Books of 2023

6 minute read article books   2023 Comments

I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Books of 2021 Books of 2022

This post was meant to be published in early January, and has been “mostly *done” since then, but things got away from me, and I’ve been busy with life and work. Anyway, better late than never, right?

Another year has gone by, and this time, I hit my reading goal. I never stress about this particular goal as it exists mainly to remind me that I need to read. It’s such an ingrained habit that I don’t really need the reminder, but the goal remains. For those wondering, I tend to read every night before bed, and I’m always juggling multiple books at any given time. I’ve also made more of an effort to read during lunch instead of doomscrolling.

2023 was the year I stopped using Goodreads, opting for The Storygraph, an open-source application that is NOT connected to Amazon. It has all sorts of social features, but what I really like, besides no connection to Amazon, are all the charts.

Anyway, a quick summary of 2023:

  • I read 58 books. StoryGraph only shows 56 because two that I read aren’t in it’s database and I didn’t feel like manually adding them. Combined, both books probably add another 50 pages to the total.
  • Those books contained roughly 16,000 pages.
  • My busiest reading month was April.
  • My slowest reading month was October.

Books of 2023

Most of what I read is non-fiction, but not all of it.

2023 - Types of books

My preferred format is physical, but I also read plenty of e-books, mostly those I check out from libraries. I have an old 2009-era Kindle (one with the physical keyboard and no backlight.) My wife has offered to buy me a new one, but as long as this one runs, I’ll continue to use it. I also use the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone.

Book formats of 2023

The majority of the books I read were under 300 pages, with 39% being between 300 and 499, and 5% were 500 pages or more.

Lengths of books in 2023

While the following isn’t all of the books I read, it does highlight some of the books that stood out.

On to the books!

Playing Under the Piano by Hugh Bonneville

Hugh Bonneville is a British actor who spent a lot of time onstage before making it into movies like “Notting Hill”, “Paddington”, and series like “Downton Abbey”. This books was really good, as he spent a lot of time talking about his coming up through the theatre.

Enemy at the Gates by William Craig

While I’ve read many books about World War II, they have all focused on the European and Pacific Theatre of Operation and have all been about the United States.

This was the first I’d read about the Battle for Stalingrad. It blew me away…the brutality from both sides, the things that were done to survive both during the battle and after when many from both sides were held prisoner.

While this shares the title with the movie that starred Jude Law, Bob Hoskins, and Ed Harris, Zeitzev and the famous sniper battle were perhaps 4-5 paragraphs of the 458 pages.

Brave Companions by David McCullough

I’ve read his other books, and I absolutely love his writing. John Adams and 1776 are outstanding books, but I adore his essays and speeches. From the book description:

From Alexander von Humboldt to Charles and Anne Lindbergh, these are stories of people of great vision and daring whose achievements continue to inspire us today

If I had 1% of his talent, I’d be happy.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch

This was about the genocide in Rwanda in the early 90s. Not a light read by any stretch of the imagination, but informative.

It reinforced my feelings about the 8 years of the Clinton administration, what a terrible Secretary of State / Ambassador to the UN Madeline Albright was, and how useless and corrupt the United Nations is.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

I’ve read this book a few times since I was a teenager, and it makes me cry every time. Outstanding book, and of course, I watched the movie again shortly after finishing.

Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

Peopleware was one of the books I read early in my career that has really stuck with me over the years. I felt it was time for a re-read and I wasn’t disappointed. There’s still a lot of wisdom in this book even though some of it is dated.

Only the Dead by Jack Carr

I love Jack Carr’s books. If you’ve seen The Terminal List on Amazon, this is a continuation of the story of James Reece. This one took me like a day to read, and I expect the same when his new book shows up in another month or so. If you’re a fan of the Amazon series The Terminal List, I really suggest you read the books. Soooooo freakin’ good.

The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick Brooks

This is one of those books that people like to talk about, but I believe few have read. It is dated, BUT, still has so much good, relevant information.

And no, if you give your boss two copies, she won’t read it in half the time.

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

I’ve owned this book for years, but after reading Ultralearning by Scott Young, I decided to pull it off my shelf. It was a fascinating guide through memory, memory palaces, and the world of memory championships.

Great Society by Amity Shlaes

LBJ did about as much good for this country with his Great Society nonsense as FDR did with the New Deal.

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

It was a fascinating story about Lewis and Clark, and I’m not sure how I got to be this old without knowing how Lewis’s life ended. Crazy.

The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

This is a conversation between Boethius, a man waiting for his death sentence to be carried out, and Philosophy. Boethius was trying to reconcile how he, a good and just man, could be sentenced to death. Fortune, good, evil, fate, free will…it had it all. 🙂 The last chapter was a bit challenging, feeling like a conversation with Vezzini, but overall, it was worth the time.

Fundamentals of Software Architecture by Neal Ford and Mark Richards

One of the few nerd books I read last year. It was a solid overview of software architecture and is a book I can see myself revisiting every year or two.

The Glass Hotel and Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

A few years I stumbled on her first book, Station Eleven, and loved it. This year, I finished two of her other novels, and while they were both very different, I enjoyed them both. Just as with Station Eleven, I knew nothing going into each of these books, and I was pleasantly surprised with each.

Govt Cheese: A memoir by Steven Pressfield

Pressfield is one of my favorite authors, so when I heard he was writing a memoir, I immediately pre-ordered the book! While he’s best known for his books about creativity (War of Art, Turning Pro, Do the Work), he has written a lot of historical fiction, including Gates of Fire about the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.

His memoir surprised me a bit - I had no idea he had been a truck driver, or that he picked apples to make ends meet so he could write!

Being Henry: The Fonz…and Beyond by Henry Winkler

This was a standout book for me. The courage and vulnerability it took for him to write this book was amazing. I’ll admit that I cried several times over the few hours it took me to get through it.

I met Henry Winkler back in 2019 at a Comic Con. He was so humble, and after I reading his book, so much of our interaction makes sense now. I spent several minutes talking to him and was disappointed when we had to leave, but it’s an experience I won’t forget!

I’m already 14 books into 2024 and have similar goals which I don’t think I’ll have any problems achieving.

A seal indicating this page was written by a human