Best Books of 2023

I started 2023 off strong with my reading, absolutely ploughing through books at a rate of one every other day, but this significantly slowed down in September due to various life events, and I haven't been so into reading since then. Even so I managed to get through 70 books in 2023.

This year I discovered a love of Japanese fiction, and also a very specific niche of Japanese fiction about cats. What I have loved most about these books is the incredibly rich, unique characters within them.

I've also read quite a number of books on nutrition, which have had a signifcant impact on my life. Perhaps in a bad way.

I'm not particularly good at writing reviews, so here's my favourite 10 books I read this year with a brief summary of each.

Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

A story about a group of children who are all struggling with their lives, and for various reasons have stopped going to school. They each find a passage to a mysterious castle in which they all meet and find out they are not alone in their struggles. This book resonates with me because I too did not attend school for a long time. The story development is excellent and the ending ties everything together perfectly.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

An extremely autistic woman spends her life working in a convenience store, but struggles to fit in with society. Upon meeting a classic incel, she tries to strike up a relationship with him so they can both be "normal". She finds her life changing in ways she didn't expect, the people surrounding her seem distracted by her relationship, and no longer seem to care about the wellbeing of the convenience store in which she works.

Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

Two high school outcasts form an unlikely friendship, "Eyes", the protagonist, heavily bullied for his lazy eye, and "Hazmat", a girl who aims to be closer to her father by immitating his disheveled, unwashed appearance. The two form a bond over their shared outcast status.

Why We Eat (Too Much) by Andrew Jenkinson

A book that aims to look into the reasons behind the obesity epidemic, covering many aspects such as food culture, the food industry, and the science behind weight gain.

Ravenous by Henry Dimbleby

Another book regarding the obesity epidemic, this time from the perspective of the food industry. The author is the founder of the Leon restaurant chain, and the book covers his journey to try and make the food industry more sustainable and healthy.

Ultra Processed People by Chris van Tulleken

Another book about eating, this time focussing on the modern trend of ultra processed foods, and the impact they have on our health. This book is genuinely concerning and has had a huge impact on my diet.

I Am A Cat by Natsume Soseki

I Am A Cat is a story told from the perspective of a cat, observing the lives of the humans around him, offering commentary on their behaviour. The cat offers a unique perspective on the world, and the humans around him, but ultimately ends up drowning in a vase of water, but it's okay, because the cat is a philosopher and does not fear death.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

This book was absolutely wild, probably one of the strangesst and most captivating books I've ever read. It's one I'll be thinking about for a long time. The audiobook give May Kasahara a really annoying voice though.

Humble Pi by Matt Parker

A book about mathematical errors, and the impact they have had on the world. I don't have much to say on this, but it was definitely a fun, interesting book and Matt Parker is a great comedian.

Doom Guy: Life in First Person by John Romero

Throughout my childhood I played a lot of Commander Keen, but I never actually got into Doom, but even so it's undeniably iconic. This book covers John Romero's life, from his childhood, to his time at id Software, and beyond. He had an unexpectedly fucked up upbringing and was actively discouraged from playing video games, but even so ended up working on the cutting edge of PC gaming.

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