2023: My year in books, film, and music

Reading time: 4 min read

For the seventeenth year in a row – probably the longest I've stuck at any habit, although the fact that I only have to do this once a year does make it slightly easier to sustain – it's time to collate and rate my media consumption during the last twelve months. It's become almost second nature now to update my Goodreads or Letterboxd account whenever I put down a book or finish a film; I can only hope that the Last.fm/Spotify combo has managed to track what I've been listening to anywhere near as accurately.

Any links in the lists below are to my (very occasionally updated) reviews blog.


Despite the fact that I still only really make time to read when I go to bed in the evening, I seem to have gotten through a lot of books this year, including a lot more non-fiction than I would normally pick up.


  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Becky Chambers)
  • A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Becky Chambers)
  • Treacle Walker (Alan Garner)
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Becky Chambers)
  • The Body in the Library (Agatha Christie)
  • Leviathan Wakes (James S.A. Corey)
  • Missee Lee (Arthur Ransome)
  • The Midnight Library (Matt Haig)
  • Post Office (Charles Bukowski)
  • The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (Robert A. Heinlein)
  • Worst. Person. Ever. (Douglas Coupland)
  • Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir)
  • Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes)
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers)
  • Men without Women (Ernest Hemingway)
  • The Lions of Al-Rassan (Guy Gavriel Kay)
  • This Side of Paradise (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • The Door into Summer (Robert A. Heinlein)
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog (Connie Willis)
  • Soul Music (Terry Pratchett)
  • Rivers of London (Ben Aaronovitch)
  • The Hours (Michael Cunningham)
  • The Painted Veil (W. Somerset Maugham)
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
  • Starship Troopers (Robert A. Heinlein)
  • The Bricks That Built the Houses (Kae Tempest)
  • Daemonslayer (William King)
  • The City & The City (China Miéville)
  • Will Save the Galaxy for Food (Yahtzee Croshaw)
  • To Paradise (Hanya Yanagihara)

Every year starts off with whatever I received as Christmas presents (maintaining an up-to-date Amazon wish list always pays off), but I do seem to have returned to a lot more old favourites than in previous years. Becky Chambers, Bukowksi, Heinlein and Kay were all re-reads; but I also filled in gaps by other favourite authors like Hemingway, Ransome, Coupland, Fitzgerald and Miéville. To Paradise was a huge disappointment after the brilliant A Little Life; while Project Hail Mary was excellent, reminding me of the best of Heinlein's uber-competent spacemen.


  • Dice Men: The Origin Story of Games Workshop (Ian Livingstone)
  • Fargo Rock City. A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota (Chuck Klosterman)
  • kon tiki (Thor Heyerdahl)
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Malcolm X)
  • A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away: My Fifty Years Editing Hollywood Hits (Paul Hirsch)
  • Brat: An '80s Story (Andrew McCarthy)
  • Mustaine: A Life in Metal (Dave Mustaine)
  • Consider the Lobster and Other Essays (David Foster Wallace)
  • Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (Ben Ratliff)
  • ZX Nightmares (Graeme Mason)
  • Mastering Machine Code on Your ZX Spectrum (Toni Baker)
  • Portrait of Hemingway (Lillian Ross)

Several [auto]biographies consumed this year, which isn't usually like me; the best from this list though has to be Thor Heyerdahl's famed account of his Pacific crossing by raft.


  • Reset (Peter Bagge)
  • The Bradleys (Peter Bagge)
  • The Collected Strangers in Paradise, Volume 1 (Terry Moore)
  • Firefly: Watch How I Soar (Ethan Young)
  • Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book One (Alan Moore)
  • Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book Two (Alan Moore)
  • Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book Three (Alan Moore)

More comics than last year, but almost always the same authors. I finally picked up the collected set of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, which I am currently working my way through. Strangers in Paradise sadly wasn't as good as I remember it being when I read it in the 90s.


As per usual I'm only mentioning the films that I'd never seen before.

  • Highlander
  • Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
  • Zombieland: Double Tap
  • Jumanji: The Next Level
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Slums of Beverly Hills
  • The Fabelmans
  • Donnie Brasco
  • Bullet Train
  • Cecil B. Demented
  • The Three Musketeers: D'Artagnan
  • Last Night in Soho
  • Oppenheimer
  • Barfly
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Barry Lyndon
  • The Suicide Squad
  • tick, tick...BOOM!
  • The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
  • Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
  • Polyester
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Amadeus
  • Still Alice
  • Best in Show
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
  • House of Gucci
  • The Banshees of Inisherin
  • The King's Man
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
  • Masterminds
  • The Whale
  • Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood

While I really liked a lot of the new movies I saw in 2023 – Linklater's latest animated semi-autobiography was great, the D&D film was far better than I think most people were expecting it to be, and the new Three Musketeers film was a lot of fun – last year's The Fabelmans was easily my favourite of the year.


Top artists listened to in 2023

  1. Metric
  2. The New Pornographers
  3. Radiohead
  4. boygenius
  5. R.E.M.
  6. Foo Fighters
  7. Screaming Females
  8. We Are Scientists
  9. Nirvana
  10. Samia

I don't know whether I've spent more time this year on nostalgic playlists of old favourites, but there are a lot more artists here that didn't release a new album than usual. I definitely don't remember listening to all that much Foo Fighters or Nirvana to have guessed they would make the top ten; Metric's top spot can be explained by anticipation of their concert that we went to back in February.

Top albums listened to in 2023

  1. the record - boygenius
  2. Honey - Samia
  3. Desire Pathway - Screaming Females
  4. Gigi's Recovery - The Murder Capital
  5. This Is Why - Paramore
  7. But Here We Are - Foo Fighters
  8. Lobes - We Are Scientists
  9. A Fistful of Peaches - Black Honey
  10. Formentera II - Metric

All new releases, with obviously some weighting going to those who put out LPs earlier in the year. I didn't really even like the Foo Fighters record that much, but somehow it made it into the top ten anyway.

Some notable missing entries from this list that were definitely some of my favourites in 2023 are Cloth's Secret Measure, You Never Know by Flyying Colours, and the latest Manchester Orchestra EP.

2023 picks

Favourite book: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Favourite film: The Fabelmans (2022)

Favourite album: Gigi's Recovery by The Murder Capital

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