November 12

Nonfiction November: Fiction/Nonfiction Pairings

November 12, 2015

nonfiction november2015It’s week 2 of Nonfiction November. I haven’t done a ton of nonfiction reading yet, but I should finish up a book in a day or two that will free up lots of nonfiction time for me. In the meantime, let’s chat about fiction/nonfiction pairings. Whether you are a fan of fiction that is looking to read a bit more nonfiction, or a fan of nonfiction that is looking to read a bit more fiction, below are some recommendations to help you out. I’ve included quite a wide range, so you should be able to find a little something that appeals to you!


NFF pairing 1

Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center – Both books feature a strong female embarking on an enormous physical challenge in an attempt to regroup and move forward in life in a more positive way. I was inspired by both books, and I could totally see myself doing something like this someday!

NFF pairing 2

Columbine by Dave Cullen and We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – I haven’t actually had the chance to read Columbine yet, but I’ve heard great things. It’s near the top of my TBR, but I am a bit overwhelmed by the size. We Need to Talk About Kevin gives a very interesting perspective into the life of a family of a school shooter.

NFF pairing 3

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larsen and Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail – Both books provide a different twist on typical books set during the Holocaust. Each of these features a relationship involving a Nazi officer in the context of its story.

NFF pairing 7

You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again by Suzanne Hansen and The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus – Although these books aren’t on my list of all time favorite reads, they both give you a glimpse into the less-than-glamorous side of the life of nannying for a wealthy family.

NFF pairing 8

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer and The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall – I’ve always been intrigued by polygamy and the fundamental Mormon faith. These are very different books, but give you a peek into what that lifestyle might look like.

NFF pairing 6

True Notebooks by Mark Salzman and Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen – True Notebooks had a strong impact on me and the way I view juvenile offenders. Saint Anything is a fictional account of one family’s difficulty coming to terms with a teen that has to go to prison. Both make you take a deeper look at the circumstances that surround tragedies such as these.

NFF pairing 5

Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott and What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen – I was fascinated by Sin in the Second City and the lives of enormous wealth that madams could build for themselves. One of the infamous Chicago frequents to the brothel featured in the book was Marshall Field Jr, and his habit is mentioned in What the Lady Wants. I love how both books featured Chicago history and famous Chicagoans.

NFF pairing 4

Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Hurry Down Sunshine features a father’s struggle as he goes through the diagnosis and acceptance of his daughter’s mental health issues. All the Bright Places is my favorite read of 2015 so far and also features the struggle of a teen that’s dealing with his own mental health issues. Both books bring so much awareness to mental health issues and the struggles that those suffering face.

What fiction/nonfiction pairing would you recommend? Have you read any of the above pairings? What did you think if you did?

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July 6

Book Review – Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

July 6, 2015

From Goodreads:
Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

This is another book that was getting lots of chatter in the blogging world, and I wanted to check it out. I listened to this one on audio. The narrator was decent, but not exceptional. If you are looking for a good YA audio book, this is not a bad choice.


  • Dessen does an excellent job of tackling tough issues and their impact on individuals as well as families. I think she has a realistic approach in her writing, both in her descriptions of the impact of tragedies as well as the way different people cope with those tragedies.
  • Most of the main characters are very well-developed, and you have a good sense of who each one is and how each one will handle different situations.
  • I love the various relationships depicted among the characters – how some relationships grow, some become more distant, while some wax and wane. Overall, the variety of relationships is such a good snapshot of how they play out throughout one’s life.
  • Dessen also portrays a variety of different lifestyles, and demonstrates how you can never predict how people will react to certain situations based on where they live or how much money they make.


  • I understand that Sydney’s mom was also coping with some big issues, but I really struggled with the way she treated her daughter through most of the book. She was so distant, yet so dictatorial at times – the relationship just never felt quite right to me.

I did enjoy this read. I’ve heard it is not the best of Dessen’s work so I am planning at some point to check out something else she has written.

Have you read anything by Sarah Dessen? Which of her books would you recommend?

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