2023 Top 10 books halfway through this year

A need to trim my bedside tower of books meant that what I read was lopsided, tending to feature nonfiction books aligned with my apocalyptic or personal change agendas. With no books receiving the most rare 10/10 rating, it would also seem that the overall quality this half-year dropped a bit. Never mind. Any of these books would make a fine read or birthday present. Enjoy!

The links below zap you to my review.

Crook Manifesto (9/10) by Colson Whitehead—a follow-up to Harlem Shuffle, from a couple of years ago, this is both an engaging crime caper novel and deep, atmospheric historical fiction.

Frank Kennedy’s The Final Verdict (9/10)—I don’t expect this to be for everyone, the ninth of nine complex, thrilling, deftly written sci-fi space opera novels, but what a ride it has been!

The Earth Transformed by Peter Frankopan (9/10)—kaleidoscopic, scholarly, and almost lyrical in expression, this history of Earth and its human denizens, told with a climate change lens, will be read for decades.

Day’s End by Garry Disher (8/10)—I’m a monster fan of Australia’s premier crime fiction novelist, so it is no surprise to recommend the fourth of his Paul “Hirsch” Hirschhausen country cop procedurals.

Peter Attia’s Outlive (8/10)—is this book, on “healthful” longevity, for specialty audiences only? It shouldn’t be: Attia writes with clarity and generosity.

Hinge Points by Siegfred S. Hecker (8/10)—another book you won’t find at the front of your bookshop, I commend this clear, heartfelt tale of a tireless campaigner tackling North Korea’s nuclear buildup.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks (8/10)—yet another brilliantly written novel from this author, based on the life of America’s most famous racehorse and radiating scholarship and heart.

The Insect Crisis by Oliver Milman (8/10)—you’ve probably heard about the unbelievable scything of global insect populations over the past decades (and noticed the loss of windscreen insect mush after country driving), so read this, by a keening expert, and act.

Built to Move by Juliet Starrett & Kelly Starrett (8/10)—another left-field gem, a jaunty, readable manual on how to ensure you can move and thrive into old age (something you should prepare for when young!).

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris (8/10)—another splendid historical novel showcasing a fascinating byway, that of the “regicides” of King Charles I being pursued in America in the 17th century.

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