BAND December 2011: Truth in Nonfiction
B.A.N.D., Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees, launched in July and is being run by a small group of bloggers as a way to promote the love of nonfiction amount bloggers. Each month a discussion question will be put forward giving everyone and anyone the chance to respond. If you are interested in hosting a month do check out the tumblr site and let us know!
Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness hosted the first discussion, asking What’s your favorite type of nonfiction? in July. In August I led the discussion, asking How did you get into nonfiction? In September Cass wanted to know about nonfiction audiobooks, asking if we had listened and enjoyed. In October Ash asked what our favorite nonfiction anthologies were. In November Amanda asked if we read nonfiction to help support a cause. This month Erin guest hosts from Erin Reads and asks (leave your response on her post here):
How you determine truth in nonfiction? Is the “true-ness” of a book important to you? If you’re a nonfiction veteran, do you have any pointers to offer nonfiction newbies?
Ahhh… truth in nonfiction. This seems to come up a lot with memoirs and auto-biographies. I usually approach those with caution and treat them with a grain of salt because we are talking often not only about ourselves but about others as well, and sometimes memory is flawed. The actual big lies usually come out too.
In narrative and scholarly nonfiction it can sometimes be harder as often you have no frame of reference of knowing. I like extensive bibliographies, end notes, and an index, as a start. The presence of these tells me that the author is serious and isn’t worried about you checking for more information. I also like to check WHERE they got their information. Often the bibliography will show a huge bias in one direction or another, or the author’s academic background and education may be something that has no relevance to the topic which he is discussing. Things like that can raise a red flag and cause me to go look up more information on the topic of the book.
I think the only real thing I can suggest other than that is to read widely. If you are interested in a topic, read as much as you can by a variety of authors, including a variety of views both for and against / positive and negative. Doing this will ensure you have a rounded view of a situation or topic. Maphead is an inspiration in this!
What about you – How do you determine the truth in nonfiction?