Tuesday 2 January 2024

Books Read 2023

 I enjoyed writing this post last year, so I thought I'd do it again this time around. Makes me take stock of what I've been reading. 

And with nearly half of what I read the year before, I'm honestly a little disappointed in myself. 

28 books read or listened to (one I haven't added to my images here - It was a Children's book). 

My wife's book count was down as well. Normally I listen to far more, but have had a few podcasts that I've been really into, so I suppose that drops the count somewhat. Also there was a bit of time in February where our minds were on other things and for a while afterwards I found it tricky to concentrate. 

I found an old diary from 2005 and looking through it so many entries finish with "read for a while and went to bed" I wonder now how much of that reading time is being spent mindlessly scrolling on my phone. I need to get into some better habits, back to the days of reading at least a book a week like when I was a carpenter on site. 

I read some great books this last year though. 
October October - Recommended to me by my eldest (as she was reminded of me with the October's dad) made me ugly cry so many times.
A Heart That Works - another one to make me ugly cry. I recommend everyone read this one, but also know it's not an easy read. 
Wool - An awesome sci-fi read that is one of the best opening books to a trilogy I've ever read. Then let down by massively by the following two books (the third is okay, but the second is near unfinishable) 
Becoming Superman - An unreal life story and one so interesting I've now bought for other people as gifts, makes you appreciate a stable up bringing. Incredible story. 

I've enjoyed what I've read or listened to this year. It's been nice with the Boy (7) because he's now getting into chapter books. I'm never going to be the biggest David Walliams fan (I've probably read more of his books than he has), but watching how excited he gets as I read them to him has been an absolute joy, having him beg me for one more chapter is just lovely (We read three last year). He loved "The Ice Monster" so much and I overheard him telling his uncle just how good it was the other day with such animated passion I couldn't help but smile. 

The girls and I have carried on with our homesteaders education, lapping up anything we can find written by the Ingalls or Wilders, but we have found a few more authors to go at now. We joke it's our specialist subject. I've just ordered a copy of Dances With Wolfs to try on them (not sure if it might be too "old" for them with them only being 10 & 11) trying to show some other parts of it and how destructive the settlers were (more recommendations would be great if you have any). 

How many books did you get through in 2023? 

Any recommendations?


  1. Thank you for sharing these books. I have always been a fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. A Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop might be of interest to your son.

    1. I'll look it up - Anything to read something other than David Walliams for a while!

  2. I read A Heart that Works. Gosh I cried so much. It was beautifully written and made me feel grateful for never having lost a child.

    1. It's heart breaking isn't it. I sobbed and sobbed at parts. I want to recommend it to people, but at the same time I don't as well if that makes sense?

  3. I tried one year to get to 100 books read that year, I got to 76, BUT, I then realised I had a life to live, so it's not about how many books you read, it's about enjoying every book.

    1. It is, but I could have certainly read more than I did. like I mentioned the phone steals time from me for things like this and I really don't like that. I know I've built a good social media following on some platforms, but I wonder how many stories thats cost me.

  4. I try not to keep track of the number of books I read every year. I almost exclusively read non-fiction and some of them while imparting knowledge that I want to learn, are not things I can just sit down and pound out in a weekend. I like to savor them slowly. Others, read more like novels and I can go through quite quickly.

    I would recommend reading "Prairie Fires" by Caroline Fraser which is a biography on Laura Ingalls Wilder. For me, who read all the Little House on the Prairie books when I was a child and believed them to be gospel, it was quite eye opening to hear how much liberty she took when writing all those books.

    I'm curious as to "What the Amish Teach Us". Do you even have Amish in the UK? I live among the Amish and they are definitely a lot different than the quaint folks that most people see them as. I could tell you stories that you wouldn't believe.

    1. I go through phases, but read a lot of non fiction as well. I do have a weird habit of reading many of them cover to cover when I do, which my wife hates me doing!
      There's three people in the comments asking about "What the Amish Teach us" So I think I'll have to do a blog post on it. It wasn't that great though so don't run out to get a copy just yet!

  5. I've read See You in 100 Years. The book itself isn't bad but unfortunate what they have done within the community. Also, there were a couple "inaccuracies" to suit their whims, but that's being a little nitpicky. Love seeing what others are reading. Also, am in agreeance w/ Ed re. What the Amish Teach Us.

    1. Yeah, the "See You in 100 years" was a good read but not without it's annoyances. I felt like they were just a bit silly at times (especially when it came to medicine) and the end left me feeling a little flat as well. He is a good writer though and it read really nicely.
      I'll do a blog post soon on the other book.

  6. Kev, I read 110 books last year, which is a bit above my usual total. Some of that is really dependent on what is being read: a paperback, for example, goes much more quickly than a work by Xenophon.

    On your list, happy to see One Straw Revolution (Fukuoka is one of my heroes) and Starship Troopers on your list. I, too, would be interested to hear about "What The Amish Teach Us" - in my case, it is because I also read an book on the Amish by someone not Amish and found it a sort of lackluster retelling of basic principles I already knew.

    If your interest is in Agricultural Writers, I would happily recommend anything by Gene Logsdon. Although not always quite all audience friendly (he does use a few swear words), his observations on agricultural life and how it exists today still remain fresh and relevant. Wendell Berry as well, although he has written much more and I have read much less of him; I can for sure recommend The Long-Legged House. Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac, written in the 1940's, is also worth a read.

    My biggest surprises? Reading as much about the historical Ostrogoths as I did. The Cyropaedia (Education of Cyrus) by the Greek writer Xenophon was also quite good.

    1. I'm not sure how Starship Troopers passed me by as I love the film, an utter cult classic. I loved the book now as well, couldn't put it down, such interesting perspectives on politics (at complete opposites to my own at times).
      One straw revolution was a great read, certainly ahead of the time it was written (or behind, depending on your view). It was inspiring and also disappointing, the world hasn't gone that way, it's gone the other.
      With referenece to Gene Logsdon I've read his "small scale grain raising" and loved it. Unfortunaly I leant it to someone and never got it back.
      A few people have mentioned Wendall berry so I think I might have to get some of those. A bit like our John Seymour over here (although I mentioned him at a talk the other day and a lady told me she knew him and he was a vile man, saying how he liked the ladies too much and too young, which is never a good thing to hear).
      The long legged house sounds like a book my daughter has read "The house with Chicken legs" is it based on old folk tails?
      The Ostrogoths is something I know so little about. I do like learning about history so maybe I should look something up on them. The one thing I love about the modern age is how I can work and because I can listen to books all day I can also educate myself at the same time.

    2. Kev - The House with Long Legs (as I remember it; it has been years since I have read it) is more about Berry's relationship with the home and land that he grew up with, around a Cabin that he went to as a child and ended up restoring and living in (or maybe it is another story in that book). "Becoming Native to This Place", also in that volume, moved Gene Logsdon to move back to his own childhood home. Berry's fiction is also supposed to be good - Jayber Crow often comes up in discussions as a great book).

      As for Logsdon, I think I have virtually all of his books that are readily available (the earlier ones are bit pricey). Not that you need convincing, but the formative one for me was The Contrary Farmer, which was really an introduction to his philosophy and some of his practices. I read it almost 24 years ago; it was formative in the direction of my own life.

      One I have enjoyed is John Lewis-Stempel, The Running Hare - he is British and reminds me a great deal of Logsdon (also, it dealt with rabbits, which made me happy).

      History has always been an interest. One thing that surprised me last year - as part of my reading program - was as a commitment to learning more about Old English was learning Anglo Saxon history. I did not think it would be as consuming as it became, but I ended up spending almost 22 posts going over the history up to 1066.

      I admire your ability to enjoy audio books. I have always struggled with doing two things at once.

  7. I read/listened to 53 books this year--about the same as most years. As for your girls reading Laura Ingall's, one of our favorite vacations when my daughter was young was visiting all the Ingall sights across the midwest (Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Kansas. I will publish my 2023 reading recap this Wednesday at https://fromarockyhillside.com


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