My Favorite Books of 2023

by - Monday, January 08, 2024

I read more books in 2023 than I expected to, and honestly, I think I have to credit the summer months with a newborn who was up at all hours of the night needing to be fed. I did so much reading in a dark nursery on my Kindle. 

Of the 72 books I read, I only gave a handful five stars. I don't have a very scientific way of determining whether a book is four stars or five stars, but I tend to reserve a five-star rating for books that I rave about or constantly recommend that others read. 

2023 books in review

2023 Five Stars

Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder, #1)Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It has been ages since I tore through a book in just over a day, hating to set it down and looking forward to picking up again, and that's exactly what happened with this book. The opening was dark with a very grisly murder and it was hard to read parts of night because it was a bit creepy, but I was sucked into the story of a serial killer in Amish country and the formerly Amish female chief of police tasked with hunting down the killer. As soon as I finished this, I immediately requested the next book with this character from the library, and I look forward to working my way through them all.

The BreakawayThe Breakaway by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved everything about this book. First off, I almost always love anything by Jennifer Weiner, she just tells the best stories. And secondly, I particularly loved this storyline of a woman finding herself, her confidence, her path forward through sports/athletics. I was sad to put this down when I finished it because reading it just made me so happy.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBIKillers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been sitting on our bookshelf for years, and I finally got the nudge to pick it up and actually read it, and I'm so glad I did. I didn't know much about the Osage murders before reading this book, and Grann told the story in such a gripping way, it was almost hard to believe it was a nonfiction book. Highly recommend.

Mad HoneyMad Honey by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book certainly lived up to the hype, and I tore through it. High schooler Asher lives with his mom Olivia, a bee keeper, in a small town, and he loves his girlfriend Lily. This book is told through the perspective of Lily and Asher's mom after Asher is arrested for Lily's death. Lily's story is told backwards in time while Olivia's is told moving forward. It's hard to say too much without giving away one of the bigger surprises in the book, but boy this was so good, and I'm so glad I finally got it off the waitlist at the library.

Happy PlaceHappy Place by Emily Henry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emily Henry's books are just the best and most fun reads. I was so excited when I got this book off the library waitlist so quickly, and I tore through it in a day or so. A group of friends have been vacationing together in Maine since college. When they come together this year, things have changed. One is engaged, and one is keeping a secret that they no longer are. As the friends spend more time together, some of the secrets come out. The book has a happy ending, but I'll leave it there to not spoil it.

Fly Girl: A MemoirFly Girl: A Memoir by Ann Hood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book because I felt like I was getting a behind the scenes look at what goes on before, during and after a flight. I actually read this on the plane to Europe in March, and I appreciated being in the air, reading about all the training the author had to go through to be a flight attendants, some of the antics she experienced and in general just learning more about her jet-setting life. It was cool insight and an enjoyable read.

Her Sister's DeathHer Sister's Death by K.L. Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was just the book I needed to drag me out of a major reading slump! It's a mystery set in Baltimore during two different time periods. In modern day, Val is trying to investigate her sister's mysterious death at a fancy Baltimore hotel. The police have ruled it a suicide, but Val doesn't buy it. Back in the 1920s, Bridget is getting ready to be married off to a wealthy man in the same hotel. She has some concerns, but goes through with the wedding anyway. I thought it was interesting the way the author wove these two very different storylines together, centering the hotel as a strange and mysterious place. I couldn't put this book down and tore through it in just a few days.

2023 Great Four Star Reads

Occasionally, when I look back at what I read, I realize maybe a book wasn't perfectly a five star for me, but was still really good, and I talk about or recommend it a lot. I have a few of those this year too. So these are the four-star books that I keep recommending. 

SpareSpare by Prince Harry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There was nothing quite like Prince Harry narrating this book through my headphones. I listened to this while working on some home improvement projects, and while some of the parts of the book that focused on Harry's military service were a little slow, I really enjoyed learning about his travels to Africa and what drew him to working in various countries there. I also of course loved the behind-the-scenes Royal Family insights, and man, the press and the relationship between the Palace and the press and the way they all turn on each other to feed stories, that was tough. Highly recommend this as an audiobook.

Demon CopperheadDemon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A modern take on David Copperfield, set in in the heart of the opioid epidemic in Appalachia. This was a great and heartbreaking book, but it was really long, which is why I only gave it four stars instead of five. There were a few parts of Demon Copperhead's story that I thought could have been condensed a bit, but overall, I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to see if Demon ever caught a break in life.

Canary GirlsCanary Girls by Jennifer Chiaverini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fictional account of the women who worked in munitions factories in Europe during WWI. This story follows four different women from very different life circumstances that find themselves working in the factory. While the men are gone, the women not only do the work, but they also form a professional soccer league, playing games against other mutionettes to raise money for charity. I feel like most historical fiction I've read has been set during WWII so this was a nice change from that!

You May Also Like