I can’t believe that It’s already the third week in November- this month has really flown by! But it is the third week, which means that it is also time for our third topic for Nonfiction November! This week is hosted by Leslie, the topic: Book Pairing: Match a fiction book with a nonfiction book that you would recommend.
This one was hard! I’m not sure why but it was really difficult for me to pair a good fiction book with a nonfiction book that I would recommend. But, I did it! The books I’ve chosen both deal with the struggles faced by African-Americans in larger US society. To Kill a Mockingbird, my fiction selection, was written by Harper Lee in 1960. The only novel Lee has ever written, it is told through the eyes of young Scout Finch who lived in Alabama during the Great Depression. As she watches her father defend the life of an innocent black man in court from a crime he didn’t commit, Scout realizes the reality of racism, truth, and justice in her small town. I know everyone and their grandmother has heard about, and hopefully read, To Kill a Mockingbird, but if you haven’t, do yourself a favor and read this one as soon as possible. It’s heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, and, although fiction, true in a way very few books are. Seriously, if you’ve been wondering about this book for a while but haven’t got around to it yet, give it a go, preferably sooner rather than later- it’s that good.
For nonfiction, I decided to go with Race by Studs Terkel. While To Kill a Mockingbird was written in the late 50s and deals with race in the 1930s, Terkel’s book looks at the status of race relations in the present day (or, at least, as they were 1992 when the book was published). Terkel was born in 1912, well before the events of To Kill a Mockingbird, and he died in 2008, but not before he had made a name for himself with his nonfiction books about the ordinary people of modern-day America. What makes Terkel so great is the way he writes his books; he lets the people he interview speak for himself with very
few, if any commentary from the outside. He interviews whites, blacks, asians, hispanics, native americans, women, men, the rich, the poor, the in-between, gay, straight, young, old– Americans of each and every kind. Besides a few words stating the person’s name, profession, and where they live, the rest of the the text is the interview conducted between Terkel and the interviewee condensed into paragraph form without and questions, interjections, or additions form Terkel that must have taken place during the actual interviewing process. In this way we get the real, personal stories from dozens of Americans on the subject of race in American society. Some of these stories are heart-breaking while others make you boil with rage at the treatment some those profiled have received simply because of their race. The book mainly deals with race in regards to African-Americans, but other minorities are interviewed and they talk about their own experiences as well. Nor does Terkel shy away from those are avowed racists- some of the things that a few of the white subjects say are truly mind-boggling, although plenty of others espouse less heated and less obviously racist views that are just as damaging.I read this book in high school and it has stuck with my for all these years. I really want to reread it at some point and review it here on the blog as I think it is a very important and eye-opening book that everyone no matter their race should read. Terkel has written other books, such as one on the working poor for example, that I haven’t yet managed to get around to- but they are one my list!
Anyway, that’s my book pairing. I thought it might be interesting to pick two books that deal with the same topic in different time periods- I hope you agree! I’m really loving Nonfiction November and I’m sad to know that next week will be the end but I am having a blast with this event and hope that those who are also participating are enjoying it as well!