Books Read in 2023

30th December 2023

Each year I try to read more books than the year before. Not because I want to become a faster reader, but because I would like to spend more of the spare time I have in the pages of a book. I rarely regret the time I spend reading, I often regret the time I spend doing other things.

Last year I read 20 books, in 2023 I managed 21.

  1. Agent Sonya - Ben Macintyre

    Another fantastic piece of narrative history from Mr. Macintyre. I have yet to be disappointed by anything he writes. If you have any interest in World War 2 and espionage, then Operation Mincemeat and Agent Zig-Zag are must-reads.

  2. Nightside City - Lawrence Watt-Evans
  3. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss

    As an amateur grammar snob, this has been on my list for a while. I learned plenty, I just wish I remembered some of it.

  4. The Pearl - John Steinbeck

    It's incredible that such a simple story can give me such a knot in the pit of my stomach the whole time I was reading it. The constant sense of impending doom made this a distinctly uncomfortable read. That so much can be wrapped in so few pages is a testament to the quality of the writing. I need to add more Steinbeck to my shelves.

  5. Elusive – How Peter Higgs Solved the Mystery of Mass - Frank Close
  6. The Man Who Died Twice - Richard Osman

    Another thoroughly entertaining romp with the Thursday Murder Club. With introductions out of the way, I think this one may be even better than the first. Now with added Bogdan.

  7. Molly's Game - Molly Bloom
  8. Stalking the Atomic City: Life Among the Decadent and the Depraved of Chornobyl - Markiyan Kamysh
  9. Contact - Carl Sagan
  10. Silverview - John le Carré

    I didn't enjoy The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, but I’m glad I picked up le Carré again. Unsurprisingly this feels a lot more modern. I’ve already got A Most Wanted Man on the bookshelf waiting to be read.

  11. Solar - Ian McEwan
  12. Foundation - Isaac Asimov

    One of the classics. I’m a fan of Asimov, but this one didn't really resonate. I found the vast time-shifts jarring and they stopped me really getting to know any of the characters.

  13. The Puzzler - A. J. Jacobs

    As a lover of cryptic crosswords and puzzles in general, this one hit a real sweet-spot.

  14. The Satsuma Complex - Bob Mortimer

    A light-hearted murder mystery, one of the many following in the footsteps of the Thursday Murder Club. Very enjoyable.

  15. American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer - Bird, Kai & Sherwin, Martin J

    This book has been on my list for a very long time, but it wasn't until the film was released that I actually got around to reading it. I took quite a few notes on this one that I'm hoping to turn into their own piece at some point.

  16. The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann - Ananyo Bhattacharya

    Straight off the back of a book about Oppenheimer I read about one of his long-time colleagues. The contrast between these two gave me some interesting ideas about the differences between managers and individual contributors. Hopefully someday I’ll find a way to put them into writing.

  17. Red Team Blues - Cory Doctorow

    Enjoyable nerd-thriller, even though I found the ending somewhat anti-climactic.

  18. Build - Tony Fadell
  19. Deja Vu - Ian Hocking
  20. Kazuo Ishiguro - Klara and the Sun
  21. Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie

    After watching the recent Poirot films starring Kenneth Branagh, it seemed only right to return to the source material. Considering the amount that happens between these covers, it moves along at a swift enough clip that it’s over in under 200 pages and never gets the chance to drag.

Gave Up On

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace. This is the second time I've given up on this book. Although it's undoubtedly well written, the writing is so slow that I find it frustrating. I made it further this time, reaching page 49. Like wading through treacle; sweet, but sickening after a while. Long-winded. Chapters pass where I'm not sure what the point was. Maybe it all has a purpose somewhere down the road, but I don’t have the patience to get there.

Next Year

How is it six years since I read Excession by the immortal Iain M. Banks? Thankfully, I recently picked up the next two in the Culture series, so he’ll be making a return to my list for 2024.

What feels like a life-time ago, a friend of mine recommended Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I recently found it at a local charity store, so I’m looking forward to picking it up soon.

Do you have any recommendations of books I should add to my list for next year? Let me know via the contact form.