We’re joining in on the Nonfiction November prompt this week, which is focused on pairing fiction and nonfiction titles.
Probably an obvious one right now is pairing The Martian with Packing for Mars. I read those two back-to-back, it was great. You could also pair Packing for Mars with C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet. It was published in 1938, so it’s interesting to see how much we now know about space and space travel.
Oh, there’s a new nonfiction book out called The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levensen about the discovery of planets that sounds super interesting, too.
When I was trying to come up with pairings, I remembered that there were several books that came out last year about women who dressed as men to fight during the Civil War. The nonfiction stories in Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott were so great, but I really loved Neverhome by Laird Hunt, too.
I read a number of books about women disguised as men during the Civil War last year (like I Shall be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe and Revolutionary by Alex Myers) but I’ve yet to pick up Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. I received it as a gift recently and it’s on the top of my nonfiction to read soon pile.
Good ones! You could also go with A Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, though that waxes soooo philosophical.
When pairing I tend to lean towards Holocaust literature and nonfiction. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a beast, but worth every page to fully comprehend the Holocaust, the German culture before, through, and during WWII and tactical maneuvers. You could pair it with Night, of course by Eli Wiesel or you could go slightly off the beaten path with This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski, which I think is a unique take on the concentration camp narrative because it’s told from the perspective of a Polish man instead of a Jew.
I don’t know that this is considered pairing but I have often read historical fiction and been interested enough that I’ve searched out nonfiction on the subject. For whatever reason, I like to start with entertaining embellishments and then go on to read the dry truth. A quick example would be reading Stacy Shiff’s Cleopatra after reading Margaret George’s novel The Memoirs of Cleopatra. Actually, Margaret George is the problem! I love her historical fiction and because I read Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scotland by her I went on to read biographies about both. I guess it would be pairing in that the process is consecutive for me. It’s as if I get started and then want to know everything.
I’ve done the same. One book can lead me to want to read ALL THE BOOKS on a certain topic. I bet that’s true of many, many readers. Witches by Stacy Schiff is next on my nonfiction reading pile and I have a feeling that it will lead me down the subject rabbit hole.
While we’re talking historical figures can I get an ‘amen’ from Shannon on just going ahead and pairing Hamilton: The Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda (yes, not technically a book) with the gargantuan biography by Ron Chernow that inspired it?
I’ll let the Schuyler sisters provide my response.
Have you paired any of our favorites or do you have pairings of your own? Do you find yourself falling down nonfiction rabbit holes after reading great fiction?