Nonfiction November: A no-brainer fiction/nonfiction pairing

Last week I joined in for Week 1 of the event Nonfiction November, with the prompt to look back at your year in nonfiction. This week, I am joining in again, with the prompt to 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,” according to host Sarah of the blog Sarah’s Bookshelves (click to see Sarah’s post – and a linkup of other bloggers- on the topic).

This was an easy one for me since I just read them last month during Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume. I purchased a Hemingway collection earlier in the month from our library’s bookstore that includes The Sun Also Rises, and then as I was preparing my readathon stack, I remembered that I had purchased as a Kindle deal last year Everybody Behaves Badly about the “making of” the book. It was a no-brainer for me to pair the two together for the readathon, and now after I’ve read them both, a no-brainer for me to use them both as my choice for nonfiction/fiction pairing for this event.

I had read The Sun Also Rises, back in high school or in college or maybe both, and remembered enjoying but I didn’t remember the story specifically. So it was good to revisit the book and become reacquainted with why I liked Hemingway in the first place: his quick, back-and-forth dialogue, on the one hand, and his almost stream-of-consciousness descriptions, on the other hand.

I was less acquainted –and by that, I mean, not at all– with the story behind the book. I didn’t realize that he had based all of the main characters off people he knew and the story off one specific trip to Pamplona with that group of people. In fact, when the novel was originally published, some thought of it as more of very good journalism than a very good first novel since Hemingway was a newspaper reporter at the time. While that part of the story about the real people behind the characters was good, I think the parts about the other people, especially those in the publishing world, enhanced the book. For example, Hemingway “hung out” with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Sherwood Anderson, just to name a few authors of the time.

Whether or not you’re participating or not in Nonfiction November, I’ll leave you with a question, based on this week’s prompt: Can you think of any books fiction and nonfiction that pair well together?

Author’s Note: I was going to try to pair an alcohol with the book too, but then after looking around online, most notably this post that listed every drink in the book and this post that included a map of everywhere the characters drank and what and how much they drank, I couldn’t narrow it down to just one alcohol.

Next week (Nov. 11 to 15) Katie from the blog Doing Dewey will be hosting Week 3 of Nonfiction November with Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert, where: 1.) You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), 2.) You can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or 3.) you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

The following week (Nov. 18 to Nov. 22) Leann from the Instagram account Shelf Aware will be hosting (for the first time) with the topic of what makes a nonfiction book one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone?

The final week (Nov. 25 to 29) Rennie from the blog What’s Nonfiction will finish up Nonfiction November with the topic of what new nonfiction books you added to your TBR (to-be-read) after reading other participants’ posts. 

Nonfiction November: A Look Back at My Year in Nonfiction

This coming month, starting early today, I’m participating in Nonfiction November (for more information on the event and hosts, click on the image at right). Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – 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?

I will be honest that I wasn’t sure I was going to participate in this, but earlier this month, I did see former host Kim of the blog Sophisticated Dorkiness mention the event on her Instagram feed and it got me thinking about it. Then a few other bloggers I follow mentioned it too, and now I’m feeling the blogger pressure. PLUS more importantly, I want to participate because this year I’ve read more nonfiction than in other years. I’m also hoping to read at least one nonfiction book a week in November, although I’ll be happy if I read only a few.

Altogether this year, out of the 28 books I’ve read total, 11 of them are nonfiction or 39 percent. Here are the 11, in order of when I read them:

  1. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  2. Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields by Julia Kasdorf and Steven Rubin
  3. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  4. All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
  5. Calypso by David Sedaris
  6. Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Taylor Brown
  7. All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot
  8. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
  9. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
  10. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
  11. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

The Library Book was my first read of the year and was a great way to begin the year. I’ve been reading the Herriot series over the last couple of years and have the next two, The Lord God Made Them All and Every Living Thing, to read in the next couple of months, maybe into next year. Travels with Charley was a reread. Almost all were excellent, with four in particular standing out among the rest: The Library Book, Born a Crime, Hunger, and Born to Run. The best, by a slight margin, was Born to Run, perhaps because I had been gifted the book as part of a book blogger gift exchange a couple of years ago and never gotten to read it.

As you can tell, I don’t have one single topic to which I’m attracted. However, among my “to-be-reads” are more than a dozen books on race in America. I have collected them, mostly from Kindle deals, over the last year, year and a half. I have yet to get to them, because I’ll be honest (again) that I’m having a hard time reading political nonfiction right now with our current political climate. Unfortunately, like many Americans, it makes me frustrated to the point of disengagement. I know I will get to these books, but I think it’s going to be slowly, rather than all at once, in one large binge-read.

I’m also reading one nonfiction book right now: Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume. I started it during this past Saturday’s Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon during which I also re-read The Sun Also Rises. I’m not sure what else I’ll be reading for nonfiction during November with my next several planned books being fiction, but that always could change, depending on my mood.

Whether or not you’re participating or not in Nonfiction November, I’ll leave you with the same questions as this first week of the event: 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?