The best of 2023

The books that everyone was talking about this year

For some, the biggest end-of-year traditions might be holidays and hot chocolate, family and festivities, or the first snowfall and all the merriment that comes with it. Our favorite end-of-year tradition is gathering ‘round… to pore over the latest best-of book lists. It’s an opportunity to reflect on a year in publishing and, more importantly, to count just how many of the top picks made their way onto our bedside tables.

This year, we are honored to count many of our own books among the “best of the year.” Read on below, and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear about our next “best” books.

The Abundant University: Remaking Higher Education for a Digital World by Michael D. Smith
Included in Forbes’s best higher education books of 2023

“[The Abundant University] challenges many of higher education’s cherished assumptions and encourages innovations in how advanced education is delivered and to whom. The Abundant University is a provocative book that should be read by higher ed insiders and anyone else who cares about expanding the reach and the impact of higher education.”

The Age of Prediction: Algorithms, AI, and the Shifting Shadows of Risk by Igor Tulchinsky and Christopher E. Mason
Included in the Next Big Idea Club’s top 50 science books of 2023

The power of the ever-increasing tools and algorithms for prediction and their paradoxical effects on risk.

Athena Unbound: Why and How Scholarly Knowledge Should Be Free for All by Peter Baldwin
Included in Forbes’s best higher education books of 2023

“Baldwin covers the history of open access and related concepts like public domain, copyright, intellectual property rights, research funding, and knowledge creation. He discusses how to deal with the thorny differences in scientific research dissemination versus publication in the humanities and social sciences. It’s a well-written title, with plenty of wit and insight along the way.”

The Beauty of Games by Frank Lantz
Included in Polygon’s best video game books of 2023

“What I appreciate most about Lantz is how he communicates with such clarity and passion that even when I disagree with him (which I do with some frequency!) I still relish the opportunity to see the world through his eyes. Sometimes he changes my mind. Other times, I come away more resolute than ever that I’m right. But I always step away more enthusiastic about this weird collision of media we call an art form.”

The Claims of Life: A Memoir by Diana Chapman Walsh
Included in Forbes’s best higher education books of 2023

“Diana Chapman-Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College, has written an uplifting memoir titled The Claims of Life that’s as much about living a meaningful live as it is being an effective college president.”

Evolutionary Intelligence: How Technology Will Make Us Smarter by W. Russell Neuman
Included in the Next Big Idea Club’s top 50 science books of 2023

A surprising vision of how human intelligence will coevolve with digital technology and revolutionize how we think and behave.

Fascination of Science: 60 Encounters with Pioneering Researchers of Our Time by Herlinde Koelbl
Included in the Next Big Idea Club’s top 50 science books of 2023

An intimate collection of portraits of internationally renowned scientists and Nobel Prize winners, paired with interviews and personal stories.

Ghost Particle: In Search of the Elusive and Mysterious Neutrino by Alan Chodos and James Riordan
Included in the Next Big Idea Club’s top 50 science books of 2023

The dramatic history of the neutrino, from the initial suggestion that the particle was merely a desperate solution to a puzzle that threatened to undermine the field of particle physics to its modern role in illuminating the universe via neutrino telescopes.

Her Space, Her Time: How Trailblazing Women Scientists Decoded the Hidden Universe by Shohini Ghose
Included in the Next Big Idea Club’s top 50 science books of 2023

An exciting new title in the vein of Hidden Figures, which tells the inspiring stories of long-overlooked women physicists and astronomers who discovered the fundamental rules of the universe and reshaped the rules of society.

Invention and Innovation: A Brief History of Hype and Failure by Vaclav Smil
Included in Bill Gates’s Gates Notes recommended books for the holidays

“Every Smil book that I own is marked up with lots of notes that I take while reading. Invention and Innovation is no exception. Even when I disagree with him, I learn a lot from him. Smil is not the sunniest person I know, but he always strengthens my thinking.”

The Language of the Face: Stories of Its Uniquely Expressive Features by Frank Gonzalez-Crussi
Included in the Next Big Idea Club’s top 50 science books of 2023

A broad and riveting cultural history of physiognomy, exploring how the desire to divine deeper meaning from our looks has compelled humans for millennia.

More than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech by Meredith Broussard
Included in Prospect Magazine’s books of the year

“Meredith Broussard’s More Than a Glitch exposes the awful biases that are currently encoded within this future.”

On the Brink of Utopia: Reinventing Innovation to Solve the World’s Largest Problems by Thomas Ramge and Rafael Laguna de la Vera
Included in the Next Big Idea Club’s top 50 science books of 2023

A hopeful and visionary book that reimagines the roles of innovators, citizens, governments, and financial markets to foster innovation leaps that maximize the well-being of the greatest number of people.

Sentience: The Invention of Consciousness by Nicholas Humphrey
Included in the Next Big Idea Club’s top 50 science books of 2023

The story of a quest to uncover the evolutionary history of consciousness from a leading theoretical psychologist.

Shadows of Reality: A Catalogue of W.G. Sebald‘s Photographic Materials edited by Clive Scott and Nick Warr
Included in the New York Times’s best art books of 2023

“This rigorously edited volume assembles, for the first time, the author’s film negatives, slides and clippings: the hedge maze and rainy stone beaches of ‘Rings of Saturn,’ the hybrid tea kettle/alarm clock that baffles the narrator of ‘The Emigrants,’ the young boy in a white nobleman’s costume who would become the orphan Austerlitz.”

The Stuff Games Are Made Of by Pippin Barr
Included in Polygon’s best video game books of 2023

“I couldn’t wait to dig into Barr’s latest book. The Stuff Games Are Made Of sees the game designer flexing his powerful writing muscles, taking us behind the scenes of his own games to provide insights into how and why people make games.”

Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think about Animals by Christopher J. Preston
Included in the New Yorker’s list of the best books of 2023

“The occasional resurgences of animal populations in an era of mass extinction are the subject of this lively study, by a journalist and professor of environmental philosophy.”

Times Square Remade: The Dynamics of Urban Change by Lynne B. Sagalyn
Included in Architectural Record’s notable books of 2023

“Take a front-row seat to the detailed chronicle of the making, remaking, ‘ruin,’ and revival of New York’s ‘symbolic soul.’ From Times Square’s Gilded Age inception as a highbrow arts destination to its working-class takeover as a carnivalesque playground, then its decline into a destination for pornography and prostitution and the 20-year sanitization campaign that followed, Columbia University professor emerita Lynne Sagalyn doesn’t confine herself to the broad strokes of financial deals or political machinations. She emphasizes the street-level humanity that has persisted at the ‘crossroads of the world,’ throughout the fluctuations in its identity.”

The Videogame Industry Does Not Exist: Why We Should Think Beyond Commercial Game Production by Brendan Keogh
Included in Polygon’s best video game books of 2023

“With insights from over 400 developers from across the world, Keogh inspects the influence of capital on video game development and conceptualizes alternatives as first and foremost a cultural and social activity, not an economic one. It’s a book that I found, in the best ways, eager to challenge my assumptions about what it means to love and celebrate video games in the era of AAA mega-budgets.”

Sign up for our newsletter to hear more from the Press