Nonfiction November: Book pairings

I think this week’s Nonfiction November topic is my favorite of all: Book Pairing  with Katie at Doing Dewey. I always find it remarkable to look back and find how my fiction reading finds echoes in nonfiction, even without any conscious awareness or choice. I don’t mean so much the obvious companion reading, like Barbara Pym’s novels along with the biography The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym , or viewing King Lear along with Year of the Mad King — although I certainly enjoy those literary correspondences as well.

Here are a few other pairs I came up with when I looked back over my 2021 reading. What would you choose?

Earlier this year I already wrote a post about how reading Albert Camus’s L’Étranger made me think about the central question in a book on trauma and healing, What Happened To You? — because something clearly happened to this poor man to make him so numb and impervious, and putting him on trial for his life does nothing to help bring it out..

A Stranger in Olondria is a poetically written fantasy novel about love, death, and letting go. When Breath Becomes Air is a poetically written but highly factual memoir by a scientist and doctor, also about love, death, and letting go.

In the novel Nobody’s Family Is Going To Change, a young dancer is determined to make his dreams come true, in spite of opposition from his family. Dance to the Piper is dancer-choreographer Agnes De Mille’s memoir about her long years of struggle before realizing her own dreams — in her case with the support of her family. Bonus correspondence: The biography of “Nobody’s Family” author Louise Fitzhugh, Sometimes You Have to Lie, contains an inspirational quote from Agnes De Mille that Fitzhugh always carried with her.

In The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, two novels set in England during World War II, a young girl overcomes an abusive upbringing through the healing power of relationship, with both humans and horses. In The Choice: Embrace the Possible, psychotherapist Edith Eger relates her wartime experiences of the Holocaust and asserts that it was human relationship, with her sisters above all, that saved her life.

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18 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: Book pairings

    1. It was sitting on my e-reader for ages and I’m glad I finally read it. It’s a very unique style, so whether you get on with that will determine your response to the book.

  1. Your first two pairings in particular are really creative! I pair books in pretty obvious ways, almost always based on a shared topic. I like the idea of pairing books that make you think about a particular nonfiction topic or which share a writing style instead 🙂

  2. I just finished A Slender Thread by Tracy Chevalier about the women left single after WWI and independently relied upon Dangerous by Degrees about the women novelists of Somerville College and their work after WWI. I think you would like both!

    1. I’ve read almost all Tracy Chevalier’s novels but not that one. Thanks for giving me the nudge to get to it soon. Dangerous by Degrees sounds fascinating too. Thanks as always for your recommendations!

  3. When Breath Becomes Air was beautifully written. I didn’t have the brainpower to come up with any pairings this week, but always appreciate your recommendations! I’m very interested in therapy and mental health these days and The Choice is on my TBR.

    1. I’m interested in therapy and mental health too, I’m going to do my next week’s post on that topic. Always interested in your recommendations as well.

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