Jul 01

New literary holidays. Separating the author from their work. And we recommend Byrd by Kim Church and The Fever by Megan Abbott. 

Happy Tom Sawyer Days!

Ann and I are making progress on our BOTNS Bingo cards. I’m reading books then seeing if they can count for any squares. Ann is letting the Bingo card guide her reading. If you haven’t printed your card out yet, check out our original post for instructions, and the link to get your own card.

Don’t forget to call our voicemail line (209.867.7323) and share your views about the discussion we had in episode 286 about the recent trend of critics and other writers decreeing what people should and shouldn’t be reading.

A recent article on Bookish.com featured some new literary holidays to celebrate, and further Googling revealed others. Of course, the original bookish holiday is St. George’s Day (April 23, the day of Shakespeare’s death), which is now when World Book Night happens. And, Dr. Seuss’s birthday is now Read Across America Day. What about you? Will you be celebrating Tom Sawyer Days this weekend? Or Hemingway Days later this month?

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (11:55)

Fever: A Novel, Megan Abbott The Fever by Megan Abbott, narrated by Caitlin Davies, Kirby Heyborne, and , is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. It’s also Ann’s “Two Books” pick later in the episode… Sorry, Ann!

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Separating the Author from their Work (14:49)

It’s another thorny subject this week: Should an author’s personal life affect how and if you read their work? A recent NY Times Bookends article asked the question. That, plus the recent accusations against Marion Zimmer Bradley got us thinking. It’s something we’ve both struggled with: Ann with letting her daughter read The Mists of Avalon, and me with whether or not to read Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, whose opinions on certain subjects are the polar opposites of mine.

Is your reading or your perception of authors affected by their own history, actions, or beliefs?

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (27:00)

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I recommend Byrd, by Kim Church, one of our Booktopia Asheville authors. It’s a book Ann read early on and loved, and I also think it’s simply wonderful. It’s the story of Addie Lockwood and unexpected pregnancy that forever alters her life.

Ann recommends The Fever by Megan Abbott, the story of the Nash family: father Tom, son Eli, and daughter Deenie. Deenie’s group of friends are dealing with all of the usual trials of teenagehood when a mysterious illness starts to afflict them.

  • Dr. L

    Separate authors from their books? I think the answer is generally “Yes”, we ought to judge the work on its own merits. A sterling character doesn’t guarantee a good book, nor an evil character guarantee a poor book. That said, it seems to me that books may reveal their authors’ psychological and moral tendencies. For example, Ian McEwan’s “Sweet Tooth” demonstrates to me his misogyny. Extremely violent child porn surely exposes a writer’s interests.

  • Lisa W

    In the case of Marian Zimmer Bradley, I just don’t think I can separate the author’s personal life from her books. It is so egregious that I will be removing Mists of Avalon from my Kindle and taking it off my TBR list. I just don’t think there’s a way I can enjoy the book with these accusations in the back of my mind.

  • S.L.

    I attempted to read Ender’s Game several years ago (2008, perhaps) when the book was chosen as my city’s “One Book” community read. This was before bigoted statements by the author became so widely known. I found myself unable to finish the book because I felt uninterested in a story about a future world where women have so little agency. (Girls are rarely chosen for the training program because “Too many centuries of evolution are working against them.”) It seems that there was an attempt to mitigate this aspect of the original story in the movie, but in this case it was not possible for me to separate the author from his work. Too much of this work is permeated by his worldview, in my opinion.

  • I struggle with separating authors from their work, especially when I have not read their work before I find out I do not like them as a human being. I can’t watch the movies of actors/producers/directors I don’t like as human beings, either. I want the work to stand on its own, however I wonder so much if I should be supporting the work of a person who is racist or sexist or just a jerk in general.

  • JanetS.

    It rankles me to think that an author whose characteristics I detest would financially benefit from my buying or reading their work. Good thing I read Mists of Avalon ages before all this came out because I absolutely loved it but don’t think I could have separated this knowledge from reading the book. I would have constantly been searching for clues into the author’s perversions.

  • Great meeting you both the other night at RJ. The drive into work was nice today… why? Oh, I listened to this podcast. Thanks for this and I’ll be sure to brag about this show to all those booklovers I know.

    P.S. – Another great audiobook with a voice actor that does GREAT multiple voices, “The Martian” by Andy Weir… I’m LOVING this as an audiobook. I have been switching back and forth between the print book and I keep wanting to put the book down and just listen. 😉 I know it was one of the picks from Michael at the event, so i wanted to put that out there.

  • I think we should judge the work on its own merits. Many authors whose work is revered were idiots, jerks, or mentally unbalanced. I’d name some, but then it might ruin their books for some people, and I would not want anyone to miss a wonderful work of fiction because the author was a not a nice person IRL.

  • jayne190

    I think that you can separate an author from their work and that you have to, especially if you are a fan of their work. I wonder what the gossip was like in the day when Dickens took up with a woman that could have very easily been his daughter and he separated from his wife. I can guess that there were people who refused to read him as a result of him doing this, even if it wasn’t really public knowledge.

  • coleena312

    I’m just catching up and had not heard anything about the accusations against Marian Zimmer Bradley. I love King Arthur stories and am incredibly disappointed to learn about that Marian Zimmer Bradley’s husband was a convicted child molester apparently with her knowledge and the accusations that have been made against her.

    I agree with an earlier comment, had I not previously read the book and loved it I would not go near it. I find that I am often unable to separate an author or artist from their work; especially there is child abuse involved.

    I recall another author who was convicted of killing her mother with the help of her friend as a teenager and I have steadfastly refused to read any of her books no matter how interesting they may sound.

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