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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,681 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

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My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of From the Deep Woods to Civilization

Jordan Neben Why did I love this book?

From the Deep Woods is a book about the author’s spiritual and intellectual journey through his life in the late 19th and early 20th century. Charles Eastmen was a Native American who received a college education on the east coast and eventually became a doctor working on reservations in the Midwest.

I was fascinated by this book, but it also made me a little sad. Eastman’s commentary on the American society of his time was incredibly wise and insightful. However, much of Eastman’s critiques and observations would be just as poignant and just as relevant today as when this book was first written in the early 20th century.   

By Charles Alexander Eastman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Deep Woods to Civilization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Has a many-sided appeal …. This stimulating book is one of the few that really deserve the over-worked term, a human document." — Publishers Weekly.
In the first of his memoirs, the popular Indian Boyhood, Charles Alexander Eastman recounted his traditional upbringing among the Santee Sioux. From the Deep Woods to Civilization resumes his story, recounting his abrupt departure from tribal life at age 15 to pursue his education among whites — a path that led him to certification as a medical doctor, the publication of many successful books, and a lifetime of tireless efforts to benefit his native culture.…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire

Jordan Neben Why did I love this book?

The Fate of Rome is a fascinating, but also unnerving reminder that so much has changed, and at the same time so little. It was a stark reminder to me and every other reader of the book that civilization is a fragile construct, and that it only takes a few systemic shocks to transform or destroy it.

In a nutshell, The Fate of Rome makes the case that the Roman Empire was unalterably transformed by a shifting climate and several pandemic disease outbreaks. Sounds exactly like the kind of book someone would write post-COVID outbreak, but amazingly Harper actually wrote this book before we got a modern reminder of how devastating global pandemics can be. 

By Kyle Harper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fate of Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How devastating viruses, pandemics, and other natural catastrophes swept through the far-flung Roman Empire and helped to bring down one of the mightiest civilizations of the ancient world

Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. The Fate of Rome is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome's power-a story of nature's triumph over human ambition. Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Declassification Engine: What History Reveals About America's Top Secrets

Jordan Neben Why did I love this book?

This book is a good reminder for me that there are always two powerful impulses that motivate humanity whenever a new technology is developed.

The first impulse is to use new tech to gain power, money, influence, or just harm others for the sake of it. The second impulse is to employ that new technology to benefit people and hopefully make the world a better place.

The Declassification Engine is a book that belongs to that second impulse. Throughout, the author demonstrates how AI and machine learning can be used to help sort, categorize, and generally illuminate more about top-secret government documents. The tools shown in this book might help us reclaim some of our history lost to secrecy.  

By Matthew Connelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Declassification Engine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE CUNDHILL HISTORY PRIZE • Every day, thousands of new secrets are created by the United States government. What is all this secrecy really for? And whom does it benefit?

“A brilliant, deeply unsettling look at the history and inner workings of ‘the dark state'.... At a time when federal agencies are increasingly classifying or destroying documents with historical significance, this book could not be more important.” —Eric Schlosser, New York Times best-selling author of Command and Control

Before World War II, transparent government was a proud tradition in the United States. In all but the most serious…


Plus, check out my book…

A Lot of Questions, with No Answers

By Jordan Neben,

Book cover of A Lot of Questions, with No Answers

What is my book about?

A Lot of Questions, with No Answers is a collection of six essays about different philosophical topics published by Atmosphere Press. The topics of the different essays range from how history is taught and understood by the general public, and why that matters, to the importance of questioning what we believe, and the assumptions that underlie our beliefs, and how mythologizing historical figures distorts the reality of that figure’s actual life.

I hope the book encourages a sense of critical thinking and reasoned judgment in the reader.