Today I’m sharing a list of the best books I read in 2023.
I read 38 books this year. I was shooting for 50 but fell off track–this was by far my busiest “work” year yet. I spent many nights editing reels, putting together travel guides, and writing newsletters. The busyness, of course, is a sign of growth, so I am grateful for that.
I am, however, hoping to get back to a more consistent “one book per week” schedule this January.
Even though I fell short of my yearly goal, this was a fabulous year of reading. I read SO many incredible books, and I’ve been agonizing for weeks on narrowing down this list.
This is a short, poignant novel that takes place in Ireland in 1985. It’s set at Christmas and centers around a coal merchant who is forced to make a choice after having witnessed something during one of his deliveries. This is a spellbinding and powerful novel that addresses a universal dilemma.
This novel had me in absolute stitches. Frances and Malcolm Price, an upper class mother-and-son duo, flee from New York to Paris in the wake of social upheaval. This novel is ridiculous, sharp, and laugh-out-loud hilarious.
You can scrap the whole list and just walk away with this recommendation for all I care. This is one of the best, if not the best, books I’ve ever read. And if you don’t believe me, Tyler read it too, and I’ve heard him tell at least five people that it’s the best fiction book he’s ever read. Demon Copperhead is a memoir-style, coming-of-age novel about a young boy who grows up in Appalachia with basically every card you can think of stacked against him.
This book feels like a warm hug. It’s simple and heartwarming, the perfect thing to bust you out of a reading drought. I picked this up after having loved Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. I was surprised by how different this one was but still enjoyed it very much.
I had extremely high hopes for this, as I loved Dear Edward, and this was even better. The Chicago-based novel follows a family with four daughters as they enter adulthood and details their relationship with a Northwestern basketball player who falls in love with Julia, the second-oldest sister. Ann Napolitano credits Little Women as her inspiration behind Hello Beautiful which made me love it even more.
I read this over the course of about 4 weeks before and after our Europe trip. I didn’t have much time to read as I thought I would on our trip on account of my vlog project (LOL). I ended up reading small pieces at a time which is my least favorite way to read a book. The reason I mention all this is that despite an incredibly disjointed reading process, I still really enjoyed this book. Set in Adelaide, Australia, this book is about a cold murder case and a girl who searches for the truth about her family’s past over 50 years later. It does have a slow start, but I’m so glad I stuck with it. The ending was INSANE.
I’ll be honest: I felt totally lost throughout the first 50-100 pages of this but finally found my way and got the hang of what was going on. The novel takes place across three different time periods (ancient, present-ish, and future). Eventually, the stories all weave together, and the ending absolutely blew me away. If you’re up for a “slog,” this is well worth the work.
This is such a precious, special book. Set on a cherry farm in Michigan, three sisters make their way home in the spring of 2020. The girls make themselves useful during lockdown by harvesting cherries with their farmer parents. While they work, Lara, their mother, indulges her daughters in the story of her early-twenties romance with the famous actor Peter Duke. The novel bounces back and forth between the present day and Lara’s story. I didn’t want this to end.
This is the best thriller I read this year. It’s twisty, fast-paced, and kept me guessing until the very end. Lisa Jewell’s books are always just witty enough to distract you from how disturbing they are. Something about a British accent rolling through my mind makes her thrillers less scary too?
I’ve never read anything quite like The Dearly Beloved. The story follows two pastors (and their wives) of a Presbyterian church in NYC in the 1960s. The book explores each of the four main character’s faith journeys and the role relationships and community play. You don’t often see faith-based books in traditional publishing, so I thought that was really cool.
This novel is set in Saigon, on the precipice of the Vietnam War. The novel is primarily about a pair of wives who are adjusting to life in Vietnam while their husbands are on assignment there with the U.S. government. This, like The Dearly Beloved, is less plot and more character driven which is fine by me. I found this so fascinating.
Last year when I read The Highly Sensitive Person, I realized around page 2 that I am, in fact, a Highly Sensitive Person (or HSP). This realization was both illuminating and validating for me, someone who has always felt a bit “on the outskirts” of life (lol, I swear I mean that in the least emo way possible). After that, I decided to continue my journey by reading The Highly Sensitive Parent. This book was even more helpful for me, as I find many seemingly normal aspects of parenting to be quite challenging. I learned a lot from this book and wish I had known about it when I first became a mother. If any of this piques your interest, I recommend starting with the self test to get an indication of whether or not the trait applies to you.
I wrote a whole blog post about this here, but I learned SO much from this book. I love Dr. Becky’s empathetic approach. So much about our pasts and who we are at our core comes to the surface when we parent, so I found many of these tools to be extremely helpful as I navigate tough conversations and moments with the girls.
This author travels to the Yucatan Peninsula, the Arctic Circle, and Tanzania and investigates the ancient cultures known for raising the most helpful, cooperative, and emotional intune kids in the world. She sums up the approaches with her handy TEAM acronym (Togetherness, Encouragement, Autonomy, and Minimal Interference). I practice many of the principles I learned in this book daily with the girls. This book is quite different from Dr. Becky’s, and that just goes to show how important it is to read from a variety of authors and backgrounds.
My mom, who taught middle school Language Arts for 30 years and knows just one or two things about literacy, recommended this book to me. I feel like every parent should read this book. The first half of the book talks about why reading aloud is so important for kids of all ages and how to seamlessly incorporate books throughout the day, and the second half is a helpful glossary of book ideas for kids based on their age and reading level.
Allison Bornstein is one of my favorite people to follow on social media, so it was a no-brainer pre-order for me when she announced her book. This book is unbelievably helpful and practical. Allison lays out her “three words” method to personal style and coaches readers through closet editing and putting together timeless, elevated looks without buying anything new. This book made me so happy, and I highly, highly recommend it.
Interested in more book recommendations? While I have you, I send out an email newsletter every Friday morning. In it, I share what book I’m reading, products I’m obsessing over, links to the latest blog posts, and answer reader questions. If you’re not already on the list, I’d love to have you.
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?