The Week 2 topic for Nonfiction November this year was Nonfiction To Fiction Book Pairings. It’s a review structure that I’ve been dabbling in recently, so I thought I would combine a new set of nonfiction to fiction reviews with links to two earlier ones I posted on the blog in the last few months.
The new reviews for today’s post are for memoir Born A Crime by Trevor Noah and novel Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais. Both books are set during Apartheid in South Africa, but ultimately only have a few things in common. The most interesting and significant parallel I found between Noah’s true story and that of Marais’ young female white character Robin, are in the spunk and initiative that both show amid extremely trying circumstances. Somehow, Robin’s character felt like it almost had the same level of dogged perseverance as Noah, though they experienced Apartheid with different skin colors and in different decades.
Hope you enjoy my reviews and don’t forget to also check out my two earlier book pairings below.
Read more →
I first included What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan in my list of Nonfiction Book releases I was looking forward to in Summer 2017. I knew it would be an important read, although there’s something to be said about the fact that a book about suicide that did not involve a beautiful, young, white woman would not have gotten the same level of attention. I actually felt that Maddy’s story was important exactly because she fit so neatly into that image of an ‘ideal’ or privileged life and was still subject to intense pressure, depression, and ultimately the impulse of taking her own life.
This was the kind of book pairing in which one book directly leads you to another. What I mean is that I didn’t read What Made Maddy Run and then decide to find a novel that covered suicide to match it with. Rather, Reconstructing Amelia is mentioned in Kate Fagan’s book about Maddy because Maddy decided to leave a copy of the novel at the top of the parking structure from which she committed suicide. Once I learned that, I felt that reading Reconstructing Amelia might help me understand Maddy better.
If you read both books, you’ll realize that Maddy’s story and Amelia’s don’t fit neatly together and it’s impossible to know exactly why Maddy decided to leave Reconstructing Amelia behind. It’s possible Maddy may have been drawing a parallel between herself and Amelia when it comes to the kinds of social pressure they were subject to through social media, their own expectations, the groups in which they participated and the assumptions of people around them.
Read more →
This post came about through one of those cases in which you read a book that leads you to another title, and then another. After reading Andrew Morton’s biography of Diana this summer (Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words), I realized that as much as Diana was an interesting and polarizing figure, what I really wanted was to learn more about the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
Maybe The Crown also had a little effect on this. It’s startling to watch a TV series set in the 40s and 50s (for Season 1 at least) and realize that the protagonist is still alive today and has lived through 9 decades of history, social change and economic upheavals. My research on biographies of the queen led me to Sally Bedell Smith’s book Elizabeth: The Queen, and when Bedell Smith mentioned Alan Bennett’s novella on the queen – The Uncommon Reader – I knew that I wanted to pick that up as well.
I’m planning more similar fiction to nonfiction book pairings in the future. Hope you enjoy this first take on a new feature on the blog!
Read more →