My Favorite Books of 2023
My 2024 is off to a…slow start. My past week was completely gobbled up by a stomach bug that’s been going around town. Noto virus? Roto virus? I guess it doesn’t matter.
Thankfully I have my Kindle, my Moutain Berry Blast Powerade and the softest bread on the planet – Casa Pan Dulce hamburger buns. (The only things I could keep down for 4 days…ugh)
I’m starting to feel a bit better. SO I thought I’d complete this list of my best books of 2023.
In total, I read 53 books. And I LOVED…5-star-loved…15 of them. Here’s that list.
My #1 reason for putting out this list is to get aYOUR list! Send me the books that you loved. I’m especially soft on historical novels but I like a wide array of fiction books. I’ll throw a non-fiction or a biography in there once in a while but novels are my true love.
Here are prior years’ lists.
And here are my top books of 2023. And I’m going to start with my favorite…though North Woods is a close second…this one is incredible.
It’s hard to believe that a single human wrote this book. You can read the descriptions, the reviews and the summaries but they don’t do it justice. Love, love, love. One of the best books I’ve ever read.
I’m going to read it again when I finish my current book.
This is really a chronological series of short stories that all take place at one rural property in New England over the centuries (from Puritan times to the near-future). They are all griping and so cleverly wound together…it’s almost miraculous. Magic. His writing is also beautiful…really incredible. I loved this book sooo much.
John Boyne is one of my favorite authors. I not only pre-ordered this book but I paid full price. (I’m usually a Kindle Daily Deals kinda book shopper)
I love everything he has written but I haven’t read his most famous book: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. (The subject of children and concentration camps is so hard…I just can never seem to read it)
I didn’t know, until I was partway through this one, that All The Broken Places is a sequel to that book. And tells the story of 91-year old Gretel living in a large London apartment for decades who is grappling with a past that has been haunting her for over 70 years. SO good.
Ann Patchett is also one of my favorite writers…if you haven’t read Commonwealth or Dutch House or Bel Canto, I’m jealous!
Lara and her husband own a lush cherry orchard in Michigan. During the pandemic, she tells her curious girls – her three grown daughters – about her younger years. When she performed in summer stock theater at Tom Lake and dated a now very famous author.
It makes me want to go live the rest of my life in a cherry orchard in Michigan (in the summer of course!) So good. It also makes me want to listen to my first audio book. Meryl Streep narrates this one!
I was probably lured in by the pretty cover but stayed for the great book. A sweeping historic novel set in India in the 1700s? Caste, colonialism, gorgeous scenery, juicy characters, and really interesting historical setting…I read this one quick.
A cynical NYC female comedy writer on a late-night sketch comedy show doesn’t have time for a love life – her job is everything. All of her time, all of her relationships, it’s all-consuming. But then she meets a charming rock star who hosts the show one week.
THAT makes it sound like a boring romance but this is SOOO much more. It’s a fictional inside look at working at SNL, it’s the pandemic. It’s a REALLY good book.
Three childhood friends in Boston…different…but they hang out on the streets every day until a horrific event shatters their world. Fast forward 25 years, one of their daughters gets murdered and all the childhood trauma comes rushing back. I was glued to this one. And totally clueless that a movie was made with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Laura Linney and other big stars. What a great book.
A Kerala, India family is cursed – someone in every generation dies from drowning. And, they live in a land of water – all marshes, lagoons and canals. This book takes you to Kerala, India (and makes me want to go back!)…generations with love and loss and the caste system and colonialism. Oprah picked an AMAZING one here. (She also picked Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano last year which I liked…but it got a bit slow…like not love.)
I like a book that takes you to another place and another time…and this one is like spending a week on the Italian Riviera in the 50s. A glamorous, star-studded world where a charismatic journalist named Hal stumbles upon a rooftop party hosted by the mysterious Countess. She invites him to her seaside villa where he meets Stella…
I was totally into it and it had me travel planning to Italy for hours.
I read A Man Named Ove a few years ago and I didn’t like it. I found it repetitive, kinda boring and very hard to finish. A jerk of an old man becomes…slightly less of a jerk and it’s supposed to be heartening?
So I’m not sure why I picked up Beartown – probably a Kindle Daily sale. It’s about teens and ice hockey and cold weather. 3 of my least favorite subjects but…this story is pretty incredible. This small Swedish town obsessed with their hockey team hit on all my emotions. It’s a great read.
Recently widowed Pival is 60 and has never left Kolkata – she hasn’t even left her well-to-do neighborhood. Her late husband had told her that their son died in Los Angeles but Pavil never really accepted the news and now she is planning her first trip ever to find out the truth for herself.
She books a private tour of the US with a dodgy tour company from Queens. Joined by a Bangladeshi tour guide and a young American companion, this is just a beautiful story of clashing cultures and generations and understanding and forgiveness.
Leo’s wife has had a brush with death and he starts to look into her past. He’s an obituary writer at a national paper and he just can’t help himself from starting hers just in case. What he learns is that she’s not who he thought she was, and she’s got more than one BIG secret…
This is such a lovely book (and a great cover). An Irish woman looking back on her early 20s. Back to graduating with a seemingly useless English degree, a crush on her professor, no jobs in sight… self-obsessed and insecure. Wanting to move away from a small city in Ireland but scared.
This book is beautiful and funny and heartbreaking with beautiful characters and makes me glad I’m not in my early 20s anymore!
I like to know what’s coming. During a movie, I can hardly pay attention because I’m trying to figure out the ending. But I could never figure out what was going to happen next in this book…and I love that.
Picture this…you run into an old acquaintance (some guy who was in one of your college classes) at the airport, he brings you to the 1st class lounge and just starts telling you this story about how he saved someone’s life…
I can’t describe this book but I loved it.
This novel takes you to an upper-class seaside English manor in the late 1920s and follows young Cristabel. She almost raises herself…directing epic plays for the village in a theater made of the bones from a whale that washes up on the beach. A coming of age story. A spy during WW2 story. It’s a beautiful book.
Send me all recommendations please!