Rosso’s Top Five 2023 Reads and Gift Book Ideas

By Richard Rosso | December 1, 2022

As most know from the RIA blog, books are my passion and all about gifting knowledge for the holiday season.

There’s nothing more exciting to me than to peruse used book outlets and antique stores that sell ancient reads for pennies on the dollar. Also, new book releases excite me. My reading topic interests vary. However, most tend to be business or macroeconomic trend related. 

With that:  Here are my top five reads for 2023 and gift book ideas for all the voracious readers.

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury.

On many weekends, I can be found nose-deep in dusty volumes that rot on used bookstore shelves. Or I’ll rummage through boxes in poorly-lit corners of small-town Texas antique stores in search of books written, in many instances, over 100 years ago by authors most of us never knew existed.

There are many great choices this year. The following books made the most significant impact on me, although I could share another ten titles!

My top five 2023 reads may take a while to finish. Many of the topics are heady, and the volumes are thick. However, I assure you the following selections will please and teach you a few things.

And with that, here you go:

Book one on Rosso’s top five reads for 2023 and gift book ideas list. 

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Life Force by Tony Robbins.

I’ve been reading and listening to Tony Robbins since 1989. As a broker in training making cold calls at J.T. Moran (the subject of the film Boiler Room – Vin Diesel portrayed my boss), I was discouraged that my lifetime career choice was destined to be a formidable bust.

With guidance from Tony’s cassettes and books, I decided to stick with the industry.

This book is part motivation but mostly about how artificial intelligence will dramatically change the face of preventative care and the battles against all cancers. There’s also an extensive chapter on how health-conscious consumers can benefit today from innovative preventive health procedures. Inspiring are all the innovations yet to come. Tony also includes guidance about small actions readers can initiate now to unlock the harness of healthier living.

One of my best money ideas for 2023 is to take on a health regimen, pay for and stick with it.

Whether a gym membership or increased food and lifestyle expenses, long-term investing in health has a high return on investment. Don’t feel guilty for spending on a treadmill if you’re going to use it consistently. When people cut expenses, gym memberships are always one of the top three categories on their chopping blocks. Seemingly, I add it back to the budget!

Most likely, if you’re a good steward of financial health, you’re also proactive in maintaining your financial health. A study from 2014 in the Journal of Psychological Science titled Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements by Timothy Gubler and Lamar Pierce outlines how the same underlying psychological factors drive poor physical and financial health.

This book is over 750 pages so take your time. Reread. The health innovations coming within the next decade will floor and encourage you!

The End of the World is just the Beginning – Peter Zeihan.

Book two on Rosso’s top five 2023 reads and gift ideas list is a real eye-opener.

Peter Zeihan documents the step-by-step dismantling of globalization, and the process isn’t pretty. There are clear winners and losers. Deglobalization is fraught with social unrest, displacement, worsening global weaknesses, and weakening global strengths. This will compel sovereigns to dig deeper and revisit revised models of mercantilism and even imperialism.  

The world is running out of workers; poor demographics are one of the primary drivers of long-term global stagnation. Ultimately, demographics and the aging of society is deflationary. Per Peter: We aren’t simply looking at a demographically induced economic breakdown; we are looking at the end of a half millennium of economic history. 

You may need to study the information provided multiple times (I’m on reading number three). Similar to The Fourth Turning, The End of The World makes a compelling case for a global tectonic fracture of commerce, sentiment, and social norms. The path will be problematic, but thankfully, the United States stands out as a survivor due to plenty of natural resources, including a viable Midwest that can feed the country.

Overall, deglobalization equals shrinkage. As Peter outlines, deglobalization will shrink the global whole and shatter what remains into segregated markets. Global aging is collapsing the skilled labor supply. Economic shrinkage will make everything more expensive and more complex.

Perhaps the worst aspect will be that as capital and labor supplies shrink, the projects that get funding will be those that can slim down their employment profile the most—particularly when it comes to the sort of manufacturing that would typically be outsourced to low-labor-cost locations.

How we invest, fund retirements, and define economic security will shift.

Ostensibly, financial advisors should be open to outliers that can negatively affect clients’ financial goals.

An uneasy and eye-opening read that will shift your worldview just a bit, enough to re-think how the tenets that served us well during globalization will need to change.

I consider Peter’s book the most important of Rosso’s top five 2023 Reads and gift book ideas.

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Permanent Distortion by Nomi Prins.

The Fed’s easy money cancer hit our economy in 2008. To date, the cheap money syndrome has only metastasized. Nomi is a Ken Burns-like Fed documenter. She’ll return you to the formational events that ultimately sparked economic malinvestment, greater wealth inequality, and the ongoing negative consequences of the Fed’s actions on the average worker.

In my book Random Thoughts of a Money Muse from 2012, I was concerned about how global bank policies would encourage social and civil unrest if not controlled or reversed. Sadly, international economist Nomi Prins validates my fears in her writings. The research is well-sourced and, overall, a deep-dive education into irresponsible global banking policies.

For me, an unfriendly reminder of the financial alchemy that fostered excessive risk-taking. No book outlines clearer how detached stock market performance is from the economy.  Unfortunately, the monetary distortion of our Fed and other central bank policies will resonate with us for decades, perhaps permanently.

Not My First Rodeo – Lessons From The Heartland by Kristi Noem.

Rosso’s top five 2023 reads and gift book ideas go west!

The first female governor of South Dakota, her life story is almost like a Yellowstone series back story. Raised on a ranch, Kristi Noem lost her father to a horrific grain accident leaving the family to pull together to continue the operation.  

Her personal story is one of self-responsibility, faith, and perseverance. Her leadership skills and ability to buck against mainstream bromides have led to one of the most prosperous states in the nation. She blends her past with the present to lay out the plan for South Dakota’s future.

Last, governor Kristi Noem is considered a formidable role model, especially for young women. 

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Woke, Inc: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam by Vivek Ramaswamy.

Well-sourced, insightful, and an impressive deep dive into the underlying hypocritical motivations of corporate Woke Culture. What is corporate America’s dirty little secret? Pretend as if you care about something other than profit and power precisely to gain more of each. Call it the ultimate do-good smoke screen

Vivek’s book outlines how America’s democracy and values are falling into the hands of a small group of capitalists and away from American citizens. Many corporations are involved in a  clever game of criticizing injustice, broadcasting virtue over social media, all the while reaping enormous profits for Wall Street and themselves.

For example, Wall Street now regulates itself. We see it with most ESG investing: poorer returns, higher fees, and more significant profit margins for firms like Blackrock, all with the full support of the DOL.

Many corporate giants look to divide the American people into tribes to make money. Woke, Inc. exposes how this disaster unfolded and what we can do as citizens to stop it. Vivek documents his experiences in academia and business over the last 15 years to show readers how to flank, not fight wokeness. In other words, directly fighting wokeness gets one canceled quickly. Flanking is a process to rebuild a vision for a shared American identity so powerful that it dilutes wokeism to irrelevance. 

Beware of Wokenomics!

Big business uses progressive-friendly values to deflect attention from its own monolithic pursuit of profit and power.

The strategies Vivek lays out to regain democracy aren’t easy but doable. Diversity within the brain, not in the skin or genetics, is valuable in boardrooms or cubicles. Financial success and good citizenry can be empowering when combined with diverse thoughts. Vivek is all about diversity of thought. 

The new model of capitalism Vivek exposes is a dangerous expansion of corporate power that threatens to subvert American democracy. A force where the elites make the rules behind closed doors and push them on the rest of us through moral messaging, ultimately to make a profit, not benefit citizens. 

I don’t want my values defined by clandestine meetings in the corner offices of corporate America. Do you? Vivek shows readers how companies should not use their market power to establish moral rules as they squelch out most citizens. 

I found this book informative but the most disturbing. Sadly, our once apolitical sanctuaries are crumbling, placing certain employees in economic jeopardy and ultimately ostracizing a specific class of consumers.

Are you sharing books? Not a fan

Someone asked me if I share my books – Rarely do I share books.

Frankly, I’m selfish and don’t care to risk never seeing them again, especially my highlights and notes. However, I happily purchase copies for friends who ask and gift them on birthdays and holidays!

Rosso’s top five 2023 reads and gift ideas will get you thinking.

I hope you and your lucky gift recipients enjoy and, most importantly, learn something new from them. 

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Richard Rosso, MS, CFP, CIMA is the Head of Financial Planning for RIA Advisors. He is also a contributing editor to the “Real Investment Advice” website and published author of “Random Thoughts Of A Money Muse.”  Follow Richard on Twitter
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