"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, November 6, 2017

Nonfiction November. Week Two. Book Pairings.

Week 2: (Nov. 6 to 10) — Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves — 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 love this topic. I think that it is important to teach students that they CAN learn things from reading both fiction and nonfiction. Why not offer them options to expand their knowledge? Hey, this is true for all people, not just students.  So with this in mind here are a few nonfiction/fiction pairs I think would be marvelous together.

On piracy:

  • The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin Sandler. A nonfiction book published this year for young teens. The Whydah is the only pirate ship wreck that has ever been recovered.
paired with
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, the classic tale of piracy and treasure-seeking that gave us a lot of our ideas about pirates.

On the Great American Dust Bowl:

  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. Egan went to Nebraska and Oklahoma and interviewed individuals who lived through the dust bowl, now in their eighties, he wanted to capture the stories first hand.
paired with
  • Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson. A fiction story which takes place in three time periods: the future, the 1920s, and the 1930s in Kansas during the dust bowl. This book was just published this year, 2017.

On Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia:

  • First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung. Loung was only five-years-old when the Khmer Rouge killed her parents and sent her to a re-education camp where she lived for their four-year reign of terror. A movie was made of her experience this year.
paired with
  • In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. A beautifully written fictional account of a young girl's experiences with the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, based on the author's own experiences. (This would be for advanced teen readers or adults.)

On the Indigenous Peoples' experience:
  • Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan. Another book by Egan, a favorite author of mine. This book is about Edward Curtis, a photographer living in the early 1900s who attempted to photograph and capture aspects of the Native American cultures which he recognized was dying out.
paired with
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. A semi-autobiographical novel about the experiences of an Indian teenager who left the reservation to get a better education. In doing this he found he didn't truly belong anywhere anymore.
  • Flight by Sherman Alexie---a time-traveling Indian youth discovers truths about his anger as he travels back to events from his peoples' past.

On space travel:
  • Isaac the Alchemist: The Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal'd by Mary Losure. Why not read a book about the guy who was able to unlock the mysteries of motion, mathematics, gravity which allowed us to actually figure out how to launch rockets to move outside Earth's orbit? This gem was published this year.
  • Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt by Mary Kay Carson. Another book published this year, this one about the New Horizons spaceship which visited Pluto in 2015. Written for young teens, this is very interesting and accessible.
paired with
  • The Martian by Andy Weir. Weir, a self-proclaimed science geek says everything in his popular book is possible today, with the possible exception of actually landing on Mars.  But who knows? Maybe in our lifetime?

On Human Trafficking: 
In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It by Nita Belles. Prostitution, Child Labor, Slavery. Believe it or not it is still happening. But we can stop it.
paired with
Dime by E.R. Frank. A fictional account of a young girl who gets lured into prostitution. It ends of a hopeful note. 

On Defying Hitler:
  • We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Hitler by Russell Freeman. Some very brave German students defied Hitler and paid with their lives.
  • The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Petersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose. A team of brave Danish boys "messed" with the Nazi-occupiers in their country. 
paired with
  • Girl With the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse. A fictional account of resistance efforts in The Netherlands.

On Black Lives Matter:
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Part of the innocence project, this book points of the inequalities in our justice system for people of color and for juveniles. Eye-opening.
paired with
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. A very NOW fictional account of a black teenager who witnessed the killing of her friend who is killed by the police.

On Living With Mental Illness:
  • The Day the Voices Stopped by Ken Steele. An excellent book on schizophrenia and its treatment. This book will change the way you look at mental illness.
paired with
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. A teen with anxiety and OCD issues tries to cope in a world which becomes ever more confusing and difficult. Published in 2017.

I could go on.
I will stop.
What are some good fiction/nonfiction pairings that you can recommend to me?


  1. Brilliant idea and great post. I just picked up a copy of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian yesterday and am very keen to read it.

  2. Wow, what great pairings, Anne!

    I WANT to participate in Nonfiction November and am reading mostly nonfiction...but I can't seem to find time to actually sign up or do the special blog posts! But I'm enjoying yours very much.


    Book By Book

  3. Love this topic! I actually just took down a huge library display featuring several nonfiction titles paired with a popular fiction book. :)

  4. Great list. I'm going to bookmark this so I can use it in my Readers Advisory. I need to circulate our NF narratives beyond the English classes' memoir/biography unit.

  5. Awesome list! I didn't do this entry, but I should have. Seeing Dime on your list reminded me of what a great book it is.


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