Sam Radford

December 23, 2023

My top three non-fiction books from 2023

Yesterday, I shared my three top fiction books from 2023. Today I turn to the non-fiction books that struck a chord and have stayed with me this year. 

3. WRITING FOR BUSY READERS by Todd Rogers and Jessica Lasky-Fink


I try and read a book about writing every year. Or re-read a book. One of my all-time favourite books is ON WRITING WELL by William Zinsser – I’ve read it numerous times. WRITING FOR BUSY READERS will be another I know I’ll return to. I appreciated that this is fully in tune with the realities of all the modern ways we now write, including email and social media posts. Without encouraging dumbing down, it was a good reminder to keep busy readers in mind when writing. Ultimately, the key takeaway was to always think about the reader whenever we’re writing. And to make it as easy as possible for them to engage with our words. 

2. ATTENTION SPAN by Gloria Mark


I loved listening to this. I appreciated that, for a hot topic, it was approached from a research-centric perspective. I learnt much about attention, focus, cognitive load, the impact of media and screens, and much more. It helped me reflect on how to better structure my working day to manage my cognitive load, implement more intentional rest and replenishment breaks, and re-embrace one of my intentions for 2023: to take proper lunch breaks. It also made me think a lot about the implications for my two girls. I was challenged to think through the reality that blocking apps, for example, doesn’t build any sense of agency over their own use of screens. I’m still working out what that looks like in practice, but it’s given me a lot to ponder! This would be my ‘everyone should read this’ book of the year.

1. SURRENDER by Bono


I expected to like this, I didn’t expect to love it. And I think that was in part due to choosing the audiobook version. It is by a distance, the best audiobook production I’ve ever listened to. That it was Bono reading it (and sometimes singing a capella), along with U2’s music being interspersed throughout, made it an incredible, immersive experience. His life story, U2’s journey, and his embrace of activism, all make for a brilliant and inspiring read.


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About Sam Radford

Husband, father, lover of books, writer, tech geek, sports fan, and pragmatic idealist from Sheffield, England.