Nonfiction November 2017 Week 2: Book Pairing

It’s time for another Nonfiction November post. After reading last week’s posts my TBR pile has already grown! For a roundup of last week, see the links at JulzReads.

This week Sarah at Sarah’s Bookshelves hosts one of my favorite events of Nonfiction November, Book Pairings:

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.

This year I’m pairing up one of my favorite books of all time with one of my favorite books of the year:

Les Miserables and Novel of the Century

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos

Les Misérables

The Ship Orion from Les MiserablesLes Misérables by Victor Hugo is as poetically beautiful a story as you’re ever going to read. I taught this book for over twenty years, rereading it every year, and it never got old. A sweeping storyline, unforgettable characters, a rich tapestry of language–Les Misérables has it all, and then some.

As with every classic work of literature, Les Misérables is worth reading by every human being regardless of where or when they live. As Hugo himself said the in the preface to Les Misérables,

so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this.

Because ignorance and misery still exist, we continue to need Les Misérables. After more than 150 years it still has the power to move readers to tears, to anger, and to change their lives. Hugo’s novel can be truly transforming. I have seen it profoundly affect the lives of students year after year. It truly is one of the world’s great novels.

The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables

The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos is a worthy tribute to Hugo’s novel, as well as indispensable aid to understanding it better. You can read my full review here, but the quick lowdown is that David Bellos has done a marvelous job of opening up Les Misérables for the reader, regardless of how familiar one is with the novel.

The Les Misérables Chapter-a-Day Read-along

[Deep breath. Ok, here goes.] I am going to venture into the world of hosting a read-along. And not just any read-along. A read-along of the one of the longest books ever written. As David Bellos mentions in The Novel of the CenturyLes Misérables has 365 chapters, one for every day of the year. Please join me in reading this profoundly transformative novel in 2018, one chapter each day, from January 1 to December 31, 2018.

In the next week I will have a formal post announcing the read-along with all the details, but I wanted to mention it now for two reasons. One, I want to get the word out to as many people as possible. And two, I want to force myself to follow through on this by putting it into writing publicly. I am both excited and nervous about hosting a read-along, but I’m hoping there are some kindred souls out there who are willing to take a chance on a first-time reading challenge host. Please consider joining me in what I believe will be a powerful experience.

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

14 Responses

  1. surprise surprise, we have the same pairing! I also added 5: https://wordsandpeace.com/2017/11/07/nonfiction-november-2017-book-pairings/
    Congratulations for hosting a read-along on Les Misérables, I’ll help spread the word for you.
    Thanks for the cool illustration – by Doré??

    • Deacon Nick says:

      I’ll be sure to check out your other five pairings! Thanks for sharing the word about the read-along, I really appreciate it. And yes, the illustration is by Doré. I love his work. I hope to post more of his work for Les Misérables during the read-along.

      • Deacon Nick says:

        I have to correct myself about the Ship Orion image, above. It is not by Gustave Doré, who has some marvelous illustrations of Don Quixote and The Divine Comedy. Rather, it is by Émile Bayard, who illustrated the original edition of Les Misérables.

  2. Vikk says:

    Great idea. It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a read along so this should be fun–and I haven’t read the book yet.

  3. I loved the musical version of Les Miserables, but I’ve never read the book. The read-along sounds tempting. I’m definitely going to give it some thought!

    • Deacon Nick says:

      The musical is the best adaptation of the book that I’ve seen, and if you liked it then chances are you will like the novel, too. They complement each other nicely. I’ve always been impressed with how the musical takes the images and symbols from Hugo’s writing and brings them to life on stage. I’ll certainly be writing about that during the read-along.

  4. Louise says:

    Oh I’m very tempted by the Les Mis read along. I’m a relatively recent convert to the musical (I’ve seen the movie, and then the stage show three times), but have never read the book. I have a pretty Penguin hardback copy that I thought I was saving til my retirement. I didn’t know that there are 365 chapters, how wonderful. I’ll keep an eye out for your sign up. I failed at a year long read along of Clarissa, but the urge wasn’t so strong.

  5. Excellent choices. We were definitely thinking along the same lines for our pairings this year! Good luck with the read-along.

  6. What fun it would be to read a book with 365 chapters throughout a whole year! I have read Les Miserable, but it was long ago. I will follow with interest even if I don’t end up participating. And I’m checking out The Novel of the Century!

  1. November 10, 2017

    […] Nick @ One Catholic Life Pairing: Les Miserables […]

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