My Top 5 Books of 2023

Jack Yang
5 min readJan 3, 2024
The 2023 Year in Review

Welcome to my year-end summary! As we embark on a new year, I’m thrilled to share with you the top 5 books that made my 2023 a remarkable journey in reading (and 2honorable mentions). These books, a mix of compelling novels and insightful non-fiction, not only captured my imagination but also profoundly influenced my perspective. Whether you’re an avid reader or looking to discover something new, these picks from my 2023 reading list promise to offer inspiration, escape, and a fresh outlook on the world.

Top 5 Must-Reads

  1. Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charles T. Munger and Peter D. Kaufman

“Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger” is a compilation that offers a remarkable insight into the mind of Charles T. Munger, Warren Buffett’s long-time business partner and vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Unfortunately, he passed away in November of 2023, which is a huge loss to the world.

This book is a treasure trove of Munger’s speeches and thoughts, blending investment wisdom with life lessons. I appreciate it for its profound yet practical wisdom, distilled through Munger’s unique lens of multi-disciplinary thinking and sharp wit. For me, this book is not just an investment guide; it’s a manual for rational thinking and decision-making in various aspects of life. Munger’s emphasis on mental models and a ‘latticework of theories’ makes it an invaluable resource for anyone looking to enhance their understanding of business, investing, and life.

2. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson

“The Almanack of Naval Ravikant” is a comprehensive collection of wisdom from Naval Ravikant, an esteemed entrepreneur and investor. The book compiles Ravikant’s insights on wealth, happiness, and the philosophy of life, gathered from his tweets, essays, and interviews.

I find this book particularly enlightening for its clear, concise wisdom and practical approach to success and personal growth. Ravikant’s perspectives on leveraging technology, investing, and decision-making are both innovative and timeless. This book is a must-read for young adults, especially those in the tech industry, as it offers a unique blend of practical advice and philosophical insights, making it an invaluable guide for anyone seeking to improve their professional life, personal happiness, and understanding of the digital age’s opportunities and challenges.

3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

“Steve Jobs” is an illuminating biography of Steve Jobs, one of the most iconic entrepreneurs of our time, and a personal hero of mine. This book delves deep into the life and mind of Jobs, drawing from extensive interviews with Jobs himself, his family, friends, adversaries, and colleagues.

I am particularly drawn to this biography for its unvarnished portrayal of Jobs’ complex personality, blending his intense creativity and visionary zeal with his often challenging and mercurial temperament. Isaacson’s masterful storytelling not only brings out the nuances of Jobs’ character but also provides invaluable insights into the evolution of the tech industry. This book is more than a biography; it’s a source of inspiration and lessons in innovation, leadership, and the importance of following one’s convictions. It’s a compelling read for anyone interested in the intersection of technology, business, and the human drama behind revolutionary ideas.

4. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

“Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” is a thought-provoking exploration of the future of humankind in the face of rapidly advancing technology and science. Following his earlier work, “Sapiens,” which I was a big fan of, Harari delves into potential future scenarios, examining how current scientific breakthroughs might shape the human condition, our societies, and our values.

With 2023 being the boom of AI, I am particularly fascinated by this book for its insightful and often challenging predictions, which encourage deep reflection on what it means to be human in an age of artificial intelligence and biotechnology. Harari’s ability to weave history, philosophy, and futurology together makes it a compelling read. “Homo Deus” offers a unique opportunity to ponder the profound questions of our existence and future, making it an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the potential trajectories of our species and the ethical implications of our technological advancements.

5. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

“So Good They Can’t Ignore You” is a refreshing take on career advice, challenging the well-worn adage of ‘following your passion’ and instead advocating for a craftsman mindset focused on developing valuable skills. Newport, with his incisive and research-backed approach, argues that mastery and the accumulation of career capital are the true keys to work satisfaction and success.

This a paradigm-shifting book for me, as I find this book particularly enlightening for its pragmatic and evidence-based strategies to build a fulfilling career. It shifts the perspective from seeking the right work to creating value in whatever work you do. This book is a game-changer, especially for those at career crossroads or seeking more fulfillment in their professional lives like me. Newport’s insights provide a clear, actionable framework for developing skills that truly matter and, in turn, crafting a career that is not just successful, but also personally rewarding.

Honorable Mentions

  1. The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene

“The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene is an intriguing exploration of seduction, presented not just in romantic terms but as a tool for influence and persuasion in various life aspects. I put this book on the honorable mention list for its insightful blend of historical anecdotes and psychological analysis, offering a unique perspective on human desires and power dynamics.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“Gone Girl” is a gripping psychological thriller that masterfully weaves a tale of marriage, deceit, and the dark sides of human nature. This novel stands out for its intricate plot, sharp dialogue, and the brilliantly executed unreliable narratives of its two main characters, Amy and Nick Dunne. What captivates me about this book is Flynn’s skill in crafting a story that is as disturbing as it is enthralling, constantly challenging the reader’s perceptions and expectations. This is one of those books I could not put down once started reading, and deserves a spot on the honorable mention list.

Thank you for an incredible 2023. Follow me on https://jackyangzzh.medium.com/ for more content in 2024!

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