My 2023 in review

My 2023 was an eventful year, to say the least! In March, my partner and I bought a new house. In August, we got married. In September, I started a new job. October saw a major overseas trip to Scotland and England.

This post is not intended as a full summary of these major personal events. Instead, I hope to catalog some of my more public-facing achievements of the year, as well as a few odds-and-ends.

In the publications listed below, I’ve italicized those I think to be especially significant or well-done.


It was a busy writing year for me. All told in 2023, I published in various locations 46 articles, containing somewhere in the vicinity of 70,000 words.1

The Siècle

For my history podcast, The Siècle, I released 9 episodes totalling over 50,000 words of original scripted content and lasting more than 6 hours of combined time. The episodes had a total of 398 footnotes (largely citations, some with additional commentary); the median episode had 43 footnotes.

This fall I helped make my show more professional by joining the Evergreen Podcasts network and running advertisements for the first time. In January 2024, I’ll celebrate The Siècle’s five-year anniversary.

Publications for The Siècle in 2023:

  1. Episode 32: The Congregation (January 30, 2023)
  2. Supplemental 16: Restoration Elections (March 5, 2023)
  3. Episode 33: Martignac (March 31, 2023)
  4. Supplemental 17: Béranger (May 2, 2023)
  5. Episode 34: Polignac (June 18, 2023)
  6. Episode 35: L’Économie (August 31, 2023)
  7. Supplemental 18: Bonds, French Bonds (October 2, 2023)
  8. Episode 36: Wreck of the Medusa (November 27, 2023)
  9. Episode 37: Algiers (December 8, 2023)

Minneapolis Fed

I began the year working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, which included a fair bit of behind-the-scenes programming and development, and also a four published articles containing around 4,500 words and 14 charts. Most of my writing for the Minneapolis Fed this year was part of an ongoing series analyzing the U.S. workforce through statistical data.

Publications for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in 2023:

  1. Understanding the U.S.’s aging workforce (February 27, 2023)
  2. Behind the full-time caregivers leaving the workforce (July 5, 2023)
  3. Education and the choice to be a stay-at-home parent (August 30, 2023)
  4. Taking stock of homelessness in the United States” (September 25, 2023)


In September I started a new job working as a senior data journalist for the survey company YouGov. In just over 3 exciting months at YouGov I wrote or co-wrote 31 articles while also making lots of charts and doing considerable programming development.

The 31 articles contain around 14,000 words and 109 charts. (I also created an unknown number of other YouGov charts that appeared in publications without my byline.)

Publications for YouGov in 2023:

  1. Driverless cars face skeptical U.S. public” (September 15, 2023)
  2. Americans support foreign disaster aid, but split over climate change’s role in disasters” (September 21, 2023)
  3. Biden takes 5-point lead as hypothetical 2024 election contest against Trump remains close” (September 28, 2023)
  4. How Americans label their own political identities (October 12, 2023)
  5. Americans’ support for Israel is growing amid its war with Hamas” (October 19, 2023)
  6. What surveys say about Mike Johnson and the House’s long speaker battle” (October 25, 2023)
  7. How many books Americans own — and how they organize them (October 26, 2023)
  8. Americans are growing less sympathetic to Israel as war fears grow” (October 26, 2023)
  9. What American adults say they might dress up as — and how that’s changed since they were kids” (October 31, 2023)
  10. Laws legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage nationwide are more popular than nationwide bans” (November 2, 2023)
  11. There’s mixed approval of new House Speaker Mike Johnson, whom Americans see as conservative” (November 2, 2023)
  12. Several gun control measures have majority support — including huge majorities for some” (November 3, 2023)
  13. Many Americans say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is affecting their friendships” (November 6, 2023)
  14. How’s the economy doing? For many Americans, the answer is how their party’s doing” (November 7, 2023)
  15. How Americans view the Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine wars” (November 9, 2023)
  16. How much Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war is hurting him with pro-Palestinian Democrats (November 13, 2023)
  17. How common are your kitchen utensils?” (November 15, 2023)
  18. Trump retains his big lead over other Republican presidential hopefuls” (November 16, 2023)
  19. Americans are sympathetic to labor unions in recent strikes” (November 16, 2023)
  20. Americans don’t know much about Napoleon” (November 21, 2023)
  21. The different ways Americans, Israeli Jews, and Israeli Arabs have viewed the Israel-Hamas war” (November 22, 2023)
  22. How Americans rate recent presidents and their first ladies” (November 28, 2023)
  23. Americans support ceasefires in both Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine wars” (November 29, 2023)
  24. Americans lack consensus on ideal abortion laws” (December 7, 2023)
  25. What Americans think about military aid to Ukraine” (December 11, 2023)
  26. Do you think Die Hard is a Christmas movie? That might depend on how old you are” (December 14, 2023)
  27. Liberals say the country has moved to the right; conservatives say it’s moved to the left (December 15, 2023)
  28. What Americans mean when they talk about ‘inflation’” (December 15, 2023)
  29. Whom Americans think Biden and Trump favor in the Russia-Ukraine and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts” (December 20, 2023)
  30. 54% of Americans read a book this year” (December 21, 2023)
  31. Most Americans support democracy and oppose dictatorship” (December 21, 2023)

Personal website

I don’t blog nearly as much as I used to, with much of my creative energy going to The Siècle and social media. But I think blogging is a good creative exercise and tried to do it a little bit this year.

Not counting this post, I published two blog posts this year:

  1. What is ‘Midwest’?” (August 22, 2023)
  2. Punching in: Orality makes a comeback” (September 20, 2023)

Speeches, appearances, and citations

It’s possible I’ve forgotten some appearances I made in the first half of the year, but here’s a roundup of the cases where I or my work has appeared in public this year:

  1. Citation: “Working past the traditional retirement age could be good for your health, but only if you’re rich” (Chris Farrell/Fortune, April 6, 2023)
  2. Citation: “Short Corn, Thai Food Near Me, Zoom Wave” (Walt Hickey/Numlock News, October 27, 2023)
  3. Presentation: “Louis-Philippe: The Bourbon Restoration’s Human Contingency Plan” (Intelligent Speech online, November 4, 2023)
  4. Participant: “Meeting of Experts: Methods, Tools, and Applications for Managing Changes in Geographic Area Boundaries and Bridging Breaks in Statistical Data Series” (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, November 7, 2023)
  5. Citation: “F1, Snooze Button, Knives” (Walt Hickey/Numlock News, November 16, 2023)
  6. Interview: “The political and demographic divides in kitchen-tool ownership, and more!” (Andrew Van Dam/The Washington Post, December 1, 2023)
  7. Interview: “From can openers to ricers, a look at what’s in our kitchens” (The Colin McEnroe Show, December 11, 2023)
  8. Citation: “Why 2024’s vibes are so perplexing: ‘Everybody thinks they’re losing’” (E.J. Dionne Jr./The Washington Post, December 31, 2023)

Books read

I read 30 32 books in 2023, totalling 14,531 15,514 pages. (Update: I squeezed off a 31st book at the literal last minute — finishing it at 11:58 p.m. on December 31. Also, reviewing this list the next day, I realized I had forgotten to log a book I finished!) That makes this my third-best second-best year of reading since I began tracking this systematically about a decade ago.

That includes 14 15 nonfiction books and 16 17 fiction books. My fiction reading was dominated by a dedicated project to tackle Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere series, including reading volumes I had not read before and re-reading others I hadn’t read in years.

In parentheses after each book I list how I rated it on Goodreads. (I rarely rate anything below a 3/5 because I tend not to finish those books. Three stars is either “fine” or “highly uneven”. Four stars is either “very good” or “great with a flaw”; this is probably my modal rating. Five star books are “great”.)

  1. The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, by Eugenia Cheng (nonfiction, 3/5)
  2. The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, by Andrés Reséndez (nonfiction, 5/5)
  3. Status and Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change, by W. David Marx (nonfiction, 5/5)
  4. A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (fiction, 5/5)
  5. A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine (fiction, 4/5)
  6. The Great Demarcation: The French Revolution and the Invention of Modern Property, by Rafe Blaufarb (nonfiction, 4/5)
  7. The Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language, by Mark Forsyth (nonfiction, 5/5)
  8. Tress of the Emerald Sea, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 4/5)
  9. His Majesty’s Dragon, by Naomi Novik (fiction, 4/5)
  10. Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 5/5)
  11. The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes (nonfiction, 5/5)
  12. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 5/5)
  13. Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940, by Norman Moss (nonfiction, 4/5)
  14. Age Of Pandemics (1817-1920): How they shaped India and the World, by Chinmay Tumbe (nonfiction, 3/5)
  15. The Black Tower, by Louis Bayard (fiction, 4/5)
  16. The Sunlit Man, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 4/5)
  17. George Canning, politician and statesman, by Peter Dixon (nonfiction, 3/5)
  18. Lord Grey 1764-1845, by E.A. Smith (nonfiction, 4/5)
  19. You Are What You Watch, by Walter Hickey (nonfiction, 5/5)
  20. The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 4/5)
  21. Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 5/5)
  22. Edgedancer, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 4/5)
  23. White Sand, Volume 1, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 3/5)
  24. A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?, by Kelly Weinersmith (nonfiction, 4/5)
  25. The Bronze Lie: Shattering the Myth of Spartan Warrior Supremacy, by Myke Cole (nonfiction, 4/5)
  26. Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 4/5)
  27. Dawnshard, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 4/5)
  28. Rhythm of War, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 4/5)
  29. White Sand, Volume 2, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 3/5)
  30. White Sand, Volume 3, by Brandon Sanderson (fiction, 3/5)
  31. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen (nonfiction, 3/5)
  32. The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World, by David Deutsch (nonfiction, 3/5)

My favorite nonfiction book of the year was probably Richard Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb (read after watching “Oppenheimer,” and providing lots of context to understand that movie), with an honorable mention for W. David Marx’s Status and Culture. My favorite fiction book of the year (with apologies to Brandon) was Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire.

  1. Reporting a precise figure would be somewhat pointless because all these articles contain some combination of footnotes, captions, subheds and end matter, in addition to their body text. Counting all of them would inflate the total; excluding them would not only exclude some text that probably should count but would also take much longer. I went with a quick-and-dirty estimate.