Monday, May 14, 2012

There are two kinds of... no, not really

Last night I downloaded The Pleiadians (sic) Files - Hidden and Ancient Records by Dace Allen, which was available as a freebie on the Kindle.  I enjoy reading ancient astronaut and conspiracy theory sorts of books, but I don't believe them at all.  While presented a problem this morning when I went to enter the book into BookHabit, the app I use to track my book collection and reading process.  It didn't feel intellectually honest to classify this book as "nonfiction," but respect for authorial intent prevented me from classifying it as "fiction." 

And the more I thought about it, an extended list of different sorts of books came to mind that were classified by their publishers as "nonfiction" but which I still wouldn't consider true:
  • Books based on scientific theories which were later disproved (phrenology, geocentrism, etc.).
  • Books based on blatant distortion of scientific or historical evidence (Holocaust denial, young earth creationism, etc.).
  • "Memoirs" which are, if not constructed of whole cloth, at least at variance with reality.
  • Religious books for faiths which the reader does not believe.
And then it hit me:  Fiction/nonfiction, like so many other things that we take to be binaries (gender identity, sexual orientation, autism, political believes, homelessness, etc.) is actually a spectrum.  Some books that are published as fiction are more "true" than some that are published as nonfiction, and some books contain differing amounts of reality for different readers.

Oh, and in case you're wondering how I classified The Pleiadians (sic) Files:  I didn't.  I tried coming up with a good category name for "books that the author apparently sincerely believes to be nonfiction but which I don't" and instead decided not to spend the brain cycles it would require.

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