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Differing Interpretations, Misbehaving Authors, and More

Welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast, a bi-weekly show that answers your questions about life, love, and literature! My special guest co-host this week is the great and powerful Chuck Wendig. Chuck and I discuss three listener submitted questions and try to give advice on some interesting topics, including: what do I do when someone interprets a book differently than I do? How do I avoid a pack of roaming self-published authors? And, should I buy an author’s book if he acts like a…non-gentlemanly person? It gets intense, people. Have a listen!

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter and game designer. He’s the author novels such as Blackbirds, The Blue Blazes, and the YA “Heartland” series, among others. He is also well-known for his profane-yet-practical advice to writers, which he dispenses at his blog,, and through several popular e-books, including The Kick-Ass Writer. You can find chuck on Twitter @ChuckWendig. Thank you for joining me, Chuck!

This episode is sponsored by Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce and Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix.



Dear Book Nerd:

I am SO excited to have discovered the Dear Book Nerd Podcast. My experience begins with the most recent — #17: Real Talk About Librarians, Book Banning, and YA. As a high school librarian myself, I was supercharged to hear someone talking about librarians, book banning, and YA. I can’t wait to listen to the previous 16 podcasts and become immersed in this wonderful new resource focusing on life and literature. This will be a terrific way to spend my drive back and forth from work. Thanks to Book Riot for supporting this endeavor.




Dear Book Nerd:

What can you do when someone else has a different interpretation about a book you love? Many books can be taken in different ways, but it’s hard to imagine that people can get anything but the interpretation that you read. For example, I always took Pride and Prejudice as witty satire against the aristocracy at the time and Jane Austen wrote her dialog as a sly, witty, and sarcastic firecracker. The way I read the novel was as Austen trying to send an underlying feminist message about the limitations of women and their right to property, amongst other things. But then people have to go ruin a good thing by saying it’s all about romance – and only about the romance – and I feel like they are missing the deeper meaning. I’m sure anyone who has partaken in a book club discussion can understand….

Will the Real Lizzy Bennett Please Stand Up?

Dear Book Nerd,

I live in a medium-sized city with a small, but growing, literary crowd. Because of the gaining momentum, I’m very happy to be able to attend all the new literary events around town. However, at each literary event, there are between one and fifty (no exaggeration) self-published authors.

I respect the work they put into their books and I even have some friends that are self-published authors, but I often feel uncomfortable when I encounter these authors because they’re very salesy and pressure people into buying their books. I should add here that I’m very shy, so salespeople of any sort tend to make me nervous. I’m not saying we shouldn’t support self-published authors, but I’m simply not interested in the topics of their books, which include, for example, hyper-local history (like the history of a particular neighborhood in the city), holiday-themed mysteries (I don’t read holiday or mystery books) or memoirs with a religious theme (I’m an atheist).

Furthermore, they often have high prices on their books (like $27.99), and as a recent graduate, I can barely afford a $15 paperback. It’s gotten to the point that when I see a crowd of them, I quicken my pace, lower my head, and stare into my phone, meanwhile I’m panicking because I’m anticipating being approached and not being able to escape without spending money I don’t have on a book I don’t want.

How can I enjoy going to literary events without feeling accosted by self-published authors? And how can I encounter self-published authors and tell them I respect their work, but politely decline to buy their books?


Anxious Reader

Dear Book Nerd,

If an author whose books you have loved in the past has recently proven himself to be an absolute (in the words of the estimable Chuck Wendig) shit-ferret, would you buy his next book?

Violet Sharp



No, I Won’t Read Your Book if I Think You’re a Monster” by Kit Steinkellner (Book Riot)

Why It’s Important to Keep Reading Books By People Even If They’re Monsters” by Rachel Smalter Hall (Book Riot)


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