NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Nonfiction Book Pairing


A month-long celebration of favourite non-fiction reads

Nonfiction November is an annual challenge to read, critique and discuss non-fiction books through the most autumnal of months. The five hosts will each in turn post a different themed discussion prompt every Monday. This week’s topic is introduced by Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves (5th–9th November).

Sarah has asked us: “…to 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.”

As usual, I am disobeying the rules and have chosen two non-fiction titles!



Two books I believe make a perfect pair are:


The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War

In Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s magnificent biography of the debauched and preposterous Italian poet and playwright Gabriele d’Annunzio, she examines his passions for art, politics, war and women – skilfully representing his journey from romantic idealist to right-wing revolutionary, inspiration to Mussolini and national hero. It was a worthy winner of the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.


War in Val d’Orcia : An Italian War Diary 1943-1944

First published in 1947, Iris Origo’s popular diaries recording the effects of World War II on a small corner of Tuscany depict a country torn apart by German armies, civil war and the eventual Allied invasion. An English woman married to an Italian aristocrat, she wrote in vivid detail about the survival of a rural farming community.

You may also like to turn this into a trio of titles by reading A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary 1939–1940 by Iris Origo – published by Pushkin Press for the first time in 2017.

Categories: Readathons / Challenges

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21 replies

  1. Interesting! I haven’t heard of either of these. The Italian war diaries sound especially intriguing, though d’Annunzio sounds like a fascinating character.

    • Thank you, Allison. So utterly bizarre was the life of d’Annunzio, and so outrageous was his personality, it would be easy to mistake him for a cartoon character – but he was all too real. Hughes-Hallett did a superb job on his biography.

  2. Such a creative pairing, love the sound of these!

  3. Currently reading a book on evolutionary psychology and how it matches alot of what Buddhist philosophy has to say. Great reading for non-fiction November

  4. The Origo sounds interesting. The effects of the war on the people of France are familiar but I e seldom seen anything re Italy.

  5. You had me at debauched and preposterous 😀 Great choices Paula!

  6. “debauched and preposterous” really makes me want to read more. 🙂

  7. Imaginative pairing, Paula! I’ll have to add the Origo to my list: it sounds and looks wonderful.

  8. Ooh. I just picked up the d’Annunzio biography at a charity book sale this fall. I’m glad to hear you liked it. The Origo does look like it would make a great pairing. Thanks!


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