Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Nonfiction November: Week 2: Pairings

I've already been reading more nonfiction this month than planned. This week for Nonfiction November, the theme is pairings. They've asked for a fiction and a nonfiction pairing and that makes perfect sense to me. I often want to read further and find out more about a topic after reading a novel. This week is hosted by Regular Rumination.

Years ago, my book club read Moloka'i by Alan Brennert. At that time, I was working 80+ hours a week as a sales rep, selling to bookstores, so all of my reading was done on audiobook. There wasn't an audio of this book however, but I found the audiobook Colony by John Tayman which is a nonfiction book about the Hawaiian island Molokai which was used as a colony for quarantining lepers and I listened to that instead. It was a fascinating discussion for me as I was able to answer all their questions and occasionally pipe up with "Oh, that's a real guy!"

I think this is an interesting idea because it might be a way for people who don't read much nonfiction to find a way in, and I also think it shows how novels can be teaching tools even though they are fiction--if nothing else, by inspiring further research.

The Art of Forgery: The Minds, Motives and Methods of the Master Forgers by Noah Charney is a book I picked up after reading The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro. Interestingly, the nonfiction book seems to negate the ending of the novel, as in the end it seems a commonality among forgers is the desire to get caught--otherwise no one knows how good they are. But of course if there are ones who did not want to get caught and did not get caught, we wouldn't know, would we?

I already owned the biography Grant by Jean Edward Smith after reading the review on At Times Dull, and after I read the novel Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini, it has shot to the top of my TBR list. Although I'm also marginally tempted to read Grant's memoirs, which he spent his last two years very diligently writing while dying of cancer, in order to ensure his wife's financial security. But I think the more modern and highly recommended biography is the safer bet.

I read March by Geraldine Brooks earlier this year. It is mostly based on the life of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott's father. I have owned this LMA bio, Louisa May Alcott by Susan Cheever, for a while and recently I have been using its index as a guide while I create an index for an academic book about a novelist. The time I've spent with it and its help has made it shoot way up on my TBR list and I'll bet I read it this winter.

Columbine by Dave Cullen was a fascinating book to read after We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Helps put school shootings in perspective and perhaps give some insight into Kevin, although truly all school shooters are individuals and unique. And Kevin, as fictional, seems a little more evil than real (thankfully.) But both books are still terrifying.

Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen is a novel about Rose Wilder Lane and to a certain extent Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's an interesting counterpoint to Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill. While Nguyen imagines Rose's career as a war correspondent and writer, in Hill's biography, we see Lane as an editor and writer, working with her mother on the Little House manuscripts. The Nguyen book is sympathetic to Lane, and while the Hill book by no means demonizes her, it very firmly is set in the "Laura wrote her own books by herself" camp.

I could do a ton of these! But I just wanted to do a handful so as not to overwhelm. I do love nonfiction. It's going to be a great month.


Amanda said...

I'm happy to tell you that there's now an audiobook version of Moloka'i....although I have yet to read it, it's on my Audible wishlist. I may have to check out The Colony now too though!

DoingDewey said...

The books about Louisa May Alcott both sound really interesting. I love reading books about books and books about authors :)