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  • Writer's pictureCajvanean C. Alexandru

Reflections on My Reading Journey: A Year of Turning Pages in 2023

How do you pick the books you end up reading? Believe me or not, I picked some for their cover. I'm a designer after all. As can be expected, not all the books I've read in 2023 are published in 2023 as well.

Book Covers Mix

I used to tell myself that if I don't finish the book I am reading, it doesn't count. I even went so further of not allowing myself to start another book if I haven't finished one before. Seneca seems to agree with this. Well, not me, at least not anymore. Nowadays, I read a couple of books at a time, I alternate them and if I don't like a book even after I read half of it, I just stop reading it.

Of all the books I read last year, a few really touched me. Inspirational, painful, heartbreaking and hopeful are some of words that I use to describe these gorgeous writings. This doesn't mean that if you read them, you will find them as beautiful as I did, or maybe you will. I hope.

Franz Kafka Letter to the Father Book Cover

Letter to the Father

F. Kafka

I found it beautiful and heartbreaking. A man who has gathered all the frustration for not being able to live up to his father's expectation, writes him a letter. Reading the book made me realize that I'm both the father and the son towards myself and towards people around me. While the father never got to read the letter, I'm glad I did. Shout out to my sister for recommending this book to me!

“A man doesn’t need to fly to the sun, he need only find a patch of clean earth, and crawl there, and let the sun shine on him.”

Franz Kafka is quite a writer. I wasn't particularly fond of him, but this letter was a gorgeous piece of writing. I saw that he wrote quite a few love letters as well, which I'm definitely going to read. 

Rick Rubin The Creative Act: A way of being book cover

The Creative Act: A Way of Being

Rick Rubin

Because it was an audiobook, this book felt quite meditative. I heard it while drawing and painting, and I felt like I was at a therapy session. Ideas mentioned in this book might set you free on your creative path and wash away some of the bias you build up.  

“If you have an idea you’re excited about and you don’t bring it to life, it’s not uncommon for the idea to find its voice through another maker. This isn’t because the other artist stole your idea, but because the idea’s time has come.”

If you like Alan Watts, or if you are simply an artist who lacks a bit of motivation to get it going, this is definitely for you.

Jon Contino Brand by Hand Book Cover

Brand by Hand: Blisters, Calluses, and Clients: A Life in Design

Jon Contino

This book has a foreword and in between those words I found myself. I've been hand drawing all the design work I did since I started my career but never put it out there for the show. Inspired by this book, I'm now confident and motivated to share my work and the process behind the scenes.

I watched his course to see the man in action. A really beautiful class, more suited for designers who kick-start their career, but entertaining even for the more advanced designers like myself.

Yeonmi Park In Order to Live Book Cover

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom

Yeonmi Park

Haunting, outrageous and a remarkable book, but what's even more remarkable is the author. The resilience this young girl has while trying to escape North Korea is utterly stunning. Everything hurts when you read her story but you need to keep a small beacon of hope inside your hearth. She IS the definition of 'if you walk through hell, keep walking'.

“I couldn't imagine it was possible for something so beautiful to exist in the same world as me.”

You read the stories you hear the tales of what people have been through when there were wars and communism and you say to yourself "that can't happen in our modern wold". We couldn't be more in the wrong.

Irvin D. Yalom and Marilyn Yalom A Matter of Life and Death Book Cover

A Matter of Life and Death

Irvin D. Yalom, Marilyn Yalom

I'm not crying, you're crying. A book filled with pain as well as hope, joy and beauty. A journal wrote by a couple where one struggles with a terminal illness and the other struggles with grief. This book has psychology, philosophy, sociology, biology and everything in between.

“There is something comforting about a stone marked, presumably for eternity, with the name of your loved one.”

Spoiler alert: In the audio book version there are two narrators one for Irvin and one for Marilyn. I really started to miss the female voice after a while and the loneliness that sets in is almost palpable.


I also wanted to talk about Seneca's Letters from a Stoic and Austin Kleon's books but in the end I decided not to include them here because I reread these books yearly. My full list of books that I've read in 2023 can be accessed here.

What book did you loved reading in the past year? Send me your recommendations!


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