Nonfiction November -Week 2

Week 2: (Nov. 5 to 9)

Fiction / Nonfiction Book Pairing (Sarah’s Book Shelves): 

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.

Recovery and Addiction.

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. 

How to Grow An Addict by JA Wright

Randall Grange has been tricked into admitting herself into a treatment center and she doesn’t know why. She’s not a party hound like the others in her therapy group―but then again, she knows she can’t live without pills or booze. 

Neurological Disorders.

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened? 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. 

Life In India.

Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.

Deep In The Heart of Mumbai by Rhonda Erwin

When socialite Rhonda Erwin’s husband announces his job is relocating to Mumbai for five years, the Type-A, control freak isn’t sure she will survive. A quick scouting trip confirms the worst: the city is dirty, choked with traffic, and totally allergic to an opinionated “Madam” from Texas. 

Community and Culture.

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez

With warmth and humor, Rodriguez details the lushness of a seemingly desolate region and reveals the magnificence behind the burqa. Kabul Beauty School is a remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom. 

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: A Novel by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Death is not the End.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Armed with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre, Caitlin Doughty took a job at a crematory and turned morbid curiosity into her life’s work. She cared for bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, and became an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead.

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

Set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, it tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.  The Bright family comes to America seeking better fortunes and move above a funeral parlor during the deadliest disease in history. How will the family survive and heal?

Do you love November? Do you love nonfiction? Or maybe you just like alliteration! I’ve decided to join Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), Rennie (What’s Nonfiction) and Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) for the fifth annual Nonfiction November, a month-long celebration of everything nonfiction! To get the details and join in, click here!


  1. I’ve been interested in so many of your nonfiction picks for some time, from Beautiful Boy to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, and now I know of great novels and collections to pair them with. Thanks for the recommendations!

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  2. Is beautiful Boy the ones where the son has also written a book on his experience? That would be an interesting pairing in itself!

    I have had Still Alice on my TBR for a while, I find Alzheimer’s so heartbreaking. I also want to read In Pursuit of Memory.

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