Over at Three Guys One Book, Dennis Haritou, offers Ten Cardinal Rules for Book Blogging, which ranges from the high-minded (the only reading that's worth any respect is close-reading) to the idiosyncratic ("Never write about your friends...it's revolting").
Rule-making for blogging seems like a bit of a fool's errand; your time would be just as well spent arranging sand on the beach just so. Still, there is a central concern to the 3G1B list that is worth thinking about: the relation of the author to the reviewer, reader, and blogger.
The first rule suggests that the reader/reviewer ignore the fact that there is a writer at all:
You love the book, not the writer. You don’t care about the writer. They could be a talking gazelle. You don’t care. You’re in for trouble if you like the writer. No good can come from this.
Then, in the last rule, a seemingly contradictory imperative:
Read only the writers who will talk to you. There is no greater thrill than reading a novel, being amazed, and knowing you can ask the writer about it.
I'm not really sure how to reconcile this. We're not supposed to care about the writer and yet we are thrilled to talk to writers, to have access to them, to connect our appreciation for a work to the being who created it.
I think that affection for a writer after reading a great book relates to something else I've thought about, An Offshoot of the Buzz. Basically, reading something that moves, entertains, or inspires you is difficult to keep contained. You want to share it, process it, and revel in it. And yet, the book object (or increasingly text file) is inert. It cannot share in your exuberance, respond to your questions, or otherwise affirm your excitement. So we want to go to the source.
The problem then becomes---well now what. What does having some knowledge or even relationship with an author do to your existing love for a book? Does it intensify it? Attenuate it? Does your excitement get transferred from the book to the author?
My own experience has been that the best place to expend this enthusiasm is with other readers, not with the author in the various forms available to the common reader and blogger (interview, essay, reading, etc). For one, I can count on one hand the number of authors who, in person, are half as interesting as the book I just read (most are not quite as interesting as a can of Pringles. Though I do really like Pringles).
A fellow reader can share your experience in a way an author can't; the author is too tied to it, too invested in the work personally. Also, when discussing a book with a fellow reader, you are less likely to be subject to the author's presence. Even the best interviews are not conversations about a book in the same way that a very good discussion between peers can be.
Do you like to know more about authors? Why or why not? Do you think people should be paying more or less attention to the authors themselves?