While picking my top ten favorite books of the year is fun, it is always so hard to do! Most years I read a number of amazing books that remain with me for a while. Others fall under the great but not memorable category while, evidently, there’s also a few flops. So choosing my 10 favorite books of 2023 proved to be just as hard as it was in previous years.
When I looked back at my stats, I realized I only had four five-star reads this year. Quite a few two-stars though! The rest were three and four stars, that’s why it made my job of choosing my top ten so much harder.
Without further ado, these are my 10 favorite books of 2023.
Mercury by Amy Jo Burns
I was invited by Celadon Books to participate in their read along for this book, and I was so thrilled! Not only do I enjoy these types of bookish activities, but I was also ecstatic that this book came under my radar.
The author’s writing style had me engaged from the first page, and the story was so fluid that it captured my attention. Once I got started, I had a hard time sticking to the assigned pages so I flew through it within a few days.
I previously reviewed this book more in depth, so all I’ll say for now is that it is a great option for anyone who loves family sagas that contain strong character development.
The Whispers by Ashley Audrain
Audrain is quickly becoming one of my favorite psychological thriller writers. Her books give me Gone Girl vibes. If you’re familiar with the genre, it involves moody, psychologically heavy plots and complicated, unreliable narrators. The sense of dread is omnipresent throughout her books, which makes them very addictive.
The Whispers contains all of these elements, but the way Audrain layers her story has got to be my favorite part of her writing. I much preferred this book over her debut novel, The Push, but you can read both to see what I mean.
Red Queen by Juan Gomez-Jurado
I’ve heard good things about this thriller for a while, so I went in with a predetermined idea that I would love the book. And while I didn’t give it five stars, it came close. There were a few tiny issues that kept it from becoming my favorite of the year.
I find the flow wasn’t as smooth as some of the Nordic authors, nevertheless, it was a well plotted thriller. The characters were not as well developed as I expected, which was a tad disappointing. Maybe the next couple of novels will cure that. Remains to be seen. Still, it deserves a top ten spot.
You can find my review of the book here:
When I’m Dead by Hannah Morissey
Hannah is also becoming one of my go-to authors for the thriller genre. Her books are dark and atmospheric, and the character development is strong. Out of her three books, which all take place in fictional Black Harbor, this one is my favorite. You can check out her previous two novels Hello, Transcriber and The Widowmaker as well.
When I’m Dead is even more intense and well-plotted than the first two books. We also catch glimpses into Nikolai Kole’s private life, which the author adds sporadically throughout the story. While her books can be read as stand-alones, you can get a bit of a background if you read them in order.
None of This Is True by Lisa Jewel
When it comes to Lisa Jewel’s novels, you should expect an unreliable narrator to be the main character. She’s one of the authors who depicts this trope the best, in my opinion.
And what a ride this book was! It caught my attention from the very first page, and it only got better as it went on. It is a twisted, dark, and suspenseful psychological thriller that will keep you guessing all the way until the end.
What I also loved about this book is that up to now I’m not 100% sure what happened. While some people dislike that in a book, to me it’s a very positive characteristic. If thrillers are not usually your thing but there’s one you’d like to read, this one is it.
The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck
This spooky Nordic Noir thriller made it to my top five. I had Max Seeck’s books on my shelves for a while, and I’m glad I finally jumped in and started this series.
It is a solid thriller with ghost vibes, which made it the perfect Halloween read. The main character Jessica became one of my favorite female heroines since Lizbeth Salander. What can I say, I have a preference when it comes to fictional leading ladies. The complex, damaged yet extremely intelligent female always gets me involved in the story so much more.
Plus the action, which contained spooky elements was well-done. If you’re looking for something to read around Halloween, then I urge you to consider this one!
The Ice Coven by Max Seeck
This is the second book in the Jessica Niemi series, and I liked it even more than the first one. I’m still waiting to get to The Grudge, but for now i think this is the author’s best work. In this continuation, Jessica is still struggling with her personal issues, while at work things are even more difficult now that new leadership has taken over. But she’s trying to keep busy and ignore the increasing nightmares that don’t seem to leave her alone. Working alongside her only ally, Yusuf, they emerge themselves in a complex case they’re racing to solve. Action-packed yet atmospheric, this is a great Nordic Noir police procedural thriller I highly recommend.
Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
This book falls under so many categories, I featured it in several posts already last year. So it’s no surprise that it made my top three of 2023. If you’ve never read anything by Jodi Picoult, this is just as good a place to start as any.
My full review contains some spoilers, so you can check it out if that doesn’t bother you.
But you might want to go into this one blind to get a better reading experience. Either way, I loved everything about the book, from the complex characters to the way the story was laid out. Well developed and thoroughly engaging, it is a solid book that contemporary fiction fans will love.
Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
This book came as such a pleasant surprise that I had to include it into my 10 favorite books of the year. It is a funny tale of a recently divorced young lady, and the way she navigates her newly-found celibacy.
While many of you might wonder what’s so special about this book, it’s simple: it just resonated with me. One of the things I loved about it is the way the author narrated the book. Her wit and humor is infectious, and it had me in stitches for many parts of the plot. The main character is adorable in my opinion, and her inner monologue was interesting, to say the least.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
This is my favorite book of 2023! While the story is not a happy one for the most part, the writing is impeccable. Also, the character development is the best I’ve read all year.
New-to-me Napolitano is a favorite author already, even though this is the only book I’ve read by her. It won’t be my last, that’s for sure.
The Padovano family came into my world and they’re here to stay. While reading the book I couldn’t help but get transported to their lives as if they were my real-life friends and neighbors. Not many authors manage to envelop you into their fictional worlds like Napolitano does, if I may say so myself. I will not go on about it, but you can read my full review here, should you want to:
The only other thing I will say about this book for now is that you can at least consider listening to it on audio. It is narrated by Maura Tierney, the actress from the HBO series The Affair. It is one of my favorite audiobooks i ever listened to.
Special Mention: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
I feel like this book deserves a special place apart from the others.
While the story is one of the most depressing ones I read in 2023, it is one that is very close to my heart.
Growing up in Communist Romania, this book resonates the most with me. Although the author did not live in Romania during those times, her research is accurate and she captured the way things were perfectly.
Her narration style also makes this hard subject matter easier to digest.
These are amongst the reasons why I had to place this book at the very top.
It is a book that will remain imprinted in my memory forever, and I will recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about this part of Romanian history.
This sums up my 10 favorite books of 2023. I read quite a few great books during 2023, but these are special to me for many reasons I have already mentioned. As usual, I found it hard to narrow it down to only ten, since I only gave four of them five stars.
Let me know which books were your favorite in 2023. Do we have any in common?
Until next time, keep reading fellow bookworms.