Books I Read in 2023

Sarah McMahon
10 min readDec 4, 2023

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here].

This is not a comprehensive list.

I listen to Audible a lot, and read before bed every night. This list is comprised of some of my favorite reads from 2023. Let me know if you have any good book recommendations, or buy my most recent poetry book, Dirt Girl, here.

Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys by Joe Coulombe and Patty Civalleri ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Becoming Trader Joe explains the origin of the quirky, beloved grocery chain, and outlines the many ups and downs that went into building a sustainable business. The thing I loved most about this book

was how innovative Mr. Coulombe was in sourcing his goods, laying out the store, targeting a specific market (highly educated people with modest means), and employee retention. By questioning all aspects of the way the grocery business was run, he was able to create a powerful brand.

The Secret History by Donna Tart ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Donna Tart is one of my favorite authors. She is infamous for taking a really long time (like…a decade) to write her novels, but they are well worth the wait. The Secret History is a mystery, following an eccentric group of college students in New England, their charismatic professor, and a murder. The New York Times called it, “A remarkably powerful novel [and] a ferociously well-paced entertainment…. Forceful, cerebral, and impeccably controlled.”

The Little Friend by Donna Tart ⭐⭐⭐

Another novel by Donna Tart, but one I liked a bit less. This one is set in Alexandria, Mississippi, where, one Mother’s Day, a little boy named Robin is found hung from a tree in his parents’ backyard. The murder remains unsolved for twelve years, and Robin’s sister sets out to solve it. The book was a page turner, if a bit dark.

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama ⭐

I enjoyed Mrs. Obama’s first book, Becoming, and was excited to read her next one. However, The Light We Carry is a boring self-help dispensing the same old boring self-help advice (learn to trust yourself, build a circle of trustworthy friends, etc. “When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it.” If you’ve read one self-help…

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