Books I Read in 2023
I read more books in 2023 than I have in any year since I started keeping track. I generally enjoyed most of them but there were some “meh” (at least to me) books as well.
Everyone has different tastes, so please take my ratings with a grain of salt. What I really like, might be bland to you, and vice versa.
My Favorite Books of the Year
These were my favorites of the year that I can’t recommend enough.
War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942
The Pacific Theater in WWII is something I wasn’t as familiar with compared to Europe. The writing was fantastic talking about the history of the big players involved and the actions taken at the beginning of the war by both the US and Japan. It was a great read to learn more about WWII and not dry reading either.
War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944
This book continues right from the last book. It provided a fantastic look into the history or the war in the Pacific.
War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945
This entire trilogy was well-written and incredibly interesting. This book was no different. It was interesting to read about the Allies’ final push and how long it took Japan to accept defeat. It was jaw-dropping and sobering how many lives on both sides were lost because of it all.
The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
I found this book to be incredibly interesting. It was a great look into Lincoln’s political life and how he ran his presidency. The author did a great job of talking about how Lincoln went about making the Emancipation Proclamation as well as getting the 13th amendment passed to end slavery once and for all.
This was a fun book to read. I enjoyed the story and the characters.
I really enjoyed the story. It had interesting characters and it kept me on the edge of my seat.
Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?
This was a fantastic look at the various things we’d have to look at as a society to actually settle space. It’s written in an easy to understand way and really made me think about the near future of space exploration and settlement.
Books I Enjoyed
They might not have been my favorites, but I still really enjoyed these.
The “ultra-capitalist” future felt kind of weird. The story itself started off slow but picked up nicely. The ending was a little confusing and befuddling though.
How One Man Made a Market, Built an Empire, and Lost It All
I’ve heard of Pimco and of Bill Gross. This was an interesting read into his history and a bit of an internal look at trading companies.
Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War
This was an excellent read. It was interesting to see how the presidents from Truman to Trump thought about nuclear weapons and how we’ve managed to avoid using them. The work revealed from many in the Department of Defense and other experts was fascinating.
A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War
This was a good read, especially after having just finished The Bomb. It was interesting reading about how the different early Army Air Corps officers felt about and used their new weapons of war.
A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America
It was an interesting read talking about the history of the different areas of North America and how their founding and upbringing influence us even today. It was written over 10 years ago, but still hits the notes of the division we’re dealing with today.
This was a lot different from his other books. It did provide an interesting look into one of the more famous names in Wall Street in the Saloman Brothers.
Ever read a book and struggle to define the synopsis? I can’t fully define the synopsis, but I enjoyed the story.
I’m not sure whether I liked this better than American Gods, but it was an enjoyable read with some interesting characters.
I have a hard time giving my thoughts on this as it’s so far outside of my normal reading material. I enjoyed the story though and found the characters to be interesting.
This was a fun sci-fi story. I felt like there was more that could’ve been explored a bit with the characters but I still enjoyed it.
There are many memorable stories and anecdotes in this. David does a decent job of going through what bullshit jobs are and how we got here.
The first part of the book gave some good overview of different dev patterns. The rest of the book gave some great insights into better ways to build and make sites more performant. Dangerous because it made me consider some redesigning of my site.
The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home
This was an interesting read and definitely follows close to the current return to office back and forth we’re seeing. It did a good job going into why that’s not necessarily the full picture or what we should be looking at, but rather, finding a better work-life balance for everyone.
How Covid Shook the World's Economy
I found his look back at the different world governments’ response to COVID to be interesting. It was in-depth and provided some good details. I did feel like it bounced around a little more than I would’ve expected which made it a little difficult to follow.
The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
This was a fascinating look from both those on the Lusitania and from the captain of the U-Boat that sunk the Lusitania. It was compelling even though you already knew the ending.
This was an enjoyable and informative look back at how different drinks came to determine so much of our history of a species. I really enjoyed it.
The Curious Science of Life in the Void
I actually really enjoyed this. It went into a lot of the smaller details of all the things that go into space travel many don’t think about.
What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know
Reading reminded me how hard it is to know exactly how hard it can be to interact with strangers. It was an interesting read talking about how these struggles have had dire consequences. The biggest takeaway I took from it kind of echoes the classic “trust, but verify” and that empathy can be helpful.
This book is hard to judge since it’s a collection of short stories. Some I liked, some I didn’t, others I was “meh” on.
The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World
I saw a lot of myself while reading this. It’s a good book that goes into both the good and the bad of what we’ve built with computers.
A Memoir of the Craft
As someone who is starting to write more, I enjoyed his thoughts on his career and advice for other writers.
A Secretive Startup's Quest to End Privacy as We Know It
Yeah, this book scared me a bit. Hill did a great job talking about the history of facial recognition, what Clearview AI has done for it, and the risks moving forward.
Inside Crypto's Wild Rise and Staggering Fall
There was one quote that stood out to me: "The crypto bubble wasn’t as dumb as you think. It was even dumber.” This book goes into the rise of crypto and NFTs and how obvious it should have been that much of it was kind of scammy at best.
Seven Tools for Life
It was an interesting read. Arnold talked a bit about his own life and gave some useful tips on how to do better to reach your goals.
I enjoyed the story. It was interesting and brought a good mix of thriller and science fiction.
I didn’t like this as much as the first book in the series, but I’m having a hard time articulating why. It wasn’t bad, just didn’t live up to The Forge of God.
A Way of Being
As someone who is trying to explore his creative side more, I appreciated the insights provided.
I was given this book by my job to help with my career trajectory. It was an interesting look at how we handle ourselves and gave good advice on how to improve our interactions with others.
A Changing Nation and the Cost of Progress
This was an interesting, if depressing read. It’s sad to see how racist we still are as a nation.
When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World
I really enjoyed this read. Matt had a good sense of humor and it was interesting to realize some of the many ways math affects us without us realizing until it goes wrong.
The book was slow at times and seemingly wandered off track. The finish was definitely a good one though.
These I didn’t quite enjoy all that much. But keep in mind that that might just be my tastes.
The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet
This was an interesting read about the creator culture of the internet. It also happened to remind me I will never understand pop culture.
Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet
This was an interesting, though kind of dry read about some of the dangers that lurk in the world of online advertising.
I enjoyed some of the stories. Others, not as much