Bookish Thought: Judging a Book By Its Author

This post is my complete opinion. I welcome other opinions and thoughts on this subject, in a constructive manner.

While writing my Feb 19 Friday Finds post I was reading the summary and reviews of one of the books, No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale.

I was surprised by what I found.

The book was published in January of 2014. According to Goodreads (as of Feb 19) it has a rating of 3.06 based on over 3,000 ratings. Not bad, right? As I scrolled down the page to look at some of the reviews, I stopped in confusion and then surprise when I read this:

To all here who are “outraged” by Hale’s behavior – go write a f*ing book for the next 3 years of your life. Then come read your reviews. Note: I am NOT a novelist. But I am a writer, and part of the job is to explore the dark sh*t that everyone else glosses over. It literally is the job. Whether you like what she did or not, she’s hit on something human, and all the debate just demonstrates the validity of her piece.

At first, I thought it was the author who wrote this, but I quickly found it was a Goodreads member. But it made me more curious, so I continued to scroll down. Apparently, Kathleen Hale stalked a reviewer who posted a bad review of her novel. Supposedly. Hale actually wrote an article for The Guardian (find here) regarding the situation. I read most of it, but since the drama has long since passed, I didn’t want to get sucked in.

My main concern were the reactions of other Goodreads members and reviewers after finding all this drama out. Because of what Hale did, readers immediately jumped to not wanting to read the novel after making a judgement on her and her actions. Even though, as far I could tell, no one but the two women involved, Hale and the reviewer, knew all the facts.

You know, I was very much excited to read this. I even tried to read it last night in a failed attempt to separate the art from the artiest. But I’m afraid I cannot do this. I can’t read a book by someone who stalked a reviewer.  – Goodreads member

It made me wonder if choosing not to read a book because of an author’s actions was a fair judgement on the book itself. I understand that by buying a book, we are in some way supporting the author. Just like giving money to a certain organization or political candidate.

But for some reason, it still bugs me. If you don’t like the book, you don’t like it. Simple as that. But if you don’t like the author, the person, (even though you never met them), I don’t think that gives you a right to go out of your way to post bad things about them or their work. What if the work was great or amazing? Is it still fair to shun the book and give it a bad rating simply to spite the author?

Say you hate alcohol and tend to dislike people who drink too much, would you still read Ernest Hemingway. He was, after all, a lover of alcohol and felt more at home on a barstool. (I apologize if this is a terrible example).

Part of me understands why some tended to give a harsher rating because of the author’s actions. But this:

I don’t always one-star books I haven’t read, but when I do, it’s because they f*cking deserve it. – Goodreads member

I would say is uncalled for. It doesn’t make sense to me, regardless of the situation, to rate a book you never read. And to be honest, if I read this book, I would be more afraid of other reviewers and the possibility of cyber bullying. If I didn’t like it, that’s okay, I didn’t like it. But what if I really liked it? I would be afraid to post my rating and earn the wrath of those reviews who seem hellbent on ruining a person (granted at this point, the last review was posted October 2014).

In any case, shouldn’t we judge a book based on the story and the writing between the covers, not the person behind the pen? Because anything we would hear, we hear because of the media and we all know that we sometimes have to take stories the media tells with a grain of salt.

So, thoughts? Agree or disagree? Have you ever judged a book by it’s author?

Happy Reading and Babbling!

XO Nicole

P.S. Check out a similar post from Cristina @ My Tiny Obsessions about rating a book before you read it.

3 thoughts on “Bookish Thought: Judging a Book By Its Author

  1. i don’t understand the need that people have to say those kinds of things. if you have a problem with the author, you can simply ignore said book(s). There’s no lacking of other works you can be reading, right? so why hate? why judge like this? I don’t get it… great post ;)

    Liked by 1 person

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