Reader Bias

I wish I could say that there’s a good reason that I haven’t posted since Tuesday, but there really isn’t.  I started reading Deadline by Mira Grant (which is the sequel to Feed) and it’s quite good, but I’ve had some other things to do.  For example, today I was bowling in a tournament, I bowled decently (246, 194, 172 for a 612 series) and we had fun but I don’t think we’ll win much from the tournament.

Anyway, I’ve been a little distracted and ignoring my blog, well, I can’t really say that.  I’ve still been stopping by a couple times a day to check for comments and perusing other blogs, but I haven’t posted anything for a week, and I feel bad about that.  So here I am at about 12:30 AM writing a blog when I should be trying to sleep since I have to work in the morning.  Insomnia, isn’t it wonderful?

Anyway, I decided that I’d take this time to write a post that I’ve been meaning to write for some time.  I’ve said quite a few times on many different posts in my blog that I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson, and that all of my reviews for his books are horridly biased.

So the point to this post is to bring up the idea of reader bias.  We all have it, but how much does it really affect your enjoyment from what you read?

That's my answer, a lot.


I’ll bring up a couple of examples, the first is obviously going to be Sanderson.  I’ve read every adult novel that he’s published, the only books of his that I haven’t read are his Alcatraz series.  The Alcatraz books are his middle grade series, and while I read a lot of YA, I don’t often delve into middle grade.  But having said all that, I’ve still read the first book in the series and will probably read the rest eventually.

The paperback cover for Mistborn.

Elantris was the first Sanderson book that I read, and shortly after finishing it I went out and bought the Mistborn series.  I’ve read a lot of books, I’ve seen a lot of movies, and I’ve played a lot of video games. The Mistborn trilogy has the greatest ending of any story I’ve seen.  I read the last 250 or 300 pages of the third book all at once (which kept me up well past my bedtime, much like this current post is doing) and then immediately went back and reread the last 5 chapters or so.  As much as I loved Elantris, this series hooked me as a fan of his writing and I’ve bought and loved every book he has written since.

I try to be fair in my reviews, and I try to avoid saying bad things about authors if I can avoid it.  This is going to sound very inflammatory, but please keep a couple of things in mind before you scream at me for talking about this author.  First, I’ve purchased 5 of his books, and second, he’s an international best selling author who has received tons of awards for his novels, nothing I say here is going to hurt his career.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Neil Gaiman.

I’ve read 5 of his books (if you’re curious, the ones I’ve read are American Gods, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Stardust, and Good Omens, which he wrote with Terry Pratchett) and I have to say that the ideas for his books are absolutely brilliant.  The pitch I heard for Good Omens was brilliant.  I heard the book described what happens when an angel and a devil try to prevent the apocalypse by having the antichrist raised by a good suburban family (once again from the Writing Excuses podcast).  Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the book.  Ultimately the problem that I had with this book is the same problem that I’ve had with Gaiman’s other books.  The viewpoint characters don’t really affect the overall story.  The book had some very funny scenes, and the two main characters were fun to read about, but to me the central story of the book dealt with trying to stop the apocalypse, and nothing that the characters did affected the central story.  Gaiman’s a genius and a quality writer, but I’m not as crazy about his books as most other people are.

So now that you know why I’ve had some issues with Gaiman’s work, it’s time to get back to the original point of this post and how my bias affected my review.  I recently read Stardust by Gaiman, which was a solid story, but I could never really get into it because I was kind of waiting to be disappointed for the duration of the novel.  And while the ending of the book did fall flat to me (I think it went on longer than it needed to) the rest of the novel was invariably superior to the other books I’ve read by Gaiman.

So there’s a fairly long and rambling post talking about my biases.  Obviously this goes beyond just what scores I give books or how often I suggest them to other people.  This goes straight to the point of what you even read.  I love Fantasy novels, and I read through them very quickly.  Other types of novels don’t work out as well for me.

So usually when I have posts like this I end them by asking the question that I rambled on for hundreds of words talking about.  So here’s your question: are their any authors that you’re unabashedly biased towards (I’m going to ask why too)?

I’m not going to ask about any authors that you’re biased against, I prefer to keep most conversations on my blog as positive as possible.  Even in my “bad” example for this post I still said the guy is a genius.

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  1. I suppose I could consider myself biased toward Clive Barker. I enjoy the flow of his prose.

    Everyone would probably say Tolkien too, but I confess that so far it has just been for his Middle-earth works. I love the devotion to his creation of Arda, the details of the language and world building. The epic story from Silmarillion down to Lord of the Rings, it’s all too much and I can’t help but squee like a hyper fangirl.

    • I’ve never read anything by Clive Barker, and despite the fact that I read a lot of fantasy novels, I’ve actually never read any of Tolkien’s work. I’ll have to look into them.

  2. hannahrose42

     /  January 22, 2012

    I actually have an interesting bias toward Gaiman… I am biased to like his books because of who ans how they are recommended to me, but they never fulfilled the promise. And yet I keep reading him. There is also Chuck Palahniuk, who I will read no matter what. For instance, I bought Pygmy against the better judgment of other people I trust. Other than that… I used to read a lot (a lot, a lot) of Michael Crichton books and loved them regardless of how good they really were. Unfortunately, I do get heavily biased against authors that are probably very good, for no good reason. I’m terrible at being unbiased.

    • I’ve read I think 9 of Palahniuk’s books (they’re all listed under the Total Score) and I’ve had various reactions to them. Fight club is solid, Invisible Monsters was great. There are a couple of his books that I haven’t read yet, the one that I’ve heard suggested the most that I don’t have is probably Rant. Some of his books are so weird that I occasionally need a break from reading his stuff.

  3. Good post – this is something I honestly hadn’t given too much thought before. I guess I’d say I have a slight bias towards Agatha Christie; because of my love for And Then There Were None, I tend to enjoy her other books even when they can veer towards dull. And on another note, your words about the Mistborn trilogy have convinced me to read the series.

    • And Then There Were None is a brilliant book, and the fact that I’d read it years ago is why I picked up Murder on the Orient Express over the summer and started reading through several other Poirot books the past 6 months or so.

      The Mistborn trilogy is awesome, 3 interesting magic systems that all intertwine and by far the greatest ending that I’ve ever seen in a series. Glad to hear that I convinced another person to read it.


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