Non-Fiction November Week 2: Book Pairings

Posted November 8, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

I am going to continue doing the prompts for Non-Fiction November, as one of my exercises in getting back into blogging. This week’s prompt is hosted by Doing Dewey and it is Book Pairings. I am not sure how well I will go with this but I will attempt to pair a few non-fiction books with some other media.

Things Are Against Us by Lucy Ellmann

I will start off easy here, but if you loved Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann you should really check out this essay collection. As it is the same author you get the same anger and frustration in both. Ellmann is not happy with the way women are treated in the patriarchy and she will let you know, however she has this dry sense of humour that really works well in her writing. I enjoy her style and need to read some her older novels.

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Remember the English TV show Black Books? Don’t watch it now if you’ve never seen it because turns out the creator is a TERF, however this memoir is a good alternative. Shaun Bythell owns a secondhand bookstore in Wigtown, Scotland called The Bookshop and he has a bit of a snarky personality. This is a collection of humorous stories about book selling, the eclectic people that visit the store and the constant battle with Amazon. Bythell has written two more similar books but I am yet to read them.

Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich (translated by Keith Gessen)

I have not seen the HBO miniseries Chernobyl but it is on my list. I am confident enough to recommend the pairing because this book by Svetlana Alexievich is credited as part of the research material used to write the show. In particular, the book was used to help capture the how the Pripyat locals reacted to this disaster.

At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell

If you’ve read and enjoyed any novels by an existentialist then this is worth reading. Novels like The Stranger by Albert Camus, Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre or The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir. This book looks at the lives of these philosophers and the philosophies they created. This is a fascinating read, and a great way to see how their lives, the way and other philosophical ideas, such as Phenomenology, help shaped their ways of thinking.

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

Finishing this list off with another easy one, but if you’ve been listening to the podcast Backlisted then I’m sure you already know about this book. The podcast is hosted by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller and they talk about older, forgotten books. I have to wonder if Miller’s book was a key factor in creating this podcast, particularly when The Guardian described his book as “a heroic and amusing attempt to get back to the classics”.

I know I need to read more non-fiction, there is so much to read but I really struggled to come up with decent pairings. I really wanted to recommend In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado but could not find anything similar and that is part of the beauty of that book.

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