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Nonfiction November (Week 2): Book Pairings

Well. Things look a little brighter on this Monday no?

This week Julie @ Julz Reads is our host for what is probably my favourite week of Nonfiction November:

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 love the idea of this prompt so much. One of my favourite things to do is follow up a fiction read with the nonfiction version! Here are my pairings this year!

Gentrification

I read How to Kill A City: Gentrification, Inequality and the Fight for the Neighborhood back when it came out in 2016. It was the first time that I was really introduced to the policies that shaped the way cities are formed, often at the expense of Black and Brown people. Pride and When No One is Watching use the theme of gentrification as the anchor for their stories, a chance to see how these policies affect the people cities aren’t thinking about.

Instagram

I really enjoyed getting to read the behind-the-scenes story of Instagram. I spend an embarrassing amount of time on there and it was interesting learning about how it became what it is, how it changed our culture. More books featuring instagram and influencers are starting to come out (Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner comes to mind) but My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella was an early adopter and I loved it.

Edward VIII’s Loves

This wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t include at least ONE historical fiction/biography pairing! I’ve characterized them as Edward VIII’s loves but one thing you should know about Edward VIII was that he didn’t fall in love with pushovers. I consider Anne Sebba’s biography of Mrs Simpson to be the definitive one. I read The Woman before Wallis this summer and it was a delight; I’m on the hunt for a thorough biography of Thelma Morgan please.

Those are my pairings for 2020! I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else has picked this year!

And if you want to see what I recommended in year’s past, here are some of my old posts!

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Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

Well, here we are. November! Did you ever think we’d make it this far?

There’s other noteworthy things happening but around here, it’s all about Nonfiction November!

This year it’s hosted by Katie @ Doing Dewey, Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction, Julie @ Julz Reads and Leann @ Shelf Aware. Each of them will host a week and we all get to benefit from some really great nonfiction discussions and fill our TBR with new titles! There’s also an instagram challenge that you can get in on.

Week 1: (November 2-6) – Leann will be kicking things off with Your Year in Nonfiction : Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November? 

One thing that the pandemic *was* really great for was reading. Especially in the early days when we didn’t really know what was to come, we didn’t know enough to be really fearful. I’ve read 116 books so far this year and 33, or 28%, have been nonfiction. I usually roll into November with around 29% of my reading being nonfiction so I’m super consistent.

I don’t think I can pick one favourite that I read this year. I read a lot of really excellent nonfiction! It started off really strong with Mary Laura Philpott’s essay collection, I Miss You When I Blink. She wrote about things I felt that I didn’t have words for. I made a lot of friends read that one afterwards and looking back now I honestly can’t believe it was *this* year that I read it! The same thing happened with Glennon Doyle’s Untamed. I think she fundamentally shifted something in me with that book and I’m a full Glennon convert now.

I read and loved Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns for the first time this year. I took it out from the library and that was a mistake. I did not make the same mistake when Caste came out this summer. I loved that one too! Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond was such an eye-opener about the cycle of poverty and how imprisoned in it so many people are in that system.

The best true crime book I read this year was definitely Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. Another library book I wish I owned! I read about Jessica Simpson (Open Book), Meghan and Harry (Finding Freedom), The View (Ladies Who Punch), about Instagram (No Filter) and Pixar (To Pixar and Beyond) and all of them were really good!

I also read a lot of parenting books this year because my kid is now at an age where I really need to learn what I’m even doing. I loved The Whole Brain Child and No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, looking at how a child’s brain development can inform interactions and successful discipline. They were really illuminating. I loved the validation of The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in an Age of Distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon and wanted to learn more about how to still see people this winter by reading There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids by Linda Akeson McGurk.

The worst nonfiction book I read was absolutely, no question Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell.

I’ve never laughed louder at nonfiction than reading Samantha Irby’s We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. I have Wow, No Thank You on deck for this month and I cannot wait.

I think out of all of the books I read this year I recommended Glennon Doyle’s Untamed and Jesse Thistle’s From the Ashes the most. You already know about Untamed, From the Ashes is a memoir about an Indigenous man cut off from his culture, abused as a child, his addictions and homelessness and his redemption. The book was selected for Canada Reads this year (a big deal up here!) and I will never get over that a man who picked up a book for the first time as an adult has now written one, and one that is this good.

I for sure read a lot of memoirs this year: I was also drawn to social justice type books: Medical Bondage by Deirdre Cooper Owens, Evicted by Matthew Desmond, Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore. It seemed that the harder the world burned, the more I wanted to learn about how we got here. I have a number of these that I still want to read and I’ve been saving them for this month.

As for what I’m hoping to get out of this Nonfiction November, it goes without saying that I’m going to discover a whole host of new amazing titles for my TBR. What I’m really excited about is getting to talk about nonfiction with all of you! It’s the total highlight of my reading year!

See you next week!