I was all set to scoff. Choosing a novel because the author is hot? That's probably the last thing I think about, running way behind the pack of more important reasons like: who recommended it, if I liked the author's work before, the back-of-book plot summary, cover art, availability in my format of choice (trade paperback), publishing house, and typography. Sure, we joke about it, but no one who actually cares about literature would care about an author's looks, because writing ability and appearance are wholly and utterly unrelated.
Yup, I was all set to comment, and then I remembered my post on John Irving. Into which I inserted no fewer than six author photos. Damn. What can I say, I have a total reader-crush on the guy.
Okay, I stand by my belief that I would NEVER EVER buy a book just because the author was good-looking. I mean, jeez, that's what the internet is for: free photos of people we like to look at. But there's definitely something enjoyable about reading a work of genius and then discovering that the person who wrote those words is visually appealing as well. Whether it's an expression like they've got a secret (Irving), a certain scruffy-headed charm (Neil Gaiman), killer eyes (Zadie Smith), or a wicked smile (David and Amy Sedaris), it IS nice if we like to look at those who we like to read.
But is there too much pressure for writers to have an intriguing (sexy) image? Take a quick look at this blog post: Can we stop being sexy? Just for five minutes? to compare one author's book jacket photo with a more casual photo. I personally think that the intent behind the "sexy" photo may have been to make the author look more intense and thoughtful (writerly) rather than give her a come-hither expression... after all, the title of her book was Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and I imagine that the marketing people decided that a certain formal glamour fit the book's packaging best. But the result was more or less the same: the photo made her look ethereal, and like a deep thinker, AND sexy. (But can we blame the author at all? Who wouldn't want to look amazing in a publicity shot?)
So. Any writers you love to look at? Any thoughts on the presentation of authors as a visual commodity? And, what's going on YOUR book jacket?