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Too Much Information? – Booking Through Thursday

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This week’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

Suggested by Simon Thomas:

Have you ever been put off an author’s books after reading a biography of them? Or the reverse – a biography has made you love an author more?

I assume this has to do with the controversy that Natasha blogged about earlier this week.

But to answer the question in my own way…I suppose the answer is yes, though it’s never been over an author’s biography. Frankly, I don’t seek out more information on an author than what is provided on the book jacket, so there’s really not much to love or hate from the little morsel provided there.

When I went to see Wally Lamb, though, and when he talked about teaching the writing class at a women’s maximum security prison, I was enthralled. THIS is an author who is doing good, who is giving back. THIS is an author that I can respect, admire, and love.

If Wally Lamb had talked about his efforts to eradicate butterflies and kittens, I may have been put off. So I suppose that an author’s personal life, personal history, personal beliefs, could come into play. But their personal life or beliefs would have to be pretty horrendous for me to boycott their work.

Then again, when an author says something that I wholeheartedly agree with, like when Stephen King recently said Stephenie Meyer isn’t a good writer…well, let’s just say I’ll probably be buying some brand new Stephen King hardcover books in the near future. However, if I totally disagreed with him, I’d blow off his opinion as a stuffy old man who’s forgotten what it’s like to enjoy a good book.

It’s all about perspective, right?

What do you think? Have you every been put off an author’s books after reading a biography of them? Or the reverse – a biography has made you love an author more?

26 comments »

26 Responses to “Too Much Information? – Booking Through Thursday”

  1. Sally

    Not being privy to Natasha’s post–thank you for including it–I answered the question a tad differently than I would had I read about her comment. I have avoided certain movies because I disagreed so strongly with the actor, so I suppose it would be fair to state that I’d not purchase a book under the same circumstances. My answer–found on my post, however, does not sound like this comment.

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  2. gautami tripathy

    I have not read Natasha, so I don’t know what it means but for me, it does not matter that much. Either way.

    Here is my BTT post!

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  3. Chris@bookarama

    Well, it’s not much of an answer, but it’s here.

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  4. Chris@bookarama

    Oops- I meant my answer isn’t much of an answer! You know what I mean 😉

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  5. Yvonne

    I didn’t read Natasha’s blog, but for me it really doesn’t matter matter about the author. Although I guess if I really read something horrible I wouldn’t want to support them by buying their book but nothing like that has happened to me.

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  6. Beth F

    I’ve been following the conversation at Natasha’s blog. Complicated question. I did contribute a BTT response though.

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  7. bermudaonion

    Once I’ve gotten to meet or speak with an author, I tend to like their work more, especially if we talk about their book and I discover their motivation.

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  8. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog

    I agree that an author’s behavior/statements would have to be really horrendous before they would change my perspective. You’ve said basically the same things I said, but you did it much more succinctly 🙂

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  9. Vasilly

    An author would have to have horrible opinions for me not to buy or read them.

    Reading Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies made me read every book of non-fiction that she published or look for her in anthologies.

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  10. melanie

    I hadn’t thought about how it affects me to meet an author. I’ve met a few, but two stand out: Patti Smith and Joyce Carol Oates. I loved them before; I adored them after!

    my post is here.

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  11. thatsthebook

    I’ve never been influenced by an author because of his/her biography on a book jacket or any other type.

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  12. The Social Frog

    Hi Trish,
    I did not have much of an answer because I have never read a biography on an author but if I ever do I don’t think it would sway me one way or the other.

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  13. Jeanne

    Aside from my part in starting the controversy at Natasha’s, I usually don’t pay any attention to an author’s beliefs. The author who set me off, however, has used his very generous writing talents–and the money he makes from his books–to publicly support a cause I think is absolutely evil and wrong. So because I’m tuned in to the cause, I have been turned off by the author. But to tell you the truth, it’s oh so hard to resist buying his new book, and I haven’t been able to get it from the library yet.

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  14. Natasha @ Maw Books

    Well, I wouldn’t call it a controversy per se, just a nice meeting of the minds! For me, I’d say reading a biography doesn’t make a difference because I’m not one to read author biographies. But how much an author blogs, twitters, or is available to the public has a huge influence on whether or not I’ll read them. Meeting them in person also makes a huge difference for me as well. If they are approachable and not stand off-ish than yes, I’m more likely to read their books. (BTW – thanks for including my link!).

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  15. Matthew

    The truth is, at least for me, knowing the life of an author might incline me to read more of the works. Knowing is key to understand the authorial meaning in fiction. After all, author is a life, reading an author is just getting to know the life.

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  16. mervih

    I don’t research authors either so I don’t know much about my favorite writers.

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  17. Robin of My Two Blessings

    Thanks for the link to Natasha. Hadn’t read it. For me it depends, but generally read a book for entertainment and don’t care about author’s political beliefs. Unless they are so blatantly trying to press an agenda in their stories, that is becomes obnoxious and not entertaining.

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  18. melanie

    If I didn’t read an author because I disagreed with their views, I’d have about 2 books to read. I’m only bothered when their “agenda” hits me over the head. I fully expect their writing to reflect something of their beliefs, but please don’t preach.
    I’ve had mixed reactions to meeting authors, one I loved more, one less. Still enjoy the work of the latter, but having seen their “persona” was a turn off.

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  19. chartroose

    I won’t boycott simply because of what an author believes, although I agree with you, Trish, about the butterflies and kittens. I guess it’s a matter of what it is and to what degree.

    Someone made the point on Natasha’s blog that she’s having trouble watching Tom Cruise ever since he opened his mouth about antidepressants and acted stupendously crazy on Oprah. I’m having trouble with that too. No more Cruise for me, ever. Sometimes people really do go too far.

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  20. Maya M.

    I think I’d be more influenced how an author behaved as an author than by their personal life. What I mean is, how they project themselves online, how they behave towards and speak of readers and peers, what their website reveals about themselves. During the recent plagiarism kerfuffle, for example, I had the impression that some author-commentators may have revealed more of themselves than intended. Made me see them in a new light.

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  21. Staci

    You’re right is really is all about perspective!! Great post!

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  22. Literate Housewife

    LOL about the Stephen King comment! Someone else recently posted about that, too.

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  23. avisannschild

    I was quite surprised to realize I own a book that was written by a woman who murdered someone when she was a teenager! (I’m referring to Anne Perry, one of the girls that the movie Heavenly Creatures was about.) I’m not sure if knowing that will influence whether or not I ever get around to reading her book… This is certainly an interesting discussion (and thanks for pointing me towards Natasha’s post too).

    By the way, I gave you an award on my blog here.

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  24. Stephanie

    I had to laugh when I read what Stephen King said. I love him anyway. Whether or not you like his books, he writes for EW, and I just love his articles!! He’s funny…..and opinionated.

    I’m kind of iffy on the subject. I read Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and absolutely hated it. Then I found out about what an arrogant jerk the guy is. I probably wouldn’t have read anything else by him anyway….but that just kind of solidified it for me.

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  25. Kiki

    I agree with you–knowing about Wally Lamb personally (read those women in prison books if you haven’t yet: they are excellent) definitely influence how I feel about his writing and his boks (I will read them, always).

    That being said, I am always interested in the life of an author as I think many people are: would Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, even, for goodness sake, Stephanie Meyers even be as popular (and as poignant in the case of Jane and Emily) if we did not know anything about them, if we thought they were just Joe (or Jane!) Schmoe. Part of the interest and popularity in Meyer’s books among the 20-40 female set is the fact that she is a mom and a “normal” person–shoot, even the fact that she is a Mormon is interesting, in light of her subject matter.

    I am definitely influenced by whether I will see a movie or read a book by the actors and authors. I will not sit through a Sylvester Stallone movie (no, I’ve never seen Rocky–any of them!) and I will never pick up an Anne Coulter or Bill O’Reilly or Nicholas Sparks book.

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  26. Jen Forbus

    I am such a horrible busy-body, that I’m always investigating authors that I’ve enjoyed reading. (That’s how my interviews were born.) I’ve yet to learn anything about any of them that put me off, though.

    HOWEVER, I am on a list serve where an author that I read comments regularly. His comments have made me like him far less than when I read his book. Not sure if I’ll be clamoring to read anything else by him in the future.

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