It might be a little outside of my crafting niche to talk about books, but the fun thing about writing a blog for a living is that I can write about whatever I like! And when I’ve read a fantastic novel, I need to tell someone about it! So I hope you enjoy my list of top 12 book picks of 2023!
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I wrote my first yearly round-up of my favourite books last year, you can read that post here for more ideas. I was looking back at that list and remembering the great books I enjoyed in 2022!
I’m including some trigger warnings with this year’s list. But here’s a warning about the warnings; they could be considered spoilers in some cases. I hate getting surprised with topics I prefer to avoid when reading. So I figured fair is fair, if I’m going to recommend a book I’m going to give you the full scope of what you can expect!
I will NOT be recommending anything super spicy. That’s not my style. Sometimes a really great book has a spicy scene or two, and those might make the cut. But I don’t generally read books that are only about a spicy romance, so you won’t find that here.
My rule of thumb is this: If I wouldn’t recommend it to my own mother, I won’t recommend it to you either. lol
I consume all my books in audiobook format. So narration can play a big role in my opinion making.
This was supposed to be a list of top ten books but I couldn’t limit myself. I read a lot of great books this past year!
Best Books of 2023
Note: Each book titled is linked to Amazon in case you’re interested. I actually find most of my reads free through my local library, using the libby app.
Ok, here’s my list of top 12 book picks of 2023:
1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Synopsis: A character analysis of a peculiar woman with a history of trauma, unknowingly searching for love & belonging.
Opinion: Excellent audiobook narration. It’s super quirky and a little odd at first, but it’s a really captivating story.
Trigger Warnings: Darker elements of abuse
2. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Synopsis: Documentary style retelling of the rise of the (fictional) 70s rock band called Daisy Jones & The Six. It’s all about their struggles with love, fame and addictions. Everything you’d expect from a rock band.
Opinion: One of the best narrations I’ve ever listened to. It is a full cast of voice actors and they do an incredible job bringing the story to life. The storytelling is incredible, with so much depth to each character.
Trigger Warnings: Substance abuse & minor abortion storyline
3. All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien
Synopsis: Vietnamese-Australian Ky unravels what happened the night her brother was murdered.
Opinion: Fascinating insight into a culture I know almost nothing about. It’s all about the bonds & obligations of family, friendship and culture all connected by war and trauma. I learned so much and would recommend it for that reason alone.
Trigger Warnings: Difficult topics and emotionally involved. But otherwise no significant triggers that I can recall
4. Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
Synopsis: Quirky coming of age story of 2 teenage misfits trying to identify their place in the world. Plus the consequences of letting their art consume them.
Opinion: This book has really beautiful turns of phrase and reflections on the inner thoughts of being human. It was an ‘out of the box’ story line with beautiful moments of philosophical musings. Also, Ginnifer Goodwin as the narrator was absolutely delightful to listen to.
Trigger Warnings: None. My scribbled notes for this books are “Quirky & kinda sad & weirdly meaningful & complex.” 😀
5. The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Synopsis: Cold War era CIA secretaries are given a mission to smuggle Pasternak’s great work, Dr. Zhivago, out and back in to the U.S.S.R as well as a reflection on his relationship with his mistress Olga.
Opinion: So incredibly interesting! This book is based on real events and it is so compelling! I keep recommending this book to people!
Trigger Warnings: Other than the hardships of the gulags, and being a woman in the 50s, no significant triggers.
6. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Synopsis: A story about race and privilege involving a black babysitter, her white employer and the man who connects them.
Opinion: As a white woman, I found this book really educational on the topic of race. I learned a lot. And story-wise, the characters kept me guessing! I liked how complex they all were, it was a great read!
Trigger Warnings: A little spice
7. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
Synopsis: The life story of Belle da Costa Greene, a black woman who passed as white in the 1910s in order to be the librarian and curator of JP Morgan’s library as well as her climb up the ranks of society.
Opinion: Not my favourite narration, and the story-telling wasn’t as well-composed as it could have been, but the historical components were fascinating! Absolutely worth a read to become more educated on a compelling and significant historical figure. Also, we visited the JP Morgan library in July 2023 and saw some of the works that Belle personally acquired for the collection. I loved learning her story!
Trigger Warnings: An abortion storyline
8. Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
Synopsis: Inti Flynn is helping to reintroduce wolves into the wild in Scotland. At the same time she is attempting to heal her’s and her sister’s trauma all while circling a murder mystery storyline.
Opinion: This book was a little dark, but really compelling. The characters are unique personalities and the main character suffers from a really interesting condition. This book has a lot of layers and really examines how a person’s trauma can shape their life and what can happen when you dare to crack your heart open a little.
Trigger Warnings: Definite warning for domestic abuse and psychological manipulation.
9. The Winners by Fredrik Backman
Synopsis: The inner workings of a pair of hockey-obsessed small towns and the people who try to thrive there.
Opinion: This is the longest book I’ve ever listened to, it’s 21 hours! It’s also #3 in a series, but it isn’t necessary to have read the previous 2 books first. I loved this book not for the plot, but for the incredibly deep insights into human nature and really compelling character analysis. There were some lines in this book that just cut right through me, in a good way. I’ll definitely read more books by this author.
Trigger Warnings: This book does not avoid hard topics but I don’t think there was anything particularly triggering besides a rape storyline. Lots of realness and heartbreak.
10. Jane & Edward by Melodie Edwards
Synopsis: A modern retelling of Jane Eyre, set in Toronto.
Opinion: This book stays pretty stays pretty true to Jane & Mr. Rochester’s original personalities and storylines. There’s some fun banter and just the right amount of suggestions without actually being spicy. It’s a great love story.
Trigger Warnings: None that I can recall
11. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Synopsis: A WWII mystery story covering only the course of a week while Hanneke tries to locate a missing teenage girl in Amsterdam and unravels some secrets and ugly truths along the way.
Opinion: There were some interesting historical facts that I didn’t know considering I read a lot of WWII historical fiction.
Trigger Warnings: Besides the obvious disturbing nature of war, there’s nothing I think needs a warning.
12. Look Closer By David Ellis
Synopsis: A cleverly written, gripping murder mystery with twists and turns.
Opinion: This one was a riskier choice for me, it’s really outside of my typical genres. But it felt like a true mystery because it actually kept me guessing! And that was kind of fun.
Trigger Warnings: There’s a little spice. And some darker content although nothing vividly graphic. Also it’s a murder mystery, so there’s you know, murder. lol
Other Books I Read and Would Recommend
I’m not going to get into why these books did not quite make my top 12. I liked all of them, but certainly wasn’t blown away. I’d say they are all worth a read for you to judge for yourself!
I give each of these books:
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My Least Favourite Books of 2023
I’d take a pass on these 4 if I had a do-over.
The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes. A lot of build-up for a mediocre resolution.
The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager. The first half of the book was actually very good. Then it took a weird turn that crossed genres and really ruined it for me.
You Have a Match by Emma Lord. Admittedly this is a YA book and might appeal to a younger audience. But I found the repetitive dialogue and predicable relationships to be really tedious.
The Most Likely Club by Elyssa Friedland. Oof. Kind of a waste of brain cells to read this one. Unremarkable and a little annoying. TW: A little spice.
That’s a wrap on my 2023 reading! I’ve got some great looking books on my list for 2024 that I’m looking forward to diving into.
Do you have any reading resolutions for 2024? I’m going to try to read 24 books. Which is the same resolution I had last year! I managed to pull it off in 2023 by finishing book #24 on December 23rd; reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire out loud with my boys. It’s become a yearly tradition that we love. We read one HP book in the autumn and then Santa brings them the next book in the series at Christmas. <3
My only other resolution for 2024 is to continue finding ways to simplify my life and make time for the things we love. So far I’m off to a strong start! I was gifted a Roomba for Christmas (I named him Gregory) so he’s been helping keep my floors tidy! Plus my subscription to Hellofresh is literally changing my life. Dinnertime is no longer a huge struggle of deciding what to cook, plus the meals are healthy and delicious! You can use my code for a free box of meals so you can give it a try yourself if you’re curious!
Anyway, drop your book suggestions in the comments, I’m always looking for recommendations!