Nonfiction November Week 2: Nonfiction for Every Cozy

November is moving right along, which is fine by me because it means we’re back for another round of Nonfiction November. Here’s the topic we’re working with this week:

Week 2 (November 8-12) Book Pairing with Katie at Doing Dewey: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. 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.

I always love Book Pairing week during What’s Nonfiction. Without a doubt, it’s the week where I introduce the most new books to my to-be-read pile.

This year, when settling on a theme, I looked at what I spent most of this past year reading: cozy mysteries. Yes, in the middle of so much chaos, adding in a little light murder seemed like a good idea.

So here are five of my favorite cozies and, if you like them, five nonfiction titles that I think pair perfectly—along with a little bonus:


I Scream, You Scream

While I usually gravitate to cozies, I’m a total sucker for those with a food theme. However, I knew Abby Collette’s A Deadly Inside Scoop was something special before I even cracked the spine. A mystery centered around an ice cream parlor? That’s as good as it gets.

And if you’re hungry for more ice cream after reading about all of those flavors, then I cannot recommend Amy Ettinger’s Sweet Spot highly enough. She’s a bit of an ice cream snob, and her blend of travelogue and memoir and culinary history is genuinely entertaining as she travels around critiquing ice cream spots.


Toys, Toys, Toys!

In Death of a Toy Solider by Barbara Early, Liz McCall finds herself working in her father’s vintage toy shop. And while she’s not exactly in love with her job, I was absolutely enchanted by this perfect backdrop. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be in a toy store every day?

Well, if that sounds like a good time, then check out Timeless Toys by Tim Walsh. There are several books out there that detail the history of some of the most popular toys ever mass produced, but none beat this—even seventeen years after its original publication. Filled with wonderful photographs and packed with facts in Walsh’s enthusiastic style, it’s the gold standard for toy nonfiction.


Calling All Ghosts

While I always go for foodie cozies, I rarely say no to paranormal mysteries either. In Carol J. Perry’s Be My Ghost, Maureen Doherty inherits an inn in Florida, but gets a little something extra when she finds a body on her new property … along with some ghostly residents.

Of course, in the United States, that second part’s not necessarily a bad thing. And whatever your opinion of the supernatural, belief and the building of these legends is fascinating. That’s where Ghostland by Colin Dickey comes in. Dickey explores the idea of haunted stories, their cultural significance, and how they inform our history while traipsing around the country to some notoriously haunted locations.


Browsing the Stacks

Like so many others, Samantha Washington, the sleuth in V.M. Burns’s The Plot is Murder, always dreamed of opening her own bookstore. Now that her dream is coming to fruition, she should be thrilled. But it’s hard to be happy when you’re suspected of murder.

It’s no surprise that author often set their cozies in bookstores—after all, if they’re writing books, then surely they love the stores. Of course, the same goes for readers, which is why I’ve found myself recommending Jorge Carrión’s Bookshops: A Reader’s History a ton. This blend of travelogue and analysis is a complete love letter to these shops.


Supernatural Items


Nancy Atherton released her first book in the wildly popular Aunt Dimity series, Aunt Dimity’s Death, in 1992, and it only took me nearly thirty years to finally read it. After growing up hearing stories about Aunt Dimity, Lori Shephard is shocked to discover that she’s both real and she’s left her a large fortune in her will. One of the most charming aspects about this series is its gentle use of magic, including a journal that Aunt Dimity uses to communicate with.

And while the journal isn’t necessarily “cursed”, I couldn’t but think of it when I saw J.W. Ocker’s Cursed Objects. It’s a fantastic compendium of all the wild and weird items that have been touted as cursed—creepy boxes, weird dolls, you know the drill. While it doesn’t pick a side on the reality debate, it is a genuinely entertaining history of some pretty ordinary things that have been given bizarre backstories.


Bonus: Don’t Waste the Moon

Rennie over at What’s Nonfiction always has the best podcast recommendations during Nonfiction November’s pairing week, and this year I’m copying her with a pairing of my own.

I’ve written about this book repeatedly, but Not Since Carrie is legitimately one of the best books written about American musical theatre. It focuses on Broadway flops—those shows that closed quickly and didn’t turn a profit. There’s the good, the bad, and the boring—and then there’s the downright infamous, including the musical Carrie.

To be fair, I genuinely like Carrie, but there’s no doubting that its fast closing and inclusion on the cover of Ken Mandelbaum’s book only added to its infamy. Fortunately, there are plenty of superfans out there doing the work to keep this musical’s legacy alive. In Out for Blood, Chris Adams and Holly Morgan explore the show’s history, from its original workshop to the Broadway production and all that came after. It’s hilarious and fascinating, and it’s hard not to walk away from it without having a deeper appreciation for one of the wildest musicals in contemporary theatre history.


If you’d like to participate in Nonfiction November, there’s still time! Feel free to head over to Doing Dewey and link your post for this week.

You can also participate on Instagram with events being hosted by Jaymi @theocbookgirl. Just use #nonfictionbookparty

24 Comments

  1. This is great, I’ve just added Sweet Spot to my Week 5 post-in-preparation and this was a fab idea. I managed to haul two pairings out of my reading; I’m not normally very good at this week so I’m pleased with that!

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  2. What a great set of pairings! I love cozies as well and you matched them very well. It also took me a really long time to get around to reading the wonderful Aunt Dimity books.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Book pairings. It is just the thing to draw me into more nonfiction. Something in me resists nonfiction–perhaps because that was the main thing I read during my professional career. The funny thing is, when I read nonfiction I usually love it. But there’s nothing like a good cozy when I’m done.😉

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  4. I love this pairing idea!! I still haven’t gotten to Sweet Spot after discovering it during another Nonfiction November, but hearing that you liked it so much definitely makes me want to finally get to it.

    And I also loved Ghostland and Cursed Objects! Have you read Colin Dickey’s new one from last year, The Unidentified? It was similarly excellent.

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    1. Sweet Spot is so interesting. I read a lot of mixed reviews of it that critiqued the style. And yes, the author is VERY opinionated, but there was something fun about someone being very opinionated when it comes to food. It doesn’t always work, but it felt real.

      I didn’t know Dickey had a new book! Definitely checking it out.

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      1. I remember I’d read some mixed reviews of it after adding it to my list too, I think on Goodreads. But I was interested enough in the topic (how could I not be) to keep it. And I like the sound of someone who’s very opinionated about food!

        His new one is about the belief in cryptids, monsters, aliens, etc. and a similar format as Ghostland, looking at why these legends arose and why they stick. Apparently he got the idea because of conspiracy theories around the time of the 2016 election. It was SO good!

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