May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013: Ethics & Non-Fiction

This post is part of my week-long participation in Armchair BEA 2013.


I don't know a lot about the legality of what things you're allowed to post or not post (even with permission), but I do think I have a pretty firm grasp on ethics. To me it really boils down to asking: "Does this belong to me?" If it does, then use it any way you want. If it doesn't? Then you have to examine your options. For the most part, this means linking back to a website where you might have got a quote or information from. For images it's a bit trickier. For things like ideas? That's getting even more murky.

There are times when you might start up a feature or type of blog post and not even be aware that another blogger has done something similar -- this is legitimately possible, even if you do some Googling ahead of time. But if you do know that someone else has done something similar? I'd say it's always good to link back to that particular person, and even better would be if you let them know ahead of time, or even ask for permission to post. Just being conscientious will go a long way. Think about your own content and how you would feel if someone took it without permission, especially if they didn't give you credit.

I know there are far more specific and intelligent posts out there on this subject, so feel free to link me to those if you have a favourite. Otherwise, I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.


I was going to say that I can't even remember the last time I read non-fiction, but upon further reflection I do remember. I have a couple of fandom essay collections on my eReader that I've been slowly working through. Along similar lines, I reviewed the Friday Night Lights Companion back in 2011. So I guess the non-fiction that appeals to me the most is related to my interests (in these cases, essays that analyze TV shows and book series that I enjoy).

Besides those, though? I don't consider myself a reader of non-fiction. I was a history major in university so I read a LOT back then, but only what was required. I still love reading articles about historical figures and strange kind of pop culture events, but I don't tend to seek them out... I'll just click on links if I see them on Twitter or mentioned on someone else's blog.

I feel like I categorize myself as someone who reads to escape, and escaping to me is going into the life of someone fictional, experiencing their existence. But I know that good non-fiction can do that as well. I think I just prefer the form of the novel, rather than straightforward facts. To me the appeal of history was always the stories behind the people and events, not the memorization of dates and statistics.

One non-fiction book that I've always wanted to try is Devil in the White City, because the subject matter interests me, and I've heard that it reads like a novel.

While it might take me a while to get to it, I'd love any of your recommendations for more novelistic non-fiction.


  1. Hm, nonfic recs:
    - David Sedaris (ex. ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY)
    - TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS by Cheryl Strayed
    - EAT PRAY LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert
    - BEREFT by Jane Bernstein
    - SEABISCUIT by Laura Hillenbrand

  2. The Devil in the White City is amazing. Erik Larson is a great author. His In the Garden of Beasts is wonderful too.

    I'm a giant fan of nonfiction :)

  3. I hear you on not wanting to read much non-fiction. I read to escape, and non-fic really isn't!

    I did just read Queen Bees and Wannabes though. It was really helpful for understanding the dynamics of girl groups. I'm an elementary teacher, so I need to know those things, ya know?!

  4. I don't read a lot of nonfiction either, but I can definitely recommend Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan if you're into really wild psychology/neuroscience/medical stuff. It's a very gripping, scary read detailing what happened when the author started experiencing symptoms of this really rare autoimmune disease. I pretty much couldn't put it down, but then I am a sucker for books involving the brain and neuroscience :D

  5. I also want to read Devil in the White City! That book has been on my TBR for forever!

  6. I can't remember the last time I read a nonfiction book! I like to read to escape too, and generally that means I'm reading YA novels where the characters don't have to worry about things like paying back loans, finding a job, etc.

  7. I think that "does this belong to me" question is a good one. And I agree, it's absolutely possible to duplicate memes and features without knowing it, and sometimes I wish people were a little less quick to point fingers without doing the work to investigate intent/history. But the thing is, if it wasn't inspired by someone else, should you really have to credit them? I'm not sure. We don't do any memes on our blog, but that's something that's puzzled me, especially if it's not a well-known/popular meme.

    Great discussion, though. And I back up the first commenter with recommending David Sedaris!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment; I appreciate each one!


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