Nonfiction November: Week 2 – Book Pairings

It’s week 2 of Nonfiction November and this is one of my favourite prompts of the month – Book Pairings!

This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. it can be a ‘If you loved tis 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.

My book pairings today have a decidedly Irish feel!

“Are you a witch, or are you a fairy, or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”

Irish children’s rhyme

Angela Bourke’s The Burning of Bridget Cleary is a stunning telling of the death of Bridget Cleary in 1865, killed by her husband who believed her to be a witch. Carlo Gebler has dramatised the tale of Bridget in his striking novel The Cure.

‘I made this all up. Apart from the bits you just couldn’t.’

Glenn Patterson

The story of John Delorean, and futuristic car he designed which was manufactured in Northern Ireland, and his subsequent downfall, is the focus of Nick Sutton’s unbelievable book. Glenn Patterson has created a fictional account in Gull exploring the myth around Delorean in terms of its impact on the people of Northern Ireland who built it.

‘That famous/ Northern reticence, the tight gag of the place…

Where to be saved you must only save face

And whatever you say, you say nothing’

Seamus Heaney, Whatever you say, say nothing, 1975

Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing has been one of the biggest nonfiction books of the last few years. It explores different strands of The Troubles, including the ‘disappearance’ of Jean McConville. Mary O’Donnell’s novel Where They Lie explores the ramifications of the disappearance of twin brothers on a Protestant family.

“It’s all like a dream, so it is,” she said very softly. “All like a terrible dream”

One by One in the Darkness by Deirdre Madden

Lost Lives is one of the most important books published in Ireland in recent times, cataloguing as it does the lives of everyone who died as a result of The Troubles, and laying bare the sheer waste of human life. The book details the lives that lay behind the brief headlines. In Deirdre Madden’s stunning novel, One By One in the Darkness, the effect of one random death is explored from the point of view of three sisters emphasising the personal and the societal trauma left behind by The Troubles.

‘Where does everyone go?’

Nothing on Earth

Fintan O’Toole is one of the leading journalistic voices writing about Brexit today. He has also created an astute body of work on the Celtic Tiger and the effect it as had on Irish society, as explored in his book Ship of Fools. Conor O’Callaghan’s beautiful, nightmarish novel Nothing on Earth uses the landscape of a post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, with its empty housing estates, as a setting for a novel where nothing and no one is as they seem.

‘Seldom now were the old long meetings when… idea leads on idea till presently the secret chambers of the soul are made manifest.’

Bram Stoker on Henry Irving, 1898

Bram Stoker is now best known as the author of vampire classic Dracula, but he found little fame as a writer during his lifetime. He worked for most of his life for actor and theatre impresario Henry Irving and Stoker wrote his biography in 1906. Joseph O’Connor’s gorgeous historical drama Shadowplay dramatises the relationship between Stoker, Irving and actress Ellen Terry.

Do any of these pairings appeal? I’d love to hear what you think if you have read any of these titles.

Irish Literature nonfiction

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

30 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Well done. The Delorean! I’d nearly forgotten it. I have Say Nothing on my list, but with a different novel. When I saw “Ship of Fools” I thought, at first glance, it was my high school nemisis–the novel of that name by Katherine Anne Porter (a novel I’d probably find fascinating today). Great work pairing these!


  2. I’m drawn to Nothing on Earth having read Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart a few years ago which also looks at a post Celtic Tiger community.
    Your pairings are impressive. I’ve been struggling to find even one pair.


  3. Oh but I loved Say Nothing. A huge library regret, I would have liked to own that one. And as I love a good murder book, I am for sure adding The Burning of Bridget Cleary to my list! That DeLorean book sounds like it might be something my husband would be interested in. I had no idea DeLorean was a real person!


  4. I know I really need to get to Say Nothing. I don’t know why I’m always hesitating to pick that one up!

    And I remember you recommending The Burning of Bridget Cleary before. It sounds so eerie and compelling. Such a fantastic list! I love the Ireland theme.


  5. I know I really need to get to Say Nothing. I don’t know why I’m always hesitating to pick that one up!

    And I remember you recommending The Burning of Bridget Cleary before. It sounds so eerie and compelling. Such a fantastic list! I love the Ireland theme.


  6. Say Nothing is on my TBR for #ReadingIrelandMonth2021 !
    I can use some of the books you have connected: NF – Fiction.
    It’s never too early to prepare for March 2021!


  7. What a magnificent post, a brilliant theme and very well carried out – what a breadth of knowledge you have to make these pairings! I only manged one for mine, and those were books about modern times! I certainly don’t have enough history or novels about historical episodes to do more. I should read more about the Troubles but they have just haunted me from a distance and I find I can’t. It’s important and vital these books exist and are shared, though.


  8. Ooh, I love all these dramatizations of true events! Great pairings.

    I enjoyed Say Nothing very much, so I’m interested in all your other books about the Troubles. I also already have One by One in the Darkness on my shelves, so may have to pick it up with the nonfiction you suggest.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Book Decoder

Book Reviews By A Geek

Look Into Our Life

Our adventure through life and homeschooling in the UK

My Book Joy

Joy in reading and life


Books reviews with the occasional interview thrown in for good measure

Anne Is Reading

Books, books and more books

Lady Book Dragon

Books, reviews and more...

Fran McBookface

Blethering all things books

%d bloggers like this: