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Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Discussion: Do You Need to Read a Book By An Author Before You Go See Her?

As I have mentioned already, The Berwyn Library is hosting bestselling author Gillian Flynn on Wednesday, July 11th at 7pm.  Yesterday the Chicago Sun Times had the event listed with their review of Gone Girl.

Registration for the event opened to the public today.  We only have 20 spots left, so email ra[at]berwynlibrary[dot]org to hold your place ASAP.

One of the questions we have had from people is, "Well, I haven't read any of her books. Can I still come?"  Our answer is: OF COURSE!  If you like reading, come see an actual author.  But I got this question enough that I thought I would turn it into today's Monday Discussion. 

If you had asked me this question 10 years ago, I would have said that there was no way I would go to see an author whose books I hadn't read.  What would have been the point?  However, after 12 years as a professional Readers' Advisor I have a completely different answer.

I have been at many author events for work over the last dozen years and often I had never read the author's work, but still enjoyed these talks. In 1997, I saw Sherman Alexie at the Printers Row Book Fair back when he was listed in Granta as a "Best Young American Novelist" and I saw Karin Slaughter here at the BPL last year.  Even though at the time, I had read nothing by either author, I learned quite a bit about their process from listening to them speak.  Both are huge best sellers today.

I think if you love reading and books, seeing any author speak about their writing is a worth while experience.  However, I can totally understand wanting to be familiar with an author's "style" before seeing them (literally seconds ago a patron just told me this is why she is reading Dark Places even though it is, as she said, "not my genre").

So for today's Monday Discussion, let me know about you.  Do you need to have read an author's work before you will see them speak?  Let me know.

Click here for past Monday Discussions.


John BPL RA said...

Believe it or not, I feel the answer is no. If it is an author you may not like or have not has time to read, you may still like to see them in person to hear what they have to say. Many authors are interesting as people. Also, if you have a friend or relative who is a fan of the author you may want to get an autographed copy of one of their books as a gift. I recall seeing a singer in public of a certain band of which I was not a fan. I knew that my brother, however, was a HUGE fan of them so I got an autograph for him and gave it as a birthday gift. He liked it so much that it hangs, framed, on his wall. The same scenario can work with popular authors.

Kimberly said...

No, most emphatically no. Many authors "tour" when there's a new book in order to promote the book, often well before the reading public has had a chance to find it. Hearing the author before reading the book is often the publicists' point! Like Becky I have heard authors speak before I've read any of their books and often that has been the very thing that has inspired me to read them. Regardless, the published author is most likely an intelligent and eloquent individual who can start an attendee on a new line of thinking or establish a connection to a new genre or entertainment form. It's just plan fun!

Mike said...


I think if you love reading you
can enjoy hearing an author
talk even if you have not read
his or her book. A few years
ago I attended a book con-
vention at which author Sara
Paretsky spoke. I have not
read her work, but found her
presentation on censorship
well worth hearing.