Nonfiction November 2019: Fiction Nonfiction Book Pairings Link-Up

November 4, 2019 Blogger Events 43

Nonfiction Fiction Pairings


Today’s Nonfiction November (hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, and Leann at Shelf Aware and me) topic is fiction/nonfiction book pairings:

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.

Fiction / Nonfiction Book Pairings is my favorite topic of Nonfiction November and I keep a running list throughout the year of all my ideas for pairings. I hope y’all have just as much fun with it!

Link up your posts below and check out the plans for the rest of the month at here!

Oppressed Women


The Underground Girls of Kabul (my review) is an extremely readable, yet heart-breaking and eye-opening immersion in a culture that is brutal to women. Investigative journalist Jenny Nordberg exposes the “unofficial” custom of girls pretending to be boys (called bacha posh) in present day Afghanistan.

Manal al-Sharif started the campaign for women to drive in Saudi Arabia and Daring to Drive is the story of her life as well as a stark portrayal of the oppression women face in Saudi Arabia.


A Woman is No Man (my review) is fiction, but it’s inspired by Etaf Rum’s real life growing up in a traditional Palestinian family in the United States. Her female characters show immense bravery as they attempt to change their futures. It’s heart-breaking, but important reading.

Truman Capote


Capote by Gerald Clarke is the definitive biography of Truman Capote. I rarely read biographies, but this one had me captivated when I read it years ago. I’ve always had a fascination with Capote and this book is by far the most comprehensive about his life. 


The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (my review) is a novel based on the friendship between Capote and his New York City socialite “swans” (i.e. Babe Paley, Slim Keith, Marella Agnelli, Gloria Guinness, etc) and his eventual betrayal of them via the short story, “La Cote Basque, 1965”. It’s also one of my all-time favorite brain candy books.

Oral History Format


Live from New York: An Oral History of Saturday Night Live by James A. Miller & Tom Shales is an oral history of the late night comedy show, Saturday Night Live. This was the book that first made me realize how much I love the oral history format (fiction or nonfiction) and I haven’t looked back since.

Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James A. Miller & Tom Shales is an oral history of the founding, rise, and hurdles of ESPN. The quotes from ESPN insiders and sports world figures in this book were surprisingly (shockingly, at times) candid and I loved learning about how ESPN the business was built. 


Daisy Jones & the Six (my review), a hot 1970’s rock n’ roll band, mysteriously broke up after a Chicago concert. This is the story of their rise and fall, told in an oral history format. This is the only oral history I’ve ever read that was fiction, but you will forget you’re reading fiction. I kept thinking I wanted to Google that band, then remembering they weren’t real. It’s in the running for my top book of 2019!

Female Cold War Spies


Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile is “the extraordinary story of how the wildest man in Congress and a rogue CIA agent changed the history of our times.” Like The Secrets We Kept, this book features a female spy. Despite not generally liking “war” books, I loved this one when I read it years ago…mainly because of the espionage element and the glittery overtones that a Texas socialite spy added to the mix.

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner (my review), who is an ex-U.S. intelligence officer covering East Germany, tells the true story of her family being separated by the Berlin Wall and their experience living in Communist East Germany. This is truly nonfiction that reads like fiction.


The Secrets We Keptby Lara Prescott (my review) is based on the real-life CIA mission to smuggle the novel Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR (where it had been banned), so it could be used as an anti-Communist propaganda tool. And, it features two female undercover members of the CIA typing pool. The writing is highly readable and it’s the kind of book you could finish in a weekend.

Sports at Military Colleges


In My Losing Season, Conroy tells the story of his senior season (1966-67) on the Citadel basketball team and coming together with his teammates. This is one of my favorite sports memoirs and, as you all know, Conroy is my all-time favorite author!


Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson (my review) is the story of the friendship between three female cadets and basketball teammates (Dani, Hannah, and Avery) at West Point…during college and into adulthood as they go in different directions. It’s a unique, character-driven novel that you’ll fly through (even though it’s 500+ pages)!

Frank Lloyd Wright


Plagued by Fire by Paul Hendrickson is a new biography of the colorful architect Frank Lloyd Wright. I haven’t personally read this book yet, but a podcast guest recommended it on an episode that will air soon!


Loving Frank by Nancy Horan is a novel based on the true story of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s epic affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, one of his married clients. While this story is about an epic love affair, it goes much deeper than that. It’s also about a woman’s journey to find herself in a time (the early 1900’s) when women weren’t supposed to have their own identities or interests. Also, do not Google this story before reading the novel…it will ruin the explosive ending!

What are some of your favorite Nonfiction / Fiction pairings?

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43 Responses to “Nonfiction November 2019: Fiction Nonfiction Book Pairings Link-Up”

  1. Angela

    This is my favorite week of the even, too! I love your Capote and Frank Lloyd Wright pairings – it’s so neat to read a biography of someone and then see how an author fictionalizes them, what they choose to include or embellish.

  2. Stacie @SincerelyStacie

    I’m so excited to see everyone’s pairings. I just finished Daisy Jones on audio and loved it. I read Loving Frank several years ago. I’ll have to check out your nonfiction recommendations. Thanks for hosting this linkup!

  3. Susie | Novel Visits

    I like your pairings a lot. You have some I never would have thought of, but that work perfectly…oppressed women, cold war spies. When I share mine this week, you’ll see we have nothing in common!

  4. Rachel @ Never Enough Novels

    The Frank Lloyd Wright options sounds like they’d go well together! I was trying to find something similar for Eva Peron, but couldn’t come up with a reliable nonfiction option. I’d love to know more about her!

  5. Unruly Reader

    I have a not-so-secret weakness for books in oral history format — and Daisy Jones and the Six was one of my favorites this year. Thanks for hosting this week’s topic!

  6. Allison | Mind Joggle

    Great pairings! And how did I not know that’s what Swans of Fifth Avenue was about? That sounds fascinating. I haven’t read any Capote, but I’ve been meaning to, and your pairing seems like a great way to dive in.

  7. Bryan G. Robinson

    I didn’t have to think too much about mine since I just read both for a readathon last month: The Sun Also Rises and Everybody Behaves Badly about the true story behind the making of the book.

  8. jessicabookworm

    Wow that is a lot of combo recommendations! This year I really loved reading the biography Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley, alongside a comforting re-read of Persuasion by Jane Austen. Thank you for hosting this week. 🙂

  9. Bookertalk

    Your coupling for female cold war spies is calling to me the most. It’s a period I know little about other than from John Le Carre novels so it will be good to get a new take on the topic.

  10. Lisa notes

    The female cold war spies pairings look really interesting to me. And the sports ones. Love this theme! It’s not one that I think a lot about, but once I do, I find instant pairs.

  11. Liz Dexter

    Great pairings there, I only managed one but I think that’s OK, and I’ve added myself to the Link-up and found five new blogs to read – hooray!

  12. Lory

    I’ve been long meaning to read The Underground Girls of Kabul and Daring to Drive, must add A Woman Is No Man to my list now. It’s so hard to resist these pairings!

  13. Helen Herndon

    Mental Illness Pairing: The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

  14. Catherine

    My gosh, you’ve got some great pairings here! I wish my brain was working fast enough to come up with something else for your list, but I’m drawing a complete blank.

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