This is, by far, the week I am most excited about for Nonfiction November – pairing a non-fiction book you love with a fiction book of equal measure (I have a whole feature dedicated to the idea of “Like This? Read That.”). Nonfiction November is run by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and this week in particular is hosted by Sarah and Sarah’s Book Shelves.
The exploration of America’s last great frontier, Alaska. Tip of the Iceberg flips between author Adams’ modern adventure and Edward Herriman’s 1899 exploration (accompanied by John Muir, among others!), while To the Bright Edge of the World // Eowyn Ivey focuses on one couple’s separation in the Alaskan wilderness in winter of 1885 and The Great Alone // Kristin Hannah focuses on a modern family’s homesteading experience.
Pirates. Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates // Eric Jay Dolin and Cinnamon and Gunpowder // Eli Brown. My recent fascination with pirates can be directly attributed to Black Sails. It was excellent, if you were on the fence about watching. Blag Flags, Blue Waters focuses on the golden age of American piracy, spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s. Dolan depicts the “roguish glamour and extreme brutality” rather wonderfully, as does Eli Brown in his novel. Cinnamon and Gunpowder is the tale of Mad Hannah Mabbot, a pirate under siege by a privateer and undermined by a saboteur. It’s also an excellent bit of foodie fiction.
Raging rivers. The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon // Kevin Fadarko tells the terrifying, true story of the “fastest boat ride ever, down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the legendary flood of 1983”. The epic flooding nearly caused the most catastrophic dam failure in history (with the Glen Canyon Dam). Not everyone loves the Glen Canyon Dam, as is illustrated by Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang, where the main plot consists of four radical environmentalists attempting to blow up the dam (as well as wreak havoc on America’s industrialist ambitions). The Emerald Mile also pairs well with The River at Night // Erica Ferencik, a novel featuring a well-intentioned, but ill-fated rafting trip down an isolated river in the Maine wilderness.
Botanical exploration. The Discovery of Jeanne Baret // Glynis Ridley and The Signature of All Things // Elizabeth Gilbert. In the 1765, Jeanne Baret disguised herself as a man in order to be brought on board a expedition (as a botanist) that planned to circumnavigate the globe. Eighteen months into the voyage, a curious Tahitian exposed her as a woman. Baret’s recently discovered journal sheds like on her expertise as a scientist, the extreme difficulties she faced on the journey, and the thousands of specimens she collected, all while essentially being forgotten by history. The Signature of All Things follows Alma Whittaker, a gifted botanist, who travels the globe. From London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, the novel is well researched and easy to read (despite the length).