Do you judge a book – by its author?

– a totally unrelated, but beautiful insect –

New poll – does it matter to you who wrote the books you read? Do you sometimes choose not to read a book because of something you know about the author?

Please humour me by playing along, and in a couple of days I will tell you why I came up with the poll.

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
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15 Responses to Do you judge a book – by its author?

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Dorte – Very, very interesting question! I voted :-).

  2. Kelly says:

    I can’t think off hand of any book I’ve refused to read because of the author or their personal life. There are many times I will pick up a book based on who they are, though.

    I’m interested to know why you questioned us on this.

  3. Pam says:

    I said often because honestly with social media if they are pushy or annoying or really mean I just lose interest.

  4. Lauren says:

    I can think of one author of relatively innocuous crime fiction whose past activities (under a different name) make me uncomfortable about reading their books – the ethics of that situation make me rather queasy. No names, but it’s not too tricky to guess.

    An author being garden-variety obnoxious won’t bother me unless the book is obnoxious in the same manner as the person who wrote it. (Doesn’t happen too often – for example someone who is outrageously sexist and writes characters in the same way without any justification of context, plot, argument etc.)

    I know one or two people who no longer read Henning Mankell because they don’t agree with his actions/politics relating to the middle east. This isn’t really an issue for me, but he’s not the first author I’d discus at a synagogue tea party these days. I can’t think of any other authors I read regularly with whose political opinions I disagree strongly enough to actually put the book down.

    Mind you, I go back and forth about watching GDR-era crime drama on TV (there’s two channels on which it is repeated fairly regularly), given the role it played in reinforcing the party/the regime.
    On the other hand, how far do you take that attitude – avoid everything produced under non-democratic conditions unless it was made by a dissident? (And does me only watching episodes of Show X produced after 1990 make any sort of practical differece? I mean, I’m more political than most, but put that way, it seems a bit idiotic.)

    I also run into this problem now and then relating to classical music, which is one of the things I research. There are one or two conductors whose recordings I’m extremely ambivalent about listening to due to their behaviour relating to WW2 – I won’t generally buy them, but I’m not going to turn off the radio either. And then there’s Shostakovitch…

    Probably more than you wanted to know!

  5. Margot: it will be interesting what people vote, won´t it?
    Kelly: usually I also pick books for positive reasons 🙂
    Pam: nice to meet you. And great point about the backside to social media.
    Lauren: I always want to hear what you have to say. And of course I often run into problems like that as a teacher. In that case I´ll usually let my students read the story, but also inform them about the writer, plus remind them that you have to take the time when it was written into consideration.

  6. Mack says:

    Hmmm, I interpreted the option “Depends on what I know about the author” differently. I thought of it not in terms of the author’s personal life but what I know about his/her work. I would probably change my vote to “Sometimes” if ..”what I know” means politics, etc.

  7. One of the reasons I avoid things like author interviews and all that kind of thing is that it does sometimes make a difference to me. Susan Hill is one author who I decided I could no longer support (i.e. give money to by buying her books) when I read some of her newspaper columns in which I thought her a very twisted and bigoted person. Mankell is just about there too as I think his views on Israel are ignorant and there’s no excuse for someone with his education and access to information to be so ignorant. I can happily read books by people whose views I disagree with but I find blatant ignorance much harder to deal with, especially when that person uses their fame/influence to perpetuate stereotypes and untruthful things.

    I’m also with Pam above…to much BSP via social media means (a) I’ll stop following and (b) I won’t buy your books. So far there are only a couple of authors on the list but then I don’t follow very many to start with.

  8. Louise says:

    I voted “sometimes” – because, like Kelly, I sometimes choose to read a book beacuse of my interest in the author. However I can’t think of one time it has worked the other way around; that I have chosen not to read a book because of something I know about the author.

  9. Barbara says:

    I also chose Sometimes because I do follow specific authors. However, I don’t really care about their personal lives or political opinions unless those issues are the basis of their books. I love politics and I don’t read books by people who have stubbornly opposite opinions to mine ordinarily because I know I’ll blow my stack. I do like authors who can write intelligently on opinions I don’t hold, and occasionally someone like that will actually change my mind.

  10. I can see this is a good question because you come up with such interesting comments!
    Very inspiring, thank you.

  11. I voted. I’m looking forward to your results!

  12. Heather says:

    Oh definitely . Once I found out how homophobic Orson Scott Card is, I just can’t read another work of his. It also goes the other way, I hear a book is by a particular author whose work I have loved in the past, and it very much raises my expectations of the new book.

  13. Interesting poll! Can’t wait to hear why it came up.

  14. Pingback: Calling in the British Troops | djskrimiblog

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