This week’s edition of Nonfiction November (hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves) asks book bloggers to pair up nonfiction books with works of fiction. In the words of Nonfiction November’s creators:
“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.
Last year I had a lot of fun doing these pairings, so much so I posted a ton of them on my blog. This year I won’t be offering quite so many, but hopefully the ones I do suggest are good ones and will be well received.
The Soviet Gulag
Published in 2004, Anne Applebaum’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag: A History is not only outstanding, it’s one of the best books I’ve read over the last decade. It easily made my 2015 Best Nonfiction List which was a year I read a ton of great books like Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin and Rick Perlstein’s The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. To me the answer is obvious. One has to pair Gulag with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1962 classic One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
Life in Nazi-occupied Europe
Peter Fritzsche’s An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler is one of those books I’d seen at the library a number of times yet never borrowed. When I finally did get around to reading it my goodness I was impressed. Utilizing primary source material like letters, diaries and the like, Fritzsche shows us what life was like for millions of Europeans who suffered under Nazi rule. If you’re looking for a novel to go along with An Iron Wind I’d suggest Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winner All the Light We Cannot See.
The Aftermath of World War II
Thank you Claire of The Captive Reader. A few years back she mentioned in her Library Loot post what was then a new book by Keith Lowe entitled Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II. I took her advice to heart and secured a copy of Lowe’s book from my public library and was not disappointed. Just like Applebaum’s Gulag, Savage Continent is another all-time favorite of mine. Lowe’s book opened my eyes to the degree and scope of destruction that plagued Europe during the immediate aftermath of WWII, as well as the bloody conflicts that raged even after Germany’s surrender. If you end up reading this fine book, follow it up with Martin Fletcher’s novel Jacob’s Oath.
Inside Saudi Arabia
Recently, I reviewed Robert Lacey’s 2009 book Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia. Over the years I’ve read several good books about Saudi Arabia and this one might be the best. I think Kingdom of Strangers by Zoe Ferraris is worthy compliment.
Life Imitates Art
In my previous post, I mentioned I’ve been reading a lot of political books in hopes of understanding the current mess we’re in and how we got there. After reading my post, many commented they’re so broken-hearted and disgusted by our current situation they’ve found it difficult, if not impossible to read this kind of material. But if you’re able to read something like Luke Harding’s Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House, Joshua Green’s Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency or Garry Kasparov’s Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped please, by all means be sure to read Philip Roth’s 2004 alternate history novel The Plot Against America. If you follow my advice, depending on your ensuing mood you can thank, or blame me later.