top of page

2023 Reading List: The Books That Kept Me Engaged All Year Long

Updated: Jan 2

For the past few years I’ve had a goal to read 52 books a year.  This year I managed to read 57 books. Many were hefty tomes, like Barack Obama’s The Promised Land. One or two barely deserve the title of novel, like Mark Twain’s The Jumping Frog. I choose a variety of lengths and genres to make reading interesting as well as to make my 52-books goal achievable.


This year, I completed a full year as a member of the San Jose Rotary Book Club. Members take turns choosing books. Most of the picks are not books I would have chosen, but they turned out to be quite good, such as Churchill’s Secret Messenger, Horse, and Facing the Mountain.

It’s difficult to pick a favorite, but Ed Yong’s An Immense World was one of the most eye-opening nonfiction books of the year. I finally understand why I will never be able to make friends and communicate with the wild deer and turkeys on my property, or any nonhuman species for that matter. It all comes down to the sensory organs of each species. The facts are jaw dropping. Check it out. Ed Yong is engaging as the reader of the audiobook version.


My reading typically reflects my travel. I read Voyage Into Danger, a story about Linblad grounding a ship of tourists in Antarctica, whilst sailing on the Linblad-National Geographic Endurance across Western Antarctica. I found it odd they had the book in the ship library, but with today's modern technology, I was not concerned about being shipwrecked. That trip, which was a month long, gave me lots of opportunities to read other unusual things, such as Seeds On Ice: Svalbard and the Global Seed Vault.


To prepare for a trip to Iceland, I read novels by Arnaldur Indridason and Halldor Laxness. For a musical tour down the Danube, I read Mozart. I'm not fond of the man's music, but when in Vienna, I wanted to have a solid understanding of his life and accomplishments.


Perhaps this list will give you ideas of what to read next. If you have suggestions for me, send them along.


  1. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, James D. Watson

  2. The Mistletoe Motive, Chloe Liese

  3. A Time to Die: The Untold Story of the Kursk Tragedy, Robert Moore

  4. Crean: The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero, Tim Foley

  5. Out of the Ice, Ann Turner

  6. Voyage Into Danger, Clara Lee Brown

  7. Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival, Velma Wallis

  8. Seeds On Ice: Svalbard and the Global Seed Vault, Cary Fowler

  9. Artifacts (A Faye Longchamp Mystery),  Mary Anna Evans

  10. The Vintner’s Luck, Elizabeth Knox

  11. Freezing Order, Bill Browder

  12. Red Notice, Bill Browder

  13. An Immense World, Ed Yong

  14. Tosca’s Rome: The Play and the Opera in Historical Perspective, Susan Vandiver Nicasio

  15. Churchill’s Secret Messenger, Alan Hlad

  16. I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong

  17. The Murder Rule, Dervla McTiernan

  18. Mozart, Paul Johnson

  19. The Coroner’s Daughter, Andrew Hughes

  20. Horse, Geraldine Brooks

  21. The Jumping Frog, Mark Twain

  22. Miss Pym Disposes, Josephine Tey

  23. Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt

  24. Simply Lies, David Baldacci

  25. Jar City, Arnaldur Indridason

  26. Silence of the Grave, Arnaldur Indridason

  27. A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine

  28. The Fish Can Sing, Halldor Laxness

  29. The Promised Land, Barack Obama

  30. Generation Loss, Elizabeth Hand

  31. Last Party, Clare Mackintosh

  32. Available Dark, Elizabeth Hand

  33. Farewell Summer, Ray Bradbury

  34. This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein

  35. Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel

  36. Spider Woman’s Daughter, Anne Hillerman

  37. The Mountain in the Sea, Ray Nayler

  38. The Covenant of Water, Abraham Verghese

  39. The Personal Librarian, Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray

  40. A Chateau Under Siege, Martin Walker

  41. So You Shall Reap, Donna Leon

  42. And Thus Adonis Was Murdered, Sarah Cauldwell

  43. The Pole, J.M. Coetzee

  44. Facing the Mountain, Daniel James Brown

  45. The Great Reclamation, Rachel Heng

  46. A Haunting on the Hill, Elizabeth Hand

  47. By Way of Sorrow, Robyn Gigl

  48. Solaris, Stanislaw Lem

  49. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, James McBride

  50. The Twilight World, Werner Herzog

  51. The Plot, Jean Hanff Korelitz

  52. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn

  53. The Line Between, Tosca Lee

  54. Isaac’s Storm, Erik Larson

  55. The Firm, John Grisham

  56. The Exchange, John Grisham

  57. Let Us Descend, Jesmyn Ward


Past Lists


17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page