Books in Different Ways in 2023

Personal Writings

            Mexico City     I shared an article in the New York Times with my gang about an unusual kind of event that started in Brooklyn called Reading Rhythms which was started by a couple of guys who thought they weren’t reading enough and had a plan.  It was interesting, especially this time of year when everywhere you look you find lists of someone’s best books of the year.  I still read a lot and find time at the gym, on planes, and whenever.  Keeping a spreadsheet over the last decade, I average more than 100 books a year for work, pleasure, radio interviews, and in recent years, audiobooks that keep me company driving.  A friend recently expressed surprise when he found that I had read a book about eels, largely in the UK, that he was reading.  What the heck, why not push my 2023 highlight reels on you, so here goes:

First, for various interviews, here were my faves:

  • Zapata and the Mexican Revolution by John Womack (1969) I was interviewing him about something else, but it brought me to the classic.
  • The End of Family Court: How Abolishing the Court Brings Justice to Children and Families by Jane Spinak, a devastating critique.
  • War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of its Military Machine by Norman Solomon (2023).


Second, my picks for the year:


  • The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market (2023) by Naomi Oreskes and a co-author – I read anything she writes!
  • Private Virtues, Public Vices: Philanthropy and Democratic Equality by Emma Saunders-Hastings
  • The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students by Anthony Abraham Jack
  • Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell.
  • Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society (2023) by Arlene Geronimus
  • Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World (2023) by Harry Graber
  • Urban Jungle: The History and Future of Nature in the City by Ben Wilson
  • The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism (2022) by Martin Wolf.
  • Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend (2023) by Robert Cherny
  • Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 (2021) by Sarah Schulman
  • Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice (2023) by Christina Rivera Garza, a tragic story of Mexican femicide.
  • Tabula Rasa: Volume 1 (2023) by John McPhee. I read everything he writes!
  • How Elites Ate the Social Justice Movement (2023) by Fredrik deBoer
  • The Death of Public School: How Conservatives Won the War Over Education in America (2023) by Cara Fitzpatrick.
  • Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet (2023) by Ben Goldfarb
  • Fighting for NOW: Diversity and Discord in the National Organization for Women by Kelsey Kretschmer
  • Before the Movement: The Hidden History of Black Civil Rights (2023) by Dylan Penningroth
  • Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs: A Journey Through the Deep State (2023) by Kerry Howley
  • Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country (2023) by Patricia Evangelista, a horrifying report on the extra juridical killings in the Philippines
  • Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory (2021) by Claudio Saunt
  • Sparks: China’s Underground Historians and their Battle for the Future (2023) by Ian Johnson


And, if you are into audiobooks, both free and not:

  • A True History of the United States: Indigenous Genocide, Racialized Slavery. Hyper-Capitalism, Miltarist Imperialism and Other Overlooked Aspects of American Exceptionalism by Daniel Sjursen
  • Working (2019) by Robert Caro
  • Both Alexander Hamilton and Grant by Ron Chernow
  • The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket (2020) by Benjamin Lorr
  • The Seed Detective: Uncovering the Secret Histories of Remarkable Vegetables (2022) by Adam Alexander
  • Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge (2018) by Susan Hand Shetterly
  • Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South (2006) by Catherine Fosi
  • Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World (2011) by John Szwed
  • Grand Delusion: The Rise and Fall of American Ambition in the Middle East (2023) by Steven Simon
  • Going Infinite (2023) by Michael Lewis.


Purely for work to prepare for our trip to Brazil, here are the last two that are musts if you get the opportunity to go there:

  • Into the Amazon: The Life of Cândido Rondon, Trailblazing Explorer, Scientist, Statesman, and Conservationist (2023) By Larry Rohter
  • Occupying Schools, Occupying Land: How the Landless Workers Movement Transformed Brazilian Education (2018) by Rebecca Tarlau


Don’t take my word for it, but you won’t go wrong with any of these, either.  Go ye, and do likewise!