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  • Writer's picturePhillip Andrew Barbb

What Books Should I Read in 2023?

Welcome book lovers!

If you don't want to read about the list and prefer a video, here is a YouTube Video recapping all the following:

As we say goodbye to the year 2022, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful books I had the pleasure of reading throughout the year. From psychology and self-help to and business motivation to death, there was a little something for everyone. I can't wait to share with you my thoughts and opinions on each of these fantastic nonfiction books. But before we dive in, I want to remind everyone that reading is not only enjoyable, but it also has numerous benefits for our mental and emotional well-being. So, let's make 2023 the year we all make reading a priority, focus on our professional and personal growth, and discover new perspectives through the words of some incredible minds.

Happy reading!

"The Art of Impossible" by Steven Kotler (@kotler.steven) First book of 2022, off to a slow start. Haha. I love a good motivational / self-help book, yet this provided something special at it was backed up with neuroscience where many other books are storytelling. So for anyone that needs a little more substance and feels like general motivational books can feel too 'hippie-dippie", this might be the book for you. I definitely appreciated the section about CREATIVES being a bit of a different breed and the difficulties of holding simultaneous conflicting ideas. I found it very thought provoking. Recommend this one. Thanks to Kevin Bartel for the recommendation.

“The Life Coaching Connection” by Steve Chandler

Book #2 of 2022: “A life of expectation is a life of disappointment. A life of trying to win the approval of others is a life of fear.” (Pg. 67) It’s important to study the topics in life that are important to us. The second we think we know everything about our career, our kids, our hobby, our spouse, our side hustle, our fitness…we fall farther and farther away from our potential greatness. Constant learning and curiosity create opportunities for advancement. If you’re interested in knowing more about how coaching can greatly impact your happiness and success, send me a DM and I’d love to explain the process and share resources with you.

“Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead” by Neil Strauss. @neil_strauss

Book 3 of 2022. Grade: A+ // Highly Recommended. Sometimes you buy a book, and it sits on your shelf for years, and that is what happened here. I bought this back in August of 2017 and didn’t pick it up until January. But I read it at the right time. It was thought-provoking, funny, insightful, entertaining, and filled with interviews of our society’s biggest entertainers like @snoopdogg, @ladygaga, @johnnycash, @motleycrue, @pinkfloyd, and there are so much of this book that stands out. Loved the recap of life lessons from all his years of interviewing celebrities: 1. Let go of the past. 2. Fame won’t make you feel any better about yourself. 3. The secret to happiness is balance. 4. Fix your issues now, because the older you get, the worse they become. 5. Deriver your self-esteem from within, not from other’s opinions. 6. Say yes to new things. 7. Live in truth. 8. Never say never. 9. Trust your instincts. 10. Be happy with what you have. 11. Everyone loves you when you’re dead.

“The Notes” by Ronald Reagan

Book 4 of 2022. Grade: B // Interesting. Bought this book after attending an FBI Exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Library @reaganlibrary40 with @xox_karli The book is a compilation of notes, quotes, speech excerpts, and passages that President Reagan collected in his personal journal over the years. As someone who does the same, I found it really cool to see what resonated with him. “Just think how happy you’d be if you lost everything you have right now, & then got it back.” — pg. 145.

“Black and White Thinking” by Kevin Dutton.

Book 5

As someone who has identified a personal common pattern of falling into “black-and-white thinking,” I found this book to be interesting, insightful, as well as concerning. Quick google search provides: Sometimes called all-or-nothing, or black and white thinking, this distortion occurs when people habitually think in extremes. When you're convinced that you're either destined for success or doomed to failure, that the people in your life are either angelic or evil, you're probably engaging in polarized thinking. I found the chapter about “Polarization of Language” to be most fascinating. If you are interested in psychology, group think, racism, law, or basically anything pertaining to “why people do what they do,” you’ll find this thought provoking and hopefully mind changing.

“All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and The Rise of an Independent Nation” by Rebecca Traister I’d give this book a B+ as it was very informative and eye opening. It also had a definite stance which at times I appreciated and other times I would just prefer facts without politics. However, it was an enjoyable and educational book and highly recommended for anyone looking to understand more about the forever changing social Norms in America. Lot of takeaways and hard to just pick one as it talks dating, sexuality, economics, politics, freedom, privilege, etc. I will say that whatever you think the “social norm of life (should be or) is” there are a lot more people you think living outside of it. Respect everyone and their journey of life. There isn’t one blueprint. And don’t worry if you are stubborn to accept other ways of life, because the bold will run you over with a smile! Haha. STOP JUDGING, SUPPORT EACH OTHER, LOVE THOSE YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, or at the very least, just get out of the way of change.

“The Ultimate Cigar Book” by Richard Carleton Hacker

7th book of 2022 Rating: B+

They say: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” And that is how I felt reading this book. I have been enjoying cigars for a handful of years now and it is definitely a hobby of mine. I have picked up a lot of knowledge over the years, however, it is just a different experience when you sit down and dedicate intentional time on a subject you are interested in. I learned while reading this book and it also reinforced the enjoyment in the hobby of cigars. So, whatever you are into and interested in, dedicate some time to learning about it and it will increase your ability to enjoy.

“The Art of Happiness” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler

Grade: A This is really a fantastic book. I enjoy reading about different perspectives and philosophies from all around the world, and this did not disappoint. One of the things I found fascinating was the difference in how The West and The East approach ‘suffering’. Short answer: the East has an acceptance of suffering which makes life easier to manage, whereas in The West, man have an “entitlement they shouldn’t suffer” which can make dealing with life’s difficulties much harder than it needs to be. Anyone looking for solid philosophy, intro to Buddhism, or development of compassionate mental toughness…highly recommended.

“Gladiators, Pirates, and Games of Trust: How Game Theory, Strategy and Probability Rule Our Lives” by again Shapira (@haim_shapira_books_music )

Book #9 of 2022

(NOTE: yes, I read shirtless, obviously) I give this book at Grade: A I have always been interested in Game Theory and this was really the first book I picked up on just that topic. While there were a lot of topics, I’ve already had some experience with, the book was informative and FUN/FUNNY in its writing making complex ideas feel digestible. It’s wild to think about all the different levels of strategic thinking that goes into understanding your opponent, yourself, and how you anticipate how your opponent understands you… “The party that’s mentally prepared to fail has a huge advantage.” Great book; I definitely recommend.

“Easy Way to Control Alcohol” by Allen Carr.

Book #10 of 2022 — GRADE: C- A close (non-alcoholic) friend recommended this book to me wanting to get my thoughts on the content. Being sober for over 14 years and an active member of AA, I did my very best to be unbiased and open-minded to the ideas in this book even if they didn’t correlate with my specific experience in sobriety. It is important to me never to knock or hate on ANYTHING which helps people better understand or work on their substance consumption, however, this book felt very lazy, lacking depth, and overly simplistic. Also, at times it was flat out condescending and “know-it-all.” The author had success with his ‘how to stop smoking’ books and seminars and it feels like he tried doing a “Find and Replace” approach with swapping out nicotine and smoking with drugs and alcohol…. Which is why I say it is lazy. This book was full of shitty and lackluster metaphors, and is peppered with way too much of the author’s opinions masquerading as facts. While there were some solid insights and perspectives, there are just way too many things wrong with this book for me ever to recommend it. As always, if you are battling with substance abuse issues or even just want to talk about your current consumption with an empathetic party who has walked in those shoes, my DM’s are always open. Love you all.

“The Wisdom of Psychopaths” by Kevin Dutton

Book #11 of 2022 - Grade: A This is my second book by Kevin Dutton, and I really enjoyed it. I was nervous it would have a lot of repetition from “Black and White Thinking,” but it was surprisingly enjoyable and had tons of great research and information. Sometimes I feel like I’m at a disadvantage being a “Johnny Rule Follower” and not having enough ruthlessness in my natural personality, however, this books had a lot of great tools and insight for better understanding extreme personalities and how to utilize things such as risk taking, fearlessness, and hyper focus in both career and life. Also, it’s fascinating to understand the psychological and physiological differences between us as human. We aren’t chemically ‘built’ the same. While I certainly am not a psychopath, there are certain personality traits I can learn to “dial up.” Highly Recommend!!! Seven Deadly Wins: 1. Ruthlessness, 2. Charm, 3. Focus, 4. Mental Toughness, 5. Fearlessness, 6. Mindfulness, and 7. Action

“Think Again” by Adam Grant.

Book #12 of 2022 - Grade: A- Let me ask you this: Since August 12, 2021 (one year ago) what opinions did you have that you have changed? If the answer is none, then maybe you should read “THINK AGAIN”. Haha. We need to be learning, growing, and investigating what we think/believe, or we risk being stagnant and massively annoying the people around us. I also enjoyed the moments of this book around the balance of HUMILITY and CONFIDENCE: “Humility is ... about being grounded—recognizing we're flawed and fallible. Confidence is a measure of how much you believe in yourself...You can be confident in your ability to achieve a goal in the future while maintaining the humility to question whether you have the right tools in the present. That’s the sweet spot …” I have already recommended this book to several people: It’s a good one. Not the best written book I’ve ever read, but the content is noteworthy, and Adam Grant is from Michigan so bonus points for that! Although, GO GREEN. Haha.

“Wired for Dating” by Stan Tatkin PsyD

Book #13 of 2022 - Grade: B- There are a lot of dating and relationship books out there, and I have been hearing more and more about “Attachment Theories” lately so I wanted to dive in. This book broke things down into people either being: 1) Anchors, 2) Islands, or 3) Waves. While the book had some decent advice, more so toward the end of the book (I enjoyed the chapter about breaking up more than many other areas … Haha), it isn’t the best relationship book I’ve ever read. If you are looking, you can probably skip this one. My go to relationship book recommendation remains “HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS” by Willard J. Hardly, Jr.

“The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm in a Busy World” by Haemin Sunim.

Book #14 of 2022 ; Grade: A- Sunim is a Zen Buddhist teacher and writer in South Korea, where his books have sold more than three million copies. I enjoyed this short book not only because of the content but the organization. The chapters are broken up into themes: Rest, Mindfulness, Passion, Relationships, Love, Life, The Future, and Spirituality. The book is mainly “thoughts / ideas / quotes” vs. long, drawn out paragraphs. As someone who often reads many research dense books, it was nice reading a ‘lighter’ approach. One of my current (and ongoing) goals is to slow down with life. Years and years of “racing and grinding and hustling” has developed into habits of desiring calm and rest without the ability to enjoy that calm and rest. So, meditation and learning ‘I do not need to sprint through life’ have been a work-in-progress. This book has great reminders and suggestions on how to truly slow down my mind and be calm. I would recommend reading this book in physical form vs. audio book as it can be a solid reference and frequently revisited. Quote: “If Jesus, Buddha, and Confucius were all alive and gathered in the same place, would they argue over who is right? Or would they respect and admire one another’s teachings? Religious conflict can often be blamed not on the founders of religions but on their fanatical followers.”

“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” by Caitlin Doughty @thegooddeath

Book #15 of 2022 Grade: A This was an interesting read by an author who had a degree in medieval history and worked at a crematory in Northern California. We have seen many changes in the way our society looks at death, and she talks at length about the way it impacts us. She does a great job of tackling the tough topic of death with excellent comedy, fascinating historical research, and brilliant forthrightness. “Sifting through an urn of cremated remains you cannot tell if a person has successes, failures, grandchildren, felonies. “FOR YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN.” If you are looking for something you probably would never pick up by chance, here is my recommendation!

“Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention” by Johann Hari @johann.hari

Book #16 of 2022 // Grade: A

Life is fast. Facebook and IG want your attention. Advertisers want your eyes. Amazon wants to know what you want before you know what you want. Alexa is always listening. It all can be so damn difficult to just be present and relax. I often feel the need to move and grow and achieve and succeed and …. and this is coming from a guy who reads all the time, tries to take breaks, focuses on mental health, and I still am fighting back against a society that wants nothing more from me than to consumer more. Consume products and content and sell my peace for a new set of clothing or shoes or car. It can be exhausting. One of the things I really loved about this book, was its talk about “CRUEL OPTIMISM” in the way we expect individuals to be able to fight back against a massive societal and cultural enemy. “…the phones we have, and the programs that run on them, were deliberately designed by the smartest people in the world to maximally grab and maximally hold our attention.” The first step in being able to combat the enemy is knowing that the enemy is real, and it exists. I highly recommend this book for parents, as well as anyone struggling with focus on the regular.”

“Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” by Dr. Lindsay Gibson (Clinical Psychologist with master’s from Central Michigan University)

Book #17 of 2022

Grade: A+ When it comes to psychology and human nature, I generally recommend “Laws of Human Nature” by Robert Greene, however, I will be shifting that recommendation now to this book. I am grateful and fortunate to have not just two, but three incredibly loving and supportive parents. Whether it was coaching little league baseball/basketball, teaching me to write speeches, encouraging me in school plays, talking with me about emotions, or supporting me during my issues regarding substance abuse, my father Chris, stepmother Andrea, and mother Margaret were/are loving and emotionally available parents. (My sister CarolAnn is incredible as well) However, when a friend of mine described her experience with reading this book and how it was helping her to understand her parents, I was intrigued. I am so happy I read it and it is now a top recommendation; here are some reasons: 1) It helps us understand our parents, and the impact their behaviors had/have on our psyche 2) It allows us to better understand our friends and significant other’s personalities, fears, and communication style based on how they were parented 3) It offers acknowledgment of red flags and warnings to parents about how our own behaviors could one day negatively impact the psyche of our children. (I found it especially interesting how being a “DRIVEN PARENT” can produce the opposite in our kids. If I must find a negative or criticism, it is simply I do not have the experience in dealing with a distant, rejecting, or self-involved parent(s). I saw some reviews online where individuals expressed feeling there wasn’t enough “What to do next…” from a healing standpoint, so I will leave that open to you. I found the book very insightful and recommend it for parents, and anyone wanting to understand more about how their parents emotional support (or lack of) has impacted them.

“The Way of Men” by Jack Donovan

Book #18 of 2022. Grade: C- There are so many better books out there, so feel comfortable in skipping this one. I found this book on a list of banned books in prison, so it piqued my interest. The author attempts to answer the question, “What is Masculinity?” While there are some interesting historical references and connections to the animal kingdom, the author paints a negative + doomsday outlook on our society as it is today and romanticizes times of war and violence. Specifically regarding Donovan, he jokes he is a “Right-Wing Sexist” which sounds more of a reference to things he had been called so he’s embracing it. However, years after writing the book did admit he was a “Angry Delivery Driver” and wished he had written some things different. This is a reminder to know some information about an author, their background, and don’t blindly accept everything they write. There was an interesting topic regarding the difference between “Being a Good Man” and “Being Good at Being a Man” … however, there are just too many other, well-researched, and unbiased books to get through before ever picking this one up. Also, the audible quality was not consistent which made it feel amateur. SKIP THIS BOOK.

“The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” by Andrew Tobias.

Book #19 of 2022. Grade: A- Tobias received his MBA from Harvard Business School, was Treasure of Democratic National Committee, and has written several books in finances, insurance, politics, and his 1973 memoir “The Best Little Boy in the World.” As for this book, it was recommended from my cousin @thomasmariospagnuolo and I really enjoyed it. It contained great information which helped me better understand financial concepts and the ever-changing stock market. Boiled down into a simple “Saved you a click”, the advice is: Invest consistently, buy index fund, pay as little fees as possible, don’t buy snake oil. Tobias advocates against the use of brokers or advisors because of the fees they charge, however, I didn’t agree with this. I have always enjoyed going to the gym, and I can do research on my own with diets and workouts, however, the confidence I gained when I hired a fitness coach made all the difference in my journey. I like having a teammate. I feel the same with my financial advisor @andymartz . Not only has he helped me a ton with the actual lifting of setting up accounts, and buying stock, it is the coaching, support, and conversations that have helped me be confident in my future. I can’t put a price on that, so that is one area I disagree with the author.

I did enjoy the book and grade it: A-. Check it out, invest your money, and build some financial confidence to enjoy life. Love you all.

“All the Reasons I Hate My 28-Year-Old Boss” by Phillip A. Barbb

Blatant self-promotion!


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