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What I Read in 2023

March 10, 2024

7 min read

I like to reflect on the books I read in previous years. 2024 has been off to a pretty busy start for me and it has taken me a long time to get around to this post. Because of that, I'm going to keep my notes on each book short.

I read 27 books last year!

# My favorite books from 2023

# How to Take Smart Notes by SΓΆnke Ahrens

This book had a profound impact on me. I've been into note taking for years now. I've never really thought critically about how and why I take notes. Nor about how to take them well. I didn't go full Zettelkasten after reading this book, but I think my note taking has drastically improved since reading. It also prompted me to switch my note-taking software from Notion to Obsidian, and I am loving Obsidian.

# Why Fish Don't Exist by Lulu Miller

This is a non-fiction book about the history David Starr Jordan, a taxonomist I'd never heard of before reading. Lulu Miller takes a topic that I have no previous interest in and makes it incredibly compelling. I have appreciated her reporting in this style on the podcast Radiolab. That led me to checking this book out and I'm glad I did.

# The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

I read my first of Ursula K. Le Guin's work last year. I started with A Wizard of Earthsea and enjoyed it, but I wasn't as in to some of the subsequent books in that series. I decided to try her science fiction work with The Lathe of Heaven to see if they resonated with me better. And wow did I absolutely love this book. I don't want to say too much about it - just go read it!

# The Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb

I read a LOT of Robin Hobb books over 2022 and 2023. I completed the entirety of her "The Realm of the Elderlings" collection. There are 5 series of 16 books total in the collection. I really loved the initial Farseer Trilogy and wrote about it last year.

The Rain Wild Chronicles is a bit of a "side story" (though it all connects and pays off) compared to the rest of the series. I really loved the pacing and scope in this series though and it capture my imagination. I think it is my second favorite series in this collection? That's not locked in though...

#More books I liked

I've been frustrated with social media for years now. I know this isn't even remotely a unique position. I don't think this book was profound - but it gave words to a the things that have been bothering me and helped me finally stop using Twitter.

I still want to write about my thoughts on social media, but who knows when I'll get around to that.

# Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

This is a fun and mysterious scifi fantasy book and the first entry in The Locked Tomb series. I've since read the rest of this series that's released so far and really recommend it. The writing and universe feels really fresh to me. Do recommend!

# Johnathon Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This book is a very slow paced and long novel about the re-emergence of magic in England in the 1800s. I cannot really place why I enjoyed this book, but I really did! Due to the length and slow pacing I'm sure it's not for everyone. But I really loved taking my sweet time with this unique world and these characters.

# Mort by Terry Pratchett

It's hard not to hear about Discworld and Terry Pratchett over and over in fantasy book circles. This convinced me to try the first Discworld book, The Color of Magic a few years back. While I did enjoy it, I found it pretty hard to stick with and finish. I didn't really feel motivated to try book 2.

Last year, I learned there are actually a lot of Discworld subplots and some fans recommend different starting points for Terry's work. One of these starting points is this book, Mort. I decided to give this a try and it resonated with me a LOT more than The Color of Magic. I'm looking forward to checking out more of his books now.

# A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

I mentioned it above, in The Lathe of Heaven section, that this is my first Ursula K. Le Guin book. I loved how this felt like a true "epic fantasy" book in a way modern fantasy books do not often. I think Earthsea has a sort of mythic quality to it in its theming and magic that I really enjoy.