I’m so excited for year another week of Non-Fiction November! This week’s theme is fiction & non-fiction book pair-ups! It goes like this:
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’m super excited for you guys to see what I’ve paired up! If you’ve never delved into the (beautiful) world of non-fiction, this is the perfect time to! If you see a fiction book here you’ve loved, then I’d recommend giving the non-fiction one a try.
You never know, you, too, could be converted to the beauty of the non-fiction book…
As usual, Rennie (What’s Nonfiction), Katie (Doing Dewey), Sarah (Sarah’s Bookshelves), and Julie (JulzReads) are in charge of hosting the Non-Fiction November. Every week they post a new prompt and write an awesome blog post to go with it.
Being a Refugee
The two books I paired have one thing in common: they both center on refugees.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui is a non-fiction graphic novel detailing the life of the narrator and her parents. In 1970, Thi Bui and her parents arrived to the United States as refugees from the Vietnam War. The book is centered on the author’s parents. Thi Bui tells the story of how her parents’ life was like back in Vietnam (both before and during the war) and how it is like in America. The sacrifices both the mom and dad had to make to offer their kids a better future are heartbreaking.
I looooved this book when I read it a few years ago. The illustrations are stunning, the story flows perfectly, and the subject matter is very moving.
If you liked reading about the refugee side of The Best We Could Do, I highly recommend picking up Exist West by Mohsin Hamid. It tells the story of Nadia and Saeed, two young adults from an unnamed war-torn Middle East country. At the height of the war, black doors start popping up all over the world, offering passage into other countries. When Saeed and Nadia step through one of these doors, their life changes forever.
This book is phenomenal and one that I’ve been loving and appreciating more and more with each passing day. The writing is brilliant and the way the human relations between the characters are formed are the icing on the cake.
Being a Minority
This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie both have in common the theme of being black in America — but with a twist.
This Will Be My Undoing is a non-fiction collection of essays from the point of view of the author as a black woman in America. She dives into many topics: black hair, education, black culture, and so much more. Her prose is fierce and she can always get her point across in an easy and clean way. I loved how developed all of the essays were and ended up posting my own review on the blog.
Americanah is a fictional novel told from the perspective of Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman living in America in the Obama era. When she was a few years into university, the opportunity arose for Ifemelu to leave her struggling Nigeria for America. She had to leave behind her entire family, her boyfriend, and a culture where she was no minority — simply another girl. Coming to America, however, Ifemelu realizes she is now defined by her skin color. Her own existence become politicized.
Americanah is a brilliant novel and perhaps my favorite book of all time. It deals with so many interesting issues! My favorites were seeing how both the immigrant experience and the experience of being black shape Ifemelu. If you haven’t already picked this one up, do it!
Both Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Habibi by Craig Thompson follow young people growing up in a Middle Eastern country — but in very different ways!
In Persepolis, our main character is the author herself. A young Marjane Satrapi is growing up in the Iran of the Islamic Revolution. This incredibly complicated political event is shown to us through the eyes of a girl who is still growing up and doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. We get to see her discovering religion, her views towards being forced to wear the hijab, and living in a “Western way” hidden from the authorities.
The illustrations are drop-dead gorgeous, the voice of the main character is unforgettable, and the point of view (that of a child) is unique and beautiful! It’s a great introduction to Satrapi’s work. After reading this one, I read two other graphic novels and fell in love with the author.
Habibi is a much different story that still has the Middle-East element, as well as an almost magical-realism touch to it. Dodola and Zam are two slave children living in the fictional land of Wanatolia. They are brought together by mere chance but the love they share is pure and real. Growing up in such harsh conditions has a deep impact on them and we, as readers, get to witness their incredible and epic journey.
Once again, being a graphic novel, the illustrations are something else. The oriental-style decoration elements are present and just flipping through these pages you get the feeling of being in a dream in a far away land…
Discovery of Love
Two of my favorite books explore the topic of discovering love and growing into love. Essays in Love by Alain Botton is the non-fiction book, and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is the fiction novel one.
Essays in Love is Alain Botton’s non-fiction experiment with explaing how and why we fall in love. He narrates the whole book as a reflection of a failed past relationship of his to give his two cents on why we fall in love with the people we do, why we fall out of love, and why we love the feeling of falling in love.
I went into it thinking it would be a bunch of self-help nonsense but I was pleasantly surprised! It’s not a self-help book, but rather a reflective collection of thoughts about a topic I adore: love.
If you’ve read the two books I’m naming under this category, you’re probably wondering what the hell is Eleanor & Park doing here. Well, I love how this novel handles the discovery of love and falling in love! Eleanor is the new student at Park’s high school and she has become the target of the school’s bullies. One morning, she has nowhere to sit on the school bus, so she takes up the seat next to Park. From this point, the whole story of Eleanor and Park (roll credits!) starts to bloom. The novel is told in alternating points of view from the two main characters and we get to experience their feelings for each other as time passes.
I ate up this novel and it’s one of my favorite ones ever. Rainbow Rowell managed to write two brilliant character who are so dynamic and whose relationship is so precious and unique. I loved everything about them, especially their journey finding out what love is, how you can love someone, what you can do with those feelings, and how to be a teenager while going through all these emotions!
Are you participating in Non-Fiction November? If so, what fiction and non-fiction books do you recommend to me? I’m so excited to read your answers!