Monday, November 4, 2019

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Book Pairing (week 2)

Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) – Book Pairing (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.

I'm going to cheat a little bit here, because these two books were offered together during the summer from YA Sync. They really go well together! I liked the history and background behind Reagan's famous 'Tear Down this Wall' speech, but the fictional account of a family separated when the wall was built, separating East and West Berlin, and the subsequent fall out of a family divided was very powerful.

Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and the Speech that Ended the Cold War by Romesh Ratnesar
In 1987, Ronald Reagan gave his famous speech to Mr Gorbachev and very quickly, the wall did come down and life in Berlin (East and West) changed. This (a little too long) nonfiction book looks into the situations that led up to the speech. For people of a certain age who remember the 1980s, this book will bring back those times. For younger readers, this would be a great historical record of a significant event that led to the end of the Cold War.

A Night Divided by Jennifer A Nielsen
I really enjoyed this novel following a single family whose life was completely changed the night the Berlin Wall was built. The father and brother had gone across the city to look for work the night the wall was built, separating the family of five. The mom, brother and main character daughter were left in East Berlin. Years later, the daughter sees her father on the other side, and realizes he is trying to send a message - they should dig a tunnel to West Berlin. Seeing life in East Berlin, how citizens had to survive, worrying about betrayals, and worrying about who to trust, was very well done. This is why I really like historical fiction - it allows the reader to see a moment in time, with characters that are easy to relate to. 

Any other good Cold War fiction/nonfiction reads that would compliment these two?


  1. Great pairing! I'm going to look for both of these books.

  2. I knew if I just read through enough of this week's non-fic pairing posts, I'd finally find one that matched my post! And here you are :-)
    I read Confession with Blue Horses last month, about a family leading up to and after the fall of the wall. I lived through these times (on the other side of the world I grant you) but maybe that's why I haven't read much about this episode in history. A long story short, is I realised I didn't know much about the why's and wherefore's of life in the GDR...and now I do want to know.

  3. Here's another recommendation of a similar nonfiction book that you might throw into the pairing:

    Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner, recommended by JulzReads and and Novel Visits.

    I feel certain I will be reading about the Berlin Wall soon. Thank you.

  4. The irony is inescapable, one president advocating to tear down the wall, another demanding one be built.

    Thanks for sharing your pairing.

  5. I imagine these two pairings are hard to read at times, but powerful also. I hope you find some other titles that compliment them.


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