Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA: Ethics and Non-Fiction

So today's discussion is about blogger ethics, and though I wasn't super aware of that topic when I first started blogging, after the plagiarism-drama earlier this year that has changed. Giving credit where it is due should be a no-brainer. I've never been plagiarized (to my knowledge) but I've seen what it did to other people and it made me incredibly angry! I'm familiar with it in a more academic setting, I just never thought to extend it to reviews - why would anyone steal another's opinion? It makes no sense to me, and it's not okay in any way! Read the book. Find your own words, your own voice. Sometimes I also avoid reviews of a book I got for review altogether until I've written my own.

Even if you're a new blogger and feel you cannot find the right words yet or that you just have to post tons of reviews to establish yourself... don't go down that road. Someone usually notices the stolen parts, and the fallout isn't pretty. I also can't imagine that you'll feel good about your blog if you know that half the content isn't really yours. If you don't want to put in the work, don't blog.

Also, if you participate in a meme or pick up on someone else's idea, at least give them credit, or even better ask them about it first if it's a more special meme than a link-up such as TTT or WoW. Otherwise it will look like you stole their idea and just went with it, or as if you're trying to pass it off as your own, even though maybe that wasn't what you intended.

Same goes for pictures/graphics. Unless they're stock images or clearly declared as free for the taking, don't just copy and use them. You can get into legal trouble. As far as I know you even have to give sources for pictures of actors or whatever that you're using as examples of how you imagine a particular character in a book. Same goes for elements of another blog's design.

I guess my bottom-line opinion is pretty simple: stay honest, be polite, don't take what isn't yours. I'm by no means an expert and there are people who have been around longer, but those are guidelines I've fared well with. If you have tips to share for those who have been plagiarized and don't know what to do about it, feel free to share them in the comments!

The second topic of today's discussion is non-fiction. 
I don't actually own a lot of non-fiction. The only NF I read is for my studies, so it's usually secondary literature or literary theory. Roland Barthes, Terry Eagleton, some Freud, textbooks on Old English, Middle English, poetry, structure. I think these works are interesting but I wouldn't read them in my free time or for something that doesn't relate to my courses. The only thing I can imagine reading just because is maybe history or social theory of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, but it would have to be from a cultural/literary perspective.

I've never read guide/advise books because I tend not to trust them or to find their tips rather obvious, nothing I couldn't have figured out on my own. If I needed the info for research, I'd just go to the library and pick the most reliable sources.
I've never read a biography, though if someone can recommend one of Oscar Wilde I'd be interested in that.
I don't know. It's not like I'm 100% opposed to non-fiction, it's just that I like fiction so much better. I want stories. I don't car if they're 'real' or not, they just have to be good, they have to touch me in some way, and non-fiction rarely does that for me.

How do you feel about non-fiction? Can you maybe recommend something? Sometimes the fiction:non-fiction ratio on my shelves embarrasses me a bit.
How about ethics? Do you disagree with something I said, or can you list something I forgot? I'd love to hear your opinion!


  1. I prefer fiction, too. My shelves are embarrassingly lacking in non-fiction. But my husband only really likes non-fiction, so if I put his books on there, it'd help...a little. He's still not quite the reader I am. And he mostly only likes history (American, wars, etc.) and hunting-related books. So, still not much diversity. I do own a couple of non-fiction, but they're biographies or memoirs of funny people. If I'm going to read something non-fiction, it's likely it's because it's funny or music-related.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't read a lot of non-fiction ^^'
      But music related non-fiction books are a great idea! I think there's an edition of Kurt Cobain's diaries that I've been interested in, but I don't know... I'd like to peek into his head but it also feel like a violation somehow. Also, many books about music or photography are just so darned expensive here... like from 40 bucks upwards :(

  2. Like you, I don't really go the non-fiction route. Though I hadn't even thought about guides and such. For two years I was addicted to reading books about decluttering, ways to detach emotion from possessions. (I had a LOT of books I was having trouble parting with.) So I read books to get tips on how to get rid of books. If only the Kindle had been around at the time.

    Unless it's tech stuff, though I get most of the info I need online, I don't read anything non-fiction these days.

    And ooh you've never read a biography? While I don't love them, there are ones I've enjoyed/appreciated. I don't think I've ever read an autobiography. To me, it seems those would include a LOT of fiction. Who really wants to be that honest about themselves for hundreds of pages.

    I'm not embarrassed about my lack of non-fiction. I live it every day. It's called life. I prefer something a little less real when I read. I say, why be ashamed of your bookish choices. You only have so much spare time, may as well spend it in a way that makes you happy.

    Happy Armchair BEA! Sorry for the ramble-y comment.

    1. Don't apologize, I love long comments and often leave them myself ;)

      I didn't even know there were books about de-cluttering! I have a problem with that soemtimes, but giving (my own) books away is not something I'd consider at this point. I want to build a big library! (They're awful to move house with though >.<)

      I just remembered that I read Stephen Kings autobiography/advise On Writing! I'd totally forgotten about it but I adore that book! I think autobiography would be interesting if you read it critically... as in, the person tries to construct an image, or portray the image of how they think other people think they'd think about themselves *ahem*

      I'm not usually embarrassed about it, I just sometimes feel like people I meet in my university setting expect me to have read more theory/non fiction. But I see it the same way you do - I have enough non-ficiton and 'reality' in my day to day life. I want someting else when I read!

      Thanks so much for your wonderful comment :)

  3. It is funny that our ethics mirror things we should have learned so early. I had loved reading these posts and feel like I should go and thank my Mom and grade school teachers for doing such a great job.

    1. True. I find myself shaking my head a lot about people, and then I often realize no one ever taught them any different. I'm really glad my teachers were always so harsh about plagiarism!