In an effort to discourage letters from young fans, the curmudgeonly children’s book author E.B. White wrote in 1961:
When I was a child, I liked books, but an author to me was a mythical being. I never dreamed of getting in touch with one, and no teacher ever suggested that I do so. The book was the thing, not the man behind the book. (emphasis added).
It’s much easier for 21st Century readers to know the men or women “behind the book[s]” than it was for White’s mid-20th Century fans. Through social media, we can interact more easily with our favorite authors and consume news about their lives in addition to consuming their books. Whether rightly or wrongly, factors external to the book like authors’ reputations — their perceived personality and even their politics — often outweigh factors intrinsic to the book when we choose what books to…
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