Book review 2023

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Finding a good book to read is like trying to find your needle in a needle stack. There are so many books to choose from. What follows is my book review for 2023. Click here for my complete list of books. I found it impossible to choose just one, so I decided to highlight a handful of books from different genres. I hope this helps you as you search for a good book to read.

Brain plasticity/technology

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains“. Nicholas Carr wrote this book in 2010. Keep in mind that Instagram didn’t begin till 2010 and Facebook had only a few hundred million users at the time. It’s in the billions now!

These are observations of a learned man who was sitting at a point in history where social media is about to explode. He explores the internet as a disruptive technology. Disruptive technologies have up and down sides. He has an obvious concern for the changes that the internet is making to our brains, but he also highlights some potential positive effects as well.

I found it particularly fascinating when he delved into the “technology” of written communication and the printing press. That technology rewired humankind’s minds. Before the written word existed, ideas from other people needed to be memorized and orally transmitted to the next person. Writing allowed people to expand thoughts deeply, but that was at the expense of the ability to memorize what was being heard and that concerned the intelligentsia of the day.

What new skills will the internet provide to our minds and what skills will it destroy?

Action packed fiction

I’m a fan of Clive Cussler. His books are filled with action, but not gore. There is romance, but not graphic sex. His best works involve adventures on, under or near water. This year I enjoyed several books in his “Oregon Files” series.

These stories center around a group of mercenaries who work out of an old converted tanker ship called, the “Oregon”. The ship is basically James Bond meets Jacques Cousteau. Everything is cleverly disguised to look like a decrepit old tanker ship, but it’s really a state of the art warship.

The lead character is Juan Cabrillo. He’s a brilliant tactician, highly skilled in hand to hand combat and handsome (of course!). He is surrounded by an excellent cast of characters who help him to accomplish his missions. They make a lot of money, but never at the expense of their morals and character. Tons of fun to read.

Great storytelling

The Little Britches series by Ralph Moody. This eight book series came out of nowhere and blew me away. I was looking for an audiobook and stumbled on the first book in the series and figured I’d give it a shot. I had no idea that I was going to become obsessed with the story.

The books are autobiographical stories of Ralph Moody (a.k.a. Little Britches). They begin with his family’s journey into the west in order to find a climate to improve his father’s health. Ralph takes to horse riding and even becomes a trick horse rider with the help of a cowboy who gives him his nickname.

As with any autobiography, you will find some tragedy on these pages. But, you will never catch Ralph descending into despair. In fact, he seems to thrive on finding ways to turn a bad situation into a benefit for himself and for those around him.

The most unbelievable story

The Elephant Whisperer: Learning about Life, Loyalty and Freedom from a Remarkable Herd of Elephants by Lawrence Anthony.

This is one of the best audio books I have ever experienced! The reading by Simon Vance is top notch. He gives the feeling that you’re hearing the voices of different characters and he does it in a way that seems completely effortless.

The story itself is mesmerizing. I was completely drawn in within 10 minutes. This is a story about an ordinary man who saved a herd of elephants. He had no training and he took some outrageous chances, but in the process he won the respect and love of these giants.

Read this book and you’ll believe that Dr. Doolittle was right and maybe it’s not crazy to think that you can talk to the animals!

Spiritual development

I can’t narrow this down to one book, or even one author. I recommend the authors: Dallas Willard and Eugene Peterson.

Willard’s “Spirit of the Disciplines” and “Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God” are both well worth your time. Peterson’s “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” and “Run with Horses: The Quest for Life at it’s Best” are also spiritually stimulating.

Honestly, any one of these books could be studied for an entire year. Both of these men are fairly contemporary writers. Willard died in 2013 and Peterson died in 2018, so they knew what life was like in the 21st century.


Atul Gawande has written an excellent book titled, “Being Mortal” that will make you think about the medical care you might receive at the end of your life. It’ll also make you consider talking to your loved ones about how they want to experience their final days.

Gawande looks at end of life medical care through his extensive experience as a surgeon. He challenges you to ask yourself questions. What are your priorities? Do you want as many days as possible, regardless of the quality of those days?

He realized that many times he was performing extensive surgeries on patients who were now going to go through a terrible post operative experience with little to no expectation of a complete recovery. He now asks patients what is important to them and then tailors his care to meet their goals.

This is not a physician’s assisted suicide book. He doesn’t advocate completely withdrawing care and he doesn’t talk about lethal injections. He believes in providing care. Very stimulating reading.


Mike Roberts has written an excellent book on classroom management, “Hacking Classroom Management: 10 ideas to help you become the type of teacher they make movies about“.

I have a series of posts about Roberts’ book where I break down the ten ‘hacks’ so I won’t go into detail about the book. If you’d like to read more, you can find those posts here.

I have tried several of the hacks and these two hacks stand out: sending positive emails home and allowing students to use the hall pass without asking.

Sending positive emails to parents is an incredibly powerful action. I don’t know why I haven’t done more of this in the past. It only takes a moment and yet means the world to parents. You will see a change in student behavior and turn a parent into your greatest fan.

Using the hall pass without asking is working well for my high school band classes. They don’t leave the room often, so it isn’t a problem. But, the middle school kids abuse the privilege and I’m going to change back. They get up too frequently and no amount of cajoling has made a dent in the parade in and out of the door.


As I said in the intro to this post, I can’t pick one book that is my favorite. I hope that I’ve given you some ideas of books you might try. Find a genre or an author and go read!

I’d love to hear about the books you love in the comments below. Thanks for reading! And, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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