Brendan’s 2023 Top 10 Summer Reads – Put your feet up, then hit the ground running


Can you believe it is the end of the year already? That was a quick one. I think this year, I read and listened to more than I have in previous years but posted fewer book reviews. Book consumption for me is both relaxing with fiction and some biographical/special interest and educational and personal/professional development with non-fiction. So, as I have in previous years, instead of a single book review, I offer my top 10 from what I read this year. Five fiction for relaxation over the summer break, and five non-fiction that you might schedule for the new year to gear up for 2024.

Top Five Fiction

Lola in the Mirror – Trent Dalton

Set in Brisbane, Lola in the Mirror tells the story of a budding artist who is houseless but not homeless. A coming of age living on Brisbane streets with the strength of love and survival instinct. The city itself is one of the vivid characters written by Trent Dalton, another great read.

Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

I read two Virginia Woolf classics this year, but this one really proved her greatness to me. A shorter read, set in post-WWI London, it is the stream-of-consciousness style that first appealed, then a unique narrative of a day in the life that intertwines characters. The book touches on themes such as mental illness, relationships, society, and the complexity of our thoughts and beliefs.

Grimmish – Michael Winkler

Another Australian book was published by HyperWeb client Puncher & Wattmann. Grimmish is the telling of Joe Grimm, a boxer who can take an extraordinary beating and remain standing. It is an amazing, entertaining book written in an innovative style with a narrative “punch” and occasional commentary “jab”. It leaves you wondering what is real and what is fiction.

Breath – Tim Winton

My first Tim Winton did not disappoint. This book was right in my alley as it is focussed on local (to the setting) surf culture. It is the story of a teen as he grows into himself as he challenges the large surf of the south coast of WA. Through the main character, the book navigates the coming of age of friendship, sex, family, and forging an identity through testing one’s limits.

Klara & the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro

A work of science fiction, it is about Klara, and “artificial friend (AF), who is sentient and observes the complexity of her human, her relationships, and love. There are a few dramatic turns but plenty of light and food for thought in these days o the rapid development of AI.

Non Fiction

Magic Words – Jonah Berger

Another Jonah Berger, the book identifies six types of words that when used well and the right rime and place can increase your effectiveness in relationships, creativity, influence, and for me, marketing content. Psychology backed useful tools to help you leverage the power of words.

Awaken Your Genius – Ozan Varol

Another book that inspired me to take immediate action, this was helped by useful resources provided as accompanying exercises. It is the guide to sifting through what no longer serves you, discovering your first principles, escaping your limiting beliefs, and create. It offers a different and welcome challenges to traditional thinking and encourages embracing you for yourself and the things that make you different.

Radical Candor – Kim Malone Scott

An essential read for managers and leaders. This book offers a framework to being a better boss, building better relationships, and creating a business culture of effective cohesion and results. The framework is caring personally intersected with challenging directly and how, when, and to what extend to do both.

Quit – Annie Duke

I select my books to read in a random way, but this year I read three by Annie Duke. I selected Quit for this list as it is a good read to start a year with. When resetting for a new year it is important to stop and look at what activities, tasks, or indecisions that are not serving you. Reinvesting time into higher yield outcomes by making better decisions, setting more flexible goals, and maintaining a quitting awareness can set the year up for success.

Everybody Writes – Anne Handley

I have read plenty of books about content and copy writing, but this was the first one that really delved into how to write. In what will be a key resource in the year ahead, this book looks at how to write for different outcomes, digital and traditional channels, and media. It also goes into story telling and content creation, but having the fundamentals of writing including word use is most welcome. Also contains tips on AI and writing softwares.

I hope you find something of value from my top 10 list this year and enjoy some down time to recharge into a successful 2024.

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