For the past several years, to close out the year, I have identified the best books that I read throughout the year. And, I always get good feedback from doing so.
So, I am back at it again.
By the end of 2023, I will have read/listened to 85 books.
I want to share the top five books I have read across three genres and the value I have gained from reading them:
The Five Fiction Books I Read in 2023
This was a fascinating read from a Harvard psychiatrist and researcher. In this book, Palmer suggests that most thinking about mental health is short-sighted, and he proposes a new theory of mental health that gets at a potential root of mental health issues that seems to address many of the limitations of current mental health theories. Specifically, he identifies mitochondria as a foundational factor in one’s mental health. This book is simultaneously engaging and well-referenced. I found this new perspective fascinating, but I felt the book was a little to light on what to do differently to improve our mental health beyond what we already know (eat healthy, get adequate sleep, exercise, etc.).
4. 3 for the Price of 1
There were three books this year that blended vertical development philosophies with religiosity and spirituality. I have learned in my own personal vertical development journey, that as I have vertically developed, the religious and spiritual practices that used to feed me, no longer do so. These have been great books for understanding why that is, broadening my perspective toward religiosity and spirituality in a healthy way, and learning how to navigate a spiritual plane that is rarely talked about (at least withing my familiar church circles):
- The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault
- Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr
- Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It by Brian McLaren
This is an audiobook that I picked up because I have been doing a lot of neuroscience research and I really liked Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk on stress. Honestly, this book did not live up to the title, but I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. It really isn’t that great of a “neuroscience” book, but it is a great book about personal transformation. It is broken down into different topics/themes, similar to an online course, which I generally don’t like. But, McGonigal brought in engaging anecdotes and fascinating research to make it well worth a listen. If you are an audiobook fan, like personal development, and neuroscience seems a bit scary, this is a great book for you.
I read this book shortly after it came out, and loved it. In preparation for writing my next book, I read this book again and loved it even more. While I love the ideas and concepts in this book, what I love the most about this book is Brené Brown’s articulation of and authenticity around her own personal vertical development journey. In my mind, this is a must-read for anyone that is breathing.
1. The End of Mental Illness: How Neuroscience Is Transforming Psychiatry and Helping Prevent or Reverse Mood and Anxiety Disorders, ADHD, Addictions, PTSD, Psychosis, Personality Disorders, and More by Daniel Amen, MD
Over the last several years, I have had multiple people recommend looking into Daniel Amen, and I ignored those recommendations because I saw he was a TV personality, and I had Dr. Phil in mind. So, I held of as long as I could, and I wish that I hadn’t. This book is such a fascinating and helpful take on the importance of brain health, plus it is quite actionable. One of the main premises of this book is that if someone is struggling with anything mental or emotional, part of the diagnostic should involve looking at the brain and how well it is functioning. Generally, mental issues are the result of a brain that is malfunctioning, and Amen gives great guidance for how to improve the health of our brain. After reading this book, I have become much more conscious about my brain health. Another helpful Daniel Amen book that I read this year was Change Your Brain Every Day: Simple Daily Practices to Strengthen Your Mind, Memory, Moods, Focus, Energy, Habits, and Relationships.
Best Books from Prior Years
- The Five Best Fiction Books I Read in 2022
- The Five Best Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2022
- The Five Best Business/Leadership Books I Read in 2022
- The Five Best Non-Fiction Business/Self-Help Books I Read in 2021
- The Five Best Fiction Books I Read in 2021
- The Five Best Non-Fiction (Other) Books I Read in 2021