Summer Reading List 2023

Stephanie Wasylyk
6 min readAug 15, 2023

Sometimes these articles can get a little serious, so today I thought I’d write to you about one of my favourite things…books! And not just a list of “best business books of 2023” but a snapshot of what books have my attention right now. You game to join me?

I’ve always been an avid reader and a regular patron of my local library, but this year I took things to a whole new level when I started making a running list of books I want to read. Before I would just wander into a library and hope for the best, but now I’m organized and know what I want. I also make extensive use of the interlibrary loan service which makes it even more important to be organized. Currently I use Goodreads to make my list (I like that it has a catalogue of the books rather than me just writing the name, and an app), but I recently found out it’s run by Amazon and I just haven’t looked for an alternative yet. If you have one, let me know!

Reading before bed is also helping me to get better sleep (instead of watching TV right up until I shut my eyes), and I’m making it a priority to go to bed much earlier so I have time to read. If I go to bed too late I just stay up too late reading, which is obviously counter-productive when the focus is on better sleep!

Finally, I’ve been making an effort to read books by authors with different backgrounds, identities, life experiences, and perspectives, which has been making my selections much more interesting. It’s not about reading about those topics directly (race or sexuality, for example), but rather the authors just write compelling books that include their perspective on the world.

Okay, on to the books!

What I’m reading right now:

The Carbon Almanac

I was skeptical that a book like this would be interesting to me since I already know a reasonable amount about climate change, but I have learned so much more than I expected in just the first 80 pages. It’s written in short, one-page snippits so it makes it easy to pop in and out when you have a few minutes, and the book was written by over 300 contributors with extensive referencing so it’s unlike any other book on climate change that I’ve seen.

Some highlights so far have been the “day in the life of net zero emissions” which outlined what life could look like and what changes we may make, and the page about how terrible leaf blowers are for emissions. I highly recommend this book, and it will likely be making an appearance in most of my Christmas gifting this year.

By the way, when you click the link to their website follow the instructions to make Ecosia your default search engine. They plant trees when you search — how cool is that?! I just looked and I’ve been responsible for 15 trees being planted just by using it for searching.

Quietly Hostile by Samantha Irby

This book is a collection of humourous essays that also make you think maybe a little more than is comfortable. It’s legit funny and a nice light read. Because I’m reading so many things this one is a bit on the backburner, but I’m looking forward to it as a less intense summer read.

Driven to Distraction at Work by Dr. Edward M. Hallowell

I picked up this book because I thought it was going to be about helping people with ADHD manage the workplace better, but that isn’t exactly the case. His premise is actually that even people without ADD or ADHD struggle with attention in the workplace for various reasons and he walks through how to fix that. So it’s still a somewhat interesting read, but it doesn’t serve the purpose I had planned. I’ll probably write more articles on this topic in the future after I distill the information.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Finally, the fiction book on my list! Despite not being one to seek out sci-fi as a genre, it seems to be the theme of my summer fiction. This is the first in a long series recommended by a friend, so I thought I’d give it a try. I can’t resist a good series, especially one about rebellion. Set in the future while humanity is colonizing Mars, a young miner fights for equal human rights. Or at least that seems like what it’s about, since I’m only a few pages in. If it’s like The Hunger Games and Margaret Atwood’s Orax & Crake series, I’ll be happy. We shall see.

(update: I read the final 2/3 of this book in one day and loved it.)

Books I Just Finished:

These are the ones I’m most excited to share with you. There are lots I finished (or ditched part-way) that weren’t great, but these were awesome.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built and To be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Officially my new favourite fiction author. A Psalm for the Wild-Built might tie now for my favourite book of all time (with Life of Pi by Yann Martel). It’s essentially about a future where robots have built their own society, but humans are living a very lovely and peaceful existence. What I love so much is it’s a very wholesome book without a lot of suspense, and with profound dialogue about life. It’s also a great example of a book that isn’t about sexuality but includes people with various identities, normalizing them.

To be Taught, If Fortunate has a similar flavour but it’s about a team of astronauts sent out to far-away planets to look for signs of life. I know that sounds very sci-fi, and it is, but it’s sci-fi for someone who is just curious about life and likes to be swept away in imagination. Again, nothing scary or suspenseful, just a delightful exploration as normal as a mountain adventure or submarine trip.

Both books are very short, but you’ll wish they were much longer. Thankfully, A Psalm for the Wild-Built is part of a series, so there’s more to be had!

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

This book kept me up way too late many nights because it was quite gripping. A plausible near-future plot where American society blames China for many of its hardships, so even more extreme racism and public policy develop to protect Americans. A little boy’s mother leaves suddenly and he is left to navigate the world with his father, all the while trying to understand his Chinese heritage. Another book about resistance and love, and it had me hooked.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Historical fiction is my go-to genre, but I’m completely tapped out from everything war-related. This book, set in the 30’s during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression was good for a change, but wowza was it ever horrifying. It was definitely interesting and quick to read but it was not a relaxing, before bed story. And yet, it was incredible to learn more about what happened during that era and what people did to survive.

Scattered Minds by Dr. Gabor Maté

In my quest to better understand ADHD so I can help my clients more deeply, I came across this book. It has a different perspective on ADHD in that Gabor Maté believes it is not entirely genetic and can become exacerbated by trauma. He does an excellent job of going beyond the surface-level ways of managing ADHD (like “put your keys in the same place every day”) and helping the reader understand what’s really going on in the brain. That was exactly what I was looking for.

Next on My Book List:

Real Self-Care by Dr. Pooja Lakshmin

I stumbled across this book on Substack from this article which describes it like this: “Pooja doesn’t shy from the fact that it’s a self-help book. It’s just a self-help book that, you know, understands the ways white supremacy, capitalism, and sexism affect our daily realities and options.” Needless to say, that seemed interesting to me as a human AND as a coach.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

I know nothing about this book, but see above for my love of Becky Chambers. And it’s another series — yay!

Update: While I’m waiting for Real Self-Care to come in at the library I picked up Hold On to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté. It’s been on my list for awhile and I’m very interested in attachment parenting so I think it will be quite good, especially because my daughter is ready to go to school in the fall.

I hope this list leaves you with some inspiration and an insight into some of the things on my mind these days. Let me know what you think, and for sure please send me your recommendations! I’ll add them to my list.