If You Only Read 4 Non-Fiction Books in 2023, Read These

If You Only Read 4 Non-Fiction Books in 2023, Read These
Image by klimkin on Pixabay.

Readers can relate to how much struggle it is to pick one favorite book.

If you had asked me to make a list like this a year ago, I’d have stuttered and failed.

But 2022 was a year of reflection and the pursuit of self-awareness. I’ve read some incredible books that took me on life-changing journeys and have made me who I am today.

This post is a versatile compilation of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. If you’ve wondered where to find your next read, go through this list. Who knows, you might find your next favorite book here.

(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase these books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount of money — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)

1. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

Image: Goodreads

What the book is about

Machines, mathematics, physics, astronomy, linguistics, psychology. Aah, the mystical yet practical world of Artificial Intelligence.

But will this meta verse empower us to chisel a brighter future?

Or will it create a rapidly approaching doomsday with job cuts, lazy humans and emotionless robots?

Max Tegmark tumbles into this highly complex topic. On this journey, he shares his insights about AI and how it’ll unlock a broad spectrum of possibilities.

Why this book is effective

They say if you want to learn about a topic, you must learn it from the horse’s mouth. Tegmark is a professor at the esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He teaches physics and machine learning and has spent many years researching this topic. You cannot find a more informed expert than him to acquaint yourself with the world of AI.

Irrespective of whether you're an AI amateur or a novice, this book is for you.

Unlike many other AI books, the author uncomplexed this topic without diluting its authentic essence — not an easy feat to achieve.

Tegmark throws light on the multi-faceted impact of AI. Right from its influence on the job market and warfare to political systems — he's talked about them all.

If you want to upgrade your knowledge of the technology that will shape the future of humankind, this book is your pick.

My favorite quotes from Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

“It’s not our universe giving meaning to conscious beings, but conscious beings giving meaning to our universe.”
“Let’s instead define life very broadly, simply as a process that can retain its complexity and replicate.”

Get yourself a copy here.

2. Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert

Image: Goodreads

What the book is about

Melting glaciers, heat waves, surging sea levels, frequent storms — until a few decades back, these terms only appeared in horror sci-fi novels.

But unfortunately, they've now made it to our current reality.

What do we do now: Sit back and watch the world burn, or take active action to reverse the damage?

Kolbert's Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future journals groundbreaking inventions by scientists. These inventions are the last resort to save ourselves and our ecology.

From developing artificial environments for protecting the last endangered population of fishes to creating more resilient corals that can withstand fast-increasing ocean temperatures — scientists are doing everything possible to alter the ripple effects of humankind's mindless actions.

Are these steps a break-the-glass-in-case-of-emergency option?

Or these curative measures will go down the drain?

This alarming read explores the future of humans and their only planet.

Why this book is effective

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future is a gloomy travelogue of humanity's missteps. But what makes it different from other books is that it offers hope.

It inspires you to check your actions.

Kolbert says, “We're still not too late.” She wakes you up from slumber and tells you, “Listen, we cannot afford to ignore our planet's health anymore.”

She gives us a much-needed jarring call to team up with her in saving the world because no one else is coming to save us.

Overall, this book was a compelling read. The author brings the subject to life with authentic stories. Although some of her stories are not 100% fact-based, they still drive the point home.

My favorite quotes from Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert

“I was struck, and not for the first time, by how much easier it is to ruin an ecosystem than to run one.”
“The choice is not between what is and what was, but between what is and what will be, which, often enough, is nothing.”

Get yourself a copy here.

3. How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

Image: Goodreads

What the book is about

We live in times of hyper-obsessed productivity. It's appalling how our minds continually race to achieve the next big thing.

Our feeble attention becomes a victim to social media and its unruly algorithms. So much so that these virtual entities engulf our minds with thoughts like:

  • I have a solid tweet idea. Will it go viral on the bird app?
  • I’m going on holiday to Bali. How can I not live stream this time of my life?
  • Will my rags-to-riches story please the Linkedin algorithm Gods?

Aah, the vanity of social media.

But does the author want you to give everything up, turn into a hermit, and chase passivity? Or she wants you to survive in this world with a wise tinge of moderation?

Grab this book to find answers to your burning question, which swiftly turn into thought-provoking, eye-opening facts.

Why this book is effective

Odell has taught Internet art and digital/physical design at the prestigious Stanford University. She extensively understands how digital platforms use data to understand humans — ironically, not as humans but as  commodities. These platforms strategically use this data to steal our attention and alter our behavior.

Is it worth becoming a voiceless player in their wild game?

Instead, Odell urges you to take a step back — hit the pause button — disconnect. Because only when you disconnect can you truly connect and unravel the beauty of life.

She explains how it’s imperative to snooze the virtual world time and again. It reboots the mind and has a far-reaching therapeutic impact.

There isn’t a better time to grab this book, especially when the lines between our real and virtual lives quickly overlap. If you’re looking for a stimulating, ponder-worthy, and practical book, you’ve found your mate.

My favorite quotes from How to do Nothing by Jenny Odell

“I suggest that we reimagine #FOMO as #NOMO, the necessity of missing out.”
“What does it mean to construct digital worlds while the actual world is crumbling before our eyes?”

Get yourself a copy here.

4. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Image: Goodreads

What the book is about

Today’s world is engulfed with toxicity and capitalist horror.

As a feminist, what's your modus operandi to survive these times?

Do you pursue boutique fitness in the internet era like everyone else?

What's it like to get married in our gender-political age?

How do you deal with the overpowering pressure of optimizing every aspect of your life?

Trick Mirror doesn't answer these questions for you. The author doesn't want to spoon-feed you. Instead, she makes you question your innate tendencies. She earnestly enquires about your rationale behind fitting yourself in a mold.

"Is it really worth it?" she asks.

This book is like a dear friend who provokes you, challenges you, and ultimately empathizes with you. It's a hard-to-forget trip around how difficult it is to see our authentic selves in the sea of delusions.

Why this book is effective

Trick Mirror is a debut collection of nine essays by Jia Tolentino. Each essay is hyper-unique and relevant in its offering — so much so that it feels like a cheat code for navigating modern life as an adult.

What particularly stood out for me in the book is Tolentino's writing style. She weaves stories from her life and buttons them in her captivating and confident voice.

That said, she doesn't announce her hot takes here. She sure wears the critical lens of the social culture, but it doesn't sound demeaning.

If you've wanted to peek into the distortions and self-delusions that thrive due to the rapid growth of digital platforms, you'll love this book. Sometimes, the author's lecturing tone can get to you, but I still cannot recommend this book enough.

My favorite quotes from Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

“Beauty work is labelled “self-care” to make it sound progressive.”
“Striving to look carefree and happy can interfere with your ability to feel so.”

Get yourself a copy here.

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