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2023 Reading List – Book and Graphic Novel Recommendations

  • Last modified: January, 21 2024
  • Reading time: 22 mins
  • Leia em Português

Another year ending, another list of the things I read. I am sure there is something here for you!

This year I kept track of my readings on Goodreads again. It is still the best tool I found to register my readings and also get some cool recommendations.

My Goodreads profile. Add me there!

It’s also worth checking the post with my 2022 reading list and its book and graphic novel recommendations (pt_BR). The first one on the list really changed my way of understanding Software Engineering.

How Democracies Die – Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

The book talks about the origins and consequences of American political polarization and the problems of the Trump era.

It is impossible to read the book and its various examples and not find a parallel with Brazilian politics. Maybe a little depressing, but it’s definitely one of my reading recommendations this year.

An interesting excerpt:

We should worry when a politician 1) rejects, in words or action, the democratic rules of the game, 2) denies the legitimacy of opponents, 3) tolerates or encourages violence, or 4) indicates a willingness to curtail the civil liberties of opponents, including the media.

This is not a Pipe – Michel Foucault

This book is an excellent opportunity to get to know both Foucault and the (wonderful) work of René Magritte.

I had to read it with my cell phone nearby to research the paintings, since Foucault doesn’t just focus on the pipe painting, but many others.

The book is very provocative and demands a lot from the reader. Each sentence is there for a reason, so I recommend stopping and going back when something doesn’t make much sense.

Christophe Chabouté

This year I got to know Christophe Chabouté, a FANTASTIC author of Graphic Novels (fancy name for “comic books”). A suggestion made by the (also fantastic) Mateus Dukevicz.

These are adult plots and an excellent entry point to this other way of telling stories. Last year I talked about Maus, and the same idea applies here.

Tânia, my wife, who isn’t even a big fan of graphic novels, liked them all!


Of the four books I’ve read, it’s one of the best. I’m not sure if there is an English translation of this novel though, sorry.

Although the book talks about life after death and that doesn’t necessarily align with what I believe (if I believe anything at all), the book gives a lot to think about.

It makes you feel really really sorry for the protagonist, but again, it’s an adult story and reminds us that life is difficult anyway. Despite this, the tone of the story is light. Rating 10/10.

Fortune seemed to smile on Benjamin Tartouche, until a fire took over his house and brought with it an avalanche of misfortune. Suddenly, his “perfect life” falls apart and he finds himself on the street, without family or friends, transformed into one of the many invisible people who exist on the margins of society. But, as they say, everything bad can always get worse, and, to end his run of bad luck with a “golden key”, the poor guy ends up dying in an accident. Even so, his problems are still far from over, as an important mission is passed on to his soul during his passage through PURGATORY.


Maybe as good as Purgatory, or at least a very close second position.

I like many things about this work, but the coolest is thinking about how each one of us is the result of the experiences we’ve had. How would that work for someone who had no experience at all?

On a tiny lighthouse island far from the rest of the world, a lonely hermit lives out his existence. Every week a supply boat leaves provisions, its occupants never meeting him, never asking the obvious Who are you? Why do you hide? Why do you never leave? What is it like to be so alone?

Henri Désiré Landru

Excellent for those who like murder stories. Not as deep as the others, but it’s still very interesting. I’m not sure if there is an English translation for this one too.

Based on the true story of Henri Désiré Landru, a French serial killer from the early 20th century, the book has so many interesting twists that it’s hard to stop turning the pages until you finish.

After seducing and gaining the trust of widows of soldiers killed in the war, he murdered them to keep all their money and belongings. Landru acted for years without being caught by the police and became the most talked about subject in the press at the time.


Perhaps the least interesting, the book has several very good stories, but without much connection between them.

The idea is similar to the “Night at the Museum” movie: how works of art behave when no one is looking.

What emotions and feelings can these works of art learn from human beings and which can they teach us? With his usual sensitivity and a different look at the world we live in, Chabouté delivers much more than a work about art or everyday life in a museum. It is a work of discoveries and reflections; the finiteness of life and the longevity of an artist’s career; the fundamental role of preserving memory in troubled modern times and understanding it. At the Museum, we become witnesses, spectators and apprentices of the wonderful art that is living, under the tutelage of the most unlikely teachers.

The Warlord Chronicles – Bernard Cornwell

I watched the series The Last Kingdom, but I hadn’t read anything by Bernard Cornwell yet. In fact, I tried it and didn’t like it.

Tânia read the Grail Quest series last year and told me to try again. This year I gave it another chance and I didn’t regret it!

The three books remain interesting until the end, the characters have depth and the approach to magic is excellent, always on the fine line of “it doesn’t exist, but does it…?”

Narrated by Derfel, a soldier who grows up in the army until he becomes Arthur’s best friend and advisor, the trilogy tells a more faithful story of the character, without the mythical exaggerations of other works. Arthur, in fact, was never king. He was, indeed, the bastard son of King Uther, who became the main British military leader in the 5th century. In a troubled Britain, inhabited by Christians and Druids, divided between different feudal lords and threatened by the invasion of the Saxons, Arthur emerges as a powerful and courageous warrior capable of inspiring loyalty and uniting the country. A complex personality, driven by honor, duty and passion.

Sword Steal – Michael J. Sullivan

I really like medieval fantasy. In this series (I’m reading the second book now) we found it a good read for all three family members. I highly recommend it!

This is one of those books where everything is just right: the characters are interesting, the rhythm is very good and good-humored, and the story holds you from start to finish. It’s one of those books we want to find more time to read during the day.

Some characters are a little stale, but Princess Arista’s development in the second book is noteworthy.

Rating 10/10.

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles-until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

A Lenda de Musashi – Mamoru Sasaki e Goseki Kojima

I’m not sure if there is an English translation of this manga.

I don’t know anything about Japanese history and I confess that I don’t remember having heard of Musashi before reading the manga.

The story is very interesting, but the manga itself is not exceptional. Make sure to take a good look before purchasing.

The legend of Miyamoto Musashi (1584 – 1645), the swordsman who combined strength, technique and cunning to conquer the title of invincible, creator of the fighting style with two swords, has been told and retold in novels, soap operas, plays, films and manga. Much is said about the period of his life that goes from his youth to his peak in the duel against Sasaki Kojiro, another fencing master… However, what was Musashi’s life like after the memorable feats of that time? What experiences, doubts and anguish transformed him to cultivate the wisdom and serenity with which he wrote the Book of Five Elements at the end of his life?

Parable of the Sower – Octavia E. Butler

Whenever I can, I read books with strong female protagonists and Parable of the Sower is one of those. And no, it is not a religious book, although it talks about a fictional religion.

One of the interesting things about the book is Lauren’s illness: a level of empathy so great that she shares physical pain. Another is how she views her relationship with God, spread out in excerpts throughout the book, like this one:

My God doesn’t love me or hate me or watch over me or know me at all, and I feel no love for or loyalty to my God. My God just is.

Although it was a great book, I read the synopsis of the second one and it didn’t interest me.

Below is the synopsis of Parable of the Sower:

When an environmental and economic crisis leads to social chaos, not even walled cities are safe. On a night of fire and death, Lauren Olamina, the young daughter of a preacher, loses her family, her home and ventures into unprotected American lands. But what begins as a flight for survival ends up leading to something much greater: a dizzying vision of human destiny.

And the birth of a new faith.

The Fifth Season – N. K. Jemisin

Another book with a strong female protagonist. Although the metaphors between the orogenes, oppressed minorities, and their ability to change the game are pretty cool, the dynamics of the world (and the book) didn’t convince me.

People say the second book changes a lot of things, but, although I don’t regret reading it, it didn’t keep me interested enough to read the rest of the series.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a place long accustomed to catastrophe, where the orogenes – those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon – are more feared than the long, cold night. And where there is no compassion.

In the Tall Grass – Stephen King and Joe Hill

I swear I try to like Stephen King, but it wasn’t this time.

This (very short) book tells the story of a couple of brothers who get lost in a tall grass area. No matter how hard they try, they can’t find each other, a really crazy thing that is only an average book: okay, but not exciting.

Copra: Round One – Michel Fiffe

Honestly, I can’t recommend Copra to anyone.

For me, it was just a slow rhythm, uninspired Suicide Squad. I read Round Two, but I got knocked out :sad-trombone: before Three.

If you really love comic books, really like a group of renegades, enjoy magic, and someone who knows you very well told you that this series is for you, I still recommend that you browse through it before buying.

Well, this was my list of books and graphic novels. And you, what did you read and what do you recommend? Leave it here in the comments and don’t forget to add me on Goodreads, I always accept recommendations!

Felipe Elia

Associate Director of Platform Engineering at 10up, WordPress Core Contributor, Global Polyglots Mentor in, and Locale Manager in the Brazilian WP Community.

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