Is knowing about the author important?

You’re tucked into bed, curled up with the latest book you checked out from the library. The paper turns smoothly between your fingers- one hand on the next page even before your eyes make it to the the bottom. | Or maybe it’s an afternoon on your couch, sliding your fingers over a tablet, skimming the latest post by your favorite blogger. The screen illuminates your hands- every picture and every bolded word captivates you.

Vladimir Nabokov

No matter the scenario or content of what you’re reading- they all have one thing in common. They all have authors. Maybe it’s just one person, maybe two or three or so; we know this. We’re adults. And many of us are writers and authors ourselves. But let’s take a moment to think about the idea of knowing the author. How important is this?

John Green

When I was a child, I read my books for what they were. They were stories. I didn’t know I was being taught lessons. I didn’t even think about the kind of person who wrote the book. In school, our reading books would have excerpts about the short story authors. Those things bored me and I never connected the real life people to the characters in the stories. They were two separate worlds.

In high school I really had to start paying more attention to authors of our books though. As you grow older, you learn that stories are made up things- with bits of real life swirled in. With that, you make connections between the authors and what they write. You start to understand things like where J.K. Rowling got the idea for dementors. The more you learn about an author, the deeper the story can be for you. But it may cost you.

J.K. Rowling

This begs the question: how important is knowing a bit about the life of the author whose work you are reading? Could knowing too much or too little about what kind of person wrote the book you love put a damper on things? Maybe it helps you see what they’re trying to display in their writing. If you know about their personality and struggles, it could add a lot more to their art.

P.L. Travers

Furthermore, do you want your readers to know about you? Or would you rather them read your stories without knowing what’s real about you?


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