My year in books, 2023

Jim Esch
9 min readJan 7, 2024

I hope you’ve had a nice holiday season. It’s time for my annual roundup of books read over the course of the year.

2023 was a bit of a disappointment. I didn’t read as much as I thought I would. Chalk that up to several unexpected disruptions and distractions over the summer and a busy, draining fall semester, when I hardly read anything that wasn’t for school.

Photo by Jelezniac Bianca on Unsplash

Although I completed only 32 books, the ratio of quality to quantity was high. Many of these books were great reading experiences. Here’s a quick rundown.

The Apocrypha, King James Version. I’ve read the Holy Bible twice, but never the Apocrypha. This checked a box for me, and plugged a gap in my knowledge of religious history.

The Art of Happiness, Epicurus, (Penguin Classics). As popular as Epicureanism was in the Ancient world, it’s surprising how little extant writings we have by the founder of the school, himself. This brief volume gives a fragmentary picture of his thought. For a more complete treatment of epicureanism, see On the Nature of Things by Lucretius.

The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. I read this electronic edition while walking on the treadmill. It’s an appalling history of a dark chapter in European history: accusations of witchcraft and devil worship in France that went hysterical and terribly violent. It reads like a…