Books that are better together.

Books that are better together.

I love a good book flight. The idea is borrowed from wine: a tasting flight groups carefully chosen wines together, to better allow tasters to compare.

I haven’t read any full book flights (think three to five titles) in a while, but many of my recent reads have serendipitously born serious similarities to each other. These books have had similar plot lines or addressed the same issue from different angles, making the reading experience exponentially richer.

Here’s a look at some recent reads that have been better together:

A fondness for old books
The Brontë Plot

The Brontë Plot

Author:
The heroine of Reay's third novel is Lucy Alling, a Chicago girl who makes her living selling rare books. She's been using suspicious methods to boost her sales, and when that comes to light it ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend. But Lucy gets an unusual shot at redemption, which takes the form of a literary tour of Europe, including a stop at Haworth, the Brontë sisters family home, where things come to a head. Publication date: November 3. More info →
84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road

Author:
You all have been telling me to read this slim little book for years and I'm so glad I finally did. This is the story of the twenty-year relationship between a New York writer and a gentlemanly London bookseller, as told through their correspondence. A must-read for bibliophiles. (And yes, I promise to follow this up with its sequel-of-sorts, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. ) More info →
Channeling Notting Hill
This Is What Happy Looks Like

This Is What Happy Looks Like

When a teenage Hollywood star mistypes an email address, his message ends up in the inbox of a small-town teenage girl in Maine. The two strike up a witty correspondence, even though (or really, because) she doesn't know who he is. When his latest film is shot on location in her town, the relationship moves from online to real life. But the paparazzi make his life miserable, and the girl has secrets of her own. A look at the different varieties of stardom and the obstacles it creates to ordinary living. More info →
The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife

Author:
At 7 months pregnant, a Mormon housewife has a chance connection with her celebrity crush (think Colin Firth), and the two strike up an improbable friendship. They're drawn together by their quick wit and brilliant banter (which are wholly responsible for the book's enjoyable dialogue). Over the years, the relationship becomes more significant to them both, even though they have little in common on the surface. An exploration of family, stardom, and whether or not men and women can be friends. I didn't love reading this book (well, except for all the witty banter), but I did love talking it over with a friend after I finished it. More info →
Cyber nightmares
After You: A Novel

After You: A Novel

Author:
I recently hinted that Moyes took her much-anticipated sequel to word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You in an entirely different direction: in a harrowing plot twist, Lou discovers that one damning photo has the power to ruin a young girl's life—but how to recover it? More info →
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Author:
Public shaming used to be a common punishment, but it was stopped long ago: not because it was ineffective, but because it was deemed far too cruel. But with the dawn of social media, public shaming is back in a big way, and it's being carried out by ordinary people. Ronson walks the reader through some recent examples of lives ruined over one public mistake: a fabricated quote in a book, one ill-considered tweet, one Facebook photo that went viral. This is one of the scariest books I've read in a long time, and I'm not saying that lightly. More info →
Love and Asperger's syndrome
Someone Else’s Love Story

Someone Else’s Love Story

Sweet 21-year-old Shandi "fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K” when he steps between a gunman who's high on drugs and her 3-year-old son. When the crisis is over, Shandi hurls herself into a new mission: getting him to love her back. Her blond god Thor that she fell in love with so quickly turns out to be a brilliant geneticist, whose genetic makeup contains some “specific duplications and deletions.” What Shandi doesn't realize is she's stepped into the middle of someone else's love story, not her own—but that story proves to be far more interesting than she ever could have dreamed. More info →
The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

Author:
Don Tillman can count his friends on one hand, has never been on a second date, and is clearly (to the reader, at least) on the autism spectrum. When a colleague surprises him by remarking he would make a wonderful husband, Don creates "the Wife Project" to find his perfect partner. (To Don, that means creating the perfect questionnaire.) But when he meets a woman that's all wrong for him—at least on paper—he's forced to reconsider what he really wants, and what love really looks like (all while his scientific, orderly approach to life is getting wrecked). Fast, fun, and smart. Heads up for a few f-bombs and racy scenes. More info →

What books have YOU read lately that have been better because you paired them with another title? 

P.S. Reading is better when it’s done wine tasting style, and 4 more literary flights.

I love a good book flight. The idea is borrowed from wine: a tasting flight groups carefully chosen wines together, to better allow tasters to compare. Here is a list of books that are better together.

38 comments | Comment

38 comments

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  1. Ciera says:

    This made me think of my time at university–in essence, all (good) lit classes work by grouping books together in a meaningful way. It’s interesting to consider purposefully doing this in one’s personal reading.

  2. Tricia says:

    This is a fun post! One summer (as an adult) I read Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden as a group and will always be happy I read them together. last summer I re-read The Secret Garden paired with The Night Circus and found they went perfectly together.

  3. LoriM says:

    Oh! Add to “Love and Aspergers”, this one:

    The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband Paperback –

  4. Dawn says:

    I just had the same idea over A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) and Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Gabriel Garcia Marquez).

    For YA genre/WWII theme, I really enjoyed reading The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) with The War That Saved My Life (Kimberly Brubaker Bradley) and The Diary of Anne Frank (Anne Frank). All three of these focus on heroic girls during WWII, one in Germany, one in England, and one non-fictional.

    Not to overdo it on WWII, but Unbroken (Laura Hilderbrand) would pair nicely with BOMB (Steve Sheinkin).

  5. Liesl says:

    Add this to the old books… I just finished “The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession” by Charlie Lovett, the same author who wrote Firat Impressions. I loved Tale so much more (I’m a Shakespeare nut though) but this book go a into so much detail about book collecting and restoring and is an excellent read!

  6. Tim says:

    I read Josephine Tey’s “Man in the Queue” and Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” back to back last month. That was a great yet unintended pairing.

  7. YA Fantasy with Strong Female Characters:
    -The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
    -The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

    And, thanks for introducing me to Shannon Hale’s The Actor and the Housewife. I have it on hold at our library now. So excited to read it!

  8. Melanie says:

    I recently read two non-fiction books about the tech industry: Things a Little Bird Told me by Biz Stone (Twitter) and Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull (Pixar). These books are written by two very different personalities; one company sounds like it would be a dream to work at, the other I’d run screaming from.

  9. Wendy says:

    Reading Reality Boy recently reminded me of a book pairing post I’d already written for my students–“Toxic Siblings.” Tangerine (Edward Bloor) and Riding Invisible (Sandra Alonzo). I like finding those connections!

  10. Erin says:

    Know many are recommending the Rosie Project, I admit the writing style bored me and the characters irritated me. What a wet blanket, aren’t I? Somebody Else’s Love story sound intriguing

  11. Faith R says:

    I was just thinking about the Charing Cross Rd book the other day. My mother read it out loud to my sisters and I when we were teens. It might go well with the AJ Fickery bookstore book – both are a book-lovers book.

    I ADORED the Rosie Project so I’ll have to look up the one you paired with it.

    I could not finish “you’ve been publicly shamed” the first chapter was the best and then I felt like it went downhill from there.

    The scariest book I have ever read was “still Alice” because it starts out with around the same level of forgetfulness I encounter in my day to day!!!

  12. Ariel says:

    I was just thinking of your book flights a week or so ago! I finished reading Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, and I thought it would go well in a flight with Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.

  13. This is one of the most intriguing approaches to reading that I’ve seen in a while. I love the concept! And thanks for introducing me to a few new titles to explore.

    It might be fun to pair by setting, too … like two Cornwall books (“Poldark” by Winston Graham and “Jamaica Inn” by Daphne DuMaurier?) or two NYC books (so many to choose from! — maybe “Catcher in the Rye” and something by Edith Wharton?).

  14. Sue says:

    What a great topic! The love of old books reminded me of two favorites that I must now read again. They are: The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez Reverte, and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Both are great reads by Spanish authors. Zafon has written a series concerning “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books”, all worth reading. The Club Dumas is a literary thriller about book collecting.

  15. Shannan says:

    Does non-fiction/self-help work in a flight?
    Loved “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert followed by “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown. Very good together.
    Made me want to think what else I could read together. Didn’t have a name for it though. Now I do; a book flight. Thanks, Anne.

  16. Jill says:

    I just read “What Alice Forgot,” “Where’d You Go Bernadette,” and “The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs” in close succession. They complimented each other so well. All quick and fun reads that leave you thinking about how we get to the places we are…

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