Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

Posted November 14, 2016 by Lory in events / 22 Comments


This week brings one of my favorite features of Nonfiction November: the Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairing, hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves.

This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Last year I managed to find quite a few unplanned, serendipitous pairings from my reading of the past twelve months. But this year the connections were not so clear, except for one pair of books that came my way via the Reading New England challenge. I do highly recommend them both, for the way in which they illuminate the shameful role of slavery in our region’s history, and the roots of the pernicious racism that is bearing its bitter fruit today.

Click on the titles for more information, via my original reviews.


New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America



The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation


What nonfiction/fiction book pairings would you recommend?


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22 responses to “Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

  1. The pairing I read half of this year (the other half is still waiting for me on the shelf) is Measuring the World and The Invention of Nature. I may have read other books that could be paired up, but if I did it was unintentional and so I didn’t note of it.

  2. I picked a MT Anderson book too, but mine was the nonfiction. I knew the name looked familiar, it’s all those Octavian Nothing books.

    • Symphony for the City of the Dead is a great pick – it was the first book by Anderson that I read actually. The Tsar of Love and Techno sounds interesting too.

    • I need more in-depth knowledge of American history — my education was pathetic. I’m reading Mayflower right now and it’s also very good.

  3. I read Philippa Gregory’s A Respectable Trade years ago which is about a slave trader’s wife in Bristol and it’s just heartbreaking to think about what was done to African people. I think sometimes fiction can be better at some topics than non-fiction, although I would like to read 12 Years a Slave some time. I saw the film which was very good, if very sobering.

    • There’s no getting around it, our “free country” was built on slavery, and we haven’t yet relegated that impulse to the past — it’s obviously still alive and well. What do we need to do to overcome it? Reading some of these stories helps me to understand where we came from, if not quite to see the way forward.

  4. Kudos to you for sticking with this year only! I had to cheat a bit and use backlist books. Gulp. I would highly recommend Coming to My Senses- it’s a memoir about perfume and it worked in so many ways for me. Lots of information about perfume itself and then the bonus of bringing back memories of my mother’s and grandmother’s favorite perfumes. Really lovely. The novel The Perfume Collector goes well with it.

    • I’d say it’s more about being too lazy to look beyond this year’s reading! I should come up with more wide-ranging combos some time. The perfume connection does sound very interesting.