Favorite books of 2023

My top picks from the book I read this year.

This year, I made a cognizant push to read more frequently and consistently. I think I was successful, definitely improving over the previous year, and I finished 25 books this year. Below is a review of my favorite books from this year in order of how fondly I look back on them.

All links for books and authors go to Goodreads.com.

1. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

author: Stephen Brusatte

Ranks number one because reading it filled me with the joy of a child at the museum looking up in awe at the reconstructed dinosaur skeletons.

This book gives a thorough review of our present knowledge and understanding of the dinosaurs. It felt comprehensive without getting lost in all of the details; easy to read for the general population.

2. For Whom the Bell Tolls

author: Ernest Hemingway

Ranks number two because of its thought-provoking, realistic, and critical discussion of manhood.

The novel follows an American volunteer for the revolutionaries fighting in the Spanish Civil War. It is such a dynamic story going from thrilling to loving, fear to courage.

3. Why We Sleep

author: Matthew Walker

Ranks number three because of its impact on my sleep habits and the value I place on sleep.

Prof. Walker discusses all things sleep including how it works, why we do it, and why its important. Perfectly balances approachability with comprehensiveness for any reader.

4. The Song of the Dodo

author: David Quammen

Ranks number four because it hits both my love of natural history and trivia.

This book weaves the author’s personal journey studying island biology with the natural history and scientific research of the subject. An interesting, addictive read that describes how islands evolve through specific stories and creatures.

5. Empire of Pain

author: Patrick Radden Keefe

Ranks number five because it explains a significant ailment of modern America.

Written by the journalist who first broke the story in The New Yorker, this book is a compendium of the entire Sackler family history and how it led to the opium crisis destroying regions of this country. The story is organized perfectly to provide a complete picture, filling in the information about a family and company that I was (an image most Americans were, too) completely unaware of before this epidemic.

Joshua Cook, Ph.D.
Joshua Cook, Ph.D.
Computational Genomics Research Scientist

I am a computational biologist with a particular interest in Bayesian modeling methods.