Nonfiction November #nonficnov23 Week One – Your Year in Nonfiction

  • And we’re off.  The first week of Nonfiction November our host is Heather from Based on a True Story

Week 1

    • Dates: 10/30-11/3
    • Host: Heather from Based on a True Story
    • Title: Your Year in Nonfiction
    • Description: Celebrate your year of nonfiction. What books have you read? What were your favorites? Have you had a favorite topic? Is there a topic you want to read about more?  What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

This year I have reviewed twelve non-fiction titles although I have read a few more than this.   With me, it’s usually about art and music; art collections, artists lives (including poets, writers, musicians), influence of art and music on the human condition, etc.

At this point in the year I have to give a shout out to Patrick Bringley’s All the Beauty in the World  as probably my favourite book of 2023, about which I wrote:

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a Museum Guard,  standing there for hours and hours with crowds streaming past, constantly on the lookout for some idiot using flash photography, or damaging the paintings or climbing over barriers that are evidently there not to be climbed over? I suppose my answer to my own question is that  if I had  wondered what it was like, I would have assumed it would be quite boring.  Patrick Bringley will answer this question.  In fact, Patrick Bringley will answer most people’s questions about everything in this wonderful book All the Beauty in the World : A Museum Guard’s Adventures in Life, Loss and Art. (Vintage)

I’m currently about to embark on Jackie Wullschläger’s biography of Monet.  It was only while researching her that I discovered she has also written a biography of Marc Chagall so that one is definitely for me too.

Although for some reason I’m much less keen on fictional works based on real artists, such as Tracy Chevalier’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring.   I was fortunate enough to get to Amsterdam this year to see the Vermeers.  Wow!  But the biggest crowd was around Mistress Pearl Earring, which, yes, but  I’m sure its because Colin Firth made the film!  There is a place for those too of course, just not in this post.

Also featured on my blog this year have been books on libraries and collections, most notably written by Alberto Manguel – I’ve read three of his works in 2023.  I hang on his every word. Not only is he beyond erudite but he writes so beautifully about timeless ideas – I don’t think you would find Manguel owning or talking about the latest bestsellers.  I admire him for that immensely.

Below are links to some of my favourite non-fiction finds of 2023.

What Has Been Lost – An Atlas of Vanishing Places

All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley and (scroll down) Classics Club Spin 18, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Library at Night


A Greek Gentleman in a Straw Hat – the poet C.P. Cavafy


History’s Forgotten Artists

This is my first year helping to host Nonfiction November and I am thrilled to be taking part. I think it’s a great challenge and felt it was important to step up and help now that I’ve been blogging quite a few years.

Also, I’m looking for more and more great books for the old TBR.

There are times when I feel that there are so many subject categories out there,  that maybe I don’t read widely enough in those other subjects.  For example, I haven’t read much science or history in 2023, while previously, only the occasional autobiographical work by a whistlelower would count as politics.   But then many quite savage political treatises appear in the lists as fiction.  For example, Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead skewered the opioid scandal in the US and the corporate causes and cynicism behind it.

Looking back over my list,  Tom Bullough’s Sarn Helen would come under environmental issues.

So work still to do, but on the whole I’m happy with my nonfiction year. And there is still a couple of months left.

If you’re taking part in this challenge don’t forget to head over to Heather and add your link to the link party for Week One.


26 thoughts on “Nonfiction November #nonficnov23 Week One – Your Year in Nonfiction

  1. Just discovered your blog and i’m sure I will revisit regularly…wonderful selection of books for your NF year’s list. Especially interested in Albert Manguel, thanks for bring him to my attention. You’ve inspired met to devote a month next year just reading about Art History. K. Hessel’s book and P. Bringley are on my TBR already! I read a bio of “Berthe Morisot: Le Secret de la femme en noir” by Dominique Bona (review: July, 25 2018 on my blog)…it was just wonderful and lingers still in my mind. It won a Goncourt Prix Biografie 2000 in France and is sorry to say only available in French. Love biographies of artists…past and present. Thanks for you reading suggestions and also for hosting #NonFivNov23! PS I live in The Netherlands…and you are so lucky to have gotten tickets for the Vermeer in de Rijksmuseum…it was the museum’s biggest success when it comes to expositons.

    1. Thank you for this lovely comment and for following my blog Nancy. I’m so glad you have found things for your TBR here. The Berthe Morisot book sounds wonderful but sadly my French isn’t good enough. Thanks again.

  2. Ooo you read very interesting books! I’m adding All The Beauty in the World, What Has Been Lost, and the Albert Manguel books!

    Also adding your blog to my Feedly!

  3. All the Beauty in the World sounds absolutely amazing. My dad is actually a museum guard here in Belgium, but of course the museum he works at is nowhere near the level of Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’d love to read it!

    1. Hi Stephanie thank you for your lovely comment. I did reply but no idea where my reply has gone. Off somewhere in the ether. Thank you so much for reading my blog and telling me about your father also being a museum guard. I do hope that you enjoy the Bringley book if you get to it. Thanks again.

  4. Art and artists is a big blind spot for me – I think I’ve read more fiction about artists than actual history or biography. My nonfiction reading tends to be about technology, or memoir (especially like memoirs presented as essays) or general history/biography. So hopefully I can find some good recommendations! The museum guard one appeals to me right off the bat.

    1. Thanks Laura. I’m terrified of the future of technology which is why I’m avoiding it I think. Several people have told me they were attracted to the Bringley book so I do hope you enjoy it if you get to it. Thank you for your comment and hope all well with you.

  5. Atlas of Vanishing Places has gone on my TBR, and The Library at Night, which was already on my TBR, has moved up a bunch of places!

    The Katy Hessel also sounds interesting. Have you read Vigee-Lebrun’s autobiography? It’s on Project Gutenberg & was my spin book a couple of spins ago. Pretty fascinating.

    I tried commenting once before, but it seems to have disappeared. Maybe this one will go through…

    1. Thank you so much. Yes I got this comment. It’s always a lottery with WordPress. Vigee-Lebrun book sounds most intriguing. So glad about Atlas and the Library. I hope you enjoy them.

  6. It’s lovely to be part of it all from the inside this year, isn’t it, even if there are a lot of blog posts to read and I’m all behind already! I have All the Beauty in the World on my wish list already as I saw it on a few blogs.