The Books That Touched Me in 2023

As another year draws to an end, I look back at my reading list, reliving the feelings and thoughts that went through my head while reading in 2023. Unlike last year (when I managed to soak in 35 books), this year, I was able to ingest “only” 25, but what gems some of them were!

Knowing my audience’s shared interests, I’ll skip most of the fiction, and move straight on to my “top 10 list” of thought-provoking reads for businesspeople (in no particular order):

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It’s not short, but it’s worth it. I am profoundly impressed by this work and think that every business person must read it. I will return to it and re-read it again in the future.

Ego Free Leadership by Brandon Black and Shayne Hughes

The Craving Mind by Judson Brewer. What do operant conditioning, mindfulness, and posterior cingulate cortex have in common? The answer is you. Jud Brewer ties it all together (dissecting addictions, passionate love, doctors’ empathy fatigue, the experience of ‘flow’, and more).

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. Smart, fun, cross-disciplinary (as it should be), and hard to put down.

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. Great research-backed volume on an important component of our lives that so many of us undervalue.

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Dan Levitin. Fun read on externalizing your memory and more.

Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life by Jill Bolte Taylor. Excellent volume to dive deeper into how we roll (backed up by neuroanatomy, the author’s fascinating experience, and expertise).

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini (the 2021 “new & expanded” edition). Timeless classic that is still relevant today.

Measure What Matters by John Doerr. Make sure to grab the audiobook, though! Fundamentals of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) combined with hearing (how they were applied) directly from Bill Gates, Larry Page, Bono, and many others… make this one every businessman’s must-read & re-read.

Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove. Amazing read on spotting and leveraging strategic inflection points. Every page is golden! I’m especially blown away by how in the chapter “The Internet” Grove predicted VoIP, cloud computing, online advertising & more.


Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. I was brought up in the Soviet Union. I wrote my Cambridge graduate thesis on Stalin. I resonate with many things in this book, but I had some eye-opening moments too. Sad stuff. Great book.

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