2023 Top 10 Books

2023 Top 10 Books

2023 was an odd reading year. Subject preoccupations biased me towards nonfiction books but I have to say that my fiction slate, while full of fine books, in the end offered few masterpieces. Not so the seven nonfiction books in the list. For once, I can’t really guarantee you, dear reader, ten must-reads, because you might well find my preoccupations irrelevant, but anyone adventurous will surely be rewarded after dipping into some of these ten.

The links below provide my reviews.

Jeff Goodell is the best climate change journalist/writer bar none. Heat: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet (10/10) covers what a heating world will do to us humans at the most elemental level: we’ll need to deal with hotter, much hotter, days and nights. A must-read.

Mick Herron’s The Secret Hours (10/10) takes a sideways step from his amazing Slow Horses/Jackson Lamb spy thriller series but I think it ascends even higher in the pantheon of this genre. Sublime.

Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon (10/10) is probably the most controversial of Michael Lewis’s many triumphant nonfiction books. I see it as a benchmark example of investigative writing.

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.

Return to Valetto (9/10) is Dominic Smith’s pinnacle novel so far, a beguiling, moving family saga set in Italy.

The Passion of Private White (9/10) is Don Watson’s moving and rigorous history of a heroic modern anthropologist in Arnhem Land.

The Earth Transformed: An Untold History 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.

You don’t need to be engrossed with marine matters to become riveted by Helen Czerski’s brilliantly structured and styled Blue Machine: How the Ocean Shapes Our World.

Lev Parikian is so upbeat, so informative! Taking Flight: The Evolutionary Story of Life on the Wing (9/10) is the only book on bird flight that gripped me from start to finish. I learned so much.

Brain surgeon Henry Marsh’s And Finally: Matters of Life Death (9/10) sees the stylish medical memoirist grapple with his own mortality.

2023 Top 10 Movies/Shows

2023 Top 10 movies shows

I had firmly believed my diet of books trumped that of movies/shows, especially when examined over a full year, especially when considering the best of the best. Not this year. Although my reading included gems, my viewing teemed with excellent and indeed magnificent offerings. Any of the following would reward your attention.

Follow the links below to my reviews.

The adaptation of Hugh Howey’s wonderful dystopian sci-fi series that began with Wool is wondrously atmospheric, superbly acted, and utterly unpredictable from episode to episode. Ten-episode Silo (10/10) probably tops the year.

Season 2 of The Bear (10/10) rivals Silo in excellence. Just as frenetic, deeply characterized, and riveting as Season 1. If you love food, even if you only love movies, treat yourself to these ten episodes.

Succession Season 4 (10/10)—need I say anything at all?

This first season of Slow Horses was most welcome but the second season (10/10)—perfection, the spy thriller outing you must see! (And I’m currently partway through Season 3!)

An arthouse father-daughter drama of immense emotional heft, Scrapper (10/10) might be the best 2023 film you’ll typically never hear of.

Rachel Antony & Laurence Billiet’s hypnotic, scary, inspiring documentary about both Bob Brown, the legendary Greens politician, and the beauty of Tasmania’s forests, The Giants (10/10) was hands down the most impressive documentary of the year.

Blockbuster it might have been, but Christopher Nolan’s transfixing Oppenheimer (10/10) deserves all its praise.

A completely different film was feminist crime fiction drama Deadloch (10/10) by Kate McCartney & Kate McLennan. Funny, tense, and affecting.

To learn so much about creativity, intelligence, idealism, and persistence, you can’t go past Turn Every Page (9/10), which gently portrays master biographer Robert Caro and master editor Robert Gottlieb.

Season 2 of The Newsreader surpassed the superb first season and exemplifies Australian drama.