Book Pairing: 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 always love when bloggers and book sites do this, but when I sat down and thought about it, I realize that this isn’t an easy task. Maybe it’s because I don’t read much nonfiction? But here are some attempts!
If you liked: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (a fantastic story set largely in space with strong female characters)
try: Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
Seveneves is one of those the Earth is doomed kind of books but with women in the key roles. Hooray! That made me think of the Rocket Girls, women who worked at Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) as “computers”. That was the term used for their jobs in the 1940s and 1950s – they did calculations (velocities, trajectories) and all the math behind getting these rockets into space. And it was pretty much an all-women team of human computers.
If you liked: The Wangs vs the World by Jade Chang
try: The Chinese in America by Iris Chang
and The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
I recently read Wangs and loved this smart and funny book about a family whose fortunes have fallen. I thought a good nonfiction pairing would be one about Chinese immigration to America as well as one that talks about the 2008 financial crisis. I haven’t read The Big Short yet but want to after reading the Wangs.
If you liked: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
try: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick and In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
Another two-fer. I picked Orphan-Master’s Son as that’s the only popular fiction I’ve read set in North Korea (if you’re interested, Hwang Sok-Yong’s The Guest is set in North Korea, but I’m guessing he’s not a familiar name to many). Barbara Demick has written an unforgettable book about life in North Korea and Yeonmi Park relates her own experiences growing up in North Korea in her book.
And now for the most obvious pairing of all…
If you liked:
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
try: As You Like It: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. If you can get hold of the audiobook, even better!