2023 is a year full of promises and opportunities. This new year, take the time to stock up on new knowledge, learn new things or simply enjoy a good story. Here’s our list of 23 books that you should add to your reading list this 2023. Ranging from different topics and genres, from science, history, politics, fiction, and thrillers; Happy Reading!
This post contains affiliate links from bookshop.org. Every purchase helps support local bookshops.
By Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex
It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow – and horror. As Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling – and how their lives would play out from that point on.
For Harry, this is that story at last.
With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.
Prince Harry wishes to support British charities with donations from his proceeds from Spare . The Duke of Sussex has donated $1,500,000 to Sentebale, an organisation he founded with Prince Seeiso in their mothers’ legacies, which supports vulnerable children and young people in Lesotho and Botswana affected by HIV/AIDS. Prince Harry will also donate to the non-profit organisation WellChild in the amount of GBP300,000. WellChild, which he has been Royal patron of for fifteen years, makes it possible for children and young people with complex health needs to be cared for at home instead of hospital, wherever possible.
The Earth Transformed: An Untold History
By Professor Peter Frankopan
Most people can name the influential leaders and major battles of the past. Few can name the most destructive storms, the worst winters, the most devastating droughts.In TheEarth Transformed , ground-breaking historian Peter Frankopan shows that engagement with the natural world and with climatic change and their effects on us are not new: exploring, for instance, the development of religion and language and their relationships with the environment; tracing how growing demands for harvests resulted in the increased shipment of enslaved peoples; scrutinising how the desire to centralise agricultural surplus formed the origins of the bureaucratic state; and seeing how efforts to understand and manipulate the weather have a long and deep history. Understanding how past shifts in natural patterns have shaped history, and how our own species has shaped terrestrial, marine and atmospheric conditions is not just important but essential at a time of growing awareness of the severity of the climate crisis. Taking us from the beginning of recorded history to the present day, The Earth Transformed forces us to reckon with humankind’s continuing efforts to make sense of the natural world.
Future of Geography
By Tim Marshall
Space: the biggest geopolitical story of the coming century – new from the multi-million-copy international bestselling author of Prisoners of Geography
Spy satellites orbiting the moon. Space metals worth more than most countries’ GDP. People on Mars within the next ten years.
This isn’t science fiction. It’s astropolitics.
Humans are heading up and out, and we’re taking our power struggles with us. Soon, what happens in space will shape human history as much the mountains, rivers and seas have on Earth. It’s no coincidence that Russia, China and the USA are leading the way. The next fifty years will change the face of global politics.
In this gripping book, bestselling author Tim Marshall lays bare the new geopolitical realities to show how we got here and where we’re going, covering the new space race; great-power rivalry; technology; economics; war; and what it means for all of us down here on Earth. Written with all the insight and wit that have made Marshall the UK’s most popular writer on geopolitics, this is the essential read on power, politics and the future of humanity.
Old Babes in the Wood: Stories
By Margaret Atwood
A dazzling collection of fifteen stories from Margaret Atwood, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments
These stories explore the full warp and weft of experience, from two best friends disagreeing about their shared past, to the right way to stop someone from choking; from a daughter determining if her mother really is a witch, to what to do with inherited relics such as World War II parade swords.
They feature beloved cats, a confused snail, Martha Gellhorn, George Orwell, philosopher-astronomer-mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria, a cabal of elderly female academics, and an alien tasked with retelling human fairy tales. At the heart of the collection is a stunning sequence that follows a married couple as they travel the road together, the moments big and small that make up a long life of love — and what comes after.
Victory City: The new novel from the Booker prize-winning, bestselling author Salman Rushdie
By Salman Rushdie
The epic tale of a woman who breathes a fantastical empire into existence, only to be consumed by it over the centuries – from the transcendent imagination of Booker Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author Salman Rushdie.
In the wake of an insignificant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for the goddess Parvati, who begins to speak out of the girl’s mouth. Granting her powers beyond Pampa Kampana’s comprehension, the goddess tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga – literally ‘victory city’ – the wonder of the world.
Over the next two hundred and fifty years, Pampa Kampana’s life becomes deeply interwoven with Bisnaga’s, from its literal sowing out of a bag of magic seeds to its tragic ruination in the most human of ways: the hubris of those in power. Whispering Bisnaga and its citizens into existence, Pampa Kampana attempts to make good on the task that Parvati set for her: to give women equal agency in a patriarchal world. But all stories have a way of getting away from their creator, and Bisnaga is no exception. As years pass, rulers come and go, battles are won and lost, and allegiances shift, the very fabric of Bisnaga becomes an ever more complex tapestry – with Pampa Kampana at its center.
Brilliantly styled as a translation of an ancient epic, this is a saga of love, adventure, and myth that is in itself a testament to the power of storytelling.
Surrender: Bono Autobiography: 40 Songs, One Story
Bono – artist, activist and the lead singer of Irish rock band U2 – has written his autobiography: honest and irreverent, intimate and profound, Surrender is the story of the remarkable life he’s lived, the challenges he’s faced and the friends and family who have shaped and sustained him.
‘When I started to write this book I was hoping to draw in detail what I’d previously only sketched in songs. The people, places, and possibilities in my life. Surrender is a word freighted with meaning for me. Growing up in Ireland in the seventies with my fists up (musically speaking), it was not a natural concept. A word I only circled until I gathered my thoughts for the book. I am still grappling with this most humbling of commands. In the band, in my marriage, in my faith, in my life as an activist. Surrender is the story of one pilgrim’s lack of progress … With a fair amount of fun along the way.’ – Bono
As one of the music world’s most iconic artists and the cofounder of organizations ONE and (RED), Bono’s career has been written about extensively. But in Surrender , Bono’s autobiography, he picks up the pen, writing for the first time about his remarkable life and those he has shared it with. In his unique voice, Bono takes us from his early days growing up in Dublin, including the sudden loss of his mother when he was 14, to U2’s unlikely journey to become one of the world’s most influential rock bands, to his more than 20 years of activism dedicated to the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. Writing with candour, self-reflection, and humour, Bono opens the aperture on his life – and the family, friends and faith that have sustained, challenged and shaped him.
Surrender’s subtitle, “40 Songs, One Story,” is a nod to the book’s 40 chapters, which are each named after a U2 song. Bono has also created 40 original drawings for Surrender which will appear throughout the book.
The Light We Carry: Overcoming In Uncertain Times
By Michelle Obama
Her life. Her learnings. Her toolkit to live boldly.
How do we build enduring and honest relationships?
How can we discover strength and community inside our differences?
What do we do when it all starts to feel like too much?
Michelle Obama believes that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress.
In The Light We Carry , the former First Lady shares her practical wisdom and powerful strategies for staying hopeful and balanced in today’s highly uncertain world. A mother, daughter, spouse and friend, she shares fresh stories, her insightful reflections on change and the earned wisdom that helps her continue to “become.” With her trademark humour, candour, and compassion, she also explores issues connected to race, gender, and visibility, encouraging readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.
The Light We Carry will inspire readers to examine their own lives, identify their sources of gladness, and connect meaningfully in a turbulent world.
Stranger in a Strange Land
By Robert A. Heinlein
Twenty-five years ago, the first manned mission to Mars was lost, and all hands presumed dead. But someone survived…
Born on the doomed spaceship and raised by the Martians who saved his life, Valentine Michael Smith has never seen a human being until the day a second expedition to Mars discovers him.
Upon his return to Earth, a young nurse named Jill Boardman sneaks into Smith’s hospital room and shares a glass of water with him, a simple act for her but a sacred ritual on Mars.
Now, connected by an incredible bond, Smith, Jill and a writer named Jubal must fight to protect a right we all take for granted: the right to love.
Why We’re Polarized: A Barack Obama summer reading pick 2022
By Ezra Klein
America’s political system isn’t broken. The truth is scarier: it’s working exactly as designed.
In Why We’re Polarized, Ezra Klein reveals the structural and psychological forces behind America’s deep political divisions, revealing how a system filled with rational, functional parts can combine into a dysfunctional whole. Neither a polemic nor a lament, this book offers a clear framework for understanding everything from Trump’s rise to the Democratic Party’s leftward shift to the politicisation of everyday culture. Klein shows how and why American politics polarised in the twentieth century, what that polarisation did to Americans’ views of the world and one another, and how feedback loops between polarised political identities and polarised political institutions drive the system toward crisis. This revelatory book will change how you look at politics, and perhaps at yourself.
A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence
By Jeff Hawkins
For all of neuroscience’s advances, we’ve made little progress on its biggest question: How do simple cells in the brain create intelligence?
Jeff Hawkins and his team discovered that the brain uses maplike structures to build a model of the world – not just one model, but hundreds of thousands of models of everything we know. This discovery allows Hawkins to answer important questions about how we perceive the world, why we have a sense of self, and the origin of high-level thought.
A Thousand Brains heralds a revolution in the understanding of intelligence. It is a big-think book, in every sense of the word.
An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us
By Ed Yong
Enter a new dimension – the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.
The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. But every animal is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving only a tiny sliver of an immense world. This book welcomes us into previously unfathomable dimensions – the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.
We encounter beetles that are drawn to fires, turtles that can track the Earth’s magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages, and humans that wield sonar like bats. We discover that a crocodile’s scaly face is as sensitive as a lover’s fingertips, that plants thrum with the inaudible songs of courting bugs, and that even simple scallops have complex vision.
Ed Yong coaxes us beyond the confines of our own senses, allowing us to perceive the threads of scent, waves of electromagnetism and pulses of pressure that surround us. Because in order to understand our world we don’t need to travel to other places; we need to see through other eyes.
Sensational: A New Story of Our Senses
By Ashley Ward
Why do women have a better sense of smell than men? Has the iPhone changed how we touch? Does the Danube really look blue when you’re in love?
Our senses are at the heart of how we navigate the world. They help us recognise the expressions on a loved one’s face, know whether fruit is ripe by its smell, or even sense a storm approaching through a sudden drop in air pressure. It’s now believed that we may have as many as fifty-three senses – and we’re just beginning to expand our knowledge of this incredibly extensive palette.
In Sensational, Ashley Ward embarks on an expedition through the ways we experience the world, marshalling the latest advancements in science to explore the dazzling eyesight of the mantis shrimp, the rich inner lives of krill and the baffling link between canine bowel movements and geomagnetic fields. Unlocking the incredible power of our senses may hold the key to mysteries like why we kiss, how our brain dictates our taste in music and how a dairy-rich diet strained Euro-Japanese relations.Blending biology and cutting-edge neuroscience, Sensational is a mind-bending look at how our brains shape the way we interpret the world.
Not So Black and White: A History of Race from White Supremacy to Identity Politics
By Kenan Malik
A powerful new history of the idea of race, forcing us to rethink today’s culture wars.
Is white privilege real? How racist is the working class? Why has left-wing antisemitism grown? Who benefits most when anti-racists speak in racial terms?
The ‘culture wars’ have generated ferocious argument, but little clarity. This book takes the long view, explaining the real origins of ‘race’ in Western thought, and tracing its path from those beginnings in the Enlightenment all the way to our own fractious world. In doing so, leading thinker Kenan Malik upends many assumptions underpinning today’s heated debates around race, culture, whiteness and privilege.
Malik interweaves this history of ideas with a parallel narrative: the story of the modern West’s long, failed struggle to escape ideas of race, leaving us with a world riven by identity politics. Through these accounts, he challenges received wisdom, revealing the forgotten history of a racialised working class, and questioning fashionable concepts like cultural appropriation.
Not So Black and White is both a lucid history rewriting the story of race, and an elegant polemic making an anti-racist case against the politics of identity.
The Big Con: How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Businesses, Infantilizes our Governments and Warps our Economies
By Mariana Mazzucato & Rosie Collington
There is an entrenched relationship between the consulting industry and the way business and government are managed today which must change.
Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington show that our economies’ reliance on companies such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY stunts innovation, obfuscates corporate and political accountability and impedes our collective mission of halting climate breakdown.
The ‘Big Con’ describes the confidence trick the consulting industry performs in contracts with hollowed-out and risk-averse governments and shareholder value-maximizing firms. It grew from the 1980s and 1990s in the wake of reforms by both the neoliberal right and Third Way progressives, and it thrives on the ills of modern capitalism, from financialization and privatization to the climate crisis. It is possible because of the unique power that big consultancies wield through extensive contracts and networks – as advisors, legitimators and outsourcers – and the illusion that they are objective sources of expertise and capacity. To make matters worse, our best and brightest graduates are often redirected away from public service into consulting. In all these ways, the Big Con weakens our businesses, infantilizes our governments and warps our economies.
Mazzucato and Collington expertly debunk the myth that consultancies always add value to the economy. With a wealth of original research, they argue brilliantly for investment and collective intelligence within all organizations and communities, and for a new system in which public and private sectors work innovatively for the common good. We must recalibrate the role of consultants and rebuild economies and governments that are fit for purpose.
Mao and Markets: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise
By Christopher Marquis & Kunyuan Qiao
A thoroughly researched assessment of how China’s economic success continues to be shaped by the communist ideology of Chairman Mao
It was long assumed that as China embraced open markets and private enterprise, its state-controlled economy would fall by the wayside, that free markets would inevitably lead to a more liberal society. Instead, China’s growth over the past four decades has positioned state capitalism as a durable foil to the orthodoxy of free markets, to the confusion of many in the West.
Christopher Marquis and Kunyuan Qiao argue that China’s economic success is based on—not in spite of—the continuing influence of Communist leader Mao Zedong. They illustrate how Mao’s ideological principles, mass campaigns, and socialist institutions have enduringly influenced Chinese entrepreneurs’ business strategies and the management of their ventures. Grounded in case studies and quantitative analyses, this book shows that while private enterprise is the engine of China’s growth, Chinese companies see no contradictions between commercial drive and a dedication to Maoist ideology.
Follow the Money: How much does Britain cost?
By Paul Johnson
What is the truth about Britain’s finances?
Paul Johnson and the enormously respected Institute for Fiscal Studies aim to hold Government to account – without which politicians will get away with their half-truths, elisions and dubious claims.
This is a forensic examination – by the man best placed to do so – of the £1 trillion it now costs to run the United Kingdom’s economy. To follow the money. To provide an explanation, of where that money comes from and where it goes to, how that has changed and how it needs to change.
Government decisions determine the welfare of the poor and the elderly, the state of the health service, the effectiveness of our children’s education, and how prepared we are for the future: whether that is a pandemic or global warming. As a society, we are a reflection of what the government spends.
Johnson looks at what happened following the financial crisis of 2008-09 and the austerity years that followed. He examines the way that the government tackled the economy during Covid – when the UK budget shot up to over a trillion for the first time – and he analyses prospects for our future as we grapple with looming recession and the cost of living crisis.
Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics
By Matthew Goodwin
Over the last decade, Britain has been rocked by a series of political revolts. The rise of national populism, the vote for Brexit, Boris Johnson’s emphatic 2019 election victory, the fall of Labour’s Red Wall, the emergence of a very different brand of conservatism and the mayhem around ‘The Year of Three Prime Ministers’ have all outflanked the country’s liberal establishment and stunned the world. In trying to make sense of this remarkable churn and change, many commentators cling to very short-term and unconvincing explanations, pointing to social media, dark money, individual leaders, or the promises made to voters.
But, as acclaimed political scientist Matthew Goodwin reveals in this strikingly original study, this turbulence has been a long time in the making – and it is set to continue for many years to come. Embarking on a profound and wide-ranging analysis of postwar British politics, Goodwin shows how these revolts are all symptomatic of deeper shifts that are now rapidly reshaping our political world. He points to the rise of three new drivers over ‘values’, ‘voice’ and ‘virtue’, and shows how these uniquely powerful divides are now pushing us into a new era of political volatility.
The Economic Government of the World: 1933-2023
By Martin Daunton
An epic history of money, trade and development since 1933
In 1933, Keynes reflected on the crisis of the Great Depression that arose from individualistic capitalism: ‘It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous – and it doesn’t deliver the goods … But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed.’ We are now in a similar state of perplexity, wondering how to respond to the economic problems of the world.
Martin Daunton examines the changing balance over ninety years between economic nationalism and globalization, explaining why one economic order breaks down and how another one is built, in a wide-ranging history of the institutions and individuals who have managed the global economy. In 1933, the World Monetary and Economic Conference brought together the nations of the world: it failed. Trade and currency warfare led to economic nationalism and a turn from globalization that culminated in war. During the Second World War, a new economic order emerged – the embedded liberalism of Bretton Woods, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development – and the post-war General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. These institutions and their rules created a balance between domestic welfare and globalization, complemented by a social contract between labour, capital and the state to share the benefits of economic growth.
Yet this embedded liberalism reflected the interests of the ‘west’ in the Cold War: in the 1970s, it faced collapse, caused by its internal weaknesses and the breakdown of the social contract, and was challenged by the Third World as a form of neo-colonialism. It was succeeded by neoliberalism, financialisation and hyper-globalization. In 2008, the global financial crash exposed the flaws of neoliberalism without leading to a fundamental change. Now, as leading nations are tackling the fall-out from Covid-19 and the threats of inflation, food security and the existential risk of climate change, Martin Daunton calls for a return to a globalization that benefits many of the world’s poor and a fairer capitalism that delivers domestic welfare and equality.
The Economic Government of the World is the first history to show how trade, international monetary relations, capital mobility and development impacted on and influenced each other. Martin Daunton places these economic relations in the geo-political context of the twentieth century, and considers the importance of economic ideas and of political ideology, of electoral calculations and institutional design. The book rests on extensive archival research to provide a powerful analysis of the origins of our current global crisis, and suggests how we might build a fairer international order.
The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule
By Angela Saini
In this bold and radical book, award-winning science journalist Angela Saini goes in search of the true roots of gendered oppression, uncovering a complex history of how male domination became embedded in societies and spread across the globe.
‘By thinking about gendered inequality as rooted in something unalterable within us, we fail to see it for what it is: something more fragile that has had to be constantly remade and reasserted.’
In this bold and radical book, award-winning science journalist Angela Saini goes in search of the true roots of gendered oppression, uncovering a complex history of how male domination became embedded in societies and spread across the globe from prehistory into the present.
Travelling to the world’s earliest known human settlements, analysing the latest research findings in science and archaeology, and tracing cultural and political histories from the Americas to Asia, she overturns simplistic universal theories to show that what patriarchy is and how far it goes back really depends on where you are.
Despite the push back against sexism and exploitation in our own time, even revolutionary efforts to bring about equality have often ended in failure and backlash. Saini ends by asking what part we all play – women included – in keeping patriarchal structures alive, and why we need to look beyond the old narratives to understand why it persists in the present.
Our Lives in Their Portfolios: Why Asset Managers Own the World
By Brett Christophers
Banks have taken a backseat since the global financial crisis over a decade ago. Today, our new financial masters are asset managers, like Blackstone and BlackRock. And they don’t just own financial assets.
The roads we drive on; the pipes that supply our drinking water; the farmland that provides our food; energy systems for electricity and heat; hospitals, schools, and even the homes in which many of us live-all now swell asset managers’ bulging investment portfolios.
As the owners of more and more of the basic building blocks of everyday life, asset managers shape the lives of each and every one of us in profound and disturbing ways. In this eye-opening follow-up to Rentier Capitalism, Brett Christophers peels back the veil on “”asset manager society.””
Asset managers, he shows, are unlike traditional owners of housing and other essential infrastructure. Buying and selling these life-supporting assets at a dizzying pace, the crux of their business model is not long-term investment and careful custodianship but making quick profits for themselves and the investors that back them.
In asset manager society, the natural and built environments that sustain us become one more vehicle for siphoning money from the many to the few.
We Need to Talk About Inflation: 14 Urgent Lessons from the Last 2,000 Years
By Stephen D. King
A myth-busting explanation of inflation, the desperate gullibility of central bankers and finance ministers—and our abject failure to learn from history
From investors and monetary authorities to governments and policy makers, almost everyone had assumed inflation was dead and buried. But now people the world over are confronting a poisonous new economic reality and, with it, the prospect of vast and increasing wealth inequality.
How have we arrived in this situation? And what, if anything, can we do about it?
Celebrated economist Stephen D. King—one of the few to warn ahead of time about the latest inflationary upheaval—identifies key lessons from the history of inflation that policy makers chose not to heed. From ancient Rome through the American Civil War and up to the asset bubbles of today, inflation stems from policy error, sovereign greed, and a collective loss of faith in currencies.
We Need to Talk About Inflation cuts through centuries of bad judgment and misunderstanding, offering a means to intervene now—so we can begin to tackle the political and social upheaval unleashed by inflation.
By Kashana Cauley
A single Black lawyer puts her career and personal moral code at risk when she moves in with her coffee entrepreneur boyfriend and his doomsday-prepping roommates in a novel that’s packed with tension, curiosity, humor, and wit from a writer with serious comedy credentials
In the wake of her parents’ death, Aretha, a habitually single Black lawyer, has had only one obsession in life—success—until she falls for Aaron, a coffee entrepreneur. Moving into his Brooklyn brownstone to live along with his Hurricane Sandy-traumatized, illegal-gun-stockpiling, optimized-soy-protein-eating, bunker-building roommates, Aretha finds that her dreams of making partner are slipping away, replaced by an underground world, one of selling guns and training for a doomsday that’s maybe just around the corner.
For readers of Victor LaValle’s The Changeling, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and Zakiya Harris’s The Other Black Girl, The Survivalists is a darkly humorous novel from a smart and relevant new literary voice that’s packed with tension, curiosity and wit, and unafraid to ask the questions most relevant to a new generation of Americans: Does it make sense to climb the corporate ladder? What exactly are the politics of gun ownership? And in a world where it’s nearly impossible for young people to earn enough money to afford stable housing, what does it take in order to survive?
By Rebecca F Kuang
The new book from the no. 1 New York Times and no. 2 Sunday Times bestselling author R.F. Kuang
One of TIME’s most anticipated books of 2023
‘A remarkable and incendiary novel’ WIZ WHARTON
‘Incredibly, brilliantly entertaining… What a treat’ CHARLOTTE PHILBY
Athena Liu is a literary darling. Juniper Hayward is literally nobody.
When Athena dies in a freak accident, Juniper steals her unpublished manuscript and publishes it as her own under the ambiguous name June Song.
But as evidence threatens Juniper’s stolen success, she will discover exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.
What happens next is entirely everyone else’s fault.
Our humans need coffee too! Your support is highly appreciated, thank you!