Well another year has gone by and I have once again read about 30 books in it.

Other than continuing my desire to read more Shakespeare, I once again didn’t have any reading goals for this year. This, combined with the fact that I now live a two-minute walk away from my local library, made for a lot of casual reads about things that peaked my interest.

Trends included volcanos, woodworking, and reading recommendations from the dating app Hinge.

So, as always here is book I read in 2023 along with my random thoughts on each.

Somerset County: A Brief History by Jason Rhodes: I know I say this every year, but read local history.

Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson: A masterclass in complaining but in a funny way and what motivated me to write “The Convenience of Carrots.” If only Bryson’s weekly newspaper column on anything and everything still existed.

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez: One of my Hinge prompts for some time this year was “If you could make every person on the planet read one book, what book would you choose?” While the woman who choose this book quickly ghosted me, I still read it. It is a fascinating look through statistics at how sexism is engrained in many different aspects of society often not thought about it. (Read: Gender Neutral Snowplowing)

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams: More on this book coming soon.

Beautiful Swimmers: Waterman, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay by William W. Warner: After three years of living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and working in the “crab capital of the world”, I finally got around to reading this.

How to Use Hand and Power Tools by George Daniels: It’s always fun reading dated “how to guides” as they are always full of of really great tips and tricks but at the same time are really dated. This one was published in 1976. Also, randomly the author shares a name with my grandfather.

STFU: The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in an Endlessly Noisy World by Dan Lyons: The author makes a lot of good points, but at times this book feels like a ramble of anecdotes as opposed to a more thought out research based exploration of how to be a good listener.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer: I climbed my first real mountain this year, Grey’s Peak 14,278 ft, and loved it despite of the shear physical exhaustion of it. So, one step closer to Everest?

Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War by Neil Hanson: While in part detailing how the tombs of the unknown soldiers came to be, the heart of this book is the telling the stories of three soldiers. Using diaries and letters home, Hanson gives us the lives of an American, British, and German soldier, each who was killed in World War One and whose final resting place is unknown.

Will to Live: Dispatches from the Edge of Survival by Les Stroud: Not only does Les Stroud recount a variety of real life survival ordeals in this, but he offers feedback and insight on each, describing what things the survivors did right and what they did horribly wrong.

The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano that Darkened the World and Changed History by William K. Klingaman and Nicholas P. Klingaman: Written by a father-son duo, one who is a climatologist and the other a historian, this book vividly paints the impact of how much a small change in the atmosphere from the emissions of a volcanic eruption can drastically impact the entire world. It also gives a lively portrayal of the world in 1816.

Anxious People by Frederick Backman: This was another recommendation by a woman who ghosted me on Hinge. Why I don’t understand why said Hinge match who ghosted me would want every person in the world to read this book, but it was pretty funny.

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass: I live forty minutes from where Frederick Douglass was enslaved. There was a moment where this memoir shook me to the core and that is this. In it he describes a brutal slave overseer, with a common Eastern Shore last name. I have a friend with the same last name as the overseer who is from the same area. There is a good chance that they are somehow related. Faulkner was right. “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold: Seemingly written for me, especially the essay, “The Good Oak.”

Theodore Roosevelt: The Boy and the Man by James Morgan: Read more on this book here.

Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire by John H. Maclean: A gripping, thoroughly detailed and researched account of the wildfire that took the lives of 14 firefighters in 1994.

Puerto Vallarta Squeeze by Robert James Waller: A pleasant enough beach read, but deeply cliched and not worth much note.

Stanley Jr. Woodworking is Awesome: Projects, Skills, and Ideas for Young Makers by Chris Peterson: A really great beginning woodworking guide for kids and even adults. I made several projects from it.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek: Well worth the occasional reread.

Yosemite: An American Treasure by Kenneth Browe: Prep for 2024.

One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and Screw by Witold Rybczynski: I found a perfect hardcover copy of this book randomly. So I had to reread and refresh my memory as this might be the book I quote the most.

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian: I have loved the film for many years and decided to finally embark on the novels this year. However, it has been hard for me to get into them. They are as detailed and dense as everyone says they are. However, I’m definitely going continue on to Book Two.

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho: This was by far my favorite of the “Book Recommendations from Women who ghosted me on Hinge.”

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollard: Pollard’s manifesto boils down to eat food, not to much, most plants. My favorite advice from this book is don’t eat anything your great, great, grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson: Not as laugh out loud funny as Bryson’s usual fair, but an enjoyable and very readable exploration of such a large subject.

Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on The Internet by Taylor Lorenz: I’ve always enjoyed Lorenz’s reporting on internet and influencer culture, but this book just felt kind of incomplete. But I would say this is not the fault of the writer given how the internet is always changing.

Mountains of Fire: The Menace, Meaning, and Magic of Volcanoes by Clive Oppenheimer: A perfect written companion to Oppenheimer’s documentary with Werner Herzog, Into the Inferno.

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare: I’ve changed my read five Shakespeare plays a year goal to read one play a year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *