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Fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, mystery, history

Fiction, non-fiction

This is an interesting one. It is to me curious that people to a great extent agree on fiction vs. non-fiction. There are some outliers, but that I think is mainly due to some auto-thing. That nine people have tagged Harry Potter as non-fiction I do believe is more an automated thing. Not that they are actually chosen. And Contact by Carl Sagan, have 664 fiction and six nonfiction. Which is, in a way, fair enough, there are looaodds of science in there, though the overall thing is absolutely fictitious.
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A selection of works, with percentage fiction vs. nonfiction

LT users vs the 12 top tags

This of course, is rather messy. Here is what it says: the total number of LibraryThing users that “have” a given book. Then the amount of those that have tagged the book with the top 12 tags in LibraryThing. You have to zoom to make sense of it: or better: use the legend to remove tags or number of users.

So then there is an area between fiction and nonfiction. Arguably, Jane Eyre is fiction, but you could also read it as a nonfiction account of life in England in the 1850ish, and there are nonfiction bits and descriptions of architecture, the structures of society, customs etc.

So take the case of Sofie’s world. It is overwhelmingly fiction, but:

    1. fiction: 1568


    1. history: 294


    1. fantasy: 101


    nonfiction: 94

Of course; just because something is fantasy, does not mean it is mutually exclusive with nonfiction. And that is kinda the point. Classificatory systems are often hierarchical and excluding (I am thinking here of formal systems like Dewey Decimal etc. Tags break all that. These graphs are not wildly useful in a navigational sense. Let us say you like science fiction but you also like romance. Or science fiction with some non-fiction reality, these graphs will not really guide you. The consensus is surprisingly consistent, and the outliers should probably be ignored as simple anomalies, not as real data. You are better off looking at related tags, such as nonfiction and history. That will at least give you The ancestors tale, The voyage of the Beagle, and Sofie’s world.

I am actually rather disappointed in these data. I would so much love it to be a bit more crazy. But what can I say? It says something about the perception of works, and that there is generally a strong consensus. That one person tags The ancestors’ tale with “fiction” is not because s/he is a rabid religious creationist. It is merely a hiccup; an artefact of the tagging system. I actually find it a little curious that there are not more.

Harry Potter has over 85 000 users on LibraryThing, but only 6018 have actually bothered to tag it with fiction. Of all the tags for Harry Potter, the absolute top is fantasy, with 9885. That is still only a measly 11%.

Literature is, of course, a pretty useless tag. I mean; what is not? Thing is, non-fiction is often tagged with literature too. So then perhaps it is something about .. “quality”. Whatever that means. Jane Eyre is “literature”. But so is Freakonomics.