Discussion: Separating the book from the author in the age of social networking

                       book vs author

There are wonderful people and wonderful books.  Unfortunately, the two don't always coincide.  We live in an age where authors are becoming more accessible than ever.  You can tweet your favorite author and they'll tweet you back.  You can chat with them at book signings and exchange e-mails.  You can read their blogs and follow the lives of their pet ferrets (I'm looking at you, Jodi Meadows! ;)).  You can stalk them at home Don't do that, that's creepy.  

Above all, you can grow to like and even befriend them with an ease that was simply unattainable even twenty years ago.  And all this means that you are going to find authors you like.  As people.  You're going to chat with them and consider them friendly acquaintances, often long before you've actually read their book.  Which leads me to the question:  

Is it difficult to separate the author from the book when you read and review?  

This is something I know I've struggled with.  Sure, it's easy when the book is bad and you don't know or hate the author.  But let's think of the other scenarios:  

Good book / Loved author 

Congratulations, you've won the lottery!  There's always a sense of relief when I finish a book by an author I admire and I find it good.  There's always a little bit of a halo effect, of course. I always strive to critique the book rather than the author when I review, but inevitably I find myself feeling more favorable towards certain books simply because the author is a lovely person.    It would take a lot for me to hate a book by Sarah Maas, for example, because she's sweet and funny and lovely.  But at least there's no horrible moral dilemma as with . . . 

Bad book / Loved author 

It's easy to criticize a book when the author is a faceless name.  But what about when they're a sweet person?  When you've chatted with them on Twitter, or grown to admire them?  It's a little soul crushing.  I feel bad saying that I hated the book.  I had this problem with Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.  I follow her Twitter and blog and think she's a strong, clever, delightful person.  But I really didn't like Shiver, and I tried much harder than I would with other books to find ways to like it.  It's an impulse I've tried hard to resist.  Eventually, I managed to write a review that reflected my feelings, rather than my love of Stiefvater's sharp blog posts.   But I know that, subconsciously, I was probably softer on it than I could have been. 

Good book / Disliked author 

This is something I don't struggle with very often (I mean, unless it were Hitler or something).  However, it can be very difficult for people.  I know a ton of people were boycotting or negatively reviewing No One Else Can Have You after Kathleen Hale outed herself as an unrepentant stalker.  I found myself in the dilemma of: I don't want to give this woman money, but I did actually want to read her book.  Do I read but not review?  Do I just get it from the library?  Worse is the case in which someone hates the author so much that they find themselves disliking a book they might otherwise love.  Objectivity is a hard road.

Those are my thoughts, but I'm wondering how other people have dealt with this problem.   How do you work this out with your own reviews?  

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