Books I read in 2023

For years I did the Goodreads annual challenge but I found myself trying to race against the number of books (which I set for myself) I needed to read and that took a bit of the enjoyment of reading away for me. So now I will just read my books, jot them down, and leave a small snippet about my thoughts on them and post them to my website once a year.

So, here are the books I read in 2023 along with some short notes for each.

Dune - Chapterhouse (book 6) - Frank Wright

Amazing book. The level of detail and story telling is intense. The plot lines on top of plot lines on top of plot lines is hard to follow but also easy to to fall into. This entire series really sets the bar for science fiction. I didn't think I could find a series better than His Dark Trilogy or The Three Body problem but I think this series is better than both.

Dune - Chapterhouse

Slouching towards Bethlehem - Joan Didion

I've always loved reading Joan and her writing style and the way she expresses herself and how effortless her words seem to stream across the page. See what I just did there? If you don't, then you want to read more of Joan's writing.

"On morality" is one of my all time favorite essays of hers but I also really love "Personals. On keeping a notebook", "On going home", "On self-respect" and "Los Angeles notebook".

Really all her stuff is great!

Slouching towards Bethlehem

The Long Honduran Night - Dana Frank

Sobering view of the US geopolitical strategy in Central America. This hits home for me as I live in Nicaragua and can see how US policy directly effects the lives of good, honest, hard working people every day.

I didn't particularly like the way this book was written but it did have a lot of info and sources for stated facts. I did sort of get annoyed with every little Spanish term being translated but maybe it's needed for most of her readership but I found it hard to believe the need to translate things like "Mi Amor".

I did love how Dana gave credit to all the hard work activists in Honduras did and the danger they put themselves in on a daily basis. Also I liked that this wasn't framed as another white American coming in to save the poor brown people. Not at all. Hondurans fought, and continue to fight, for their human rights, education, health care, and liveable wages.

The Long Honduran Night

Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV - Warren Littlefield

I was a teenager during the Must See TV era and so I associate many of these shows with good laughs and memories. Seinfeld was, of course, one of my favorites once I discovered it and Larry David is a personal hero of mine. He may be the best comedic mind of the last hundred years (imho), so reading just a bit of the behind the scenes stuff was great! Too bad he didn't participate in the book but honestly, that's so Larry.

Mad About You, Frasier, Cheers, Will & Grace, ER, etc. It was cool reliving some of this stuff from the mouths of all the principals.

Top of the Rock

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

My third of fourth time reading it. It's such a short and easy read that's full of great quotes and philosophy on life. It's always good to get a little reminder that things will be both better and worse in the future. Don't live in the past or future but in the present. Something I personally struggle with quite a lot. Sometimes books like this just help to reset my stress level a bit.

The Alchemist

$100M Offers - Alex Hormozi

Alex Hermozi. Pretty much the same thing you'd find in any sales letter type info product. Dan Kennedy books are better. Not sure why I expected different. The book is fine but nothing new.

$100M Offers

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

Seen the movie many times and finally am reading the book. Wish I did it sooner because it's fantastic. What a gritty writing style. The movie tries to mimic it, and does a good job, but it doesn't do it justice. Also plenty of good one-liners and general philosophy on modern life and how we're wasting our potential as humans day-in, day-out.

Fight Club

The Man Who Owns The News - Michael Wolff

Fantastic. Gave me a new view on Rupert Murdoch. Not as conservative as I thought, at least according to this book. Also not exactly a strategic genius, more of a follow his gut and tries to force it through. Not a good father necessarily, but loves his kids.

Relating the stories to Succession made it even more interesting. And there is plenty that you can map to the series.

The Man Who Owns The News

Lean Thinking - James P. Womack

I couldn't get into it. I got about 12% of the way done and called it quits. It's interesting but there is a lot of example porn and talk of supply chain, etc. I know it can translate to digital as well but I just found it so dry I didn't want to continue at the moment. I may come back to it.

Lean Thinking

The Fish Who Ate The Whale - Rich Cohen

What a fascinating story. Shows the good and bad side of Sam Zamurray. An immigrant who started from selling fruits on the street to ruling the banana trade throughout the world. Also interesting facts about Central America and Nicaragua's role in the formation of Israel and it's defense in it's early wars.

Also just another example of the long history of US imperialism and capitalism laying waste to the people who live in the countries of the Caribbean and Latin America.

The Fish Who Ate The Whale

The King of Content - Keach Hagey

This is a biography of Sumner Redstone. His family and life was not short of any surprises. Coming from a small Jewish community in Boston to becoming one of the largest media moguls in history.

Lots of drama. Interesting. The ending was very sad how he was treated by most people in his life. Shari turned out to be quite a surprise killer. That was my favorite twist in the story. In the end, very impressive what Sumner was able to build.

The King of Content

Predictable Revenue - Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler

Very insightful. Lots of action items. Not sure how outdated these methods are as it's based on cold email. I'm sure it's still possible but I think the numbers used in the book are now way outdated. I spoke with the company as well about potential outsourcing and it seems they also are doing a combination of cold email and cold calling so I think the strategies in the book have had to be adapted to modern business development.

Predictable Revenue

Damaged Goods - Oliver Shah

Really interesting story about Phillip Green and his pillaging of the BHS pension funds (and others). Lots of interesting stories about the London retail trade, underground, and general shadiness of these under the table deals. While most in this book is technically legal it's right on the line and in a lot of ways, Phillip and his partners were not able to get away with it without some major penalty's.

Damaged Goods

Messy Middle - Scott Belsky

Lots of insights. Easy book to skip around though I decided to read it straight through. Mostly focused on Scott's experience building Behance and then experience working at Adobe. I like the book because it goes into a lot of the boring but necessary stuff that's needed to run a business. Also a lot of strategies and tips from his own experiences which can translate to virtually any type of business. It was a good read though at times a bit dull. I'd still recommend it though.

Messy Middle