Nonfiction November: Book Pairings


Nonfiction November is a book event hosted by Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness, Leslie of Regular Rumination, Becca of I’m Lost in Books, and Katie of Doing Dewey. For week two of this event, bloggers are invited to match two (or more) books that they think go well together. It can be a nonfiction book and a fiction book, or the pairing can be for two nonfiction books. It can be books you have read or that you want to read. Participants can link their posts here.

My choice for a fiction book is Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone. This was one of those books I managed to read in the same year it was published – 2006 – and I loved it. In case you haven’t heard of the book or the movie adaptation (which famously served as Jennifer Lawrence’s film debut), Winter’s Bone tells the story of Ree, a poor teenage girl in the Ozarks with a mentally ill mother and a meth-cooking father. At the start of the book, Ree learns that her father has skipped bail, and that Ree and her younger siblings’ home may be lost as a consequence. She sets out to track down her father, but her quest throws her into great danger.

Meth is the business of the criminal element in Ree’s community, and its destructive impact is an important, though understated, part of the story’s background.

Uncle Teardrop was Jessup’s elder and had been a crank chef longer but he’d had a lab go wrong and it had eaten the left ear off his head and burned a savage melted scar down his neck to the middle of his back. There wasn’t enough ear nub remaining to hang sunglasses on. The hair around his ear was gone, too, and the scar on his neck showed above his collar. Three blue teardrops done in jailhouse ink fell in a row from the corner of the eye on his scarred side. Folks said the teardrops meant he’d three times done grisly prison deeds that needed doing but didn’t need to be gabbed about. They said the teardrops told you everything you had to know about the man and the lost ear just repeated it. He generally tried to sit with his melted side to the wall.

I am pairing Winter’s Bone with Nick Reding’s 2009 book, Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town. Reding’s book has been on my TBR list for a long time. Here is the description from Goodreads:

Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland.

Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. As if this weren’t enough to deal with, an incredibly cheap, longlasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.

Over a period of four years, journalist Nick Reding brings us into the heart of Oelwein through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.

Tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic, Methland offers a vital and unique perspective on a pressing contemporary tragedy.

Winter's Bonemethland


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10 responses to “Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

  1. Lu

    Great combination! I haven’t read either of these, but they both sound great.

  2. Methland has been on my wishlist for forever too. I hadn’t heard of Winter’s Bone, but I’m interested now!

  3. Excellent pairing! Methland has been on my wish list for ages, but Winter’s Bone is new to me. Extra points for having a film to watch, too 🙂

  4. Oh yes, this IS a good pairing. Both are already on my tbr.

  5. Never heard of Methland before! The blogosphere is killing me with this event, my TBR list is massive now.

  6. I haven’t heard of either of these books. I think I would interested in reading your nonfiction recommendation Methland. I bet it is depressing.

    My Nonfiction Pairs

  7. I have heard of Winter’s Bone, though I didn’t realize it was a book too! And had no idea it was about meth. Both sound really good…in their own way.

  8. I’ve heard really good things about Methland, but so far, I haven’t been in the mood to pick up something on such a depressing topic! If I am in the right mood, I’l definitely think about pairing it with Winter’s Bone though 🙂

  9. Glad I could introduce Winter’s Bone to so many readers. It’s a short book, so not a lot of commitment, and just wonderful prose. And if you’ve been wanting to try “grit lit”, Woodrell’s books are considered part of the genre.

    I hope writing this post will give *me* the kick to finally go read Methland myself! And then I can see how good a pairing it was. 🙂

    Enjoyed seeing all of your pairings this week. My to-read list grew for sure. Thanks all for stopping by my blog!

  10. Pingback: Nonfiction November Week 2 Round Up! | Regular Rumination

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