2023 round-up

Last year I did a round-up for this site, sharing the best and worst books I summarised, how the website’s doing, and looking ahead to what 2023 might bring. I’m doing the same this year, with a few tweaks.

Let’s dive in.

Best books of 2023

Out of the books I summarised this year, my favourite 3 were (in no particular order):

The website

During 2023, I posted:

  • 21 book summaries (down 5); and
  • 22 blog posts (up 5).

I was surprised to see I posted fewer book summaries than last year, but I think the quality of my summaries generally increased. Though I’m not sure if I necessarily improved (hopefully I did), I know my bar for posting was much lower when I didn’t think anyone was reading.

Visitor numbers

This Google Analytics graph shows my weekly visitor figures. The trend is generally positive, with a recent high just under 2k weekly visitors. The two dips you see around May and July are because I updated the WordPress theme and forgot to add the Google Analytics code back in (I never said I was good at this stuff). And the most recent sharp dip is normal โ€” it just seems to take some time to update data for the latest week.

Overall, the growth is really encouraging. It doesn’t always feel that way because some days or weeks will be quieter, and you never want to go backwards. But I just looked at my 2022 roundup and saw I was getting around 300-600 visits per month back then. I now get around 7,000 visits per month. So that’s more than a 10-fold increase, and it’s just come from publishing more content, more frequently.

Email list

My email list is also growing slowly. Earlier this month, I discovered there was a list of Unconfirmed Subscribers almost as long as the Confirmed Subscribers! My list uses double opt-in, so Unconfirmed Subscribers are people who signed up but didn’t click the link in that email to confirm their subscription (possibly because it went straight to their spam).

Since I discovered that, I tried to tweak the signup-process to make it clearer you have to click that link. So far that seems to have worked in reducing the number of Unconfirmeds.

Social media

I posted a lot less on Reddit and pretty much gave up on Twitter/X. My most engaged subscribers seem to have come from Reddit, so maybe I should resume that.

My Twitter use has been terribly clumsy as I’m not a natural user of the platform. I only tweeted when I had a new post, and that’s just not how Twitter is designed to be used. I suspect Twitter’s only worth pursuing if I’m willing to regularly tweet interim thoughts and findings in between my longer-form posts. If I do pick this up in 2024, I’ll focus on making it a daily habit โ€” forcing myself to tweet something, anything, every day for 2-4 weeks and see how it goes. The idea of publicly tweeting half-baked thoughts fills me with anxiety, but it could do me some good to push past my perfectionist tendencies.


I’d been hesitant to start monetising this site because I thought my visitor and subscriber numbers were too low to be worth it, and I didn’t want to annoy the few readers I did have with ads.

But last month a subscriber reached out and told me they loved the site and asked how they could support my work. So I whipped up a “Shout me a coffee” button and they actually tipped me! Which made my day.

That also led me to put in some affiliate links for Amazon and Kobo. Amazon has strict requirements about being super clear that you may make commissions from the links (like, duh), so I had to add in some extra text. Hopefully these aren’t too intrusive. I figure most people are largely inured to these types of ads, and they might want to click through to Amazon see reviews anyway. Annoyingly, Amazon doesn’t pay anything for eBook sales. But I think I get a commission even if people click through and buy something else on Amazon (i.e. not the book I linked to), so that’s nice.

Anyway, between the affiliate links and my generous subscriber, thus far this site has made a grand total of $11.30. Which is infinitely more than in 2022, so… woohoo!

Vague goals or plans

In my 2022 round-up, I listed the following vague goals or plans for 2023:

  • Read better quality books. I think I’ve achieved this, though not by abandoning more books as I’d thought. Instead, I increased my use of book summaries to vet books. So I never even started many books with catchy titles and little substance.
  • Increase my publishing cadence, largely by increasing blog posts. My number of blog posts increased, but not my overall publishing cadence. TBH, personal life just turned out busier than I’d expected.
  • Do more, but shorter, podcast summaries. Massive fail on this as I did precisely 0. The reason was because I started listening to lighter podcasts that weren’t really worth summarising (e.g. the Tim Ferriss show or Flightless Bird), instead of more information-dense ones (e.g. 80,000 Hours or EconTalk).
  • Possibly change the WordPress theme for this site. I haven’t done this. But it was never a high priority and still isn’t. The current theme seems to work okay.

Looking ahead, my plans for this site in 2024 are even vaguer. Meaning, I don’t really have any, other than to just keep doing what I’m doing. Sometimes I worry that I’m spending so much time doing summaries, and that the time could be better doing other stuff (including other forms of writing). Especially as ChatGPT will probably eliminate the demand for book summaries quite soon. But so far I’m still enjoying it and learning a lot in the process, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing for now.

However, I am expecting a significant career change in May 2024. At that point I’ll probably do a bit of soul-searching and explore my options. It could then go either way โ€” I could end up spending more time on this site or less. Or roughly the same. Who knows. Let’s take it as it comes ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway โ€“ I wish you all a Happy New Year! Thanks heaps for following, and I look forward to seeing you next year.

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