My Favorite Books of 2023

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 31, 2024 10:20:34 AM / by Suzanne

According to my not-so-meticulous tracking, I read 284 books in 2023. Many of those were novellas and popcorn manga, but that still leaves a big crop of around 200 fiction and nonfiction books to whittle down into a tidy Best of 2023 list. As usual, these are my favorites out of what I read during the year, something I wish more columnists at papers of record would mention in their year-end lists.

I've broken the list down into ten 2023 Releases and four earlier releases. Comics and manga will be in a separate post over on the comics side of the site. I've been enjoying reading everyone else's lists and can't wait to dig into all your faves, too.

On to the books!

Titles and images contain Amazon affiliate links. I receive a small percentage of sales which helps pay my site hosting fees. Review copy disclosures follow each book listing.

2023 Releases

something-wild-and-wonderfulSomething Wild and Wonderful, by Anita Kelly and narrated by Mark Sanderlin

I wrote about this lovely book back in May and my feelings haven't changed. I don't love reading about religious trauma, but somehow Kelly made the whole thing swoony and I think my heart grew three sizes.

I received digital access to the audiobook from Hachette Audio, but purchased it as well.



in-memoriamIn Memoriam, by Alice Winn and narrated by Christian Coulson

Read this if you want to be truly horrified by stories from the front lines of World War I. I knew things were bad for regular soldiers in that war, but I didn't realize just how bad. There's also an angsty, torturous friends-to-lovers gay romance. Private school friends enlist in the army and are separated, relying on the daily death rolls to know which of their (many) friends and classmates will be coming home in boxes or not at all. The audiobook does something especially effective, layering the tracks of the narrator reading out of these death rolls. It really drives home just how many young men died horribly in the war. I cried a lot but I loved it? There's something about war narratives that zoom in on the individuals impacted by the decisions of the men who get to be in the history books. Lots of connections to today and always. Spoiler for my romance readers: neither of them dies, though there's a long while where we aren't sure.

I read this audiobook thanks to Penguin Random House Audio.



immortal-longingsImmortal Longings, by Chloe Gong

I reviewed this for Shelf Awareness. What an ass-kicker of a book. Antony & Cleopatra alternate present with magic, a competition to the death and plot twists! If you haven't read it yet, bump it up your list.

I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher.



mickey-chambers-shakes-it-upMickey Chambers Shakes It Up, by Charish Reid

This book has it all. Complex disability rep, critique of the exploitative adjunct system, a really well-done widower second chance story, steam, etc. I love Charish Reid's books and this is absolutely her best yet. Full thoughts over here.

I received a digital copy of this book for review and purchased it for my keeper shelf.



the-art-of-scandalThe Art of Scandal, by Regina Black

I covered this debut for Shelf Awareness and well... how the heck is this a first book? It's soapy, it's compelling, it's got thoughtful queer rep and it's angsty as heck. I do love some mess and this delivers. Can't wait to read the next!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review and bought a copy for my library.



poverty-by-americaPoverty, by America, by Matthew Desmond and read by Dion Graham

So much non-fiction is dedicated to describing a problem: how it began, where we are, and where we're headed. Not many of these books propose solutions and provide pathways for change. This deeply researched and humanizing follow-up to Evicted not only details the realities of poverty in the United States, it includes actionable solutions. No, average people in the U.S. can't individually fix economic inequality, but we can advocate for certain changes on a local level and change the way we think and talk about poverty. Why is the richest country in the world so committed to maintaining a permanent underclass? Why, when a majority of people say they care (Good Christians and soft-hearted liberals, etc.) do our actions not reflect our morals? It's not as simple as we'd like it to be, but there are things we can do. I think everyone should read this book in concert with books like Hood Feminism and Caste.

I listened to this book thanks to my library and recommend the audiobook, read by Dion Graham.



hotel-of-secretsHotel of Secrets, by Diana Biller

Spies, sabotage and really messy family set in a historic Vienna hotel. Fantastic character work and one heck of a romance. This is lighter than The Brightest Star in Paris, which was so focused on grief and trauma that I cried through a solid quarter of the book. Biller never shies away from big emotions and both characters have plenty to work through, but the romance really shines and there's lots of banter and chemistry to balance things out. While she doesn't quite nail every accent, Carlotta Brentan's narration elevates this book. Characters hail from several different countries and the audiobook is a fun, dynamic listen.

I read a copy of this audiobook courtesy of the publisher and purchased a print copy for my keeper shelf.



marry-me-by-midnightMarry Me By Midnight, by Felicia Grossman and read by Justine Eyre

I wrote a lot about this historical romance in a dedicated review, so I'll be brief. It's Felicia Grossman's best book so far and a great look at an underrepresented time in British-Jewish society. It's also a lot steamier than I was expecting (not an erotic romance) and the FMC is my brand of "unlikeable." We love a gender-swapped Cinderella story in which the MMC winds up in the caretaker role. At least I do.

Justine Eyre is her usual self in the narrator role and while she isn't my favorite performer, having listened to so many of her historical romances means I easily slipped into the setting.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher for review.



stars-in-your-eyes-1Stars in Your Eyes, by Kacen Callender and narrated by André Santana, AJ Beckles, Dani Martineck, Hannah Church, Avi Roque, George Newbern, Patryce Williams, Sarah Mollo-Christensen, VyVy Nguyen

Callender ripped my heart right out, made me cry and rage and think. I'm so grateful to my reading friends and the author for providing the content warnings that allowed me to time my reading correctly, because it's a rough ride. One MC has complicated PTSD and substance dependence due to several types of abuse as a child and the other has a homophobic father, so there's quite a bit of healing needed on both sides. I was relieved and impressed with Callender's handling of that healing process. No, falling in love with the right person does not "fix" your trauma. It's a long process and people in pain often fall into unhealthy, codependent relationships if that healing doesn't happen first. What a beautiful, heartwrenching book.

The audio experience is great. It's a celebrity book and the audio has different narrators read the interstitial blog, social and media posts. Brings the whole thing to life.

I received a copy of this book on audio via my librarian cred on (thank you Hachette Audio) and purchased a copy for my keeper shelf.



Backlist Favorites

The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting, by KJ Charles (library)

In a Jam, by Kate Canterbary (review copy)

All My Rage, by Sabaa Tahir (library)

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Wisdom of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer (library)


I hope you find something fun to read here and that you'll share your favorite reads with me here, on Insta or in Discord. Wishing all of us another great year of reading!

Topics: best bets