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Looking for the best books of 2023? Let me help! I’ve compiled a fantastic list of 49 must-reads, curating it from Goodreads, Amazon, popular blogs, and my own reading lists. Dive into the best novels of 2023, reader’s favorites, and top-rated books that everyone’s talking about. These books aren’t just good; they’re highly recommended gems that have earned their place as the best of 2023.
Must-Read Books Of 2023
Fourth Wing Rebecca Yarros
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros follows Violet Sorrengail, originally destined for a quiet life, as she’s thrust into the competitive world of dragon riders at Basgiath War College. Despite physical limitations, she must bond with dragons for survival amid scarcity and cutthroat competition. Facing both physical and political dangers, including the ruthless wingleader Xaden Riorson, Violet navigates a world where everyone has hidden agendas, and survival means either graduation or death. The backdrop of an escalating external war and failing protective wards adds urgency to Violet’s perilous journey
Happy Place by Emily Henry
In Happy Place by Emily Henry, Harriet and Wyn, once the ideal couple, broke up six months ago, keeping it a secret from their best friends. Now, during their annual weeklong getaway in a Maine cottage about to be sold, they pretend to be a happy couple one last time for the sake of their friends. As they navigate the charade, Harriet and Wyn grapple with lingering feelings, attempting to conceal their true emotions. Set against the backdrop of their cherished yearly tradition, the novel explores the challenges of pretending to be in love when the reality is much more complicated.
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
In Yellowface by R.F. Kuang, Athena Liu’s sudden death prompts June Hayward to steal her unpublished manuscript and publish it as her own. Using the pseudonym Juniper Song, June faces escalating challenges as evidence threatens to reveal her deception. The novel explores themes of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, narrated with a compelling first-person voice. ‘Yellowface’ is a timely and engaging story delving into the consequences of June’s actions and the isolating effects of social media.”
Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood
Love, Theoretically, is a story of Elsie Hannaway, a dual-life protagonist juggling her roles as an adjunct professor and a professional fake girlfriend. When she uncovers that Jack Smith, the brother of one of her clients, holds a connection to her mentor’s career setback, Elsie’s carefully compartmentalized worlds collide. As Jack becomes a pivotal figure in her quest for a dream job at MIT, a scholarly showdown looms, unraveling Elsie’s guarded theories on love amidst unexpected emotions and genuine connections.
Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
In Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross, rival journalists Iris and Roman unexpectedly find love through magical letters. As gods engage in an ancient war, Iris seeks to hold her family together. The story unfolds with a mix of hope and heartbreak, taking Iris to the front lines of battle for her family and the power of love. This epic enemies-to-lovers fantasy combines the essence of Shadow and Bone with the mythic allure of Lore.
The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
The Stolen Heir follows a runaway queen and a reluctant prince on a quest that could spell their downfall. Lady Nore, of the Court of Teeth, seeks revenge by creating monsters in the icy north. Suren, the lonely child queen, encounters Prince Oak, her former promised spouse, now manipulative. Oak, on a mission into the north, seeks Suren’s help, leading to a confrontation of resentments and past horrors. In this thrilling duology, #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black returns to the world of Elfhame, focusing on Jude’s brother Oak and the changeling queen, Suren.
Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
In Iron Flame, Violet battles brutal war college training and a relentless vice commandant, emphasizing her powerlessness. Threshing weeds out the weak-willed. During real training, Violet, with a weaker body, relies on wits and an iron will, affirming that dragon riders make their own rules. This year unveils challenges beyond survival, exposing a centuries-old secret at Basgiath War College, resistant even to dragon fire.
A Curse for True Love by Stephanie Garber
In Stephanie Garber’s A Curse for True Love, Evangeline Fox pursues her happily ever after in the Magnificent North.Married to a handsome prince in a legendary castle, she’s oblivious to the devastating price paid for her fairytale. Unbeknownst to her, her husband is determined to conceal the truth by eliminating Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. As blood is shed and hearts are stolen, true love faces a severe test in this breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Once Upon A Broken Heart trilogy.
Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson
Author Brandon Sanderson expands his Cosmere universe with a standalone novel, Tress of the Emerald Sea, set in an emerald-green ocean. Tress, accustomed to a simple life, is compelled to stow away on a ship after a disastrous voyage involving her friend Charlie. To find the Sorceress of the deadly Midnight Sea, Tress navigates treacherous waters and faces pirates in a quest that challenges her to leave behind the simplicity she once knew. The story unfolds in a world where a single drop of water can spell instant death.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries chronicles the journey of Cambridge professor Emily Wilde as she delves into the study of faerie folklore in a small northern town. Alongside her academic rival Wendell Bambleby, Emily navigates the mysteries of the Hidden Ones, elusive faeries in the shadowy forest, leading to unexpected friendships and love. Heather Fawcett weaves a captivating tale in the heartwarming and enchanting start to this fantasy series.
Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
Hell Bent follows Alex Stern as she defies societal norms and delves into the realms of wealth, power, and magic to rescue Darlington from purgatory. risking her future at Lethe and Yale. Despite Ninth House restrictions, she assembles an unconventional team to uncover arcane secrets in New Haven. The narrative weaves history, magic, violence, and unsettling truths within the university’s walls, as Alex confronts her past.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
Hello Beautiful unfolds the poignant story of the Waters family, highlighting the transformative impact of love on fractured souls. William Waters, finding solace in basketball, discovers love with Julia Padavano and a sense of belonging within her lively family. However, shadows from William’s past resurface, unraveling plans and testing the unyielding bonds among the sisters. The ensuing family rift becomes a catalyst for profound change, challenging the strength of their loyalty.
Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez
Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez is a charming story of terrible first impressions, amusing second chances, and the excitement of finding the perfect match. Dr. Briana Ortiz, navigating a messy divorce and her brother’s urgent need for a kidney donor, is initially unimpressed by Dr. Jacob Maddox. However, Jacob surprises her with a delightful letter, sparking a humorous and endearing correspondence. Their connection deepens over lunches in Briana’s “sob closet,” filled with quirky discussions. When Jacob offers a life-changing gift—a kidney for Briana’s brother—the novel unfolds with humor, warmth, and the joy of unexpected connections.
All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
In All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham, Isabelle Drake’s life is shattered when her son, Mason, is abducted. With little evidence and relentless determination, Isabelle, sleep-deprived and desperate, agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster in the hopes of finding new leads. However, the questioning and her insomnia unearth uncomfortable memories, making Isabelle doubt her recollection of Mason’s disappearance and question the trustworthiness of those around her. Driven by a fierce determination to uncover the truth, Isabelle confronts her memories and fears, uncertain of where the search for Mason will lead.
The Right Move by Liz Tomforde
The Right Move by Liz Tomforde follows the story of NBA team captain Ryan Shay and his unexpected fake relationship with his sister’s best friend, Indy Ivers. Faced with disapproval from the team’s General Manager, Ryan decides to pretend to date Indy to prove he’s approachable. However, the fake relationship becomes complicated as feelings blur the lines between real and fake. Indy finds herself falling for Ryan, who insists he doesn’t believe in love. As they navigate the complexities of their arrangement, Indy questions if sharing a roof with her best friend’s brother was indeed “The Right Move.”
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty follows retired pirate Amina, lured back into adventure to rescue a kidnapped girl for a lucrative offer. Despite her desire for a peaceful life, the promise of a final adventure and securing her family’s future proves irresistible. As Amina delves deeper, hidden complexities and a darker truth emerge, exploring themes of magic, forbidden artifacts, and the risks of pursuing one last chance at glory. The novel raises questions about the price one may pay for power and the pursuit of legend.
Final Offer by Lauren Asher
Final Offer by Lauren Asher is a gripping tale of Callahan Kane, a notorious Kane brother with a tarnished reputation. Forced by his grandfather’s will to spend a summer at the family lake house, Callahan faces an unexpected twist—his childhood best friend and past love, Lana Castillo, claims ownership of the property. As old wounds resurface and secrets unravel, the story unfolds with a mix of trust fund drama, unresolved love, and the complexities of family ties. Will Callahan’s final offer lead to redemption or further heartache in this engaging and emotionally charged narrative?
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
In Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto, sixty-year-old tea-shop owner Vera Wong discovers a dead man in her shop. Fueled by her love for tea and internet ‘detective’ work (especially snooping on her son’s love life), Vera decides to solve the murder herself. Convinced she can outshine the police, this suspicious Chinese mother becomes an amateur sleuth, infusing the mystery with humor, wisdom, and unexpected twists in this engaging and cozy narrative.
The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King by Carissa Broadbent
The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King chronicles the tumultuous journey of Oraya in the aftermath of the Kejari. Faced with loss, betrayal, and a kingdom in turmoil, she navigates a treacherous path to reclaim her realm. The story unfolds amidst a backdrop of political intrigue, ancient powers, and the shadows of her family’s secrets. With enemies closing in, Oraya must grapple with the choice between seizing power and confronting the love that may lead to her downfall. Carissa Broadbent weaves a gripping tale of deception, power struggles, and the haunting echoes of Oraya’s past.
Maame by Jessica George
Maame by Jessica George explores Maddie’s life in London, caring for her father with Parkinson’s amid her absent, overbearing mother. Seeking change, Maddie experiences important “firsts” as a self-acknowledged late bloomer. Tragedy strikes, prompting her to confront her unconventional family’s complexities and the challenges of opening her heart. The novel delves into themes of familial duty, racism, female pleasure, love’s complexity, and the power of friendship, ultimately celebrating the journey to find true belonging.
How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
In How to Sell a Haunted House, Grady Hendrix explores the lingering influence of family and the past. Louise reluctantly returns to her family home after her parents’ death, burdened by memories of her father’s academic pursuits and her mother’s puppet obsession. Collaborating with her resentful brother, Mark, to prepare the house for sale, they face supernatural resistance. The novel unfolds a tale of familial ties, personal struggles, and the eerie resistance of a house unwilling to be sold, revealing unsettling plans for both siblings as Louise confronts her past.
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women byLisa See
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See follows Tan Yunxian’s captivating journey in 15th-century China, challenging societal norms. Born into privilege, haunted by loss, Yunxian defies Confucian expectations, learning Chinese medicine from her grandmother. Bonding with Meiling despite societal restrictions, Yunxian faces an arranged marriage and oppressive norms. The novel explores her courageous journey to become a physician, defying traditional roles. Lisa See portrays the power and resilience of female friendship, offering a triumphant reimagining of a Ming dynasty woman.
In the Lives of Puppets by T.J. Klune
The Lives of Puppets by T.J. Klune revolves around a peculiar family of robots led by inventor Giovanni Lawson and their human member, Victor. When Victor repairs an android named “HAP,” he uncovers a shared dark history involving human hunting. As HAP exposes their hiding place, Giovanni is captured, prompting a perilous journey for the remaining family members to rescue him. Victor grapples with the complexities of love amid conflicting emotions and must decide if he can accept it with strings attached.
King of Pride by Ana Huang
In King of Pride by Ana Huang, billionaire heir Kai Young, facing a crucial CEO vote and a threat to his media empire, is drawn to the bold and chaotic Isabella Valencia. Despite their differences, the temptation grows, challenging Kai’s rules. Isabella, known for her impulsive nature, is attracted to Kai, even though he’s off-limits. As they navigate forbidden desires, both risk everything for a love that defies expectations.
Spare by Prince Harry
Spare reveals Prince Harry’s profound journey after Princess Diana’s death. Once carefree, grief led to struggles and resentment towards the press. Military service brought structure but also post-traumatic stress. The narrative delves into his quest for love and his romance with Meghan, marred by media abuse. Facing mental health risks and reflecting on his mother’s tragedy, Harry makes the historic decision to leave the Royal Family, sharing his raw journey with unflinching honesty.
Weyward by Emilia Hart
Weyward follows Kate, escaping an abusive past to Weyward Cottage in 2019, discovering a secret tied to witch-hunts. In 1619, Altha faces trial for alleged witchcraft, using nature-based magic to fight for freedom. Meanwhile, in 1942, Violet in WWII longs for education and her mother’s mysterious past. Emilia Hart weaves the tales of these extraordinary women over five centuries, exploring female resilience and the transformative power of the natural world in this enthralling novel.
The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer
In The Collected Regrets of Clover, death doula Clover Brooks, inspired by her kindergarten teacher’s death, navigates a journey prompted by a woman’s final wishes. Uncovering a forgotten love story, Clover questions her desires and finds the courage for a potential happy ending. Mikki Brammer’s novel, akin to “The Midnight Library” and “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine,” skillfully transforms the taboo of death into a celebration of life with poignant storytelling.
The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren
The True Love Experiment follows romance novelist Felicity “Fizzy” Chen and filmmaker Connor Prince as they collaborate on a reality TV project to explore Fizzy’s personal love life. As they navigate challenges, Fizzy reevaluates her beliefs about love, and Connor considers his own happily ever after. This sequel to “The Soulmate Equation” delves into the complexities of love, both on and off the script.
Things We Left Behind by Lucy Score
In Lucy Score’s Things We Left Behind, Lucian Rollins and Sloane Walton, bound by a dark past and mutual dislike, find unexpected passion during a steamy one-night stand. Conflicting desires for family and commitment create a rift, and haunted by past beliefs, Lucian makes a ruthless decision to cut Sloane out of his life. Now, facing the consequences, he must find a way to make amends and prove he deserves Sloane’s trust in this captivating romance.
A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon
A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon revisits the world of “Priory of the Orange Tree,” focusing on four women shaping their world for generations. Priory sister Tunuva questions her purpose, Sabran and the King of Hróth save their realms, leaving their daughter Glorian in their shadow. In the East, Dumai seeks to awaken dormant gods. As the Dreadmount erupts, these women must unite to protect humanity from a devastating threat across their intertwined destinies.
A Soul of Ash and Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout
In A Soul of Ash and Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout, the Blood and Ash series continues with a primal power emerging, transforming the Queen of Flesh and Fire. The impending war across Iliseeum and the mortal realm intensifies as gods awaken. Poppy falls into stasis, and Casteel faces the fear of losing her, revealing intimate details to her unconscious form. With unpredictable consequences, Casteel clings to hope for her awakening, offering a new perspective on their epic love story, with Hawke taking center stage in this installment.
Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati
Costanza Casati’s debut, Clytemnestra, takes readers on a captivating journey into Ancient Greece, focusing on the queen’s revenge against those who wronged her. Amid power struggles and prophecies, Casati crafts a thrilling narrative of Clytemnestra as a formidable queen dealing out justice in a world that underestimates her. A must-read for fans of Madeline Miller, Jennifer Saint, and Natalie Haynes.
Powerless by Elsie Silver
Elsie Silver’s Powerless follows childhood friends on a spontaneous road trip to heal shattered hearts. The dynamics change when hockey heartthrob Jasper sees the protagonist differently. Amid crises, their feelings intertwine, complicated by Jasper’s painful past. The story explores the complexity of emotions, transitioning from friendship to something deeper, capturing the nuances of evolving relationships
What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall
What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall follows Naomi Shaw and her friends, celebrated for surviving a sinister attack and convicting a serial killer. Decades later, Olivia seeks to uncover a dark secret, putting their friendship at risk. The novel explores betrayal, deception, and the perilous consequences of a buried secret.
Reckless by Elsie Silver
In Reckless by Elsie Silver, Theo Silva, a charismatic bull rider, challenges my resolve to avoid men as I navigate the aftermath of a toxic marriage. Despite my attempts to resist, Theo’s persistent charm breaks down my defenses during a passionate night. I consider it a one-time indulgence, but a surprising revelation complicates keeping this secret. The narrative explores the interplay of temptation, heartbreak, and the complexities of unexpected connections.
None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell
Lisa Jewell’s psychological thriller, None of This Is True, unfolds as podcaster Alix Summers encounters Josie Fair, a woman who shares her birthday. Intrigued by Josie’s mysterious life, Alix features her on her podcast, uncovering dark secrets that forge a perilous connection. When Josie vanishes, Alix realizes the terrifying aftermath she left behind, turning Alix into the subject of her own true crime podcast and jeopardizing her family’s safety. The novel navigates the enigma of Josie Fair and the ominous repercussions of her actions.
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett explores Lara and Peter Duke’s love story, tracing the intensity of Lara’s feelings before Peter became a famous actor. As Lara’s grown daughters return in spring, they urge her to share the untold romance with the emerging film star. The novel reflects on youthful and married love, offering insights into the lives parents led before their children arrived. “Tom Lake” is a reflective exploration of happiness amid life’s challenges and the inevitable march of time.
The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
In The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer, Lucy Hart, a teacher’s aide with a lonely past, enters a contest to win the only copy of her favorite author Jack Masterson’s new book. Hoping for a better life for herself and an orphaned child, Lucy faces ruthless book collectors, tough opponents, and an enigmatic illustrator, Hugo Reese. As the stakes rise, Masterson introduces a twist that could change their lives. The novel delves into the power of wishes and their unpredictable outcomes.
Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey
Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey revolves around Hallie Welch, who tends to the gardens at Julian Vos’s family winery. Hoping to rekindle their past connection, she discovers that the adult Julian is a grumpy professor. A wine-filled night reveals a secret admirer letter from Hallie, complicating their relationship. During his sabbatical, Julian, planning to write a novel, becomes captivated by Hallie’s vibrant energy. Unraveling the mystery of the letter, Hallie adds color to Julian’s structured life, leading to unexpected challenges and connections in their complex relationship.
The Only One Left by Riley Sager
The Only One Left follows the story of Lenora Hope, accused of a 1929 family massacre, who breaks her silence in 1983. In her seventies and mute, Lenora communicates through a typewriter. Kit McDeere, her home-health aide, is given the opportunity to hear Lenora’s side of the story. As Lenora recounts the events, hidden details surface, raising questions about her innocence. The novel explores the mysteries of the Hope family murders and the dark secrets of Hope’s End mansion.
The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston
The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston follows Clementine, a book publicist with a meticulously planned future. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she falls for a man living seven years in the past, discovered in her late aunt’s apartment. The novel explores the complexities of love transcending time, offering a witty and wise tale about the unpredictability of timing in matters of the heart.
Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah explores the brutal competition in CAPE, a controversial private prison entertainment program. Gladiators Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker vie for freedom in a system akin to America’s private prisons. Thurwar strives to preserve humanity amidst deadly matches, encountering corporate resistance. Adjei-Brenyah provides a powerful critique of systemic racism, capitalism, and mass incarceration in the American prison system.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld is a humorous novel following comedy writer Sally Milz, who thought she had sworn off love until she collaborates with dreamy pop star Noah Brewster on a late-night comedy show. As they work together, Sally questions if there are sparks between them. Sittenfeld skillfully explores the complexities of love and dissects modern romance and gender relations with keen observations.
Not in a Billion Years by Camilla Isley
Not in a Billion Years by Camilla Isley explores the clash between self-made fitness sensation Blake Avery and billionaire mogul Gabriel Mercer. Despite their success, they become sworn enemies when Blake publicly criticizes Gabriel, sparking a feud neither is willing to end. As the fitness industry keeps pushing them together, Blake must decide whether to hold onto her grudge or succumb to Gabriel’s charm.
Heir of Broken Fate by Mads Rafferty
In Heir of Broken Fate, Delilah, heir to the throne, seeks the aid of the Fae, who vanished 150 years ago, to save her people from her oppressive father’s rule. Teaming up with Knox, a charming Fae king, they unravel lies and riddles, striving to bring freedom to their oppressed realms. Mads Rafferty crafts a captivating fantasy filled with magic, mystery, and hope.”
Go as a River by Shelley Read
Go as a River is a compelling coming-of-age tale set in mid-century Colorado. Victoria Nash’s life takes an unexpected turn after a chance encounter with a stranger. The story unfolds through a series of pivotal choices, leading Victoria on a journey of loss, hope, and self-discovery. Against the backdrop of the harsh beauty of Colorado, the novel weaves a dramatic narrative of survival, love, and destiny.
Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes
Jojo Moyes’ Someone Else’s Shoes is a tale of mix-ups and second chances. Nisha Cantor, accustomed to a lavish lifestyle, faces a sudden divorce and financial cut-off. When her belongings are mistakenly taken by Sam Kemp, a struggling woman in the bleakest point of her life, the two women’s paths intersect. With Moyes’ humor and warmth, the novel explores how one small thing can alter everything in a story of resilience and transformation.
The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson
Set in 1950s Philadelphia and Washington, DC,The House of Eve follows fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall’s pursuit of college amid family challenges. Simultaneously, Eleanor Quarles arrives in DC, hoping to secure a place in the elite world of William Pride’s wealthy Black family through love and a baby. The stories of Ruby and Eleanor intersect, delving into the sacrifices women make for their goals, exploring themes of love, motherhood, and the quest for a better life.
Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer
Hannah Maehrer’s novel Assistant to the Villain blends the worlds of “Once Upon a Time” and “The Office.” Evie Sage, a sunshine assistant, finds herself working for a notorious villain, navigating unexpected romance amid mayhem and dark deeds. With an ailing family to support, Evie must balance her duties and uncover a plot against her boss, adding a humorous twist to the traditional villain-assistant dynamic.
There you have must-read book lists of 2023.
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