reading a book by an author who is being severely criticized on the internet. It’s the first time I’ve read any of his books and I didn’t really know anything about him or his previous work when I started reading. I’m deep into the book, so I’m only skimming reviews and criticism because I don’t want it to influence how I experience the story. However, my basic understanding is this author is a credible writer, but has a terrible habit of making an ass of himself in the media. From the scathing, venomous accusations flying across my Twitter feed, it sounds as if he is the walking/talking epitome of white male, upper class privilege and ignorance, and people would like to discredit him for this reason.

Here are my questions:

Even if they are an award-winning and critically acclaimed author, would knowing an author is unpopular dissuade you from reading any of their books?

Have you ever chosen not to read a book because of an author’s opinions on a particular topic?

Should a book lose its literary merit if people don’t like the author or should the book be judged separately?

Should I continue separating the book from the ruckus on the internet or for context should I know what all the fuss is about this author?

A wise blogger I know once said: Reading books from authors whose views we disagree with is vital.  Even if this doesn’t entirely convince us, it fosters complex thinking.

I agree and plan to keep reading, but continue to focus on the book and not the author. As far as I can tell, history is full of authors who behaved badly and did stupid things, but readers still manage find something worthy about their writing.

Thanks for your thoughts! Visit the challenge hosts Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight to see this month’s discussion topics for bloggers.

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25 comments on “2015 Book Blogger Discussion Challenge – Authors As Villains

  1. janceewright
    September 2, 2015

    This is an interesting topic. I think I would still read the book, for a couple of reasons. First, I would be curious about it, just to see what the fuss is all about. Second, I think the book could have merit distinct from the author. However, depending on how vehemently I disagreed with the author’s viewpoints or pretentiousness, I wouldn’t buy it. Instead I would most likely borrow it from the library or just pass all together.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2015

      Thanks for your thoughts! I definitely think all the fuss is driving my interest in the book. But I don’t find anything offensive about the story or characters at the moment or I would have stopped reading it.

      Like

  2. fingerprintale
    September 3, 2015

    Well, that’s it what my teacher always said that attitude is important. I can’t deny that I have this particular author in mind when I was such a fan and one day he started to behaving badly and I hate it. When the new book came I still buy it. But… I actually never finish the book.
    I think I choose to read it but I just can’t finish it, first because of what he did still stuck in my mind and making me judge the book by this particular author’s attitude. It’s something that difficult to separate though.

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    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2015

      I agree that attitude is important and I can also see how it would difficult for you to continue reading the book if the media reported something about the author that offended you. Would you read any of the author’s future books?

      Like

  3. Amber O (AmberBug)
    September 3, 2015

    I completely agree, history is full of despicable authors… lots swept under the rug. We also read to get all sides of a story, so why not with fiction too? Does it matter so much if we agree with something, I think it’s more important to understand which gives you a broader and better argument when you do stand your ground.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2015

      I like how you said we read to get all sides of the story. I agree that if we have a broader understanding of the issue(s), we are better equipped to discuss them with each other.

      Like

  4. Brian Joseph
    September 3, 2015

    This is indeed a fascinating topic.

    I think that it all depends. while I like to read folks whose opinions are in variance of mine, things like racism, sexism, incivility, support of dangerous groups, etc. are red flags for me.

    When these things become factors, it depends if the ideas are incorporated in writing or not. If they are I will not likely read the author. Another issue is not wanting to give my money to people like this.

    I must confess, I am dying to know who the author is that you are referring to 🙂 I can understand not wanting to mention him in the post as diverging opinions on his actions would distract from your main point.

    I am having the same dilemma with CH Sommers. I really want to read her work. However, what is in my opinion, her support of online harassment groups, will prevent me from doing so.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2015

      You may have guessed by now, but it’s Jonathan Franzen and you’re right about my reasons for not naming him in the first place. I’ve caught bits and pieces of what’s in the media, but I believe they are saying he is self-absorbed and anti-feminist.

      As for the book, I’m not finding it offensive or hurtful in any way. The characters are quirky and complicated, and very much like other characters I’ve come across.

      Like

  5. Aj @ Read All The Things!
    September 3, 2015

    I try to judge books separately from their authors. I’m a book reviewer, not a person reviewer. That being said, if an author is being really, really hateful, I would probably avoid their work. I don’t care if an author has different opinions than me, but I don’t like hate and unnecessary drama.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2015

      “I’m a book reviewer, not a person reviewer” is a great way of putting it. I can’t say I’m finding anything hateful in this book. Just some characters dealing with their personal issues. It’s a fairly decent story and entertaining.

      Like

  6. lauratfrey
    September 3, 2015

    Who are you talking about?

    Just kidding. You know how I feel about this. Mostly I don’t care if an author is a good person or agrees with me on social issues. As far as “giving money” to them, I mostly use the library or buy second hand anyway. And in this author’s case I think he’s unfairly taken out of context and gleefully hated on because of what he represents, like you mentioned, not because of who he really is or what he believes.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2015

      Yes, I do know how you feel and I wish I had asked you more about him when we were together and got the arc, but I had no idea people had such strong opinions about him. Gleefully hated because of what he represents is a good way of describing some of the anger I’ve seen on Twitter.

      Like

  7. DoingDewey
    September 4, 2015

    I mostly focus on books rather than authors and will read authors whose opinions I disagree with, but I will skip authors who actually act in ways I disagree with, such as being abusive to bloggers. Being an ass is maybe not enough to make me pass on an author unless they are jerks to specific people, but I take it on a case by case basis 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2015

      It wasn’t until I wrote this post that I realized I rarely think about the author when I read a book. They are completely separate from the book until I do a little research about them for the book review. If I knew an author was hateful to people or being abusive to bloggers or readers, I wouldn’t support their work either.

      Like

  8. TJ @ MyBookStrings
    September 4, 2015

    If a person said things that I found truly outrageous, it would probably put me off reading his/her book(s). The same goes for movies or sports, since actors/actresses and athletes can be pretty obnoxious as well. And to be fair, these days, it’s very easy to be taken out of context. It’s hard to know what someone really said or meant. Plus some people say outrageous things just to get the publicity. So I think overall, I’m pretty lenient, as long as it’s not something super terrible, like the stuff that other people here have mentioned.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 6, 2015

      Authors can definitely be obnoxious. You made a really good point about not really being able to know what a person said or meant because sometimes the media doesn’t present us the full picture.

      Like

  9. For the most part, I ignore the talk about author bad behavior, etc. and just read books that I like. I HAVE had one author that I stopped reading, though, because I followed her blog and she constantly complained – even about her own books sometimes. I just got sick of it and then I found I didn’t have a desire to read her books anymore.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 6, 2015

      I think I would find that author annoying too. I stopped following an author on Twitter because I thought she complained too much and was very woe-is-me all the time. I will still read her books if they interest me, but just focus on her writing and not anything she has to say on Twitter.

      Like

  10. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy
    September 6, 2015

    This is a difficult topic for me – on the one hand I fully agree with the idea that the author should be separated from their work, but if I personally felt that author was not a nice person, it would influence my motivation to read their book. I guess I don’t want to support them, so I guess it’s just a personal thing, because I also wouldn’t think it was fair if literary accolades were withheld from the book just because of who they were as a person. I hope the book is really good for you though, to make up for overlooking all the author drama! 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 9, 2015

      It really is a lot of drama! I feel as conflicted as you because if I thought an author acted offensively, I wouldn’t want to read their book. However, I have enjoyed books by many of the authors in the behaving badly articles I linked to. I guess whether I read an author or not would have to be a case by case decision.

      Like

  11. This is a great topic idea, and thanks for bringing it up!

    “Have you ever chosen not to read a book because of an author’s opinions on a particular topic?”

    No, I haven’t.

    I feel like this is one place where social media and instant internet connections have done authors (and maybe readers) a big disservice. Back before our words could spread in two seconds, it took days, weeks, or even years to find out that the author of your favorite book wasn’t even someone you’d like to have a drink with!
    So I always keep that in mind when I’m reading a book with negative author buzz.

    I think authors and books should be handled separately when we are talking differences in ideas, beliefs, or opinions. For instance, if I already know that I don’t agree with something about an author, I try even harder to read the book for its own sake.

    That being said, I don’t feel bad for dropping a book that I am genuinely loathing! I just have to give it a chance first 🙂 Those are the books that I work very hard at being fair to (not reviewing if I didn’t finish, or not reviewing at all if my feelings are too negative, etc.)

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 9, 2015

      Thank you for your thoughtful answers! There are so many angles to this issue that I really appreciate everyone’s perspective. I think social media is definitely a factor with this particular author drama and social media is just amplifying all of the negativity. I’m with you on keeping the author and the book separate and I feel like this is how I’ve always read.

      Like

  12. shannonmiz
    September 29, 2015

    I LOVE this topic. It’s one that I think people’s opinions vary wildly on, and I love to see what people think about this. Here’s my thoughts: I think to an extent, I don’t read authors whose behavior I don’t agree with. But, it has to be some pretty solid bad behavior for me to take this stance. There’s only a handful of authors I simply refuse to read. Several are because of VERY hateful statements toward certain groups of people based on religion, sexuality, etc. Others are known for behaving horribly to readers and reviewers, and I just can’t allow myself to support either group. Now, I would never NOT read an author based on some rumors or a few out of line remarks, but if it’s bad, proven, and long standing.. then yeah, I am not doing it.

    Now, should a book lose literary merit? No way. Even if the scummiest human on earth wrote it, it can still be a good book. That doesn’t mean we, as a society, should give the author a pass, but it DOES mean that we can still say the book itself is good.

    On the flip side, I think that some authors are attacked with little to no provocation, and THAT is something we need to tread VERY carefully with. I have seen two VERY popular authors having some very scathing (and likely very untrue) allegations thrown at them with really no proof, and I find that abhorrent. I get that we want to make sure we’re supporting the right people, but there’s a very fine line between that and some kind of weird bookish vigilantism.

    SUCH an amazing topic, I loved reading everyone’s answers too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ebookclassics
      September 30, 2015

      Thank you so much for your comments. I like how you said there is a fine line between supporting authors and weird bookish vigilantism. It’s so interesting how social media has brought us closer to authors, but also given us this ability to build them up, tear them down or both! Gone are the days of when authors were anonymous figures that we worshiped from afar because we loved their books.

      Like

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This entry was posted on September 2, 2015 by in Bookish Thoughts and tagged .

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