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!



2022: January wrap-up


2022 is starting fantastically on the reading front, as well as on the blogging front, with lots of posts, and my highest number ever of visitors and visits, thanks!
One big thing is that so far, with 15 books read, I have managed a review for each. Some longer reviews and some shorter ones, mostly posted in the Sunday Post. This format seems to be working so far.

Besides several memes,
I posted my traditional three posts on the previous year stats.
I also participated in Bout of Books 33.

📚 Here is what I read in January:

15 books:
11 in print 
with 2,172 pages, a daily average of 70 pages/day
4 in audio
= 40H12
, a daily average of 1H17
(exactly same average as in December 2021!!)

4 in mystery:

  1. Gravé dans le sable, by Michel Bussi – French audio
  2. Entre deux mondes, by Olivier Norek – French audio
  3. L’Inconnue de la Seine, by Guillaume Musso – French audio
  4. L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre (Maigret #14), by Georges Simenon – read with a French student – counts for The Classics Club

3 in nonfiction:

  1. Passport, by Sophia Glock – graphic “novel”
  2. Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom For a Perfectly Imperfect Life, by Beth Kempton
  3. Les Chemins du cœur : L’enseignement spirituel des Pères de l’Église, by Placide Deseille –  Orthodox spirituality

3 in children books:

  1. How Do You Live?, by Yoshino Genzaburo – Middle Grade, counts for the Japanese Literature Challenge 15, The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge, and The Classics Club
  2. Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein – picture book
  3. Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo – Middle Grade

2 in science fiction:

  1. The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu – counts for The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
  2. Les Fourmis, by Bernard Werber – French audio

2 in literary fiction:

  1. Red is my Heart, by Antoine Laurain – received for review, counts for The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
  2. The Wild Geese, by Ogai Mori – counts for the Japanese Literature Challenge 15, The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge, and The Classics Club

1 in play:

  1. Dojoji, by Yukio Mishima – counts for the Japanese Literature Challenge 15, The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge, and The Classics Club


Entre deux mondes How Do You Live


Classics Club: 102/137 (from November 2020-until November 2025)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 3/12 books
2022 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: 0/12 books
2022 books in translation reading challenge
: 5/10+

Total of books read in 2022 = 15/120 (13%)
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 38


  Constance  Termination Shock

Click on the covers to access the reviews


The open giveaways are on my homepage = will be updated on February 1st

Books available for swapping


Posted on my homepage = will be updated on February 1st

And we offer a Book Box!


Before the Coffee Gets Cold

click on the cover to access my review


Sunday Post #50


Caffeinated Reviewer
please go visit, there are a lot of good things there!


Marianne at Let’s Read
Tammy at Books, Bones & Buffy
Greg at Book Haven
please go and visit them,
they have great book blogs


2,474 posts
over 5,575 followers
over 238,150 hits


And here are the books
I plan to read in February

📚 📚 📚

How was YOUR month of JANUARY?


Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction
has created a Month In Review meme
where you can link your monthly recap posts
Thanks Nicole!

Sunday Post #51 – 1/30/2022

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

It’s quite cold and snowy (though I know Chicago’s winter weather is pretty awesome compared to the East coast), so what is there else to do than read? lol
I had another productive week:

  • One of the categories on my visual journal is Documentaries (free on youtube).
    We enjoy turning our leisurely Saturday breakfasts into cultural events.
    Since the beginning of the year, we have watched Ant Mountain (on a huge ant colony in Switzerland); Travel on the Orient Express; The construction of the Euro tunnel. And yesterday, we watched The Journey of the Snowy Owls
  • In the kitchen, for the fist time, I tried Korean Tuna Pancakes – super easy and delicious
  • Inspired by @MileStyle, I decided to start a Twitter thread for my 2022 reads – 15 already.
  • And this week biggest discovery is an awesome way of tracking your books: CAWPILE V3 by BookTuber Book Roast.
    Follow the link to watch her explanation and download a (free) copy to make your own.
    I have used my own more basic tool for several years, and tried also the one designed by Bookriot, but really BookRoast’s is so much better and easier to use when you want to edit and add categories. Highly recommended.

Since last Sunday, on the blog:


How Do You Live  L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre

  Dojoji   Because of Winn-Dixie  

  Wabi Sabi  Les Chemins du cœur  

L'inconnue de la Seine

📚  How Do You Live, by Genzaburo Yoshino
Published in 1937
Middle grade historical fiction
Read for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

VERDICT: Japanese variation on “Know Thyself”. Classic middle grade novel full of wisdom. If we were to apply all its advice, the world would definitely be a better place. The first step is to read the book!
Read my full review

📚  L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre, by Georges Simenon
Published in 1932
Translated as The Saint-Fiacre Affair
(Inspector Maigret #14)
Read it with one of my French student, and
for  The Classics Club

The first half of the book was excellent, with great atmospheric details, as Simenon knows how to do. It was also involving Maigret more personally, and painfully so, as the crime sends him back to where he lived as child.
An old countess is found dead at church shortly after Mass. But no one seemed to have come around her to kill her, so how was is done? By whom? Why?
Unfortunately, the plot got really muddled, with the reader just as confused as Maigret himself, who looked more and more like a passive witness of something he couldn’t grasp. Some chapters were pure muddle for me – and I read it in the original French, so I can’t even say that’s the translator’s fault!!
I’m not even sure why the killer really did it.

📚  Dojoji, by Yukio Mishima
Published in 1957
Read for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

I didn’t read the whole book displayed on the cover, just the Dojoji play.
The play focuses on a wardrobe at a private auction. It is a piece of furniture with unusual features. As buyers get ready to purchase it, a woman arrives who has connections with its strange origin.

I wish I knew more why it’s called Dojoji and how it’s really based on Noh theater. I read a summary of the 15th century Dojoji play, and I find there’s also a dancer involves, who disappears quickly at the end. The owner of the furniture shop could be a modern version of the character of the abbot. The wardrobe could stand for the bell, and there’s also a special marriage situation.
It’s a bit weird, but it’s got some interesting passages about beauty and identity, and as often with Mishima, it contains reflections on tradition and modernity. 

I had a hard time finding the play. Couldn’t find it in English, and I almost passed by this book, because it’s called Dojoji another short stories, whereas I knew Dojoji is a play. Desperate, I thought, ok I’ll read the short story instead. When I opened the book, I realized it WAS a play.
Why does this editor consider it a short story??

📚  Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
Published in 2000
Middle grade

I so enjoyed the first book I read at the end of 2021 by Kate DiCamillo (The Beatryce Prophecy), that I followed other book bloggers’ advice, and picked up this one at my library.
Loved it!
One summer, as she just moved to Florida, Opal feels lonely and decides to adopt a dog she finds by chance in a grocery store. He looks in bad shape and is ugly, and Opal is all too ready to apply her Dad the preacher’s principles: to take care of people/creatures less fortunate than oneself. And because of the dog, Opal is going to have a summer full of adventures and discoveries.
It is  a great coming of age story, with lots of wisdom about friendship and how to handle loss.
It was neat meeting Opal and Winn-Dixie, her very smart and special dog!

📚  Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young (Illustrator)
Published in 2008
Picture Book

I recently reviewed Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, by Beth Kempton, and one of you mentioned this other book on Wabi Sabi.
Thankfully, it was at my awesome public library (it almost has everything I want!)
This is a gorgeous picture book to introduce wabi sabi to children and adults!
Wabi sabi is a cat, wondering about the meaning of her name.
I loved the format of the book (you read the book vertically) and the use of multimedia art, with cool collages – see the one I shared on Instagram.
It was also fun at the end to realize that most if not all the illustrations were actually based on famous haiku!!

📚  Les Chemins du cœur : l’enseignement spirituel des Pères de l’Église [The Ways of the Heart: The Spiritual Teaching of the Church Fathers], by Archimandrite Placide Deseille
Published in 2012
Picture Book

This is a good collection of essays on various topics related to Orthodox spirituality.
You can read more about it here, with excerpts (that I translated in English) and some of my notes on it.

🎧 L’Inconnue de la Seine, by Guillaume Musso
Not yet available in English
Published on 9/21/2021

It was ok. There were some interesting elements, especially related to the theater and to Dionysus, but some aspects I didn’t like too much, like three different variations on mental health.
And how Raphaël started the whole thing seemed too unreal.
It also didn’t feel realistic that Raphaël at the end would go to the island without questioning anything. So it made the end too easy and flat.


The Waiting Years Intuitio

📚  The Waiting Years, by Fumiko Enchi
Published in 1957
Reading for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club

I couldn’t find it easily and quickly in English, so I’m reading it in French.

The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo’s real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another … and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son…. And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.
In a series of colorful, unforgettable scenes, Enchi brilliantly handles the human interplay within the ill-fated Shirakawa family. Japan’s leading woman novelist and a member of the prestigious Art Academy, she combines a graceful, evocative style that consciously echoes the Tale of Genji with keen insight and an impressive ability to develop her characters over a long period of time. Her work is rooted deep in the female psychology, and it is her women above all-so clearly differentiated yet all so utterly feminine-who live in the memory. With The Waiting Years, a new and important literary figure makes her debut in the Western world.

🎧 Intuitio, by Laurent Gounelle
Not yet available in English
Published on 4/7/2021

“Timothy Fisher, a young author of thrillers, leads a quiet life in Queens with his cat Al Capone. When two FBI agents show up on his doorstep asking him to help them arrest the nation’s most wanted man, he first thinks it’s a joke.
But he ends up accepting their strange proposal: to join a secret program aimed at training intuitive candidates, people capable of accessing their intuitions at will.
At first skeptical, Timothy, who thought he had a banal existence, discovers that the world hides unsuspected possibilities.
He finds himself embarked on a race against time which leads him to tame this little-known but accessible power.”

Very intriguing, especially the parts on the detailed technique to access one’s own intuition. The author says he did go through similar tests and they do work. It has been used by police to solve crimes.


Lean On Me

📚 Lean on Me, by Serge Joncour
Translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie and Jane Aitken
US publication date: March 1, 2022
by Gallic Books
Literary fiction

Received for review
Will be reading for
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge

I have read and enjoyed already two books by Joncour, especially Wild Dog, but I haven’t read this one yet, not even in French, so I was thrilled to receive it for review.

“Winner of the prestigious Prix Interallié.
When a flock of crows invades their shared apartment block, farmer-turned-debt collector Ludovic and fashion designer Aurore speak for the first time. With nothing but the birds in common, the two are destined for separate lives, yet are drawn inexplicably together.
Though their story is set in Paris, the tale of Ludovic and Aurore is far from an idyllic romance. With one trapped in an unhappy marriage and the other lost in grief, the city of love has brought each of them only isolation and pain. As Aurore faces losing her business and Ludovic questions the ethics of his job, they begin a passionate affair. Love between such different people seems doomed to failure, but for these two unhappy souls trapped in ruthless worlds, perhaps loving one another is the greatest form of resistance.
From the award winning author of Wild Dog, Lean on Me explores the realities of unlikely love, and how connection and intimacy offer us an escape from all that is harsh and cold in our modern day lives.”


The River Ki

📚  The River Ki, by Sawako Ariyoshi
Published in 1959

I added it because of the great review by Tony.

The River Ki, short and swift and broad like most Japanese rivers, flows into the sea not far south of Osaka. On its journey seaward, it passes through countryside that has long been at the heart of the Japanese tradition. And it flows too past the mountains and the villages, past the dams, ditches and rice fields that provide such a richly textured backdrop to this novel.
Powerful enough to sweep away people on its banks and placid enough to carry along with its flow a sumptuous wedding procession, The River Ki dominates the lives of the people who live in its fertile valley and imparts a vital strength to the three women, mother, daughter and granddaughter, around whom this novel is built. It provides them with the courage to cope, in their different ways, with the unprecedented changes that occurred in Japan between the last years of the last century and the middle of this century.
Sawako Ariyoshi, one of Japan’s most successful modern novelists, describes this social and cultural revolution largely through the eyes of Hana, a woman with the vision and integrity to understand the inevitability of the death of the traditional order in Japan. Ariyoshi writes with a love for detail bound to a broader understanding of the importance of the geographical and biological forces that mold her characters-and the result is a story that flows with all the vitality of The River Ki itself.”


Lean On Me

See presentation above

📚  GIVEAWAY: choose 1  📚 

Constellation Red is my Heart

 The Most Beautiful Book in the WorldThe Woman with the BouquetThree Women in a Mirror 

One is coming soon!