Best books of 2023

Best books of 2023 December 29, 2023

As in previous years, it’s once again time to look back at the best books I read this year. Not, as in the past, the best books that were written this year. Or the best books that one hypothetically could have read this year. Not even the best books you read this year. Just the best ones I read this year (and noted down on Goodreads, because that’s how I keep track).


Remaking the World by Andrew Wilson. (Reviewed here.)

Seven Roman Statesmen by C.W.C. Oman. This has been on my to-read shelf for years, and it’s to my shame that I took so long to get to it because it’s really, really, excellent. Yes, it has all the chronological snobbery of a British imperialist, but the insights are invaluable and the history is excellent. As just one example, taken from his observations on Tiberius Gracchus:

“No man is fit for a party leader who combines and emotional temperament, an impatience of opposition, and a complete inability to look at contested questions from his opponent’s point of view as well as his own.

No statesman has a right to pull down the constitution about the ears of the people the moment hat he finds himself checked in his designs. However bad a constitution may be, the man who upsets it, before he has arranged for anything to be put in its place, is a criminal and an anarchist, if he knows what he is doing, a mischievous madman if he does not.”

The Storm before the Storm by Michael Duncan (Reviewed here)

The Great Mortality by John Kelly. A survey of the Black Death, Kelly’s work is accessible and straight forward, and highlights the difficulties of living in a time of plague that parallel our own (Kelly wrote before Covid, so his example is that of the tsunami that hit SE Asia in 2004).


Losing our Religion by Russell Moore (reviewed here)

The Right by Matthew Continetti. A thorough history of Conservatism in the last century, this book is a must-read for conservatives and progressives alike. Continetti emphasizes the competing factions within conservatism with the populists and their ongoing temptations to demagoguery on the one hand and the academic institutionalists and their ongoing temptations to snobbish condescension on the other.

Three Philosophical Poets by George Santayana. This overview of Lucretius, Dante, and Goethe by Santayana is delightful–though two disclaimers are needed here: 1) this is my first Santayana, so it might be that all of his work is delightful and I’ve just been depriving myself; or it might be that this is exceptional and his other work is okay; or it might be that this is the worst of his book (that’s what he hints at in the introduction); 2) I’ve not read Goethe, so maybe his third chapter jumps off the rails and I just don’t know it.


Thoughts on Public Prayer by Samuel Miller (Reviewed here)

All that Jesus Commanded by John Piper. The revised edition of Piper’s older book What Jesus Demands from the World, this book is an interesting experiment where Piper walks through a host of Jesus’ commands in their Gospel context but (mostly) without reference to other passages in Scripture. This is an excellent devotional text, though I’m not sure what I think about the approach itself. Still, it’s an interesting volume and as with most things Piper, worth having on your shelf.


Godzilla vs. Power Rangers. That title kind-of tells you everything you need to know, doesn’t it? That I know of the existence of this graphic novel also shows the power and wisdom of Amazon’s algorithm, because yes, yes I do want to read that book. I mean, I don’t want to pay Amazon prices and will just check it out through the library. But still…

Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Cthulhu meets Maleficent. Or something. This is the master storyteller’s exploration of what happens when Grimm’s Fairy Tales meet Lovecraftian horrors, with a kid from our world stuck in the middle. It also has nods to Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Thief Lord (a merry go round with magic powers)

Gate To Women’s Country by Sheri Tepper (Reviewed here)

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!