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Brought to you by OBS reviewer Valerie


OBS Speaks Out: Should you read a book if you don’t like the author’s behavior?


Many public figures, including politicians such as the President,  depend on their actions in order to maintain their status and keep their job. Yet an author’s actions often do not affect their salary; most readers do not follow the lives of the authors whose books they read. Of course there are exceptions to this generalization, including Daniel Handler’s racist joke and YA author Kathleen Hale’s stalking of a reviewer. When an author’s actions become publicized and discussed to the point it trends on Facebook and Twitter, how should a possible reader respond? Should the reader still read the author’s book, even if he or she does not approve of the author’s behavior?

My initial answer was no. Shouldn’t a book be judged independently from its author? After all, just as a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, it also should not be judged by its author. All authors make mistakes; as readers, we should not decide whether or not to buy their books based on their behavior, should we?

To an extent, I believe we should. Readers should factor an author’s intentions when they decide on a book to buy. Take Daniel Handler, for instance, also known to many children as Lemony Snicket, author of the Series of Unfortunate Events series. His joke made at the National Book Awards ceremony should affect his sales negatively; as a role model, it is his job to present himself in a positive light, regardless of his own opinions.

Authors are role models — they ultimately must be held responsible for their own actions. Worse comes to worse, if one really wants to read the author’s works, just check it out from the library!