Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Sunday Salon: On Breaking Up with an Author

This week's reading has me pondering a question that I wanted to toss out to you, my Dear Abbys of the book blogosphere:

At what point do you decide to break up with an author? And what do you do about his or her possessions (i.e., the remaining books on your TBR pile) that you still have?

I'm not talking about the real-life in-the-flesh kind of dating a writer, although I guess there could be some comparisons. I'm talking about the literal, pulp-fiction kind of entanglements.

Allow me to explain.

Awhile back, I read a book by a well-established, acclaimed writer. It wound up being just a meh book for me. No problem with that; it happens.

I'm all for giving people second chances - in most cases, that is. A book has to be absolutely gawdawful for me to swear off an author forever. (It has happened.) But that's not the situation here, though. I tried another book by this author, and decided to leave the date mid-way through. Yep, this one turned out to be a DNF.

I'm thinking that as wonderful as this author is for so many people, this relationship is not working for me. Again, it happens. So why am I second-guessing myself?  Did I give this author enough of a chance with 1.5 books? And if so, what do I do with the remaining three books by this author that I have? I could certainly use the room for others that will make my heart sing. I should set them free for someone else and not have the sting of regret staring me in the face as a reminder every time I look at my shelves.

You have this issue too, don't you? (Please tell me that you do and that I'm not completely crazy.) Why do we find it so difficult to break up with an author, to admit that sometimes we're just not a good match for a particular writer - especially when it is one that so many people seem to love? Is it particularly acute for those of us who consider ourselves writers because we know all too well the time and sweat and tears that go into producing a book?

I'll probably wind up donating the remaining books to the library - where, if I decide that this author and I need a third go-around, we can have ourselves a happy little rendezvous.

Tell me ...what is your threshold or criteria for deciding that a particular author isn't for you? Do you declare it quits after one book, or do you tend to read at least one more before deciding you're not a match in literary heaven? And what do you do with any remaining books? 

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Tanya Patrice said...

I don't necessarily read all the books by any author - even if I like them, so I don't think I've ever "broken up with an author."

Jeanne said...

Does it make me commitment-phobic that I will usually only try a new author from the library?

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I haven't quite broken up with Bill Bryson, but I'm close. I haven't enjoyed his travel writing -- which I've tried a couple of times -- but I want to give his science/history another try (I was in the middle on Home) before I say we're not a good fit.

So no, you're not crazy :) But I am curious who the author you are considering breaking up with is!

Melissa Sarno said...

Such an interesting discussion. I have thought about breaking up with a famous and loved author because I don't connect with his books at all. I decided I won't *buy* any of his future books but I will consider borrowing them. It would be hard for me to completely break it off (ARGH, such a dilemna) I certainly think it's fair to donate the books and try a borrowed copy if you feel compelled. :)