Nonfiction November: Book Pairing – Novellas and Nonfiction!#NovNov #NonFicNov

As a lot of you will know, Novellas in November isn’t the only reading challenge on this month (November is probably the busiest month in the blogging calendar!) but it is also Nonfiction November and this week we are looking at short nonfiction to tie the two challenges together!

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

Week 2: (November 8-12) – Book Pairing with Katie at Doing Dewey: 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.

My book pairings today feature a few novellas and some nonfiction books that complement them!

ghost wall and the bog people

She tightened her torc on him

And opened her fen,

Those dark juices working

Him to a saint’s kept body

Seamus Heaney, ‘The Tollund Man’

Ghost Wall is set in the recent past where teenager Silvie is spending two weeks re-enacting the Iron Age way of life in Northumberland. Accompanied by her bullying father, submissive mother and a group of university students. As the fortnight wears on tensions start to run high as the idea of bog bodies, ghost walls and human sacrifices start to take a hold. The Bog People by P. V. Glob unravels the dark, forbidding background of the iron-age people preserved in peat bogs, including the famous Grauballe Man and the Tollund Man who so inspired Seamus Heaney.

tamburlaine must die and the reckoning

I had always been half in love with Tamburlaine, my most ruthless creation, a savage Scythian shepherd-made king who acknowledged no obstacle in his campaign of terror.

Tamburlaine Must Die, Louise Welch

Louise Welsh turns up the theatrics and the atmosphere in her retelling of the last days of playwright Christopher Marlowe. If you are after a more detailed account then Charles Nicholl’s The Reckoning is considered the definitive biography of this elusive writer.

winter in the blood and bury my heart at wounded knee

You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who is born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.

Winter in the Blood, James Welch

During his life, James Welch, whose parents were Blackfeet and A’aninin and who grew up on their reservations came to be regarded as a master of American prose. Depicting the lives of Native Americans his first novel, Winter in the Blood, is one of his most enduring works. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a 1970 classic non-fiction book by American writer Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century.

bedlam and all the devils are here

‘Dadd, Dadd, Dadd.’ A man seated with his back to me tips coffee dregs into his brandy glass and swirls the mixture aruond. ‘The mother of all patricide!’. Heads turn. He bolts it down. ‘With apologies to dear Oedipus, of course.’

All the Devils are Here, David Seabrook

Jennifer Higgie’s novella is a fictionalised account of the Victorian artist Richard Dadd, who was institutionalised for the murder of his own father. In David Seabrook’s undefinable book, he explores the declining resort towns of the Kent coast. These essays explore the lives of murderers, Carry on stars and rent boys and he devotes a chapter to the patricide committed in Rochester by Dadd (on ‘land now owned by Joe Pasquale’).

the bridge of san luis rey and chance

Some say that we shall never know, and that to the gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on a summer’s day, and some say, to the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder’s classic novella won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928 and is all about the five people who are killed when a bridge collapses, and a priest who embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. In Chance, a selection of writers for New Scientist provide fascinating insights into luck, randomness, risk and probability. From the secrets of coincidence to placing the perfect bet, the science of random number generation to the surprisingly haphazard decisions of criminal juries, the collection explores the nature of chance in our everyday lives.

the day of the locust and memo from david o selznick

From in front, the stupid lines and grotesque situations would have made him squirm with annoyance, but because he saw the perspiring stage-hands and the wires that held up a tawdry summerhouse with its tangle of paper flowers, he accepted everything and was anxious for it to succeed.

The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West

The Day of the Locust is the 1939 novella from Nathaneal West set on the fringes of Hollywood in the Great Depression era and featuring none of the glitz associated with that milieu. Instead we have a novella filled with extras rather than stars featuring a series of grotesque characters and critiquing the myth of the Hollywood dream. The Day of the Locust is good at exploring the often savage underbelly of an environment built on illusion and glamour. The mechanics of the Hollywood dream are also laid bare in Memo from David O. Selznick which features the memos from this great studio head of the 30s. Selznick’s absolute power and artistic control are evidenced in his impassioned, eloquent, witty, and sometimes rageful memos to directors, writers, stars and studio executives, writings that have become almost as famous as his films.

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

nonfiction Novellas in November

Cathy746books View All →

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

20 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’ve not read any of these and am currently unlikely to pick up any of them (apart from the New Scientist title, possibly) but I do like the way you’ve paired them; and I’m now thinking of what I might come up with if I attempted this…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve added the Seabrook to my Wishlist – I do love the declining resort towns of Kent, having grown up in West Kent (thus encouraged to sneer at them) but having spent time in Margate and Herne Bay in particular!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just ordered “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” a couple of days ago and it is supposed to arrive tomorrow. I’ll have to look into “Winter in the Blood” that you listed for the book pairing!


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