Pairing Nonfiction and Fiction

Nonfiction November Week 2

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Nonfiction November Week 2

Welcome to Nonfiction November! Our hosts–Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Katie at Doing Dewey, Veronica at The Thousand Book Project, Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks, and Jaymi at The OC Book Girl–have five weeks of fun topics for us to explore. This week, we’re pairing nonfiction and fiction books.

“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.”

Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen and Hawaii

I love Hawaii so books about the state catch my eye. Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen was written by Liliuokalani. She wrote in defense of maintaining her kingdom’s sovereignty in 1898. Because she was writing for her contemporaries, she doesn’t necessarily fully explain incidents. Why would she? They were aware of current events. I would have been a bit lost if I hadn’t read James Michener’s Hawaii several years ago. I felt that this chunkster of a novel read like nonfiction but I don’t know how accurate it actually is. Still, it did serve to fill gaps in my knowledge as I read Liliuokalani’s plea.

Last Witnesses and City of Thieves

I haven’t reviewed Last Witnesses by Svetlana Alexievich yet but it’s a powerful book detailing the memories of Soviet people who were children during World War II. Most of the interviewees were living in the Soviet cities the Germans initially invaded but several survived the siege of Leningrad, which is the background for City of Thieves by David Benioff. Lev, the main character, is only seventeen himself so these two complement each other well.

Code Girls and Gone to Soldiers

The women in Code Girls by Liza Mundy did so much for their country in World War II but they were hidden in the shadows for so long. They broke German and Japanese codes, often turning the tides of major battles and contributing to the Allies’ ultimate victory. Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy is an epic novel of WWII that primarily focuses on women. It’s been a really long time–20 years?–since I read it, but I believe the code breaker was male and I don’t remember if there were any women working around him. I decided to pair the two either way because if the women’s history is missing from the novel, reading Code Girls will fill in the gaps.

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks and All American Boys

This post was supposed to go live at 10am EST but I must not have hit the publish button. But that’s all for the best because I remembered another pairing I meant to include. I knew I wanted a set of books themed around anti-racism/social justice but I struggled with which nonfiction title to choose. I settled on The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis. I read the edition adapted for younger readers for the Cybils Awards. We all know that police arrested Rosa Parks in 1955 because she refused to move to the back of the bus in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. Fortunately, the officers who arrested her didn’t really physically hurt her. Others weren’t so lucky. Viola White refused to move to the back of the bus in 1944. Police beat and arrested her but she bravely appealed her court conviction. A police officer raped her 16-year-old daughter in return. In 1950, Hilliard Brooks, a Black veteran, refused to enter through the back door of the bus. Police beat, shot, and killed him during his arrest. In All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, a novel set in the present day, a police officer beats a Black ROTC high school student because the student accidentally tripped a White woman in a convenience store while he was reaching into his backpack. We still have so very far to go in this country, a fact that kept Rosa Parks on the frontline of the civil rights movement throughout her lifetime, not just the day she sat on that fateful bus.

Which nonfiction and fiction books would you pair together? Link up at Doing Dewey for Nonfiction November!

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  1. I’d not heard of Liliuokalani’s book. I’m so glad her perspective is available! I’d also not heard of Gone to Soldiers, but after seeing it paired with Code Girls, I’m definitely interested 🙂

  2. City of Thieves is one of my favorite books of all time. And I loved Hawaii by Michener! Although like you, I wonder about the accuracy of it. Lol. My husband and his family are Hawaiian and I have developed an interest in reading about Hawaii for that reason.

  3. Great pairings! I loved All American Boys, but haven’t read any of the others you included. I like that you did more than one set.

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