What I've read in 2023

I don't really remember why exactly I started such a list back in the day but it is now a ritual I'm eager to go through. It makes me reflect on the past year through unexpected ways and discover some hidden trends about me, or see the impact of some changes in my life. Previous years are here: 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. Numbers wise it goes like this: read 21 books in 2019, 26 in 2020, 28 in 2021, 30 in 2022, and 31 in 2023. Last year being still fresh in my mind, I do remember last quarter was more challenging. I was at 24 books read by the end of August -- typically I read 6 books in 2 months during my summer in the US -- and then only 7 between Sept. and Xmas. Which is not that big of a deal in terms of number or anything, just a reminder to me than the last 4 months of the year, back home, with both kids back to school, were more agitated than planned initially.

I detailed how I read recently. I start 2024 with a little change: no more online reading during weekends; magazines only. I'm loving this already.

Without further ado, below are my 31 books of 2023 [from the first I read to the last]:

  1. Ensemble, on aboie en silence [fr]
  2. Shangri-La [fr]
  3. The dawn of everything [en]
  4. De la brievete de la vie [fr]
  5. Merci mais non merci [fr]
  6. Moi les hommes, je les deteste [fr]
  7. The world is one fire but we're still buying shoes [en]
  8. Velvet Underground: la factory de Warhol et l'invention de la boheme pop [fr]
  9. Street Art [en]
  10. Toucher la terre ferme [fr]
  11. Basquiat [en]
  12. Le desir, une philosophie [fr]
  13. Les francs-macons [fr]
  14. Definitivement - Tu peux deja [fr]
  15. Sorcieres: la puissance invaincue des femmes [fr]
  16. Fundraising field guide [en]
  17. Pourquoi j'ai cree une ecole ou les enfants font ce qu'ils veulent [fr]
  18. Sapiens: a graphic history, volume 1 [en]
  19. The little book of Hygge: the danish way to live well [en]
  20. Wabi-Sabi: for artists, designers, poets & philosophers [en]
  21. Einstein's dreams [en]
  22. Do the work [en]
  23. Make something wonderful [en]
  24. Startup Communities: building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in your city [en]
  25. Nous reussirons ensemble [fr]
  26. Sapiens: a graphic history, volume 2 [en]
  27. L'impact de la science - Promesses et perils [fr]
  28. De quoi avons nous vraiment besoin? [fr]
  29. Aux thunes citoyennes! [fr]
  30. How to not die alone [en]
  31. Trottoirs! Une approche economique, historique et flaneuse [fr]

I see right away the impact of stopping our Audible subscription. There is only one audiobook in this list, pretty early on in the year [#3]. Another straight away impact: our subscription to the local libraries. There are 8 books in this list borrowed from there. I read 14 books in english; which is less than the year before [17]. I think it's a combination of the last 2 points: my audiobooks used to be in english; the vast majority of the books stored in our libraries are in french. That being said, I'm still close to a half/half split between french and english.

When I look at the list, serendipity comes to mind right away. Like summer time [from #19 to #24], we swapped home and the first thing I did when we landed on the other side of the exchange: go through the shelves and pick up books. We welcomed many people at home across the year and since they all knew we love reading, we received many books [like gifts in general, for better and worse]. Since I stopped listening to audiobooks, my podcast consumption went up and I followed many recs heard here and there. I can see a strong 'feminist' kinda theme too [at least 6 books could fit the category].

I read 5 comics [compare to 3 the year before] - it might be my highest so far. I like this format more and more. I read 1 novel [compare to 0 the year before]. Novels aren't really my thing.

My top 3 recommendations for 2023 would be: (1) Make Something Wonderful (2) The world is one fire but we're still buying shoes (3) The dawn of everything.

Briefly on each ones.

Photo by Andrée Abecassis

Make Something Wonderful. The book is available for free on the Steve Jobs Archive website. I felt someting special reading this one. It's "a curated collection of Steve’s speeches, interviews, and correspondence". So you literally go from one email to another, including some Steve sent to himself. There is something raw in the format. It's like you're in direct connection with his mind for a brief moment. Great format.

The world is on fire but we're still buying shoes. This is a recommendation I received when I was detailing Objet to a friend [the project I'm working on with Max and Mat] so I might be biased cause the topic of the book is exactly the thing I'm obsessed with for many years [how to buy more intentionally]. You can buy it directly here. The author - Alec Leach, ex fashion editor at Highsnobiety - launched his newsletter recently and he gave more details on his self-publishing journey.

The dawn of everything: a new history of humanity. This book shakes so many myths about human evolution and development. This is absolutely a must-read. One thing I remember particularly: his deep dive into the First Agricultural Revolution. Something I've understood as utterly important in our history cause that'd be where our ancestors transitioned from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a settler one. The way I've always been taught the thing -- and the naming itself: calling it a 'revolution' -- presented it as a moment, a particular period from which there were a before and an after. Which introduced the discovery of agricultural techniques and benefits as a no-brainer. Graeber shows how that so-called 'revolution' spread out across many thousand years and wasn't a 'revolution' at all. Many folks tried, hated it and decided to stop it intentionally -- with all the possible nuances and stories you can imagine around the world.

This is fascinating to imagine. And it made me think about our world today.