2023 in books

Joao Garin

Joao Garin / December 21, 2023

6 min read––– views

Books with glasses on top

I am very impacted by what I read, and so I thought I would share the books I have read this year as a way for me to look back on them, but at the same time maybe give some suggestions.

Reading is one of my favorite keystone habits. In Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, he discusses the idea of keystone habits. We all have habits in our lives, some better, some worse. But certain ones — keystone habits — lead to a cascade of other actions because of them. Sleeping, eating well, exercising and reading are my favorite ones.

Let's take a loot at the books.

Engineering management for the rest of us

For anyone coming from engineering into management I feel like this is a must read. It helped me a lot figuring out first of all if Engineering management is at all something I would like to pursue, but also has very tactical pieces of information that can be quite useful in specific situations. I use it more as a consultation book so I am coming back to it quite often.

Goodreads link

Why we sleep

Fascinating book that talks about the power and all the incredible benefits of sleep. It's a eye opening book and another one that I highly recommend.

Goodreads link

The fall of Numenor

A collection of all the writings of tolkien on the second age of middle earth. Even though the texts in it are texts that I have read in other books, because they are just condensed in one book it makes reading second age much easier.

Goodreads link

Non-violent communication

I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t completely fall in love with it to be honest. This book was highly recommended to me but I had a bit of a hard time reading it.

Goodreads link

Rich dad poor dad

Overall I felt like this was an interesting perspective as I am really not sophisticated with money. But felt always at odds with the book. Not my cup of tea.

Goodreads link

Leaders eat last

This again, I did not enjoy. This was a surprise as I usually enjoy books and talks by Simon Sinek. The constant comparison of businesses to the military just throws me completely off. This is not uncommon in business world, comparing business activities and team dynamics with war or the military. But at times reading this I was thinking to myself : "We are making accounting B2B software, let's chill down here a bit” (not really what I work on, but you get the point)

Goodreads link

Zen - The art of simple living

As my wife likes to tell me I am very into “gas station books”. I really enjoyed this book, very calm mellow and with great simple messages for life ("Spending time barefoot can strengthen your body", "Planting a flower and watching it grow can teach you to embrace change" or "going outside to watch the sunset can make every day feel celebratory")

Goodreads link


I re-read the Silmarillion this year, I usually re-read Tolkien books and I never regret it. I always find them different each time and find little nuggets in there I haven't quite noticed. If you like Tolkien's books and are interested in the origins of his worlds this is the book to read.

Goodreads link

In Praise of Shadows

Fascinating book where the comparisons of light with darkness are used to contrast Western and Asian cultures. It's quite a small book (which I love), and so worthwhile.

Goodreads link

The everyday Stoic

Stoicism is fascinating and I think it's the philosophy that helps me the most. This year I read a couple more books on Stoicism. This book in particular was very easy to read, very small chapters, 365 lessons (one for each day of the year) on stoic practices that will help you live a better more fulfilling life.

Goodreads link

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

I read the book sequence of Sapiens from Yuval Noah Harari and this was such an interesting book to read, especially this one “Sapiens”. Recommend to anyone, a deep dive into our history as mankind, how we evolved into what we are today and where we can expect we are going from here.

Goodreads link

Mistborn series #1, #2, #3

The highlight of my year 🏆️ This is an absolute masterpiece for anyone that likes to read fantasy books. Brandon Sanderson is regarded as one of the best fantasy writers to have ever lived and rightfully so. The mistborn sequence was a great way to start diving into his worlds and I suspect I will be jumping on much more of his books very soon.

Book 1 Book 2 Book 3

Building a second brain

This was probably the book I have read this year that I least enjoyed. In my opinion this would make a great blog post..maybe a small sequence of blog posts but not a book.

And I don't mean this to diminish a blog post, I think a blog post is a fine way to write up an idea. Not everything has to be a book and this one felt very forced to me, Felt like the same thing was being talked about over and over, chapter after chapter.

Goodreads link

Seneca - on the shortness of life

Life is short, we all know it. But we go around as if we have all the time in the world. The main problem is we don’t know how much of it we have.

Obviously Seneca needs no introduction and I don’t have to emphasise in any way that his writings are worth reading.

Goodreads link


Marcus Aurelius’s meditations is another great Stoicism book that I highly recommend. It has a lot of collection of personal reflections that offer wisdom on stoicism, virtue, and the passage of time. A great book to read every year. Almost 2000 years old and still so valid, I don't expect this will loose quality over time.

Goodreads link

Discipline Is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control

This book was again very easy and enjoyable to read. Ryan Holiday is probably one of the most famous modern day Stoic writers.

The book highlights several small stories of popular people like Queen Elizabeth II, boxer Floyd Patterson, Marcus Aurelius or Napoleon among others to illustrate the importance of being in touch with your temperance, control, thoughts and actions to improve your life.

Goodreads link

Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow

This is the second part of the book series from Sapiens. Also great book which talks about the future of humanity and how we are likely to evolve going from where we are today. A very interesting read especially in the wave of AI we are experiencing this year.

Goodreads link

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