Summary: I share the best books I read during 2023.

2023 was an amazing year for me in many ways. One of them was: I read a fucking lot — 33 books, or 2.75 per month! Here’s a list of the top 10 books I’d recommend, in order of priority:

1. “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson

fiction sci-fi goodreads link


This book is many, many things. Stephenson is a fucking genius.

It is a prescient technofuturist study (a cliche for Stephenson at this point) of how AIs can shape the future of education and individual empowerment.

It’s an imaginative experiment on how nanotechnology can disrupt global political order and the balance of violence.

It’s a self-referential fable, full of great advice and knowledge for youngsters.

It’s an exploration on the nature of intelligence, wisdom, and computing.

It’s a hilariously surrealist parody of our current times, full of humor and sassiness.

It’s a generously fractal monument to worldbuilding. You can dive deep and won’t be disappointed. Every name, offhanded comment, or reference makes sense either inside the book or in the real world. Give your time and undivided attention, and you’ll reap ripe rewards.

It’s the original source and foundational theoretical proposal for the concept of ‘phyles’, a new kind of social organization, later developed by David de Ugarte and studied by Vitalik Buterin, Balaji Srinivasan, and others.

It was the right book at the right time for me. I felt I was squeezing my brain to the last drop of capacity. To some, it might be a light read. To others, it may be impossible to follow. To me, it was the perfect combination of challenge and reward.

Go fucking read this book!

2. “A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market” by Edward O. Thorp

non-fiction biography finance goodreads link

I’m now officially a fan of Edward O. Thorp, inventor of blackjack card counting, the first wearable computer, and quant finance pioneer. Read his autobiography: a generous masterpiece!

This book is a chronicle of a life well-lived: a testament to the power of critical thinking and audacious ambition. Thorp’s mind is an awesome mix of raw intelligence, wisdom, and quite a bit of a rebel spirit. He’s my new patron saint of well-understood subversiveness.

This book will make you less of a boring conformist and more daring to place your bets against common non-sense.

3. “Delta-V” and “Critical Mass” by Daniel Suarez

fiction space-fi Delta-V goodreads link | Critical Mass goodreads link

In “Delta-V” and “Critical Mass,” Daniel Suarez narrates a very detailed story of deep space exploration and the origins of an out-of-earth economy. Paints a pretty compelling vision for the future of space which differs from the more mainstream Elon Musk school of Mars colonization. All the science is solid, as far as I could check. I think this book series could easily be turned into a great movie. Thanks EK for the recommendation.

4. “Rendezvous with Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke

fiction space-fi goodreads link

This is a classic SF masterpiece. A team of astronauts is sent to intercept and explore an alien starship entering the Solar System. I can’t say much more without spoilers. Extremely well-written and good in many ways. Thanks Molkavi for the recommendation.

5. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

fiction satire goodreads link

Both sad and funny as hell. Thanks Felipe for the recommendation.

6. “From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000” by Lee Kuan Yew

non-fiction history politics goodreads link

I approached this book trying to understand how the “Singapore miracle” came to be, and found it. Lee Kuan Yew is a rare kind of politician. He’s often named as one of the few benevolent dictators of history. In this book, you’ll find how a singular historical context and a brave & sharp mind can wildly exceed common sense expectations for a community’s growth. Hopeful that Milei can achieve something similar in Argentina. Can’t wait to visit Singapore next year! Thanks Balaji (I think) for the recommendation.

7. “This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life” by David Foster Wallace

non-fiction philosophy goodreads link

2023 is the year I discovered David Foster Wallace, my new favorite american writer (prev: Neil Gaiman) (yeah I know Neil Gaiman is British but he counts as american to me, given he lived most of his productive life in the US), and this essay is one of his masterpieces. You can find the speech version if you search on YouTube, and if you like it you can follow up with Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, which is also fantastic.
Next year I hope to read his epic Infinite Jest.

8. “The Hands-Off Investor: An Insider’s Guide to Investing in Passive Real Estate Syndications” by Brian Burke

non-fiction business real-estate goodreads link

This year I dipped my toes into traditional forms of investments, in an effort to (finally) diversify my portfolio. This book was a great guide in understanding how to evaluate real-estate deals. The focus is on syndications but it’ll serve quite as well if you’re looking to invest individually or with partners. By the way, book number 2, “A Man for All Markets” also contains a great guide to getting started with stock markets at the end.

9. “The One-Straw Revolution” by Masanobu Fukuoka

non-fiction agriculture philosophy goodreads link

Delicious and short. For anyone interested in farming and philosophy.

10. “Deep Learning for Coders with Fastai and PyTorch: AI Applications Without a PhD” by Jeremy Howard

non-fiction tech machine-learning goodreads link

If you’re curious about Deep Learning and already know how to code, this is the best way to get started. I did the accompanying course ( back in 2022 and finished the book in 2023, and highly recommend both. Few books and courses will survive in the age of ChatGPT, and I think this duo is one of them. It will teach you how to think like a Deep Learning practitioner, and how to navigate its ever-changing world, instead of merely techniques (which ChatGPT can easily cover). Jeremy Howard is such a great guy!

Bonus tracks: Understanding the Age of Superintelligence

I’m a die-hard techno-thriller & sci-fi fan. If you are too: here are an additional 3 books I thought gave interesting and surprising new mental models on what will happen if (when?) we create superintelligence.

11. “Diaspora” by Greg Egan

fiction sci-fi goodreads link

A mind-expanding journey beyond the singularity. Made me realize we don’t yet win the universe. A must-read for anyone who appreciates the blend of hard science with profound philosophical inquiries.

12. “Quarantine” by Greg Egan

fiction sci-fi goodreads link

Fantastic worldbuilding techno-thriller involving quantum mechanics, neural mods, and a very well developed mystery. A certain plot point works as an allegory for why superintelligence security is damn hard.

13. “Blindsight” by Peter Watts

fiction space-fi goodreads link

Mind-bending rollercoaster ride through hard sci-fi and deep philosophical themes. It takes a while to find your bearing among the cybernetic cast of characters and intriguing setting. Explores the topic of AI consciousness. Peter Watts, you have a new fan!

Bonus bis: William Gibson is a fucking legend, and I can’t leave this book out of this year’s list without hating myself forever.

14. “Neuromancer” by William Gibson

fiction sci-fi goodreads link

Easy to see how this became a classic and how it influenced other great sci-fi works like Snowcrash, Ready Player One, and Blindsight. A breath-taking techno-thriller, with fantastic worldbuilding full of mystique.

Final words

This is a 3-year tradition by now, and I love it. Happy new year to everyone reading! :)

To know more about what I read, add me on Goodreads. I’m really trying to push more people to share what they’re reading there. Consider giving it a try!

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