Your Reading Life

When I Love an Author’s Books, I Want to Read about Their Life

From articles to interviews and even diaries, there’s much more to an author than just their famous works.

I discovered Stephen King without knowing it – Shawshank Redemption, as those with basic cable know – has been playing almost daily since I was the mid-90s.

It wasn’t until I was older that I discovered that not only had my favorite horror author penned it, he also wrote Stand by Me and The Shining. I was never a Stephen King fanatic, but the more I learned about him and the breadth of work he’d accomplished, the more I found myself diving into interviews and essays, culminating in one of my favorite memoirs, On Writing.

When you find an author you love, sometimes reading their latest novel is not enough.

For superfans and voracious readers alike, absorbing an author not just for their works but also for who they were as a person is endlessly fascinating. It’s the reason why so many authors have diaries published posthumously, and also why authors have a built-in following when they write a quick post for The Huffington Post or an op-ed in the New York Times.

For me personally, there are a few authors who stick out as not only talented writers, but also fascinating people. When I first read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I found myself reading all of Hunter S. Thompson’s later political commentaries on the 70’s campaign trail and watching the biography film Gonzo.

After discovering Sylvia Plath, I went out and bought a compilation of her letters and diaries, wanting to understand such a complex mind more fully. And for those diehard Joyce-ians, you may already know that his love letters to his wife leave little to the imagination.

If an author has written only a few works, there’s nothing better than discovering a whole other world of writings and commentary for you to get your fix. What happened to J.D. Salinger? film screening, anyone?

[Photo credit: Elena Kharichkina / Shutterstock.com]

Do you read interviews, essays, or diaries from your favorite authors? What writers intrigue you beyond their famous works?

About the Author

RACHEL GOLDBERG is New York-based writer and works in editorial at the start-up company SideTour. She is a feminist and social justice contributor at PolicyMic, occasional dating blogger and has a background in social media writing and producing. As an avid reader, she can always be found buried in a book on the subway. Originally hailing from Chicago, she studied creative writing, gender studies and art history at Indiana University. She also considers herself to be a rather accomplished peanut butter connoisseur. Visit the author on Twitter @rachfoot.

  • Gail Dickey

    Absolutely. Sometimes I learn about the author prior to reading their books. I also take the opportunity to meet writers whenever I can. It helps to identify with the characters of the book.

  • Crystal Wall

    Always. If a book is really good or something I am interested in, I always read about the author and go as far as looking them up and visiting their sites. I enjoy being knowledgeable about what I am reading.