I typically read and/or listen to several books at once. At the moment I’m reading Gregory Maguire’s upcoming folklore-based fantasy Egg & Spoon (Candlewick, September; scheduled for a starred review in the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine) and listening to the audio edition of Candace Fleming’s narrative nonfiction book The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia (Schwartz & Wade/Random, July; starred in our July/August 2014 issue).
I haven’t yet finished either book, but making my way through them concurrently is a fascinating experience. Egg & Spoon is pretty light, but learning about the realities of life in turn-of-the-century Russia adds a deeper — and depressing — layer to the fantasy. For example, after their switcharoo, Elena eats so much rich food so quickly that she makes herself sick; meanwhile, Cat realizes she doesn’t know what it’s like to feel hunger. From The Family Romanov: “Often there was little to eat but dark bread. It was a staple of [peasants’] diet, and peasant housewives tried to stretch the loaves by mixing clay, ground straw, or birch bark into the flour.” Oof.
Do you ever see unexpected parallels between books you’re reading for pleasure? Or do you read related nonfiction to enrich your experience of a novel?
(Has anyone seen that Jude Law and Keira Knightley adaptation of Anna Karenina? If so, any good?)