I’ve loved writing since I was seven years old. The hobby came naturally to me and many of my favorite childhood memories involve putting pen to paper. But for some reason, reading was a different story. I was never an avid reader. I skimmed books to pass school assignments and seldom picked a book up on my own time.
By my late teens, I came to terms with my obvious career dilemma: The best writers are voracious readers. Without a love for reading, I knew I’d forever cap my writing potential.
Something had to change.
So, I started small. I read short books that I knew even I could finish. As I closed short books, I graduated to slightly longer ones, and so on. All this reading was forced… until one day it wasn’t. By my mid-twenties, reading became one of my favorite pastimes. And today, in my early thirties, I might even enjoy reading more than writing—which I never thought was possible.
Anyway, I read 30 books this year. Most of them were...
Written before 2023
About business or investing
So, here are my three favorite books of 2023.
The Gambler by William C. Rempel
I had never heard of Kirk Kerkonian before reading The Gambler, a biography of his adventurous career and life. Through the biography, Kerkonian became one of my investing and entrepreneurial heroes.
Kerkonian grew up in poverty and had a scrappy start to entrepreneurship. He trained as a pilot and built his first fortune by flipping airplanes and founding a small private airline company. With success, his business deals compounded. He expanded into new businesses and fields, including real estate and buying some of the largest media brands of his day.
Kerkonian was always very private (which is likely why I’d never heard of him before this book). He dodged publicity instead of chasing it, building a career based on deal-making, capital allocation, and risk-taking rather than marketing.
If you’re looking for a stellar investor biography, I highly recommend adding The Gambler to your reading list. It was my favorite book I read this year.
The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon
The thesis behind this book is simple: American growth was incredibly fast from the late 1800s into the mid-1900s. Since then, that growth has slowed significantly (except in a few sectors like IT and communications).
But Gordon’s thesis is less interesting to me than the substance of his book. The Rise and Fall of American Growth is a detailed history of innovation and business progress over the past 150 years, covering everything from indoor plumbing to airplanes and computers.
I will be pulling ideas and stories from this book for a long time. It greatly expanded my knowledge of America’s business history.
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
My fiction preferences tend to be on the darker side. I love the works of Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, and of course, Cormac McCarthy.
Blood Meridian is considered by many to be McCarthy’s best book, even if it’s also known for being his darkest. I finally made time to read Blood Meridian this year after Cormac McCarthy passed away this summer.
In short: I loved this book. From the almost biblical tone to the vivid Western scenery and characters, McCarthy had me from his opening paragraph. Even if it’s cliche to say so.
I previously read No Country for Old Men and The Road, which are also great books. But Blood Meridian is now my favorite of the three. If you enjoy darker reading, and can handle some graphic storytelling and at times jarring content, you might enjoy this novel as much as I did.
Other notable books I read in 2023
These books also made my shortlist of favorites for 2023 and deserve mention:
100 Baggers by Christopher Mayer
Damn Right! By Janet Lowe
Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour
Zeckendorf by William Zeckendorf
Travels with Charley by John Steinback
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Against The Gods by Peter Bernstein
I have a goal to read 48 books in 2024. What should I add to my list?