Stuff I’ve Read In 2023

Old Books

Below you will find an ever-growing list of books, stories, and miscellany that I’ve read in 2023. But before we begin, please note why reading is such an important and valuable endeavor, as described by these famous personages:

Think before you speak. Read before you think.

—Fran Lebowitz

The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.

—Descartes

A good book is an event in my life.

—Stendhal

Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.

—Louis L’Amour

What better occupation, really, than to spend the evening at the fireside with a book, with the wind beating on the windows and the lamp burning bright.

—Gustave Flaubert

Practicing Peace
Practicing Peace by Pema Chödrön

Chödrön’s little book on developing a peaceful nature is a much needed treatise in our modern times. Among other things, she insists that peace on a global level starts with the individual. One must learn to be peaceful through the practice of mindfulness and the awareness of one’s own impermanence.

If you could have a bird’s-eye perspective on the Earth and could look down at all the conflicts that are happening, all you’d see are two sides of a story where both sides think they’re right. So the solutions have to come from a change of heart, from softening what is rigid in our hearts and minds.

—Pema Chödrön

The Third Man
The Third Man by Graham Green

Who killed Harry Lime? Well … you have to read the book to find out! The Third Man is a wonderful little thriller, and also a great movie featuring Orson Welles.

We never get accustomed to being less important to other people than they are to us.

—Graham Greene

The Birds
The Birds by Daphne du Maurier

I didn’t read the whole book, just the short story The Birds, because I had just recently learned that the movie (by the same name and directed by Alfred Hitchcock) was based on this story.

It’s a great little scary story with a somewhat ambiguous ending.

Nat listened to the tearing sound of splintering wood, and wondered how many million years of memory were stored in those little brains, behind the stabbing beaks, the piercing eyes, now giving them this instinct to destroy mankind with all the deft precision of machines.

—Daphne du Maurier

Inside the Now
Inside the Now by Thich Nhat Hanh

Inside the Now is part-memoire, part-philosophy, part-art, and part-poetry. Thich Nhat Hanh recounts his travails in Vietnam as he was growing up, and as a monk in his formative years. He went through a lot, but because of his Buddhist foundation, was able to rise above the violence with an expansive, loving understanding of himself and the world.

… understanding, love, compassion, and insight are not abstract ideas, but energies which can be generated in real-life situations, no matter how difficult they may be.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

Flowers for Algernon
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Charlie was born with severe intellectual disabilities. He wanted so much to be smart just like his sister and his friends and was given the chance by undergoing an experimental brain surgery. The operation was a complete success and, within months, he became a genius. But what are the ramifications of so quickly gaining that kind of intelligence … and would it last?

Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, this great, sad book is well worth the read.

Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love. This is something else I’ve discovered for myself very recently. I present it to you as a hypothesis: Intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to mental and moral breakdown, to neurosis, and possibly even psychosis. And I say that the mind absorbed in and involved in itself as a self-centered end, to the exclusion of human relationships, can only lead to violence and pain.

—Daniels Keyes