>  Books   >  The 10 Best Books of 2023 (According to Me)

Winter is very much here in New England, and you know what that means…


No, not skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, or any other frigid activities. IT’S COZY SEASON! For me, the winter is best spent inside a warm room, preferably with a hot beverage and a big window, looking out at the falling snow. And a good book is the cherry on top that makes this picture of perfection complete.

Something about the closing of a year makes me want to reflect, to make lists. What worked, what didn’t, where I went, what I did, what I liked and didn’t. And today we’re reflecting on books.


I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post that one of the things I’ve been up to lately is reading. I have read more books this year, and read more consistently, than I have in a long time. I have also chosen to read “for fun” this year, rather than education, and have immersed myself in the glorious escape of (mostly good) fiction. It’s been a pleasure to dive into these stories, and for a person who is constantly writing—and let’s face it, scrolling, taking the time out to actually sit down and read has felt SO good.

Today I’m laying out my favorite books of 2023. They’re not in any order, but rather a jumble of a list of books I loved. I wrote a post back in April with my favorite books of the first quarter (All the Books I Loved (& Didn’t): Q1 Reading Roundup). A few of the books on this list were already noted there, and you should check out that previous post if allllll the recommendations to come are not enough for you.


Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you choose to buy one of these books from Amazon or Audible, you won’t pay any more, but I’ll earn a  small commission to keep this site going. Win-win-win.

If not, check your local library or independent book store. <3


Now, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Best Books of 2023

(According to me)

(They were not all published in 2023.)

“It makes you wonder. All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how.”
-Ann Patchett, Bel Canto

1. Bel Canto, Ann Patchett


This might be my favorite book of the year. I loved all of my Top 10s and this list is not in order, but there is something about Bel Canto that makes it stand out from the rest.

In Bel Canto, a terrorist group seizes a private dinner party full of diplomats, important business people, and an opera singer, resulting in a hostage situation that has enough twists and turns to keep you turning the page well past your bedtime. The siege lasts longer than expected, and the results—for both the characters and for the reader—are different than expected.

I have been on an Ann Patchett kick all year, ever since I started The Dutch House last December. Since then, I have read at least six of her books. Commonwealth, The Dutch House, and this book, Bel Canto are the easy favorites.

Bel Canto is exquisite. It is a crescendo of a novel, so brilliantly executed that it makes me want to pick it apart with a nerdy group of bookworms, debating the significance of each chapter and character even today, six months after I finished reading it. If you read one Ann Patchett novel (and trust me, you would do well to read more) then Bel Canto should be it.


Click here to buy Bel Canto on Amazon.

“Like every boy in Lee County I was raised to be a proud mule in a world that has scant use for mules.”
-Barbara Kingsolver, Demon Copperhead

2. Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver

This one won a Pulitzer Prize in 2023, so I guess I’m not the only one who liked it!

Make no mistake about it, this is not light reading. Parts of this story were depressing or hard to listen to. But the story is told in such a way that you must read on to find out what will become of our troubled main character. There are themes of addiction, poverty, the foster care system—things that are very real to so many people in the U.S. and that have such a significant impact on children, especially. (To be clear, these are problems in many places around the world. But the specific intricacies of the broken US foster care system and the opioid epidemic in Appalachia are discussed in Kingsolver’s novel.)

The story follows main character, Damon, from childhood to adulthood, from humble beginnings to hitting rock bottom, over and over again, a new low somehow always appearing. There is a lot of bad. There are also glimmers of goodness that you understand, as the reader, will be short-lived. And so you hold them tightly, savoring the light while it lasts. You root for Demon, you rail against the system, you see a train wreck in slow motion, but you cannot look away. Cannot stop reading.

This is one of my top recommended books of the year. If you don’t need all sunshine and rainbows from your reading choices, then consider diving into the excellent writing and poignant display of humanity found in Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead.


Click here to buy Demon Copperhead.

“It’s like some of us are chasing after our nightmares the way other people chase dreams.”
-Taylor Jenkins Reid, Daisy Jones & The Six

3. Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones and the Six documents a famous (fictional) 70s rock band through a series of interviews with bandmates, producers, friends, and loved ones. People have speculated that the novel is based loosely on actual band Fleetwood Mac, which I know too little about to confirm or deny. As with all rock stories, you can expect sex, drugs, and a lot of drama, not to mention music.

I was fan of Jenkins Reid’s writing in ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, and this book made me an even bigger fan of hers. The writing style of ‘Daisy Jones’ is creative, telling the tale through dozens of different perspectives so that the reader gets an array of viewpoints and opinions—leaving us to suss out whose conjecture was closer to the truth and what really happened. There is a lot of reading between the lines in Daisy Jones & The Six, which I found exciting as a reader. What is also impressive is Taylor Jenkins Reid actually wrote lyrics for all of the popular songs mentioned in the book. She easily could have phoned it in, writing just snippets of songs and singular lines throughout the text to illustrate a point. And these snippets are indeed found in the interviews, where the singers explain what this or that lyric meant. But in the back of the book, once the “story” is over, the reader turns the page to find full lyrics for a dozen songs, written by Reid as this fictional band. It is that kind of dedication and commitment to the story that makes me want to pick up another Taylor Jenkins Reid novel and see what else she’s got up her sleeve.

Daisy Jones & The Six is an easy read, a fun read, and definitely worth picking up in 2024.

Click here to read it on Amazon

“Maybe this walk was a terrible idea. Maybe I was just hungry.”
-Andrew McCarthy, Walking with Sam

4. Walking with Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain, Andrew McCarthy


This was an unexpected favorite of this year, and one of the only non-fiction books in the bunch. ‘Walking with Sam’ was given to me by a friend, just before he set off on his Camino de Santiago. I am not sure if it was the gesture of this gift, the book itself, or the fact that I read it in September, the one-year anniversary of starting my own Camino, that made me love this book. But whatever the reason, this was a warm and fuzzy treasure for me.

Walking With Sam follows author Andrew McCarthy (former teen movie star from films like Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire) and his son, Sam, across the 500-mile journey through Spain—The Camino de Santiago. A father’s attempt to bond with his son hits several bumps in the road as reality turns out to be less romantic than the idea of walking the Camino together. There are clashes and there are moments of banding together, failed plans and unexpected successes, too. And all of it is set on the Camino Frances, the most popular route of the Camino de Santiago. One of the best things about reading this book for me was the constant reminders of the Camino—Pamplona and Astorga, La Meseta and Nevarra, Sahagun and Santiago de Compostela. I could attach my own vivid memories of these places while the characters walked through them, compare our experiences, feel the trickle of warm nostalgia flowing through me.

If you are considering walking the Camino de Santiago, if you have walked the Camino de Santiago, if you know anyone who wants to walk the Camino de Santiago, give this one a read. (Is this a sign that you should consider walking the Camino de Santiago?)

Click here to buy Walking with Sam on Amazon.

“It’s like this enormous tree had just crashed through the house and I was picking up the leaves so no one would notice what had happened.”
-Ann Patchett, Commonwealth

5. Commonwealth, Ann Patchett


Another vote for Ann Patchett! Commonwealth is the story of two families, bound by an affair, spanning decades. See their ups and downs, unravel childhood secrets, and watch the unlikely alliances unfold. Then see their story stolen, spun into fictitious gold.

I’ve noticed this arrangement of novel is one that I enjoy a lot—starting young and following a character, or characters, through their lives. It was the same in Mrs. Everything, another recommendation, the same in The Dutch House, my intro to Ann Patchett. There’s something comforting about this structure.

A common refrain you’ll hear from me is that “Every life is a good story, as long you tell the story well,” and I believe it wholeheartedly. I think this is why I enjoy following a character for so long. Seeing how their very normal life will twist and turn, how their experience, though fictional, will capture my emotion and attention. How they’re teaching me and inspiring me, just by moving through the world. How we all, no matter how good, must suffer, and we all, no matter how flawed have redeeming points. How there are a million ways life could turn out. How the way it ends is not always how we want it. How, even so, things usually turn out alright, for the most part.

Commonwealth is chock full of family issues, at least one of which you will surely relate to. It wades through the age-old quandary of holding tight to secrets vs. airing dirty laundry. It also tackles the matter of who owns a story. Our lives are our own, our stories ours to tell, but are they really? Where does the line between inspiration and theft lie? Can you really blame an artist for taking what’s floating around in the world—polishing, embellishing, making it their own?

Commonwealth is great. Read it.

Click here to buy Commonwealth, in paper or audio.

“A girl named Jo once had a life / But that’s gone now; she’s only wife.”
― Jennifer Weiner, Mrs. Everything

6. Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner


This was one of the first books I read in 2023, and afterward I gave it to a friend and demanded she read it, too. She liked it so much that she ended up on a Jennifer Weiner binge, reading most of the author’s books– and recommending them to me!

Mrs. Everything is the story of sisters Jo and Bethie throughout the course of their lives. Beginning in 1950 and ending in 2022, it highlights a slice of time with significant social shifts. Topics of race, religion, sexuality, a woman’s place in the world and workforce  are all tackled with poise. This is not to mention the interpersonal issues like divorce, sexual abuse, eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, child-rearing, and frayed family relationships. If that sounds like a lot for one book, it seems perfectly reasonable when reading. It is over the span of two lifetimes, after all. How many societal changes have your mothers and grandmothers witnessed? How much have things changed from one generation to the next? How many secrets can one family hold?

The story bounces back and forth between the two sisters, changing voice chapter to chapter. For me this worked well. It allows the reader to feel connected to both story lines and feels like catching up with an old friend each time a new chapter begins.

Mrs. Everything was an unexpected win and one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Buy it, read it, share it with a friend. (Or a sister!)

Click here to buy Mrs. Everything.

“Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.”
― Shelby Van Pelt, Remarkably Bright Creatures



Remarkably Bright Creatures is a remarkably cute novel. It follows Tova, a woman in her 70s, who has lost both her husband and son, Marcellus, a Giant Pacific Octopus living in the Sowell Bay aquarium, where Tova works, and Cameron, a young man with little going for him, who might just be able to turn it all around. The book is about family, hard relationships, when to hold on and when to let go, unlikely friendships, and second chances.

Though it is, at its heart, a human story, the book does give just enough information—and enough humanity—to Marcellus the Octopus, that the reader inevitably finds themselves interested in the creatures outside of the book’s pages. I became ever so slightly obsessed with octopuses while reading Van Pelt’s book. I searched for documentaries, and watched videos on Youtube. I found myself telling little factoids to people in my life “Do you know an octopus has three hearts?” “Did you know Octopuses are super smart, can problem-solve, and have excellent long-term memory?

Six chapters in and I’m a wannabe octopus expert.

I loved the evolution of the relationships in this novel, hearing more of Tova’s back story, seeing Cameron’s progression– though I confess I couldn’t stand him for most of the book. There were a few threads I would have liked to tug on that the author didn’t tie up as much as I would have liked: Tova’s brother, the woman on the pier. But overall the book was solid and enjoyable to read. It is classified as literary fiction which brings forth images of the “Great American Novel” and difficult prose. This book is not that. The prose is simple in the best way possible, the characters are endearing, and it was easy to suspend my disbelief when Marcellus the octopus narrated. (Also, the quality of the audio version was excellent.)

Remarkably Bright Creatures was one of my favorite books of the year. It may not go down in history as a “Great American novel”, but it was so enjoyable to read.


Buy it on Amazon

“Is there anything better than iced coffee and a bookstore on a sunny day? I mean, aside from hot coffee and a bookstore on a rainy day.”
― Emily Henry, Book Lovers

8. Book Lovers, Emily Henry


Was it cheesy? A little. Did I love it? A lot.

I read Henry’s hit book ‘People We Meet On Vacation’ in the beginning of the year and followed it up with ‘Book Lovers’ this summer. I don’t know which one I liked more, but this one is of more recent memory, and the other was already highlighted in my Reading Roundup post from last spring.

Having read two of Henry’s books now, I feel like I have a good understanding of the story structure she uses and could probably predict the way the next book would go. There is definitely a formula working here. But the thing is, it’s working. The novels are spunky, cute, romantic, and fun. The characters are complex and endearing, and her dialogue is quick and clever. You will not be bored reading an Emily Henry novel.

Book Lovers follows Nora Stephens, a boss bitch NYC literary agent  with no time for nonsense, to a small North Carolina town where she reluctantly agreed to spend the week on a girls’ trip with her sister. In a turn of coincidence, she runs into none other than her Literary World arch nemesis, Charlie Lastra, while in town. What are the odds? Hijinx ensue, sparks fly, and secrets are revealed.

This book is about stories—namely, the ones we’ve written about ourselves. Our characters, throughout Book Lovers, are forced to question long-held beliefs about who they are and what they want. And is there anything more human than that?

I can’t deny it, Book Lovers gets a little Hallmark at some point in the novel, but don’t hold that against it. Take it for what it is (“A Rom-Com Lover’s Dream”, according to Taylor Jenkins Reid, and “Schitt’s Creek for Book Nerds”, said Casey Mquiston) and have some fun.

Click here to buy Book Lovers.

“You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature”
― Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

9. The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller


This book was published in 2011, so I was late to the party reading it in 2023. And if you still haven’t read it, you’d better get a move on. While you’re at it, do a Miller 2-for-1 and also read Circe.

Most of you have heard of Achilles in some capacity—the hero from Greek mythology, a fierce fighter, who dies tragically, against all odds, from the one little spot on his body left unprotected—his heel. He’s the reason we call the tendon on the back of our ankle “Achilles.”

Miller’s version tells of Achilles’ life, from childhood, to hero-hood, from the perspective of Patroclus, his closest companion. She does a wonderful job of humanizing heroic figures and even the gods. The great Odysseus of ‘The Odyssey’ and ‘The Iliad’, is portrayed as clever, cunning, not fully trustworthy. Achilles begins not as a boastful hero, thirsty for war and blood, but a thoughtful young man with a weight on his shoulders. He carries the pressure to become the greatest fighter Greece has ever produced, a prophecy which everyone knows, and from which there is no hiding. War changes a man, even when he is half god, and we get to see the protagonist we love change is ways we didn’t expect– maybe don’t like. Hard choices are made between honor and morality, life and death, love or reputation.

I felt emotionally invested in The Song of Achilles throughout the course of reading it and even after it ended. This author is so competent at what she does, it seems like these are the true stories, and every other interpretation must be wrong. I’m calling Miller the Queen of the Greeks.

Buy The Song of Achilles on Amazon.

“Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was?”
― Ann Patchett, The Dutch House

10. The Dutch House, Ann Patchett


I began this book last December and finished in the early days of 2023. It was remarkable and set the scene for what would be a year full of beautiful, intricate stories. The Dutch House is another book I’ve talked about before, but even after all the books I read afterward, it has remained one of my favorites– of the year, of Ann Patchett’s work, maybe in some top list of favorite books ever.


The Dutch House is about a brother and sister, Danny & Maeve, abandoned by their mother, and being raised by their austere father in the lavish, museum-like Dutch house outside of Philadelphia. A stepmother enters the picture and, eventually, the children, once wealthy with servants and caretakers, find themselves on their own, struggling to make ends meet, no one but each other to rely on.

We see the sacrifices Maeve makes for Danny, the pressure he is placed under as result, and how neither can outrun their past for good. The story stretches into adulthood and we see the effects of the past lingering within the two functioning, outwardly successful adults. (It is an ad for therapy if I ever saw one.)

The Dutch House does a brilliant job of shining light into the nuance of people. Who is fully bad? And who is all good? Not a single one of us. Patchett shows us the humanity of the characters we hate, and it honestly annoyed me at times. But isn’t that real life? Admitting there are glimmers of decency in even the worst of us.

Perhaps it is the strain I feel from my frayed relationship with my own brother that made me so invested in this book and the siblings’ bond. Perhaps it is because I was listening in the winter, while I took down Christmas decorations, organizing glass bulbs of memories, tucking them away, tidying up the cheer and warmth for normal, clean surfaces. Maybe it is that Patchett is a genius, or maybe it was Tom Hanks’ narration. Whatever it was, The Dutch House got me. I hope you will give it a try.

Click here to read The Dutch House.


“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”
― V. E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

11. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V.E. Schwab

This one is a bonus because I read it in the fall of 2022, before the holidays. I never made a reading list in 2022, so I haven’t had the chance to hype this book, but it is one of my biggest book recommendations OF ALL TIME. People, I LOVED this book. So, so much.


Addie, our main character is born in a tiny, rural village in France in the 1691. As she grows into a young woman, she understands that there is a wider world outside of her own, and how much of it she’ll never get to see. In a desperate attempt to avoid her arranged marriage and to reclaim her life as her own, she makes a Faustian bargain—she sells her soul. Everything comes with a price, you know. And for Addie, who has been granted eternal life, all her own, the downside is that no one will ever remember her. Her name will not be said or written, not by her or anyone else. And the people she encounters will forget she existed once she’s out of sight. She will spend her many, many lifetimes as a phantom, a dream, a muse.

Until one day, centuries later, on a day like any other, someone remembers her.

Untangling the “why” of this is part of the novel, of course, and will lead you to the climax you’re hoping for, and a finish that is a satisfying twist. But plot points aside, this novel was a joy to walk through. Do not speed read this book. Meander through Paris in the 1700s, London and Italy in the 1800s. Visit New York and New Orleans, roam through wars and uprisings and cultural shifts. Meet philosophers, musicians, artists, and the devil himself. Reading this book is like going out with your best friend, it is like scrolling through your best memories. It just feels good.

You’ll have to suspend your disbelief for the fantastical plot, but with Schwab’s impeccable writing, it’s very easy to do.

Travel lovers, read this book. Independent women, read this book. Romance readers, read this book. Longing for something more? Read this book. Ever felt restless? Read this book. Hard decisions? Read this book. Like history? Read this book. Philosophy? Read it. Like flawed characters? Read this book. Please, please read this book!


Click here to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (and thank me later!)

Honorable Mentions

(Other Favorites)


Oh, you thought I’d pick just ten favorites? LOL. I had to narrow it down somehow and give you all a solid list of the best of the best. But there were SO many good books this year that narrowing down and picking only ten was hard work. The above books stole my heart, but if you’ve read them already, if they’re not your genre, or if you’re looking for something else, then try one of the following recommendations. It will also be a literary delight.

Here are some of the other books that I read and realllly enjoyed this year:

The Porcelain Moon: A novel of France, The Great War, and Forbidden Love, Janie Chang
Daughter of Fortune, Isabel Allende
People We Meet on Vacation, Emily Henry
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
These Precious Days: Essays, Ann Patchett
*Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus
*The Seed Keeper, Diane Wilson


*These two I haven’t finished reading yet. Who knows, maybe they’ll make next year’s Top 10!

Just a girl, reading on a train, hoping to escape reality.

And there you have it folks, my favorite books of 2023 (and beyond). I hope this list serves you well if you’re just finishing a book and need a new one or are updating your “To Read” list for 2024. It was certainly a fun walk down memory lane for me.

If you have book recommendations, don’t be stingy. Share them with the class! I would love to hear everyone else’s favorites of 2023. (Also, I’d love to hear the ones you hated or didn’t live up to the hype.)

I’ll be back soon with more UK content, reflections on a year chock-full of travel (And emotions, ew), and TWO big 2024 surprises.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope to have you back again.

Stay warm out there!

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  • Jim Hope

    December 14, 2023

    I’m so glad to be your friend, since I cannot be one of your bit***s. Thanks for the book rec’s. Glad Andrew McCarthy made the list. I love that book, but nothing like the Camino experience. Keed doing what you do so well!

  • December 15, 2023

    I fell in love with Amn Patchet too this year! Read Tom Lake next!!


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