The simple definition of the terminology for the fastest growing and increasingly prolific writings and sharing between humans is 'True stories well told.'
The literature of reality, with all of the pain and the secrets that authors confess, is helping to connect the nation and the world in a meaningful and intimate way."
Lee Gutkind - You can't make this stuff up
The basis for the genre is considered to have four major elements
1. Documentable subject matter - you didn't just make it up out of your imagination
2. Exhaustive research on elements of the subject matter - supplying perspectives and credibility by verifiable reference in the texts.
3. The 'scene' - not just journalism - fleshing out the who, what, where, when, how and why in more than just the raw data.
4. Polished writing that allows a reader to follow.
I was researching something else, but realised that many of the discussions about ET and others on this forum hold texts to be more than this - more than an author's perspective of what a subject entails in their experience, knowledge, awareness etc
It 'niggled' at me in the discussions about ET's finding his way to his new awareness being 'instant' - any time I read that I wonder if they missed the bit that said he had been sitting on a park bench for two years questioning and worrying the life out of the notion he used to have that knowledge and intelligence was everything - and then he looked around and realised it wasn't > change of focus / perspective.
His books are detailing his journeying and perspectives in uncovering the falsities that created his suffering.
By using the four principles/elements in writing creative non-fiction books about the 'subject', he is sharing those realisations and the elements of the subject that he considered important in the process.
He does also add prescriptive advice, and at other times speaks to the reader as he might in a conversation with them (eg: random selection from the pages of ANE: 'To refrain from identifying with the the body doesn't mean that you neglect, despise or no longer care for it. If it is strong, beautiful or vigorous, you can enjoy and appreciate those attributes - while they last. You can also improve the body's condition through right nutrition and exercise. If you don't equate the body with who you are, when beauty fades, vigor diminishes, or the body becomes incapacitated, this will not affect your sense of worth or identity in any way. etc
So when questions are asked is this being made more complicated than it need be, or why did one consider this and not that, or how can I believe it - the answer is ... it's not about you - it's the author's perspective on a topic based on their knowledge and experiences.
Any non-fiction is this ^
Must be why I love to ask - who says?