At the end of the year, it’s always fun to look back on some of the best books I read. For 2023, three came to mind right away, each of them deeply informative and well written. I’ve also included economics courses by a phenomenal lecturer that I watched more than a decade ago but am still recommending to friends and family today. Just for fun, I threw in a playlist of great holiday songs from past and present, and from the U.S. and around the world.
I didn’t have time to write up a full review, but I should mention that I just watched the series All the Light We Cannot See on Netflix. I had read the book, which is amazing, sometimes an adaptation of a book you love can be disappointing. That’s not the case here—the series is just as good. The actor who plays von Rumpel, a Nazi gem hunter and the villain in the story, is especially memorable.
The Song of the Cell, by Siddhartha Mukherjee. All of us will get sick at some point. All of us will have loved ones who get sick. To understand what’s happening in those moments—and to feel optimistic that things will get better—it helps to know something about cells, the building blocks of life. Mukherjee’s latest book will give you that knowledge. He starts by explaining how life evolved from single-celled organisms, and then he shows how every human illness or consequence of aging comes down to something going wrong with the body’s cells. Mukherjee, who’s both an oncologist and a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, brings all of his skills to bear in this fantastic book.