I don’t know about you but I added quite a few books to my TBR thanks to all your posts last week! I’ve even read one of them! A record for me!
This week Katie @ Doing Dewey is hosting Fiction/Nonfiction Pairings. Normally this week is a breeze for me because my fiction reading tends to send me in search of related nonfiction. But for some reason, this year finding pairings to share has been a bit of a stretch!
Women in the City
Last year I read (and loved) The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher. It is a fictionalized account of Grace Kelly’s life as she leaves home and tries to make a life for herself in New York City as a model and actress. It does move into her marriage to Prince Rainer of Monaco and made Grace Kelly sound a lot more interesting than any biography of hers I’ve read.
When Grace Kelly moves to the City, she rents a room at the Barbizon, the only rooming house that was acceptable for a woman of her class. Paulina Bren’s The Barbizon traces the history of the building, and includes stories of it’s more famous residents like Grace Kelly, Sylvia Plath and Joan Didion. Highly recommend for those of you that love New York City history. For bonus points, you could read The Bell Jar which is based on the summer that Plath spent living at the Barbizon.
This past year Canadians have been forced to reckon with the legacy of residential ‘schools’ as thousands of children have been found buried beneath the buildings that once housed them. Indigenous communities have been telling us about these places for generations, trying to find their lost children. The Education of Augie Merasty is a first-person account of Joseph Auguste Merasty’s time at a residential ‘school’ in Saskatchewan. It is brutal and painful and heartbreaking and I would argue that it’s also completely necessary reading. I will caution the reader that the person who helped Mr Merasty write his memoir doesn’t have the highest opinion of him but I still recommend this little book. It won’t bring the children back but it will make us witnesses to what happened.
You may be asking yourself how a magical book of whimsy like The House in the Cerulean Sea is related to residential schools. The author TJ Klune read about Canadian residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, and decided that that would be a great basis for a fantasy story. I didn’t know this until after I read (and loved) the book. It is problematic for a white, cis-gender male to co-opt a painful history that isn’t his own and use it in this way. If you’ve read The House in the Cerulean Sea, please read about Augie Merasty too.
Click here if you’re interested in my lighter picks from last year.
15 thoughts on “Nonfiction November 2021 (Week 2): Fiction/Nonfiction Pairings”
I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends on Goodreads have reviewed The House in the Cerulean Sea, giving it high marks. It’s one of those fantasy books with quirky cover art and I’ve been too quick to dismiss it as something I’m not interested in. With so many 5-star ratings, I think it’s time to give it a try.
I have such complicated feelings towards it now. I wish TJ Klune would address this whole thing, maybe make a donation to a Survivors organization, something. I will say that when I read the book, I loved it and cried my eyes out. It just feels so tainted now.
These are great pairs! The NYC ones especially appeal to me.
Interesting that book books about Indigenous experience are written (partially) and made a little (a lot?) problematic by white guys… I liked (like is the wrong word) that Merasty’s story was complicated by the author’s impatience with him. Haven’t read the other but I wonder how Indigenous people feel about it?
Isn’t it though? I know what you mean about like being the wrong word – it’s like saying you loved a book about 9/11.
It’s actually because of Indigenous readers that I heard about the backstory of Cerulean Sea. The ones I heard from weren’t happy about it. It’s another way that someone not-Indigenous has co-opted the history without having to live with any of the consequences.
Both of these pairings are really interesting, thanks for sharing.
The Girl in the White Gloves sounds like a great story and I’ve long been fascinated by the Barbizon. Love this pairing!
The Barbizon sounds really interesting – I love reading nonfiction books about iconic buildings!
I love your historical fiction pairing! I’ve been wanting to read both of those books and it seems like they’d go very well together. I didn’t know about the backstory of Cerulean Sea. It’s kind of creepy to learn that such a tragic story was the basis for such whimsical fiction.
They’d be a really good book flight to read together!
Isn’t it terrible? I wish he would address it.
Unusual themes, awesome!
My post is here: https://wordsandpeace.com/2021/11/08/nonfiction-november-2021-book-pairings/
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I’ve been really wanting to read The Barbizon – thank you for bumping it further up my TBR!
Would make for a great miniseries or even a show!
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