I’m participating in Nonfiction November, which is a month-long celebration dedicated to highlighting nonfiction books. Each week, the hosts of this event provide us with a blogging prompt. Leslie (Regular Rumination) is our host for Week 2 and our topic is book pairings:
Book Pairing: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be an “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.
These two books immediately came to mind:
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio and Whatever … Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves by Maria Bello each will be going on my list of best books I’ve read this year.
In None of the Above, debut novelist I.W. Gregorio (who is also a mother and surgeon) gives her readers a story that explores identity and acceptance. It’s told through the perspective of 18 year old Kristin who has just learned she was born intersex. (A definition, from I.W. Gregorio’s intersex resource page on her website: a biological condition in which people are born with bodies that don’t fit neatly into our understanding of what is male or female, whether it be because of their chromosomal sex, or because of their internal or external genitalia.)
The novel focuses heavily on Kristin’s emotional conflict. While processing the stigma associated with being intersex and others’ insensitivity, she struggles with identifying herself by the sum of her parts – no uterus, a short vagina, internal gonads – and finding the strength within to move forward with the support of caring people in her life and those qualities that shape who she is as a person.
This is a perfect complement to actress and activist Maria Bello’s memoir, Whatever … Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves. With a refreshing writing style that is personal, approachable and oftentimes funny, Ms. Bello shares quite a bit about her relationships with significant people in her life. While most names she shares are those who have been strong influences in her life, this is not your typical celebrity name-dropping, reality-television-esqe tome. That’s not Ms. Bello’s agenda here. Instead, she offers a chance for reflection about how one’s life experiences define the labels we place on people, especially ourselves.
To peel back the typical labels, Ms. Bello goes beyond the bedroom to explore the deeper questions of self: Am I a feminist? A humanitarian? A good enough mother? A writer?
(The answers are yes, yes, yes and hell to the yes.)