Match This Nonfiction Book with This Fiction Book 

Match nonfiction with fiction

Do you ever read a novel and a nonfiction book and think, “These go great together!“?

For this week’s Nonfiction November assignment (hosted by Sarah this week), we pair a nonfiction book with a fiction book. I give you two pairs from books I’ve read this year so far.

I posted last week’s assignment here:

My Favorite Nonfiction Books So Far This Year

Pair 1:



While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement
by Carolyn Maull McKinstry
[my review here]

While the World Watched is a first-person, true account about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, on September 15, 1963, by the Klan. The author Carolyn Maull McKinstry was a 14-year-girl at the time, a friend to all four girls who were killed by the explosion.


The Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead
[my review here]

The Nickel Boys is a novel about a reform school for boys in Florida in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s. The staff is composed of prejudiced and sadistic men who take advantage of all the students, but even more so the black students. It’s based on a real-life reform school.

Why this pairing?

Both these books show us how badly that some white Americans treated black Americans as little as 50 years ago. And they remind us that even though we’ve come far, we still haven’t arrived at full equality and respect for all. We must keep working at it and showing love to everyone.

Pair 2:


A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown
by Julia Scheeres

This creepy but true story is how Jim Jones convinced hundreds of people in his People’s Temple Full Gospel Church to do his bidding, even to the point of moving to Guyana, living almost like slaves, and voluntarily committing suicide together on November 18, 1978. The book closely follows several parishioners, giving you a vivid picture of what they endured for Jim Jones, including some who dared to doubt as well as others who were blindly loyal at all costs.


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This novel is about an evangelical Baptist pastor who moves his family to the Belgian Congo in 1959 to spread the gospel. As political circumstances and the family unravel, you see what it’s like to live with someone who is so firmly entrenched in his own distorted beliefs that it adversely affects others.

Why this pairing?

Both these books are based on a charismatic pastor who believe their personal version of the truth is THE truth, and insist on others following them in their beliefs. It shows how possible it is to be swayed to dark places that you couldn’t have imagined by putting too much trust in one person, but that it is possible to break free and begin thinking for yourself again.

* * *

Do you have a nonfiction and fiction pairing? Please share in the comments.

Read more #NonficNov book recommendations:

24 thoughts on “Match This Nonfiction Book with This Fiction Book 

  1. Rebecca Hastings

    What a fun idea! I love this way of marrying nonfiction and fiction. A popular pair right now is “Before We Were Yours” (fiction) with “Before and After” (non) for the true story that the fiction was based on. I only read the fiction, but this is a great pairing!

  2. Beth

    I love this idea, Lisa! Never thought of paring two books that highlight different shades of the same color, so to speak. I’ll have to try this! Thanks for sharing! I’ll be pinning and tweeting!

  3. David

    Dear Lisa, good game! The Weight of Ink (recent storybook – which I recommend highly) would pair nicely with Spinoza’s Ethics. Tristram Shandy would go well with Freud’s book of jokes (“Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious” the first part is all jokes, the second part – the psychology – is mildly interesting but kind of obvious nowadays).

  4. Theresa Boedeker

    Oh my! I love your idea of pairings. I am often reading several books at a time, and often fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes they go together, and other times not. But you have got my wheels chugging. Choose books that are linked in some way. Anxious to try one of your pairings.

    Your 2nd pairing reminded my of a non-fiction book I read recently that would probably go well with these two. Leaving the Witness, by Amber Scorah. It was about how Amber had blindly followed the teachings of the Jehovah Witnesses for many years and slowly begins to question the truth she has been taught.

  5. Karen Friday

    Lisa, I’ve never thought about doing this kind of pairing for books. While I don’t read a lot of fiction, it makes sense that some books go together and this includes great non-fiction AND fiction. Thank you!

  6. Liz Dexter

    These are great pairings. I was put off by this week’s theme at first then realised I had the perfect pair, so joined NonFiction November. I’m finding so many new blogs to read!

  7. Stacey Pardoe

    This is a great idea, Lisa! It reminds me of the book “The Cure,” which alternates between fiction and nonfiction throughout the chapters of the book! It was a very refreshing read for me! I’m saving this post for future refreshment!

  8. BettieG

    This is such a great idea. A dear friend of mine has always wanted to be able to gift her friends with a classic book and a biography about that same author. It really does open our eyes to a different perspective to be able to pair such books together. Thank you for all of the creativity that you share with us here!

  9. Anita Ojeda

    I love your pairings! The children’s book The Watson’s Go to Birmingham, 1963 is also an excellent book about the bombing. I loved the Poisonwood Bible, but would never have thought of pairing it with a book on Jonestown–but now that you point it out, I can see how they’d pair well as well.

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