My Favorite Books Last Year

By Tim Elmore


Each January (as a norm), I publish a list of my favorite books I read the previous year. Many of the books I read in 2023 were good, but not great. The six titles below were life-changing for me. I offer my favorites below. Enjoy.


Build the Life You Want by Arthur Brooks and Oprah Winfrey 

In 2022, my favorite book I read was From Strength to Strength by Arthur Brooks. This book (Build the Life You Want) picks up where that one left off. It is research-based and so uplifting. Oprah Winfrey inserts stories and thoughts—which are all relevant—but Arthur Brooks provides insights on how to choose your emotions and plan the lifestyle you genuinely want but didn’t think possible because we default to our current mindset and circumstances. Even after forty years in my career, this book gave me insights into better living. It’s practical and academic. 


The Cancelling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott 

In 2018, my favorite book I read that year was The Coddling of the American Mind by Jon Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. This book feels like a sequel, but it explores the damage that cancel culture has done to our critical thinking skills, relationships, fears, and hope. Greg is head of F.I.R.E. (Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression) and Rikki is a member of Gen Z. Today, cancel culture not only silences one side of an issue but causes some to withdraw into their own echo chamber. This book offers the data behind it and the solutions to the problem.


Influence by Robert Cialdini

This book was originally released in 1984 but became available in 2021 updated with new research and some upgraded case studies. Today, influence is something millions seek on social media, business leadership, and otherwise, making this topic very valuable. Bob Cialdini, PhD, provides evidence-based paths to deepen our influence and leverage it for good. He covers issues like social proof, reciprocation, authority, scarcity, consistency, unity, and commitment. If you’re looking for ideas to build your influence, personally or professionally, this a great choice.


Love + Work by Marcus Buckingham

This is the third book I’ve read by Marcus Buckingham, and I enjoy each one of them. This book plays a key role in helping you fall in love with your work. We’ve been told all our lives to “do what you love,” but the world isn’t set up to help you discover what that is. This book combines the idea of love and jobs, revealing how to choose the right role on a team or mold your existing role so that it calls out the very best of you and creates lasting change for your team, family, organization, or students. Marcus offers research and ideas that will help you love your work. 


How to Know a Person by David Brooks

I tend to enjoy books written by best-selling author David Brooks. In this one, Brooks puts his finger on our inability to know others and to be known. He says it’s one skill at the heart of every healthy person, family, or organization. Yet, we don’t do it well. All around us are people who feel invisible, misunderstood, unheard, and unknown. While Brooks isn’t a therapist, he is brilliant at providing strategies to authentically connect with others, see them, and be known as well. In our fragmented world, this book is timely and enjoyable, at least for me. 


Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey

Philip Yancy is a brilliant writer with fresh ideas in every one of his books. He is a man of faith and challenges conventional thinking, forcing readers to think fresh thoughts about faith. In this book, Yancey tells his story of being raised by a widow who paid her room and board as a Bible teacher in the 1950s. After learning the secrets of his father’s death, he ventures past the boundaries of his borrowed faith to a genuine search for truth. With his hunger for truth, Philip began to search for answers his previous worldview didn’t offer. I was refreshed in my spiritual journey as he pushed for a belief based on grace, not fear or toxic manipulation. 


Just a reminder: If you’re looking for a book to read and discuss together with your kids this year, I recommend I Can’t Wait!  52 Stories of Kids Who Changed Their World. I wrote it to offer family-inspiring stories of young people—ages 5 to 21—innovative stories of kids through history and today who stepped up to solve a problem rather than waiting until they were adults. You can find this book with discussion questions and videos at: 


My Favorite Books Last Year