Any time I get asked the question, “If you had a free hour, what would you do?” The answer is unquestionably “read.” I love reading. There’s nothing quite as relaxing, motivating, inspiring, calming, disconnecting, and comforting to me, and in fact, it was part of the genesis of my morning routine.
Have I talked to you about NTFM Syndrome? I was suffering from this dramatically around 2013 and 2014, when I started my morning routine. Never heard of it? It’s “No Time For Me Syndrome,” and yes, I made it up. But it was stuck in my head that because I “couldn’t” do what I love (read), my life was not my own, I was not in control, I was not creating the type of life I wanted to live. Dramatic? Maybe. But it honestly felt that way in my head.
Until I realized … I do have time to read! I just have to make it! We all have 168 hours in the week, and choosing to devote a few of those to something I love has made ALL the difference in my world. Yes, it means 4:30am wake ups. Yes, it means skipping TV and not scrolling on my phone in bed (I don’t even have my phone in the bedroom!) Yes, it means carving out 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening even when there are plenty of things I “have to” do. Those 10 minutes add up to lots and lots of books (and often, the 10 minutes turn into more!).
I’ve been reading 50 books per year for the past several years. This year, I “only” hit 46, but I’m not upset about it. The number of pages I read in my Doctorate program (which I don’t count here) far exceeds the 4-book gap. My goal for 2024 is 50 again, and I can’t wait to explore more!
For now, here are the books I read in 2023. These are divided into 3 categories: health, personal development, and business/productivity, because those are the topics I read most that are relevant here. I have rank ordered the books in each category, so #1 is my favorite from the year in that category. I hope you’ll enjoy, and let me know what YOU choose to read this year!
- The Anatomy of Anxiety: Understanding the Body’s Fear Response. As someone who was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder over two decades ago, it’s something I’ve become very familiar with managing, and something that I’ve developed many tools to help my clients manage as well. And for good reason – 33.7% of America adults will experience anxiety in their lifetimes. This book shares so much valuable information on what anxiety is (and isn’t), how we can support our bodies and minds through it, and how there can be hope to overcome it. A must-read for anyone who has felt anxious over the past few years (or ever!).
- The Age-Proof Brain: New Strategies to Improve Memory, Protect Immunity & Fight Off Dementia. I interviewed author Dr. Marc Milstein on Wellness Your Way, and was immediately struck by his gift for explaining the science of the brain so understandably. Prior to reading this book, I had 3-4 books on brain health that I recommended to clients; this one encapsulates them all and does so in a fun-to-read fashion that encourages small action steps (and we all know that small action steps lead up to big results when it comes to health!). This is a great read for anyone who cares about optimizing brain health!
- Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. Sometimes, you just need to feel like you’re not alone, that the stress you’re experiencing is real, and hard, and normal … and that you can do something about it. The Nagoski sisters artfully weave in empathy, strength, and compassion, along with incredibly helpful strategies to cope with stress and burnout. All of these, I had heard before as I had read this before, and many of these, I teach myself … but I still needed to hear them again. I couldn’t recommend this book more highly!
- The Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back. I see a lot of clients with Hashimoto’s in my 1-to-1 client practice, and this book overlaps with the protocols I give them almost exactly. I don’t think everyone with Hashimoto’s needs to go quite this far, but if you have the condition and want to learn more about it, the first 80 pages are invaluable.
- Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity. I love Peter Attia (and share a similar pre-health-career background! That consulting firm he mentions from his past? Yep, that’s where I started my career, too!). His summary of the research on longevity – living well, not just living long – is excellent, and every single person has something to gain by reading this book and implementing some of its strategies. We read the research slightly differently in terms of nutrition overall (he doesn’t feel it is as powerful in reducing disease as I do … and I have tens of thousands of studies to back me up … although I fully understand his perspective that human nutrition studies are hard to come by), statins (he seems to overlook the potential danger of having cholesterol be too low, so while I am definitely not opposed to statin use in people who need them, I wouldn’t want my cholesterol as low as he wants his), and a few other nuances, but overall, I loved reading this book and recommend it for anyone with appetite to dive into longevity research!
- Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence. The human mind is a fascinating topic, and the way our world is set up to lure us into addictions of all kinds (from food to screen time, from porn to drugs) is frightening. This book is an eye-opening exploration of our addictive tendencies and how to get around them.
- Smarter Not Harder: The Biohacker’s Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want. Although he rubs many the wrong way, it’s hard to deny that Dave Asprey has done more personal experimentation, talked to more of the world’s leading experts, and done more research and reading on biohacking topics than almost anyone else in the world. While I tend to prefer more balanced, accessible health options, I also love learning about “hacks” that can improve our longevity, energy, and resilience, and this book does a great job of summarizing the latest and greatest. From hundred-thousand-dollar machines to simple breathing tricks you can do for free, there’s something for everyone. And I’ll admit – even though I tend to be a “work harder to get results” type person, he has a pretty compelling case that sometimes the answer is to work less.
- 100 is the New 30: How Playing the Symphony of Longevity will Enable Us to Live Young for a Lifetime. I read this as an advanced copy to give an endorsement, and I really enjoyed it. I used to partner with author Dr. Jeff Gladden, the author, and very much respect his experience as a cardiologist and preventative medicine doctor, his personal health journey, and his passion for cutting-edge research. This book shares just that: the cutting edge of longevity research. It’s interesting and I loved reading it, but it’s only for the extremely dedicated; I consider myself quite “hardcore” in the health arena, and many of the things mentioned are far beyond what I would personally do.
- Unexpected: Finding Resilience through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith. If you are a practitioner dealing with people with hard-to-heal illnesses and you believe that healing will only happen with a combination of medical care and healing the soul, this is a great book. It reads more as a story of the author, a Functional Medicine MD who went through several of her own struggles (Crohn’s, cancer, mold illness, divorce, and more), rather than a scientific textbook, but it was an inspiring read that I recommend.
- The Perfect Gene Diet: Use Your Body’s Own APO E Gene to Treat High Cholesterol, Weight Problems, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s…and More. I work with a practitioner (that I respect a lot!) who swears by this book, so I wanted to give it a thorough read, and I’m glad I did. I test the ApoE gene on some of my clients who are concerned with Alzheimer’s development or genetic predisposition, and also believe that this gene tells us how well our body deals with some types of fats, toxins, cholesterol and more. However, mainly since it was written in 2010, there are several things the author writes about that have been outright disproven, especially around insulin resistance and carbohydrates. Plus, I do not believe that we can tell “the perfect diet” based on one single gene alone. Just like there is no reason to follow the Blood Type Diet (or any diet based on categorizing people into just a few groups), this is too good to be (fully) true.
- The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power. I always save books like this for the very end of the year, so this is the last one I completed in 2023. And it lived up to my expectations – it’s chock-full of incredibly powerful lessons that all of us need to hear. In fact, I wrote my 2024 affirmations solely based on statements from this book. It does read a bit like the Constitution, so if you’re looking for a 3-pages-a-minute book, this is not it, but if you’re looking to dive in, reflect, and be inspired to reach your fullest potential, I recommend it strongly.
- The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery. Author Brianna Wiest’s words go straight to the heart – she strikes an amazing balance between telling us what we need to hear and making us feel heard. We all self-sabotage in some way, and most of us want to reduce or eliminate it; this book helps us go inside and figure out what’s holding us back. Highly recommend!
- Lighter: Let Go of the Past, Connect with the Present, and Expand the Future. Our minds are incredibly powerful, and if they are stuck repeating a track of worry, self-judgment, rehashing trauma, or general negativity, it can feel impossible to escape. Author yung pueblo has an incredible way with words (almost every page had a “quotable”) that makes for easy reading, yet also offers deep reflective moments for us to explore how we can be more fully present.
- Broken (in the best possible way). I heard author Jenny Lawson on Glennon Doyle’s podcast, and her blend of hilarious humor plus poignant thoughts on mental health and the “embarrassing” things we all do that are actually so normal to the human condition made me buy the book instantly. I don’t often laugh out loud when reading books, but this one did it for me. I highly recommend if you can put up with some pretty severe sexual humor; if not, skip it.
- Life’s Golden Ticket. Told as a novel, this book holds some powerful questions for self-reflection and offers a shift in perspective, encouraging us to remember the magic of the lives we’ve been given and not take them for granted. Author Brendon Burchard is one of my favorite motivational speakers and writers; I had no idea he could write in novel form as well!
- Breathing Room: Letting Go so You Can Fully Live. If you feel as if you’re about to explode, read this book. It’s written in a relatable way that helps you realize the answer … to everything … is to slow down and let yourself breathe, even when it feels impossible. It’s perfect if you’re a Christian mom. (If you’re not a mom, or not a Christian, it still has incredible messages – I found it wonderfully relevant despite not fitting the bill perfectly!)
- Manifest: 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life. If you’re new to the idea of manifesting (or if you still think it just means to think something and then – poof! – it happens), this is a great book for you. I found it inspiring and uplifting, and I would recommend it. But if you read tons of this stuff, it’s not anything super new.
- Radical Confidence: 10 No-BS Lessons on Becoming the Hero of Your Own Life. This is a great pump-up book if you’re looking for something to encourage you to embrace who YOU are and go after what’s meaningful to YOU (no matter what anyone else, or the voice in your head, says). It’s quite casual (lots of “homie” and “frikin’” and foul language), which can either be relatable or a turn-off – you decide. Overall, an easy read with a message that I think many of us need to hear!
- 1,000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently. I love authors Marc & Angel Chernoff – their social media and books are very inspirational! This book, as its title suggests, is a collection of 1,000 little reminders for life – each just a few sentences. It would be great to use as a burst of positivity to just read 1 or 2 each day, or to read cover to cover as I did for a motivational boost.
- The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again. I have discipline for days; I work hard to hone my ability to focus and be productive … but fun? Not something I have worked to cultivate. This book teaches us why that is all wrong. If you haven’t prioritized fun in your life because it feels frivolous, I recommend this book!
- The Road Back to You. This book is all about the Enneagram, and how to use knowledge of your type to overcome your natural challenges and strengthen the best parts of you. If I had any doubts about being a 3, this book squashed them – the descriptions were eerily spot-on. I loved reading about myself (and others close to me based on their types!), but I was left wishing the book told me how to change … I know what to do, but when you’re so far stuck in your type, it’s hard to find the way out! There are strong references to Christianity, but I think the book would be applicable even if that is not your belief.
- Everyday Enlightenment: The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth. The first two gateways (Discover Your Worth: Opening to Life, and Reclaim Your Will: The Power to Change) rocked my world. I loved every aspect of reading them and found myself inspired and motivated. From there, I was left underwhelmed – to me, the health and money sections were quite elementary, and several of the other sections just didn’t hit home. But I would recommend this book just for the first two gateways!
- Bigger Better Bolder: Live the Life You Want, Not the Life You Get. If you read a lot of personal development books, there’s nothing absolutely revolutionary here. But the book is a great reminder that we need to ask for what we want in life boldly and bravely, and not fear failure.
- Stop Overthinking: 23 Techniques to Relieve Stress, Stop Negative Spirals, Declutter Your Mind, and Focus on the Present. If you know your mind gets caught in overthinking, but you don’t know what to do about it, these clearly laid out tactics might help! If, like me, you’ve studied a lot of CBT and are already quite familiar with this topic, this book will be a review – nothing new here.
- How Will You Measure Your Life? Written by a famous Harvard Business School professor, his former student, and their colleague, this book uses parallels of lessons from business to help us unpack and examine our values and priorities. Like some above on the last, if you read a lot of personal development books, there’s not much new here. But I’ll always welcome the opportunity to reflect, and this one encourages us to do that!
- Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier. This book is a series of 450 short quips that read as personal development quotes or thought starters. Some lighthearted, some poignant, but all great to make you think.
Business / Productivity
- We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power. Author Rachel Rodgers has an incredible story and weaves it artfully through the book, which reads like a combination of a novel and a personal development book but is full of tactical strategies as well. If you have a background in business, there may not be much new here, but it’s always reassuring and motivating to hear it from a woman who has had financial success while staying aligned with her preferred lifestyle and values.
- Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. If you’re new to productivity hacks and structuring your day for optimal performance, this will be mind-blowing. If you’re not, this is full of great reminders!
- Unreasonable Success and How to Achieve It: Unlocking the Nine Secrets of People Who Changed the World. This book profiles 20 people who achieved “unreasonable success” (from Marie Curie to Jeff Bezos, from Walt Disney to Victor Frankl, from Madonna to Margaret Thatcher), and the stories of challenges they overcome are fun to read. That said, I felt like I was back at McKinsey, where there is a framework for everything, and the author tried way too hard to stuff things into a framework that didn’t really add to the book, in my opinion.
Novels / Other: I read 17 “other” books, most of which were novels, but a few enneagram exploration books and others mostly unrelated to what we do at The Lyons’ Share. Always happy to chat about novels – shoot me a DM to let me know your favorite!
Want even more? Here are a few more reading lists for you to check out:
- My 2023 Reading List (what I read in 2022)
- My Top 10 all-time books on self-talk, self-care, and self-love
- My 2022 Reading List (what I read in 2021)
- My 2021 Reading List (what I read in 2020)
- My 2020 Reading List (what I read in 2019)
- What I read in 2018
Now it’s your turn! What was the best book YOU read in 2023? Which of the above are you excited to dive into?