Favorite Books in 2023

Barring any unexpected stand out reads in December, I put together a list of my favorite books in 2023. Anecdotally, I feel like my reactions to my reads this year were less excitable. While I had a great reading year in terms of number of books read, I think I had a fewer–or maybe similar–number of five-star reads relative to last year. (I’ll have to put together a statistics post to actually find out.) I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe I expect too much? I’ll try not to dwell on it!

With that said, to temper expectations a bit, here are the books I really enjoyed or rated highly. I didn’t limit myself to a certain number of “top books” because I didn’t dole out many ratings that were 4.5 or greater. I also don’t read hundreds of books per year. Regardless, here are my favorite books in 2023 in no particular order. This list doesn’t include only five-star reads I had, but instead contains books that really resonated with or made an impression on me.

Favorite Books In 2023

Fall of Ruin and Wrath by Jennifer L. ArmentroutHappy Place by Emily HenryPerilous Times by Thomas D. LeeFunny Feelings by Tarah DeWitt

FALL OF RUIN AND WRATH by Jennifer Armentrout: This was the first book I ever read by JLA. Frankly, I was on the fence about preordering it because the first few pages of her beloved FROM BLOOD AND ASH series did not leave me with a good impression. But I read a few reviews before I bought it, which I never do if I want to read a book. However, I’m glad I did because it helped with my decision to purchase it and I ended up loving it. I binged this adult fantasy romance, no problem.

HAPPY PLACE by Emily Henry: This is another popular author whose books I hadn’t read prior to this release. I impulse bought it and also binged this over two days. It was the perfect read for the mood I was in at the time. I’m glad I strayed from the fantasy genre to read this and look forward to checking out her backlog. I didn’t review this on my blog. In short, it’s a contemporary romance with a miscommunication trope that I didn’t find annoying, for once.

PERILOUS TIMES by Thomas D. Lee: This is certainly the Arthurian-inspired tale that I didn’t know I needed. Set in the near future, Earth is nearly ruined from climate change (thanks, humans), which causes the knights of the round table to spring forth from their magical graves. This book is spectacular and a dry-humor commentary on so many things, though mainly how bureaucracy and greed stymy climate action. This is a must-read.

FUNNY FEELINGS by Tarah DeWitt: A fellow blogger recommended this book to me after I finished HAPPY PLACE. I don’t usually read friends to lovers, but I liked this one! The adult main characters have great communication and I just loved their chemistry.

Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. SnyderThe Navigating Fox by Christopher RoweThe Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi HwangThe Milkweed Lands by Eric Lee-Mader

SISTER, MAIDEN, MONSTER by Lucy Snyder: This was my tentative foray into horror this year. I rarely read it, but this one made an impression. This is a pandemic-related horror story, though not specifically about COVID-19. So if that’s a big content warning for you, then stay away. I wouldn’t call this a “favorite” read. However, I appreciated the reaction it elicited from my subconscious, namely nightmares. I rarely have nightmares. All of the ones I remember are related to pandemics, from HOT ZONE by Richard Preston to our collective trauma of 2020.

THE NAVIGATING FOX by Christopher Rowe: This was such a unique book. Set in North America but with an ancient Roman-like society, there are talking animals and a quest to hell. I feel like this also has subtle messages, mainly, in my opinion, about colonialism and ethnocentrism.

THE HEN WHO DREAMED SHE COULD FLY by Sun-Mi Hwang: This was an impulse audiobook borrow from my library because it’s short. The narrator for this is superb and I didn’t expect to find myself internally rooting for a hen. The narrator incorporates so much emotion and longing into the hen character. It’s basically a story about achieving motherhood and the love of a mother. Definitely give this one a try!

THE MILKWEED LANDS by Eric Lee-Mader: I really enjoy gardening, so this was an easy NetGalley request for me. It’s an accessible book about the milkweed plant. It has beautiful illustrations that show the cycle of milkweed and the insects that call it home or food. Unbeknownst to me, the plant also had a role in WWII. I read a digital, color version of this on my laptop. But I noticed my local bookstore had a couple of copies and can attest that the illustrations are even more impressive in person.

What are some of your favorite books in 2023? Did any of these make your list, too?

14 thoughts on “Favorite Books in 2023

  1. And again there are so many interesting books I need to put on my wishlist. Thank you for that. ????

    I wish you Happy New Year with lots of love, joy and amazing stories.

  2. The only ones of these that I have read are Perilous Times which I really loved and Happy Place. I definitely need to add The Navigating Fox to my TBR though. Wishing lots of amazing reads in the year ahead.

    1. PERILOUS TIMES was sooo awesome and so unique. I bought myself the UK version of it afterward because I love the cover art and want to reread it one day. I hope you have a great rest of 2023!

  3. Great list! I also feel that my reaction to my reads this year was, as you put it, less excitable. I ended 2022 on a high note so maybe there will be one final read this year that’ll end this year off on a 5-star read… But I’m trying not to dwell on it either. ???? I still haven’t read an Emily Henry book but have heard her stuff is great. I hope you have an amazing start to your year of reading in 2024!

    1. Yea, what’s up with that?! I hope we both have more excitable reactions in 2024 to what we read. I liked most of what I read, but for whatever reason I just wasn’t “wow-ed” by many of them. I’m sure one day you’ll get around to reading an Emily Henry book…I’ve heard they’re all good, so you probably can’t go wrong with whichever one you pick first.

  4. Bummer that you didn’t have as many 5 star reads this year but you read some good books, it seems! The only book I’ve read from your list is Happy Place, which I enjoyed but not as much as her others. I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy People We Meet on Vacation by her so I can’t wait for you to get there.

    1. I had more 5-star reads than I let on, but some were rereads (I mean, c’mon, hello ACOTAR). It sounds like I’ll enjoy Emily Henry’s other stuff…I have at least one of her backlist reads on my shelf to get to.

  5. THE NAVIGATING FOX sounds interesting! I don’t think I’ve heard of it before. I also anecdotally feel like I had less stand-out reads this year than other years, but when I started drafting my year-end posts, I kept coming back to four or five titles that were quite memorable. BABEL was the big one for me, even if it wasn’t a perfect five star read.

    1. You should definitely try THE NAVIGATING FOX! I didn’t see much buzz about it on book Twitter or bookstagram…I found it by browsing the publisher on NG. I think I only saw one other ARC review for it. Did you publish your year-end post yet? BABEL is another one on my TBR, but I have a feeling I’ll need to be in a right frame of mind to read it since I understand it’s dark academia and a heavy topic.

      1. You are right about BABEL! I had not posted my year end thoughts on Dec 30, but I have posted them now 🙂 One for the End of Year Book Survey and then my post for 2024 goals. (Sorry for the late reply, I lost track of a few of my notifs! I just suddenly had the thought while doing something else on my blog – “Didn’t someone ask if I’d posted this yet?” – and then I went back to figure out who it was haha. ????)

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