Nonfiction November – Week 2 – Book Pairings!

Nonfiction November 2015Welcome to Week 2 of Nonfiction November!

If you are just joining us, here is my introductory post detailing each week’s discussion topics and this wonderful roundup over at Kim’s blog, which highlights some of the great recommendations from all the participants last week. Remember, you can post any day this week, just remember to pop back to this post and add your link to the Linky below so I can share your post!

Now! Onto this week’s topic. For the second week of Nonfiction November, we are discussing Book Pairings. The original intention of this week’s theme was put together a fiction book and a nonfiction book that go well together. If you decide to pair two nonfiction books together, that works too! It could be two (or more!) books you’ve read, one book you’ve read and one you have not, or two books that you’ve added to your TBR and want to read that you think will complement and inform each other.

I’m going with a fiction book I’ve read about a topic I really want to learn more about:

water knife

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is easily one of my favorite reads of this year. It chronicles a western United States in the not-so-distant future that is barely hanging on. Texas has been abandoned for lack of water and refugees are traveling west to find new homes. The wealthy live in pristine gated communities and never worry about their water running out, but that means that someone has to fight for those water rights. A Las Vegas water knife, or a soldier who fights to secure water rights using any means necessary, is sent to the dying Phoenix to check up on a colleague who has been acting strange. There he crosses paths with a reporter who is on the brink of uncovering something dangerous and a Texas refugee just trying to survive any way she can.

It’s a fast-paced, dark novel with incredible characters and fascinating world building. It is recognizably the United States and it feels possible, which makes it all the more terrifying. But the truth is, what I know about the real drought in California and climate change is pretty limited to what I read in headlines and short articles, so I thought I would put together a list of nonfiction titles I could read about the topic.

The first thing I learned is that there are so many. It felt impossible to narrow it down! So I tried to pick books published in 2015, with two exceptions.

Climate Change

  1. Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction by Mark Maslin – This is my first exception. Published in late 2014, this is a part of Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introduction series and it seems like the perfect place to start when it comes to understanding a complex topic such as climate change.
  2. A Great Aridness by William Debuys – This was published in 2013, but the topic is right on point. A Great Aridness focuses on the Western United States and its future without water. According to the summary, this book discusses the future of the Colorado River as a major water source for the western US, which is a big plot point in The Water Knife. Reviews say the book is beautifully written and I’m looking forward to this one!
  3. The West Without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climactic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow by B. Lynn Ingram and Frances Malamud-Roam – As the title suggests, this book seems to have a very similar focus to A Great Aridness, but I decided to leave it on the list, because it was published in 2015. I am also intrigued that this book seems to take the approach of looking at the climate history of the western US to predict what will happen in the future.
  4. Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall – Some of the recent studies about climate change that have been released are downright terrifying, but they don’t seem to mobilizing anyone to make to changes. This book looks at why, from a psychological point of view, it seems to be difficult for us to actually do anything about it and how to find common ground to actually come to a solution. It’s a very interesting way to look at the issue and definitely jumped out at me as a book I’d like to read.
  5. Betting the Farm on a Drought by Seamus McGraw – So we have one overview, two books looking at a specific region as a way of talking about climate change on a global scale, and one book about the psychology behind our reactions to climate change. This last book is about the human side of climate change. McGraw speaks to a wide range of people – farmers, fishermen, scientists and politicians – to get a portrait of the human impact of climate change with the hope of starting conversation and, hopefully, changing minds.

I can’t wait to read your book pairings! Don’t forget to add your link to the linky below and check back on Friday to get a rundown of what everyone discussed!


35 thoughts on “Nonfiction November – Week 2 – Book Pairings!

  1. I have A Great Aridness on my TBR List already. I think I will add Betting the Farm to it. It is a scary subject that is all too easy to ignore if you aren’t confronted by it on a daily basis. (Hm, on second thought, I will add the psychology book to my list as well.)

  2. The Water Knife sounds creepily excellent! This is one of those topics that seems so real I am afraid to think too hard on it. I’m just glad I live near a Great Lake I think. Great list.

  3. Oh, yes, this topic hits close to home! I live in San Diego, and even though the drought has been on for 5 years now, the powers that be are only JUST starting to tell people to conserve water, along with handing out fines to people who are watering on the wrong days, etc. As someone who has ALWAYS been taught to conserve water, because it’s a limited resource that should never be wasted, I find this totally shocking. But even more gasp-inducing is the behavior of the super wealthy, who seem to think they are simply entitled to more water than the rest of us (for watering their enormous lawns and keeping everything green), because they can pay for it. Talk about missing the point: if we run out of water, NO ONE will be able to pay for more! Thank you for calling attention to this large and growing problem in the western U.S. — one that truly impacts everyone, particularly when the nation’s food supply is threatened.

  4. Australia is a drought affected country too & water is a topic that interests me a lot. Now that I’m living in Sydney (& not western NSW) I am constantly astounded by how ignorant city living people are of water issues. They only worry about water once every ten years or so when the drought gets so bad that it actually effects their water supply. People outside the big cities worry about water all the time.

    I have Naomi Klein’s latest book on my TBR pile to read up on this area.
    I like the sound of the Marshall book – the psychology would be very interesting to read up on.

  5. The Water Knife is on my to read list! I really enjoyed Windup Girl. I live in California, so water issues are always in the news. We’ve just installed rain barrels, and we took our front yard to native landscaping ages ago. But as important as it is for residential customers like me to conserve, there are far bigger problems. At least we’ve started talking about them now… I’ll have to check out some of your recommendations so that I can read up on the underlying issues!

  6. Good idea on the pairing! The Marshall book sounds particularly interesting out of the five nonfiction books you listed. I have The Water Knife on my Kindle now from the library based on your recommendation earlier this year. Though I’ll have to finish East of Eden before I start on another book. 🙂

  7. […] Nonfiction November is a book event hosted by Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness and Leslie of Regular Rumination. 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. […]

  8. I’m a little nervous about reading The Water Knife, because it seems a bit outside my wheelhouse, but it also sounds SO GOOD and I’ve heard great things. I think it’s one that would be good for pushing my boundaries.

  9. Wow. What an interesting pairing and topic. Bacigalupi is an amazing author, even if i can’t spell his name. I will look for his book. I was a big fan of Ship Breakers. How does it compare?

    Is there anyway you can unhide the names of the Linky so I can see them and visit the sites everyone has posted? Just wondering.

    Here is my linked post for the 2nd week: I took a slightly different tack than you.

  10. Water shortage is probably like 10% of why I’m reluctant to have kids. Maybe more? I fully believe that all the catastrophes the climate scientists are warning us about will come to pass, but for whatever reason, it’s the water shortage that scares the hell out of me. I love water! I love it!

    1. It’s one of those things that I can’t really imagine, even though I know logically it’s so possible and happening in parts of the world! I have a cousin-in-law who is from Australia and it’s just such a different experience and it sounds like it’s becoming more like that in the western US. It’s terrifying! And also why I feel like I need to educate myself more about it.

  11. I’d love to read The Water Knife; I’ve been intrigued by the story line since I initially read about it, earlier this year, and I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it! This is definitely an important topic, especially for those who live on the West Coast; as a native Texan, I’m definitely interested in the (fictional) setting of this book, too. Thanks so much for sharing these recommendations and for hosting the link up; I’m looking forward to more Nonfiction November!

  12. Oh man! The Water Knife sounds intense and given our recent drought in Texas, thinking about the future is certainly frightening (though I can’t imagine going WEST for water!!!). I need to take a look at some of these books…and also share with my sister who is living in California under really scary drought conditions.

    1. It has to do with the water rights – Texas didn’t have the capacity (for reasons The Water Knife doesn’t really go into, it happens about 10 years before the book starts) to fight for any water rights like the wealthier states and cities (California and Las Vegas). So that’s why people go west, to try to get into the wealthier communities or, at the very least, live around them where they might have more opportunity to buy water. It’s such an interesting read!! I can’t recommend it enough, though it is very dark. (I have to put that caveat in there, because I didn’t once and the person I recommended it to was a little upset!)

  13. After having read The Sixth Exctinction, I’m definitely interested to learn more about climate change. Although I did finish that book feeling as though climate change may be a lost cause, I still feel as though everyone should be more aware of the problem in hopes we can do something about it 🙂 Great book selection!

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