Truth is my answer and reason!
Does a story ring true?
I believe that we read to learn the stories of others. Whether we say we want "information" or "knowledge", if that's conveyed to us in the form of a story, so much the better.
When we sense honesty - that we're being told truths - we accept this more easily. And everyone's "truths" are different.
Yes, there are fabricators - James Frey, etc.
But there are also those who relate the stories of their lives - warts and all, with unblinking courage - so by reading, we may learn from them.
What are the truths about "history"? Are they only HIS-story? What about HER-story?
It's taken me a few years to realize "history" MUST include HER stories, as well as those of children, servants, slaves, immigrants, aliens - illegal or not. All those not in power, not in the dominant culture, all those who are disenfranchised. The angle of the lens of study must widen and include everyone who was there, not only those who can write best. Original sources! Record the oral histories. Break out the interpreters and translators!
Show me all sides and angles of the story - including from the bottom up - and I'll tell you that you've given me a real history.
Tell me what you're reading now!?