Nonfiction November 2022: Book Pairings

Nonfiction November 2022

#nonfictionbookparty: Instagram Daily Challenge
Click on the logo to see the detailed schedule

Here is the topic for Week 2 (Nov. 7-11):
Book Pairings
hosted by Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction?

This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title
(or another nonfiction!)

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.

I usually do nonfiction/fiction pairs, but the list of nonfiction books I read this year didn’t inspire me really for fiction titles I have read, or they are not yet available in English!
So I’m offering 5 pairs, either by the same author or on the same topic.
The book on the left of each pair is one I read this year.

Click on the covers to get more details



L'Axe du loup Consolations of the Forest

Sylvain Tesson is an impressive traveler (often on foot), and his books are so hauntingly beautiful.
The first one I read by him is stunningly beautiful:
The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga (2013).
Here is an excerpt of my review:
“I totally fell under the charm of its writing, a mix of haunted beauty on the nature setting, of deep and sometimes ironic or humorist reflection on the human condition, and notes on lots of books the author took with him, when he decided to go live by himself for 6 months in a little cabin on Lake Baikal, in Siberia.”



Down and Out in Paris in London  Finding George Orwell in Burma

Down and Out in Paris and London is Orwell’s autobiographical details on his miserable time in both cities.
Years ago, I read an excellent book by Emma Larkin, “a fascinating political travelogue that traces the life and work of George Orwell in” Burma, aka as Myanmar: Finding George Orwell in Burma.



After the Romanovs The Romanov Sisters

Helen Rappaport is an impressive historian, focusing on Russian history. Her books are so documented, yet so pleasant to read.
The first one I read by her was The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra.

A short excerpt is included in my review.



Wabi sabi Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi is a fascinating Japanese concept or way of life.
Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young (liustrator), is a great way of presenting it to children … of all ages!



Absolutely on Music Murakami T

Haruki Murakami is my favorite contemporary Japanese author.
he’s mostly written novels, but he has also a few interesting nonfiction novels.
His interviews of Seiji Osawa are so fascinating.
On the lighter side, it was fun reading about his favorite T-shirts!



Nonfiction November: My Year 2022 in Nonfiction

Nonfiction November 2022

#nonfictionbookparty: Instagram Daily Challenge
Click on the logo to see the detailed schedule

Like every year, a bunch of really cool bloggers are co-hosting Nonfiction November.

Here is the topic for Week 1 (Oct 31-Nov 4):


Hosted by Katie @ Doing Dewey:
Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions:
What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Here is the recap of the nonfiction I have read (the links will send you to my review when it’s posted).
Having finished my Bible project, my number of nonfiction this year is far below the one from the past two years, but with 18 (actually 19, if I consider than I read one twice), I’m still happy. That’s 15% of all I have read so far in 2022.
And I am planning on finishing at least 3 more before the end of the year.

Here are the titles, in the various categories:


  1. Passport, by Sophia Glock
  2. L’Axe du loup : De la Sibérie à l’Inde, sur les pas des évadés du goulag, by
    Sylvain Tesson
  3. Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell
    these top 3 memoirs deal also with travels
  4. Revenge of the Librarians, by Tom Gauld – in cartoons

On science / environment / contemporary issues:

  1. Digital Hell: The Inner Workings of a “Like”, actually read in French: L’Enfer numérique, by Guillaume Pitron

On history:

  1. After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris From the Belle Époque Through the Revolution and War, by Helen Rappaport
  2. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women, by Kate Moore
  3. Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America, by Thomas J. Craughwell

On Japan/self-help:

  1. Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, by Beth Kempton

In literary criticism:

  1. Agatha Christie Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World, by Mark Aldridge

On nature:

  1. A Brush With Birds: Paintings and Stories from the Wild, by Richard Weatherly

On music:

  1. Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, by Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa

In Orthodox spirituality:

  1. Les Chemins du cœur : l’enseignement spirituel des Pères de l’Église, by Placide Deseille
  2. This Holy Man: Impressions of Metropolitan Anthony, by Gillian Crow
  3. Beginning to Pray, by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (I actually read this one twice this year)


  1. River of Stars: Selected Poems of Akiko Yosano
  2. The Year of My Life, by Kobayashi Issa
  3. Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke

I’m very happy for the diversity of topics covered.


What were your favorite nonfiction reads of the year?

L'Enfer numérique  L'Axe du loup

It turns out both are French.

What nonfiction books
have you recommended the most?

  L'Enfer numérique Revenge of the Librarians

Digital Hell: The Inner Workings of a “Like” is supposed to be published in English on March 7, 2023 by Scribe US.
But I have written a detailed review and talked about it to many people. Everyone seems to be eager to discover this. It is such a major issue, with such an impact on the environment, that so few people are talking about.
And because I read this book, I have drastically reduced by online activity.
So I will not participate in the daily #nonfictionbookparty Instagram challenge this year.

As for Revenge of the Librarians, I have mentioned it to several students and members of my book club, and the reaction was, OMG, I’m buying a copy right now for a Christmas gift for such and such in my family.
So authors and publishers, from my library copy, you are going to get quite a few sales!

Do you have a particular topic
you’ve been attracted to more this year?
Not really, and I am glad for the diversity

What are you hoping to get out
of participating in Nonfiction November?
As usual, to get acquainted with more nonfiction readers
and find good titles unknown to me.



Six degrees of separation: from sorrow to the Romanovs


Six degrees of separation:
from sorrow to the Romanovs

Time for another quirky variation on this meme.
The title doesn’t sound very cheerful, but my list contains some great books, and at least one is hilarious.

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title (or in the subtitle) offered and find another title with that word in it – see the titles below the images to fully understand, as often the word could be in the second part of the title
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

Click on the covers 
links will send you to my review or to the relevant page

Sorrow and Bliss

This is the book we are supposed to start from.
I have not read it, and I am not planning to.

This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.
Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.
By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing – if you can find something else to want.

The Sorrows of Young Werther  Diary of a Young Naturalist

    The Diary of Adam and Eve    The Lament of Eve  

Isaiah Through the Ages  After the Romanovs

Click on the covers to read my review
or the relevant page

Sorrow and Bliss

1. The Sorrrows of Young Werther, by Goethe

I read this one a few decades ago (in French), and enjoyed it A LOT. It might be time to revisit.

This is Goethe’s first novel, published in 1774. Written in diary form, it tells the tale of an unhappy, passionate young man hopelessly in love with Charlotte, the wife of a friend – a man who he alternately admires and detests. ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ became an important part of the ‘Sturm und Drang movement, and greatly influenced later ‘Romanticism’. The work is semi-autobiographical – in 1772, two years before the novel was published, Goethe had passed through a similar tempestuous period, when he lost his heart to Charlotte Buff, who was at that time engaged to his friend Johann Christian Kestner.”

2. Diary of a Young Naturalist, by Dara McAnulty

I heard about this book a few weeks ago. The theme of environment is an important one for me, and I’m looking forward to reading it. It’s also listed in a Goodreads giveaway.

“Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty’s world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling. “I was diagnosed with Asperger’s/autism aged five … By age seven I knew I was very different, I had got used to the isolation, my inability to break through into the world of talking about football or Minecraft was not tolerated. Then came the bullying. Nature became so much more than an escape; it became a life-support system.” Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays Dara’s intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning. “In writing this book,” Dara explains, “I have experienced challenges but also felt incredible joy, wonder, curiosity and excitement. In sharing this journey my hope is that people of all generations will not only understand autism a little more but also appreciate a child’s eye view on our delicate and changing biosphere.””

3. The Diary of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain

This book is totally hilarious. I don’t like the author’s personality, but some his books are so good, and this one so so funny. Maybe god for a fun summer day.

“”Good deal of fog this morning. I do not go out in the fog myself,” notes Adam in his diary, adding, “The new creature does. It goes out in all weathers. And talks. It used to be so pleasant and quiet here.”
Adam has a lot to learn about Eve, and even more from her, as she names the animals, discovers fire, and introduces all manner of innovations to their garden home. Mark Twain’s “translation” of the diaries of the first man and woman offers a humorous “he said/she said” narrative of biblical events. The great American storyteller found comfort and inspiration in the company of women, and his irreverent look at conventional religion is also a thoughtful — and humorous — argument for gender equality.”

4. The Lament of Eve, by Johanna Manley

We are going from hilarious to very serious, with this excellent patristic and Orthodox commentary of the first five chapters of Genesis. 
I have read three books by this author, she’s really good.

The Lament of Eve attempts an exegesis of sections of the first five chapters of Genesis based on commentary of the Fathers of the Church. Subjects covered include: the creation and dignity of men and women, theosis, stewardship of the earth, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Fall, the sentence of mortality and God’s love, providence and primacy in our lives. Appropriate for both elementary and advanced Bible studies, it also makes thoughtful reading during Great Lent. Includes index and bibliography.

5. Isaiah Through the Ages, by Johanna Manley

Got stuck here, as I don’t have any other book on my shelves with either the word lament or Eve. And no other Johanna author, so I’m going with my favorite book by her. An excellent patristic compilation and Orthodox commentary on the book of Isaiah.

“A compilation of previously unavailable commentaries by the Church Fathers on the Book of Isaiah. Fourth and fifth century exegetes are prominently featured, but excerpts from others, such as Ss Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Anthanasius of Alexandria and Jerome, are also included. Modern commentary (from 1775 to the present) has been added to provide insight into the historical context, poetry and structure. A short Judaic section points to Messianic passages and assists with obscure metaphors and references. The Prologue is excerpted from the works of Georges Florovsky. Includes bibliography and index.”

6. After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War, by Helen Rappaport 

Hellen Rappaport is an expert on Russian history. I really enjoyed her book on The Romanov Sisters, and this one, her latest, published in March 2022. Alas, I haven’t posted my review yet!

Paris has always been a city of cultural excellence, fine wine and food, and the latest fashions. But it has also been a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution, never more so than before and after the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. For years, Russian aristocrats had enjoyed all that Belle Époque Paris had to offer, spending lavishly when they visited. It was a place of artistic experimentation, such as Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. But the brutality of the Bolshevik takeover forced Russians of all types to flee their homeland, sometimes leaving with only the clothes on their backs.
Arriving in Paris, former princes could be seen driving taxicabs, while their wives who could sew worked for the fashion houses, their unique Russian style serving as inspiration for designers like Coco Chanel. Talented intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers, and writers struggled in exile, eking out a living at menial jobs. Some, like Bunin, Chagall and Stravinsky, encountered great success in the same Paris that welcomed Americans like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Political activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents from both sides plotted espionage and assassination. Others became trapped in a cycle of poverty and their all-consuming homesickness for Russia, the homeland they had been forced to abandon.
This is their story.


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