One of life’s greatest pleasures during the season of long nights is curling up with a good book and a cup of tea, and allowing your mind to dive into a world of new ideas.
As such, I want to share a few of my favorite books from 2023.
In reflecting upon a year of reading, I see my priorities not only in how much time I could devote to reading, but in what I chose to focus my attention on.
This list represents just a small fraction of the books I read this year, and it contains both old and new publications. It is, of course, entirely subjective, but perhaps there will be something here that jumps out at you and has the potential to enhance the quality of your life in the coming year and beyond.
I’m always striving to better understand the forces that have shaped the natural world around us and this book does that on a grand scale. In it, author Dan Flores explores a deep-time history of the coexistence of animals and humans in North America. He details the astonishing bestiary that arose on the continent (saber tooth tigers! short-faced bears! giant ground sloths!) and how the arrival of humans precipitated an incredible disruption of this environment. This tome is one I’ll definitely be revisiting.
I like to think that after two decades of studying nutrition science and physical wellbeing, I’m fairly well-versed in the field; and yet, this book was eye-opening. Through his own journey to better health, the author shares the history and science of how our modern lifestyle negatively impacts our breathing, and the drastic ramifications on our physical and mental health. Practical solutions for improving our breathing, and therefore our health and longevity, are included.
This selection may seem extremely niche, but it’s representative of a genre of books I was enraptured with this year, including other titles such as Colorado 14ers Disasters and The Greatest Search and Rescue Stories Ever Told, and even Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon. There’s so much to learn from the stories of others who didn’t come home from their adventures. I find that studying these tales is not only beneficial for keeping my partners and I safe on personal trips, but also for understanding the time- and energy-intensive nature of backcountry rescue missions.
I think a lot about my own mortality. This is not due to a preoccupation with the macabre, but because, like the Stoics suggested, contemplating my own mortality encourages me to make better use of my limited time on earth. In Four Thousand Weeks, which is the number of weeks you have if you live to be 80, the author examines our fraught relationship with time. He offers thoughts on why we should think about time through the lens of our mortality rather than by searching for the perfect productivity app. This book paired well with Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention–and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari, which explores how technology is shaping the way we think and how we can reclaim our attention.
Written by one of Colorado’s most well-known guide book authors, this selection shares Gerry Roach’s mountaineering tales from the 1950s and ‘60s, along with the life and mountain lessons they revealed to him. Through personal narrative, he speaks to the transcendent experiences many of us encounter in the outdoors–a topic I never tire of. It also provides a fascinating glimpse into the early days of climbing culture in the Front Range.