Nonfiction November: Like a Hurricane

Nonfiction November Reading

nonfiction november

It’s Week 2 of Nonfiction November and we’re pairing up a favorite nonfiction book with a fiction title. Since I feel like I’m still trying to dry out from Hurricane Patricia (you can read about my rainy day running adventures here), I thought this would be the perfect topic for today’s pairing. As I mentioned in my Week 1 post, this is my first year to participate in Nonfiction November, hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Becca at Iā€™m Lost in Books, and Leslie at Regular Rumination.

nonfiction november

As a native of southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast, my fascination with hurricanes stems from a childhood of riding out storms with no electricity (AKA becoming sick after eating all of the ice cream in the freezer before it melts), reinforced windows and tornado drills at school. My nonfiction selection for this book pairing is Hemingway’s Hurricane: The Great Florida Keys Storm of 1935 by Phil Scott; until contemplating today’s post, I’d totally forgotten that I’d read this one which is not to say that it was not worthy of my time. You’ll understand why I chose this one in just a moment…


I borrowed this one from my library after reading Under A Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye; it was completely captivating and definitely one of my favorite selections this year. I was so taken with the story that I really wanted to find out more; I was also watching Season 1 of the Netflix series Bloodline during this time…it was, quite literally, the perfect storm! Lafaye did a great bit of research on the topic of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, the socioeconomic conditions in the area of South Florida and the Florida Keys during this time period, and her characters were fascinating. You can read my thoughts on her novel in this post.

Weekend Update

In some ways, the storm plays out as a character in her novel and also functions to create this low buzz that permeates the novel and propels the story forward. Scott’s book on the actual storm is equally intriguing; I had to know more and this one gave more in-depth information about the events leading up to the storm’s landfall.

What is most thought-provoking and interesting to me is the fact that, much like in the situation surrounding Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Government knew that the people (in the case of The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, disenfranchised WWI veterans) involved were not prepared to handle, or equipped to ride out, a storm of this magnitude; both of these selections also explore the topics of discrimination, racism and poverty. Author Vanessa Lafaye definitely had these factors in her thoughts, as you can read in the interview she graciously provided for the blog. 

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend both Hemingway’s Hurricane and  Under a Dark Summer Sky; while I’m not always a huge fan of historical fiction, I couldn’t put this one down and it certainly led to a desire for more investigation.

Have you read any great stories about infamous storms?

Do you enjoy historical fiction?

  • Great pairing!! I remember you reviewing this one awhile back and I added it to my TBR…alas, too many books, too little time. Beatriz Williams’ A Hundred Summers is another hurricane book…great pick for summer!

    • I’m getting excited to read Along the Infinite Sea, Sarah; I really want to read Diana Nyad’s new book before the end of November, so we’ll see. I should have read more on my day off yesterday – ha! Thanks so much!

  • I’ve always been fascinated by storms, too, and am adding both of these to my wish list. I enjoyed Five Days at Memorial on audio and want to read David McCullough’s Johnstown Flood.

  • I’ve never been a fan of nonfiction (unless it’s a memoir by Jen Lancaster), but I think reading about a true storm would be interesting. I’ve only just recently started trying more historical fiction novels, and have enjoyed the few I’ve read! It has been fun for me to try something new and out of my element, I may need to try some more nonfiction at some point. šŸ™‚

    • I went for years, after college, without reading ANY nonfiction; after all of that “forced” reading, I just couldn’t get into it. I’m slowly finding things that I love and I think there’s just so much interesting material out there! Thanks so much for stopping by; hope you have a great day!

  • Kim

    Oh, this is one of my favorite pairings so far…such an interesting topic!!

    • Thanks so much, Kim! I hope you’re enjoying Nonfiction November; I’m definitely looking forward to more posts. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • I’ve had Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm about the hurricane that hit Galveston on my TBR for several years already, but I’ve yet to read it. I’ve written down Under a Dark Summer Sky; it sounds interesting.

    • You know, I haven’t read that one, either, and I love Erik Larson! Great suggestions, TJ! Thanks so much for stopping by; I’m looking forward to more Nonfiction November!

  • What a great combination of books!

  • Your description of the way the storm serves to propel Under A Dark Summer Sky forward sounds great. I like books with a little tension running through them šŸ™‚

    • It was really a great read, Katie; thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you’re having a great weekend!

  • Done. BOTH added to my tbr. Hurricane’s are fascinating because they are so LOOOOONG. Long in thinking they might hit or not, how strong, and then they DO and then the aftermath. I’m from Kansas and it is so hard to tell people that they are so QUICK. In comparison anyway, except for when they hit a town and it has to rebuild. I do believe every area has it’s potential terror storm type.

    • You’re so right, Care!! Great description of the difference in those storms! Thank you so much for stopping by; hope you have a great weekend!

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  • I have Under a Dark Summer Sky to read and have heard so many great things about it that I’m truly looking forward to picking it up. I’m sure once I finish I will hunt out more details about the hurricane, and now you have given me a title to start with!

    • Helen, I’m so glad that you’re interesting in reading Under a Dark Summer Sky; I loved that one! Thanks so much for stopping by; hope you’re having a great weekend.

  • Thanks for sharing this recommendation. You know I really enjoyed Under a Dark Summer Sky and I love the Florida Keys (I swear, I would move there if I could), so I will have to check out Hemingway’s Hurricane. I also watched Bloodline this past year (LOVED IT!) and can’t wait for season two. Great recommendation, Tara!

    • Christina, I keep checking online to see if there is anymore news on the new season of Bloodline; I’m so excited to find out what will happen next! Thanks so much for stopping by; hope you’re doing well!