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The Best Books I’ve Read This Last Year, and Why You Should Buy Them (2023)

by Hugo

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Most people would agree that reading is a strongly positive habit, that leads to more knowledge, creativity, and personal development. Besides, it’s simply relaxing, which is something I value most considering that I am very easily distractible.

You probably would like to read more, right? Most people do. But then why is it so hard to find the time?

It’s because you’re reading the wrong books! So to help you find the right ones, here are my personal recommendations. These are the best books I’ve read over the last year.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – Dan Ariely

What I liked most: There are dozens of cognitive biases and they impact us every day. If you’re unaware of what they are, or how they impact you, this book is a great start. I found it incredibly interesting, and I think you might find so too!

This Is Vegan Propaganda: (And Other Lies the Meat Industry Tells You) – Ed Winters

What I liked most: A no-nonsense deep dive into one of the most deceptive lobbies in the world. Even if you’re not interested in an animal-friendly diet, this is still a very interesting and bizarre book that will make you think differently about the world. This book taught me so many things I never realized.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah

What I liked most: Trevor Noah is a master storyteller. A brutal, shocking, and hilarious tale that does a fantastic job of showing his youth. Above all, this book showed me how important it is to be open to other perspectives.

A Promised Land – Barack Obama

What I liked most: I actually read this book twice last year, and considering the book is over 700 pages, that should tell you enough. No matter what your political view is, Obama’s memoir shows how complex it is to be the commander in chief of the USA. A great lesson in compartmentalizing when there are about 99 urgent problems on your mind.

Atomic Habits – James Clear

What I liked most: This is the bible of creating habits. I thought I was already productive and on top of my healthy habits, but this book thought me a lot that I didn’t know already. Better yet, it shows how to implement it in your life.

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company – Robert Iger

What I liked most: This book was hard to put down, not just because it’s a great (business) story but it’s also told in a surprisingly engaging way. The former CEO of Disney walks you through some of the most transforming decisions of the company’s history, pulls back the curtains, and spares no detail. A fascinating read!

The importance of reading different types of books

The first books I really enjoyed were autobiographies of rock stars. Basically, the stories of drugs, sex, and rock and roll.

These stories were over the top, bizarre, and shocking, and I finished them all with ease. I liked these the most:

But after I’d read them all, I stopped reading and lost a wonderful habit.

I tried reading other books (mostly self-help books) but didn’t enjoy them as much.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I now managed to turn reading into a habit again. In fact, it’s part of my bedtime ritual.

How did I get to enjoy reading again? It’s because I’ve made it a point to read all kinds of stories, not just of a single genre or style.

In other words, I focused on diversity.

For example, the last couple of books I read over the past months are wildly different from one another:

  • Universal: A Guide to the Cosmos: A book about space, science, and how to walk in the footsteps of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and others. For what it’s worth, I still have trouble grasping just how big the universe is.
  • Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela: If there ever was a universal ranking of people based on how much good they’ve done and how much positive influence they’ve had, Nelson Mandela surely ranks in the top 5. His story is too interesting to not read it!
  • I’m Glad My Mom Died – Jennette McCurdy: If you’re thinking of drilling your children to become child movie stars, please read this book and reconsider.
  • Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble – Dan Lyons: This was easily one of the most hilarious books I’ve ever read, yet it comes with a powerful warning.
  • Calypso – David Sedaris: For some, this book might just be an uninspiring collection of everyday stories of the life of David Sedaris. But for others (including me), his cynical perspective and witty writing turns even the dullest of stories into hysterically funny situations.
  • The Secret of Selling Anything – Harry Browne: I’m not a salesperson, I don’t work in sales, and I don’t plan to. But even then, I still enjoyed reading about the mechanics of selling things to others. The secret is simple: find a problem someone is dealing with, provide a solution, and they’ll actually want to pay for it.

I can 100% recommend all the books listed in this article. I’ve read them myself and thoroughly enjoyed and learned something from every one of them.

But the goal here is to show you that the key to my reading habit is diversity.

None of the books in this list are similar. After I’m done with one book, I’ll pick a book that’s completely different.

This way, my reading habit allows me to learn about many different perspectives.

I’d like to believe that this makes me a more well-rounded person that’s open to more perspectives.

So, if you’re feeling inspired, here’s a summary of the best books I’ve read in the past year.

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Wrapping up

These were my book recommendations based on what I’ve been reading for the past year. But what about you? What book did you enjoy most recently? Let’s share recommendations with each other in the comments below!

Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

4 thoughts on “The Best Books I’ve Read This Last Year, and Why You Should Buy Them (2023)”

  1. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russel was an enjoyable read. Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest places to live and while living there for a year, Helen looks into why.

    The Awakened Ape by Jevan Pradas was also a good read on why we need to combine a more paleo lifestyle with Eastern mindfulness.

    I agree with you on Atomic Habits.

    For fiction (escapism), I’ve enjoyed the Joe Bridgeman series by Nick Jones.

  2. “How Emotions are Made” by Lisa Barnett kind of blew my mind. Wish more mental health professionals read books on neuroscience research like this. Would be game changing.


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