Random Thoughts for October 25th

My second Read-a-Thon has come and gone. In my first read-a-thon I was a reader and this time a cheerleader. I feel guilty that I didn’t make it around to all the readers that were participating. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to start cheering until 6pm yesterday and I crashed earlier than I thought I would. And this morning even though I was up early I couldn’t focus enough to make it to a lot of blogs in the last couple hours. I think next time won’t participate unless I know I’ll be free for the first several hours.

There were a couple things I noticed about the Read-a-Thon signups that should be thought about before the next Read-a-Thon – in the blogs I checked it seems that several people signed up and then never participated. I understand things coming up suddenly but many haven’t had posts for several months before hand and there wasn’t any indication that they had planned to participate. A few others gave incorrect links and a couple actually linked to their locked twitter accounts… perhaps we need a few people to go through all the links and a) double check that they are correct and b) see if people really are planning to participate.

I spent some time this week thinking about the argument: “If you haven’t seen/read it you can’t complain”. Yes this came from a post about Stargate Universe that I commented on (without having seen the show), however it’s an argument that I’ve been on both sides of and I’m still not sure if either side is totally right or wrong. On the one hand I do agree that if you haven’t seen or read something for yourself you can’t really form a complete opinion that is truly your own opinion. On the other hand I do think it’s possible to have at least a general idea of what something is about without having seen it and have something of an opinion about it based on what others have said. I also think it’s possible to have a feeling about something based on past experiences with the creator in question. In the end I think its important to acknowledge where you’re getting your information from – if you haven’t seen it say so and then say where you got most of your information about. Also keeping your thoughts general is important as you can’t know the specifics if you haven’t seen it. Even if you read a summary where someone said that “x” happened you can’t really know that “x” happened exactly the way they said it did. Thoughts?

And finally something that I was thinking about when writing the review for “I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Hunted: A Memoir” by Jennifer Finney Boylan, was the reason why I hardly ever read non-fiction – especially memoirs or biographies. I don’t really trust so called “non-fiction” because you an never tell how much is actually true. I’m not saying everyone is lying but I still have to wonder how much is fact and how much is interpretations of events. How much is someone really remembering vs. how much is based on stories they were told of what happened when they were a child? How much is what actually happened vs. what they think happened? How much is added for drama rather than actual fact? You can’t convince me that every word of non-fiction is true, no matter what. We all embellish our roles in life, we all interpret events differently, we all bring our own emotions to events, and our past experiences influence our interpretations. On the other hand reading memoirs does give you at least their interpretation of events and even if some of it isn’t true or didn’t happen exactly the way they think it did, you do end up with at least a general understanding of that person and how they got where they are in life. Though, I still don’t like the idea of reading something and finding out later that every word of it was a lie, and that it was done intentionally – that by definition is NOT non-fiction. I think that’s why I love the fantasy/science fiction genres so much – I don’t have to worry about it being true or not as it’s always fiction.

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9 Responses to Random Thoughts for October 25th

  1. lilly says:

    Hi Jen, you did an awesome job cheerleading and I for one am very happy that you got to visit my blog and keep my spirits up. Thanks a lot, it was great :)

  2. Jen says:

    Thank you for letting me know and you’re welcome for the comments. :)

  3. Care says:

    Lots of food for thought here! I don’t have any problem with memoirs and autobio’s having shades of truth precisely because someone’s perception of reality IS that person’s TRUE reality. I like to see other’s viewpoints and don’t get hung up on the degree of what might be fact. But I ‘get’ your issue. and is a good argument for your love of the fantasy genre.
    Thx for visiting me during the readathon! I am a much better cheer-er than reader – probably because it’s harder to track and eval the progress of cheering vs pages turned. :)

  4. Eva says:

    I can understand why you don’t read a lot of memoirs; I’ve slowly adjusted my thinking to them, but they’re definitely not my fave. HOWEVER, I don’t understand how memoirs make you not want to read all the other wonderful branches of nonfiction! :)

    You did a great job cheering! And I agree that the sign-ups need some tweaking.

  5. Trisha says:

    Seen/read it to Comment on it: I think someone should have to see it/read it in order to argue. You can certainly have an opinion about the idea of something without directly experiencing it – for example, I think doing heroin is a bad idea but I’ve never done it. But I would never argue about what it’s like to be on heroin (no matter how many stories I’ve heard) or what it’s like to stop doing it. In my experience, people who form opinions about things they’ve never experienced have a tendency to over-believe their own knowledge.

    Memoirs: I have no problem with non-fiction partially because I don’t need a story to be factual to see the Truth in it. Everyone got up in arms about A Million Little Pieces, but to me it was just a story with a lesson.

  6. Jen says:

    Care: “I like to see other’s viewpoints and don’t get hung up on the degree of what might be fact.”

    Good point. And yes I agree sometimes it’s good to at least understand what someone’s pov on something is.

    Eve: “I don’t understand how memoirs make you not want to read all the other wonderful branches of nonfiction!”

    It’s part of the same problem – each book is going to have a bias depending on who is writing it. I realize I can do a bit of research on the author and see what there stance is on certain topics before reading their books …

    Trisha: “In my experience, people who form opinions about things they’ve never experienced have a tendency to over-believe their own knowledge.”

    Excellent point and so very true! :)

  7. Ronnica says:

    Good thoughts about the linking thing. As a cheerleader (I was a reader as well), it was frustrating to get a virtual dead-end.

    I’ve thought a lot about your second point. I think generally, that is true, but I can’t help but know there’s an exception. There are some things that I refuse to read/watch because it’s beyond what I’m comfortable with morally. I can still speak against it, but like you said, in generalities. Other things, like Twilight, I just have to read before I can speak against them (which I have now done, and no, I’m not saying it’s awful, but that’s not saying it’s good).

  8. Thanks so much for stopping by to cheer me on during the read-a-thon. As a first-timer, I really appreciated the support.

  9. Jen says:

    @Ronnica – agreed, I don’t think there is a simple answer to the question either way.

    @Stacy – You’re welcome, and thanks for stopping by to let me know!

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