This evening, like many other people, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl, something I look forward to every year. So, today’s Sunday Salon post will be short. Whether you’re watching the game or not, enjoy your Sunday!
At a book group meeting a couple of months ago, we had a brief discussion about authors. Without really thinking about it, I’ve always tended to separate novelists from their books. I enjoy learning a little about an author, and I like knowing if his or her life experiences have somehow found their way into a book. But I don’t tend to seek out full biographical details about authors. I’ve never read a full biography; I usually prefer to know only what’s immediately relevant to the book.
I know there are many readers who love to delve into favorite authors’ lives. I can understand why someone might want to do so. The more I read, the more I consider how inseparable a book is from the person who writes it. It makes me wonder, what makes an author tick? What is/was their life like? What experiences, preferences, and beliefs guide and inspire them to write about what they do? Through what lens do they view the world? Which events and people have shaped them? These questions inevitably affect the novel that is produced, and I imagine exploring them can yield a context for and a deeper understanding of a novel.
But sometimes, knowing too much can be a mistake, to some: a fellow reader once told me he read a biography of his favorite poet, only to discover the poet behind the beautiful poetry wasn’t a good person at all. How, then, does this new knowledge affect one’s reading of those much-loved poems? Does it, even?
I’m curious to hear about your preferences. Do you separate novel and novelist, make it a point to read up on authors, or fall somewhere in between? What are your reasons for reading the way you do? Have you ever had an experience where you went against your normal reading habits and either regretted it or were glad you did?