Unfortunately, I missed the first week of Nonfiction November, hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Becca at I’m Lost in Books, and Leslie at Regular Rumination. I had a pretty good 12 months of nonfiction since last November, with 16 books read. That’s an increase of 266% over the previous year—put that way, it sounds pretty awesome, don’t you think? My favorites were The Train to Crystal City and The Sixth Extinction. Honorable mention goes to the biography of Ethyl Paine, which gave me a unique look at the Civil Rights Movement.
Now that we are in Week 2, we are asked to pair up fiction with nonfiction. That’s right up my alley. I love reading the authors’ notes that tell me which books inspired their writing. And often, especially when I’m reading historical fiction, I want to know more about a subject and seek out additional books. Actually reading them is a slightly different story, so I haven’t read all of the books I’m listing here, but one day I will!
Jamie Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost is about a 12-year-old orphan who becomes convinced his mother is the movie star Liu Song. Set in Seattle between the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, the reader gets confronted with racism, segregation, prejudice, and social restrictions for women. Ever since reading this book, I’ve wanted to read Graham Russell Hodges’ Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend. Wong is mentioned several times in Ford’s book, and her experiences must have been similar to those faced by the fictional Liu Song.
Tracy Chevalier’s The Last Runaway is set in a small Quaker community before the abolition of slavery. Honor Bright is drawn into the actions of the Underground Railroad and has to eventually decide how much of a personal cost she is willing to pay for her actions. While not my favorite Chevalier, I think it would pair up wonderfully with Eric Foner’s Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad.
Helen Dunmore’s The Siege takes place during 1944, when German soldiers encircled Leningrad and cut off all food and fuel shipments to force the city into submission. It is an emotional read, very evocative and beautifully written. Not surprisingly, I’d like to read Anna Reid’s Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941 to 1944 to find out more.
While I was not a fan of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, I enjoyed reading Matthew Goodman’s Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World. Not only did it introduce me to two strong women, but it is also stuffed with the type of historical facts that I am a total sucker for.
And finally, if you enjoy Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan series, you might like to read Judy Melinek’s Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner. The 262 bodies might not be as gruesomely disfigured as a lot of the ones Brennan has to work with, but it is just as entertaining to read about them, or rather the medical examiner who has to handle them.
Do you have any pairings to recommend?