Best Discoveries of 2023

I enjoy skimming the wrap-ups of the year and thought it would be fun to poll my Wisconsin friends and family about 2023. I asked for “best discoveries” and got a wide range, including book recommendations and goal setting. I was inspired to use the goal setting recommendation and now have 3 goals for 2024. Maybe you’ll get inspired too.

Help with setting goals: A northern Wisconsin friend recommended 50 challenges, for goal setting. The beauty of this idea is that you don’t have to do something daily. Simply keep a record until you reach 50. One of my challenges is to read 50 books in 2024. It’s a good thing Wisconsin readers made many recommendations. 

Books: Four Wisconsinites recommended the book “Lessons in Chemistry” which is also a series on Apple TV. I’ve requested it from my friendly area library. A friend from New Berlin who likes historical fiction suggested Lisa See’s “The Island Of Sea Women,” Fiona Davis’s “The Lions of Fifth Avenue,” Ann Patchett’s “The Dutch House,” and Amor Towles’s “A Gentleman in Moscow.”

A Shawano friend who likes travel endorsed Paul Theroux's “Deep South.”

Do you like friendship books? My Hayward buddy recommended these: Melissa Fu’s “Peach Spring Blossom,” Lisa See’s “Lady Tans Circle of Women,” Erin Hilderbrand’s “The Five-Star Weekend,” R. F. Kuang’s “Yellowface,” and Olivia Hawker’s “The Fire and the Ore.”

A poet friend recommended these: Jaqueline Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming,” Jasmine Warga’s “Other Words for Home,” Susan Hood and Greg Dawson’s “Alias Anna: Outwitting the Nazis,” Margarita Engle’s “Wings in the Wild,” and Padma Venkatraman’s “The Bridge Home.”

Place to purchase books: I love checking out Reedsburg’s Main Street Books because the owner, Dana, is helpful and just plain fun to talk to. Also, I bring her books I’ve finished, and she credits me so I can get new ones at no charge. Since I wanted several books as Christmas gifts and she didn’t have some of them, I bought books through a website recommended by a retired Wisconsin Dells editor. Better World Books,, offers new and used books at bargain prices and also supports literacy programs.

YouTube videos for exercise: My second “fifty challenge” is to do 50 yoga sessions most of which will be through YouTube’s “Yoga with Adriene,” I find yoga great for flexibility and overall health, and I like Adriene’s style. This goal was inspired by my Hayward friend who completed her 50 yoga workouts and is now on to pilates.

Productivity: My third “fifty challenge” involves productivity and I have a “best” tip for that. I’ve discovered by writing the next day’s “to do” list the night before, I wake up and get right to work. I also like to begin with the most dreaded task and get it over with. Then I can happily check off the others, which brightens my day.

Mood lifter: A Wisconsin Dells friend reports her best discovery is to spend time each day to enjoy quiet moments just sitting under a tree or taking a walk. She has been taking her dog for a walk at Mirror Lake where the forest bathing lifts her spirits. I agree with her.

I’ve also found spending time with youngsters improves my outlook. I was able to present to 20 6th-8th graders at the Dells’ middle school in December and felt uplifted afterward by their enthusiasm. 

Displaying pictures and awards, including those from family members, improves my spirits. My eleven-year-old grandson, Jay, received the President’s Award from “DO,” the name of his football group. The letter concludes with these words. “To me, he is everything the DO football program wants. Hard working, respectful and dedicated to his team and his craft.” My mood also lifts when I remember how, during a running competition, Jay gave up his chance of winning when he stopped to help a competitor who had fallen. He might not have finished first for that race, but he’s a true champion in my eyes.

I know you have reminders of achievements too. Display them so you can recall all you’ve achieved and all you can look forward to in the future. And now, a “Best Resonating Quote” to begin 2024.

Quote for the new year: “You’re only one thought away from changing your life.” This quote by Wayne Dyer keeps resonating in my mind and is a perfect message to begin the new year. What thought will make 2024 your best year yet?

4 Replies to “Best Discoveries of 2023”

Your post is so full of books to read and ideas for goals that are achievable in 2024. Thanks for collating this. I also have a spreadsheet with all of the books I’ve read for the year. It adds up! I also can refer to them whenever I forget a title.
Happy New year.


Wonderful thoughts! Love the book list and especially the final quote. I did jot down a few of the books and also love the idea of creating your “to do list” the night before.
Wishing you a wonderful and adventurous 2024.

Jane Govoni

This is wonderful, as I have come to expect from your writing. I am planning my 50 a bit late!


You might be planning your 50 a bit late, but I know you have many goals. Thanks for the comment, Jane.

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