Friday, 26 June 2015

Don't Judge a Book by its Author

Prepare yourself for a little rant: this is something I've been wanting to get off my chest for a while.

We all have our favourite authors. These are those rare breeds of writers whose books we'll always buy regardless of what they're about because we're certain it's going to be amazing, but of course that isn't always the case. I have a few favourite authors myself - I'd like to read as much of Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire's work as possible and I love a lot of Neil Gaiman's stuff - but for the most part I've never been the kind of reader who will blindly buy something purely because it has that author's name attached to it.

Some readers will buy something without really knowing what it's about, only knowing that they like that author, and that's fine! In many ways I admire their dedication to show their love and respect and admiration for the author of their choice, but what irritates me are the reviews that come afterwards.

Not 'Harry Potter and the Casual Vacancy'
The best example I can think of is the response J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy received upon its release. I haven't read The Casual Vacancy because the premise doesn't really interest me, and it definitely didn't interest me upon its initial release. I will get around to it at some point now because I have a copy which my parents picked up for me when I was ill, knowing how fond I am of J.K. Rowling, but it's not my priority.

I saw a LOT of Harry Potter fans immediately buying this book, and then being somehow surprised that The Casual Vacancy was nothing like Harry Potter. Because of course it wasn't, and Rowling never said it would be.

The Casual Vacancy has ended up getting some pretty shoddy ratings that, to me, seem completely unfair because they're ratings given by people who didn't really seem to acknowledge what the book was about. All that seemed to matter was that it had Rowling's name attached to it.

I'm sure I'm generalising a lot here; there are plenty of people who didn't buy The Casual Vacancy, and then there are plenty of people who bought it because the premise did interest them and it was a story they wanted to read. This is something I've seen happen a few times, however, and it's always grated on my nerves.

If you love an author, that's great, but if you read all of their books expecting them to be just like one book/series then you're always going to set yourself up for disappointment, and you're probably hindering the author more than helping them with a negative review.

What are your thoughts?


  1. I know exactly what you mean and how you feel. I constantly observe how people build up expectations that most of the time have no foundation in reality (due to the fact that they willingly deceive themselves or wrongly interpret the facts that they get) and when they are (inevitably) disappointed they begin to vilify the creator. It happens all the time and J.K. Rowling certainly gets a fair share of such attitude from her so-called fans.

    As for me, it's my rule never to expect something when I'm going to see a new movie or read a new book, because no matter what I want/expect to happen, I know that it will never match with what I will actually get. I try to look at it with open mind and no expectations whatsoever, which saves me a lot of disappointment (at least in this respect).

    As for J.K. Rowling, in particular, she is my favourite author and I confess I do read everything that she writes. However, mindful of the genre and the themes that she explores, I adjust my attitude and enjoy her writing for the pure pleasure of it.

    1. Jo certainly does get a lot of snark, doesn't she?

      I love it when I see people who have favourite authors they love so much they'll buy anything they write, I'd just like to see less of the backlash! I think going into something with no expectations whatsoever is best; I recently read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, and one of the main reasons I enjoyed it so much is because I went into it not expecting anything from it.

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  2. I haven't read The Casual Vacancy yet either but it really bugs me how SO MANY PEOPLE rushed out to read it and then they were mad that it wasn't: Harry Potter: The Adult Years. Like WTH?! JKR never said it would be anything of the sort. In fact, she basically told everyone how different it would be from her other work. I think those particular readers were seriously unfair and it didn't help the book get it's fair shake either. I don't blame her for making herself a pseudonym afterwards for The Cuckoo's Calling, that's for sure!