Monday, November 6, 2017

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Fiction + Nonfiction pairing

Week 2: (Nov. 6 to 10) – Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves 
Book Pairing: 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.

Great topic - I love looking for books that fit the pairing idea and I was pretty literal. My guideline was to pick books I've read this year if I can. The nonfiction are all from this year, and I was able to match a couple with fiction reads from this year.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo and Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry

The nonfiction Behind the Beautiful Forevers and the fictional Family Matters go very well together as a look at life in India. It probably should have been A Fine Balance by Mistry, but I read both of these books this year so it seemed too perfect. The narrative voice in Katherine Boo's book is perfect for people who don't like nonfiction as she wrote it like a story, but it was all based on interviews and observations in a slum area of Mumbai. Family Matters is set a little earlier, but has Mistry's wonderful style and writing, following a family and the trials and tribulations of surviving in India with very little. Both were excellent books. 


Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Rachel Swaby
Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins

I actually read these two books very close together and was rewarded as they really go well together! I started with the nonfiction Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science - And the World. It was exactly as described - short biographies highlighting the life and contribution to science of some great women. It included everyone you've never heard of, but no Marie Curie as she is always the first woman scientist named. It was inspiring and humbling to realize how few I'm familiar with.
Finding Wonders is classified as fiction, mostly because it is written in blank verse, but all the information in it was factual and I remembered the girls from the Headstrong book. The ability to summarize and detail in blank verse all the information about Mary Anning, Maria Merian, and Maria Mitchell was remarkable. One of my favourite books of the year.

The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray 
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Two books both about an early 1900s murder in Ontario, one fiction and one nonfiction. It's been a long time since I've read Alias Grace, but I liked it at the time, and it is timely as a movie has been recently made. The Massey Murder was my this year read and it was a great look as all aspects of the history of the time. Two great Canadian books!



A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold (audiobook) and 
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver or Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland

School shootings is a harrowing topic. I've previously read the fiction books by Lionel Shriver and Douglas Coupland and so in this, my nonfiction reading year, I tried A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, a Columbine shooter. There is nothing easy about any of these books, and reading Klebold's account was heart-breaking. But understanding what happened in horrific events can help, hopefully, prevent future incidents. The discussion about depression and suicide is always important as we learn more about brain behaviour.