Fiction meets non-fiction: A mashup

Which is better — fiction or non-fiction? We’ve paired some favorite fiction reads with some non-fiction suggestions that explore similar themes in our monthly fiction meets non-fiction mashup!

Gone cover

This is Not the STory You Think it is cover

Gone — Cathi Hanauer
This is Not the Story You Think it Is… A Season of Unlikely Happiness — Laura Munson

Eve Adams has given up a lot for her family, but now she has a thriving career as a nutritionist, and she just landed a book deal. However, her husband Eric is less fortunate — his career is slipping away, and he’s unable to cope. When Eric simply doesn’t come home one day, Eve must reevaluate her life and figure out how to hold on to what she has, but also be smart enough to let things go. If you’re looking for a memoir, rather than a novel, about a man walking out on his family, try Laura Munson’s This is Not the Story You Think it Is. When Laura Munson’s husband told her that he wasn’t sure he loved her anymore, she refused to accept that as an answer. As he embarked on a midlife crisis, she steadfastly held the family together and waited for him to get a grip on his life.

The Far Side of the Sky cover

Shanghai Refuge cover

The Far Side of the Sky — Daniel Kalla
Shanghai Refuge: A Memoir of the World War II Jewish Ghetto — Ernest G. Heppner

When most people hear about Daniel Kalla’s The Far Side of the Sky (about the plight of Jews in Shanghai during World War II), most people respond that they had no idea there were Jews in China during that time period. It’s understandable, but if you’d like to learn more about that period in history, Ernest G. Heppner’s memoir is a good place to start. Heppner was a middle-class Jew who escaped Europe with his mother after the horrific events of Kristallnacht. Because Shanghai was the only destination that didn’t require a visa, that was where they fled to. It’s well worth a read, especially if you enjoyed Daniel Kalla’s debut novel.

When In Doubt, Add Butter cover

I loved I Lost I Made Spaghetti cover

When in Doubt, Add Butter — Beth Harbison
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti — Giulia Melucci

The theme of finding comfort after heartbreak in food is a common one in life and in literature. In Beth Harbison’s latest novel When in Doubt, Add Butter, private chef Gemma is done falling in love. She uses her food to cater other people’s dates, not to recover from her own. Her clients find their own comfort through food, and she discovers that love will find her, regardless of what she thinks. Giulia Melucci used food to cope with the dating process. She seduced her men with her mouth-watering dishes, and after they were gone, she cooked the most comforting dishes she could to help herself move on. Both of these stories are heartwarming and will have you running for the fridge.

The Color of Tea cover

Kabul Beauty School cover

The Color of Tea — Hannah Tunnicliffe
Kabul Beauty School — Deborah Rodriguez

Stories about expat women connecting with those around them always make wonderful stories, and what better way to do that than opening a business in a foreign place? In The Color of Tea, Grace’s marriage is on the rocks, and she decides to occupy her days by opening a cafe in Macau. It’s a wonderful story, but even more inspirational is Deborah Rodriguez, who moved to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban and opened a beauty school. There, she met the local women and became part of their families as she gave them a place to be safe and free.

The Passage cover

No Time to Lose cover

The Passage — Justin Cronin
No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses — Peter Piot

You may be wondering what a book about vampire-zombies has to do with a memoir of hunting for viruses. It’s a good question, but if you think about it, these books aren’t that far off from one another. After all, where did the zombie virus in The Passage come from? The Amazon jungle. Peter Piot has spent his life pursuing viruses and disease, and though he thankfully has not found anything as apocalyptic as The Passage virus, his life’s work still makes for an excellent, engaging read.

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