Nonfiction November Week 2: Book Pairing

It’s the second week of Nonfiction November and while I haven’t been able to post any reviews yet on the blog for the genre, I did manage to finish one book, The Persuaders by Anand Giridharadas. While I wasn’t completely convinced by the book while I read/listened to it, the election results have actually given more credence to the premise of the book and I would love to get to know more about the topic.

In the meantime, let’s talk more about Nonfiction November itself. We have five hosts – Katie @ Doing DeweyRennie @ What’s NonfictionRebekah @ She Seeks NonfictionJaymi @ The OC Book Girl, and Christopher @ Plucked From the Stacks. And for the first week, we have prompts from Rennie and you can find them all here.

Now let’s get started..

Week 2: (November 7-11) – Book Pairing: 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. Or pair a book with a podcast, film or documentary, TV show, etc. on the same topic or stories that pair together. (here with me, Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction)

One of the most recent books which I really loved was RISE: A Pop History of Asian American from the Nineties to Now. While I currently live in the US, I’ve only been in here for a decade now and growing up in the 90s and 2000s in India before I had access to the Internet means that I had very less exposure to American pop culture. And significantly lesser about Asian American pop culture. I’ve only gotten to know a bit about AA history in the past few years but pop culture is still a field I’m very ignorant about. So, this book was both a revelation to me – in terms of just the sheer quantity of information – but also a point of pride to get to know about many of these Americans of Asian heritage who struggled and fought and created to bring us to our current moment of visibility and change. The format of this book is also very fun, with lots of essays, funny interviews, gorgeous comics and other artwork. I definitely highly recommend this book to anyone who would love to know about this history and pop culture, and especially to all readers of Asian origin.

Now the reason I even got to know about this book is because I love listening to podcasts, and one of them I’ve been listening to for a while now and really love is They Call Us Bruce, hosted by two of the authors of Rise, Jeff Yang and Phil Yu.

Every week, the hosts interview Asian American creatives across different fields and I have absolutely adored the interviews they’ve done with the cast and crew of Everything Everywhere All At Once, particularly Michelle Yeoh; the director of Delhi Crime Season 2, Tanuj Chopra; the author of The Art of Prophecy, Wesley Chu, and most recently the director of the documentary short 38 at the Garden, Frank Chi.

The final interview I mentioned with Frank Chi and the above comic strip from RISE, made me badly wanna get to know more about Jeremy Lin and Linsanity, despite have not even basic knowledge about the NBA.

So, I ended up watching both 38 At the Garden and the original documentary Linsanity, and it was amazing to see what a phenomenon it was at the time, and how that impact has changed in the past decade. I especially loved seeing reactions from many other Asian American creatives – including Hasan Minhaj – about what Linsanity meant to them and what Jeremy thinks about it now, particularly since COVID and the increase of hate crimes against Asians in the past 2 years.

Tracing from the book RISE, they had two links for playlists I wanted to share here which feature songs by various Asian American artists from the 2000s and 2010s.

Continuing with the vein of podcasts, another couple which feature Asian American creatives are Books and Boba and Desi Books.

I particularly love B&B’s monthly Book News feature because I get a very good list of all Asian American books releasing every month and it’s always fun to discover the books I may have missed and then add them to my TBR.

Desi Books is run by Jenny Bhatt who is also a writer and translator, and along with the podcast, you can also subscribe to her newsletter which has some amazing information about the art of translation. I also reviewed one of her translated Gujrati short story collection here – The Shehnai Virtuoso and Other Stories by Dhumketu.

And while my blog is full of SFF books written by authors from the Asian diaspora, I wanted to end this post by mentioning the two significant books in my understanding of Asian American history – THE MAKING OF ASIAN AMERICA and AMERICA FOR AMERICANS by Erika Lee. If you wanna know anything about Asians in the US since the first time we came here, and some parallels for the current hate crimes against Asians here, you can’t give these books a miss.

I hope you liked my post. I tried to include as many different mediums as possible. Though any fiction books are missing here, I’m sure you’ll find many recommendations for Asian books across my blog and you can always ask me for more. Have you also written up a book pairing post for this week? Do feel free to share with me in the comments below..

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