Investigated – Do you fact check books?

Posted April 20, 2015 by Emily in Meme / 5 Comments


Fact checking is well, checking the facts presented in a book. Now, I get YA is composed of books of fiction, but every book, even fictional ones, have to have some elements of what we call reality. Honestly, I don’t really fact check. I won’t read something that is presented like a fact and then go look it up. If a character claims 60% of cavities are caused by drinking soda, okay, whatever. But if a “fact” contradicts something I know, whether in depth or just a little bit about, that’s when I feel the need to fact check. And if it’s wrong, I can’t help but dislike the book a tiny bit.

I’m a big mythology nerd. Or at least Greek mythology. My love for Greek myths and Greek gods (and goddesses) was what convinced me to start reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan in the first place. But my knowledge about them kind of became annoying when I read Only Everything by Kieran Scott. The book itself was fine but I could not get over how the Greek mythology was twisted in it. Eros, who is a married man in the myths, became a girl who fell in love with a guy who’s a constellation, Orion, who, according to some myths, loved Artemis. And while I could understand the twists and even though the book provided pretty good explanations for the discrepancies, I couldn’t help but go “wrong, WRONG, WRONG!” in my head. I still liked the story though – I gave it a four out of five stars in my review, but I probably would have rated it higher if it just stuck to the myths instead of twisting them.

The fudged up facts don’t have to be blatantly obvious to annoy me either. For example, sometimes I’ll mentally fact check when I read mystery books and the book details the forensic evidence and the way it is processed. “Scanned the fingerprint into IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) and got an exact match” IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY! It’s a lot more complicated than that in reality. IAFIS only gives possible matches, which then have to examined by a fingerprint expert to determine the closest match (according to my Forensics textbook and teacher). It’s the small facts like these that bother me.

As you can see, I’m really picky. I pick at all the little things when in books the big thing should matter the most. When it comes to fact checking, I hate it when I’m right and the book is wrong because the wrong facts kind of put a damper on my reading experience of that book. Sigh.

Do you fact check?
Can fact checking affect your opinion of a book?



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5 responses to “Investigated – Do you fact check books?

  1. I fact check all the time. Mythology gets brought up? I either know it or I don’t, and if I don’t I normally look it up. Same with historical settings. I’m totally cool with some creative license, so little things not lining up just right are fine; I just like to know about them.

    Things like your example with the IAFIS search drive me nuts. Especially when it’s a result of a google search or something and it completely changes the direction of the plot. I’ve actually DNFed books because of something like that. If it’s little and in the background and doesn’t actually change things, that’s one thing. If it’s something that has a significant influence, I just can’t get over it. Urgh!

  2. I don’t personally go out to fact check books. However, if the book discusses a topic I’m familiar with and they get it wrong, I get frustrated.

    I’ve gotten over the whole CSI effect like the fingerprint example you gave. Being a forensics major, I kind of got used to it. Unfortunately a lot of people think they know forensic science because they watch TV shows like CSI when really they don’t…

    I think I get mostly annoyed when they discuss a location I’ve been to and get it wrong. For example, I read a book where the main characters were attending UCLA. Great! I went there! Then they started talking about places near by and how UCLA is a semester school. Umm… No. If you’re going to use a real university, why make up restaurants and stores near by? & UCLA is not on the semester system just if you were wondering..

  3. I get annoyed when it is apparent an author didn’t do research. I can handle it if the POV isn’t my own, or is different from my experiences, but if something is blatantly incorrect, and they don’t thank any people who helped them research, I get angry. This is why I wasn’t thrilled with The Rosie Project. The author didn’t acknowledge any research on Asperger’s, although he was careful not to actually use the term, it was very obvious. I also don’t like to read books with cancer as a big theme because so much of the medical stuff is horrible and incorrect, unlike my own experiences as a cancer patient for more than a decade.