Best Books of 2023

by Theja Pk
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best books of 2023

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Last updated on December 17th, 2023

In this round-up post, we will take a look at the best books of 2023.

As we reach the midway mark of the year, it’s time to kick back and think about all the amazing stories and characters that have made their way into our bookshelves.

From gripping thrillers to heartwarming romances, mind-bending science fiction to thought-provoking non-fiction, I want to share with you some of my favourite books I have read from this year. These books are all 4 or 5 stars.

I’ll be updating this list throughout the year as I read more books, so be sure to check back in. Happy reading!

Click the book covers to jump to their section or simply use the table of contents below!

yours truly by abby jimenez book cover
next to you hannah bonam young new cover
someone else's shoes jojo moyes book cover
illustrated book cover of No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister showing paper cut outs of various characters from the book
Illustrated cover of Morbidly Yours by Ivy Fairbanks with a guy, shovel in hand, and a girl against a gravestone, gazing at each other.
illustrated book cover of the The Wedding Menu by Letizia Lorini featuring a couple chatting on the phone while leaning against a table adorned with wedding desserts

Hello Beautiful – Ann Napolitano

This modern take on the classic novel, Little Women, is a multigenerational tale of love, loss, and bravery. It celebrates the unbreakable bond of sisterhood while also highlighting its fragilities.

In Hello Beautiful, Ann Napolitano has created a sincere, profoundly moving book that will stay with readers long after reading it.

It’s not a lighthearted read, as it explores issues like depression and suicide, but the author’s talent for weaving together complex characters and beautiful prose has made this one of my top reads of 2023.

About the book

William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him—so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him.

With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.

But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most.

5 reasons to read Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

  • rich, authentic, believable characters that felt so real that that they’ll make you wish you could go to Chicago to meet them
  • sensitive and heartbreaking representation of mental health struggles (depression)
  • multigenerational story that ties everything together
  • multiple POVs that will keep you completely engrossed
  • beautiful, poetic and profound writing

Yours Truly – Abby Jimenez

illustrated book cover of Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez, featuring the couple sitting around the book title

TROPE: Fake dating, friends to lovers, workplace romance

TWs: social anxiety, chronic illness, organ donation

Yours Truly, the second book in the ‘Part of Your World’ series, details the romance between Brianna Ortiz, Alexis’ best friend from book 1, and Jacob Maddox, a fellow ER doctor who might just be the sweetest human being you’ll ever meet.

I absolutely adored Daniel and Alexis’ story from the previous book, and I didn’t think Jimenez could top it, but she knocks it out of the park again.

With humor, heart, and unflinching honesty, she weaves an inspiring and moving tale about loving someone just as they are, flaws and all.

About the book

Dr. Briana Ortiz’s life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalized, her brother’s running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants? Oh, that’s probably going to the new man-doctor who’s already registering eighty-friggin’-seven on Briana’s “pain in my ass” scale. But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr. Jacob Maddox completely flips the game . . . by sending Briana a letter.

And it’s a really good letter. Like the kind that proves that Jacob isn’t actually Satan. Worse, he might be this fantastically funny and subversively likeable guy who’s terrible at first impressions. Because suddenly he and Bri are exchanging letters, sharing lunch dates in her “sob closet,” and discussing the merits of freakishly tiny horses.

But when Jacob decides to give Briana the best gift imaginable—a kidney for her brother—she wonders just how she can resist this quietly sexy new doctor . . . especially when he calls in a favor she can’t refuse.

5 reasons to read Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez

  • Jacob is sweet, thoughtful and patient. If you loved Daniel from ‘Part of Your World’, you’ll love him because they’re both such golden retriever heros. His social anxiety was portrayed really nicely and I saw alot of myself in him.
  • Brianna is smart, witty, and one of the most likable female MCs I’ve encountered. There were moments when I wanted to shake some sense into her, I was already in love with her character that I didn’t even mind the angsty slow burn.
  • The progression from friends to lovers felt organic and genuine. Usually, I’m not too fond of miscommunication in stories, but it was well done in this case. And their chemistry was undeniably sweet, especially with the added component of communicating through hand-written letters.
  • Audible narrators did a fantastic job and would really recommend this as an audiobook
  • Great balance between lighthearted humor and heavier issues like organ donation, chronic illness and social anxiety

Next To You – Hannah Bonam-Young

illustrated book cover of Next To You by Hannah Bonam-Young, depicting a woman on a man's shoulders, holding paint, with a garage background

TROPE: friends to lovers

TWs: grief, death of parent

Next to You is more than just a story about two friends who renovate a school bus into a home. It’s a story about grief and forgiveness. It emphasizes that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of someone we love, and we have to learn to forgive ourselves for our past mistakes if we hope to move forward into the future.

This was my first book by Hannah Bonam-Young, but it’s actually the second book in the Next Series. After reading this one, I immediately bought the first book. And that did not disappoint either.

This friends to lovers romance is great for anyone looking for authentic characters, swoon-worthy romance and a little bit of HGTV action.

About the book

Lane is in the middle of an identity crisis. Her friends are all partnered up, her career is leading nowhere, and simply put, she’s not happy. So after a night out celebrating (drinking) on her birthday, she makes one hell of an impulsive purchase. A giant yellow forty-eight passenger school bus that she intends to make a home.

With little-to-no renovation experience but a large sum of inheritance money, Lane enlists the help of her friend Matt—a mechanic by trade, handyman by practice, and hottie by nature.

While their mutual attraction is undeniable, Matt and Lane have silently agreed that a friendship is the only thing that can ever exist between them. Matt’s a total family guy with “settle down with me” tattooed across his forehead, whereas Lane is entirely commitment-averse.

So when Matt offers to help her with the bus and in the bedroom with no strings attached, Lane’s feelings evolve faster than you can say “just good friends.” But she soon discovers that in order to build something new, she has to first heal her past.

5 reasons to read Next To You by Hannah Bonam-Young

  • Lane is someone I would love to be friends with. She’s genuine and authentic, and her wry wit had me laughing so many times. One of my favorite things about her development is that she’s not entirely perfect by the end of the book. Not only because that’s less plausible but because it makes her someone most readers can easily relate to (I know I certainly did).
  • Matt is one of the sweetest book BFs I’ve ever read. His unconditional and patient love for Lane made my heart smile.
  • Honest portrayal of mental health issues such as anxiety and grief of losing a loved one. The author adds a bonus epilogue if you sign up for her newsletter and this added another layer of depth to their romance that made me love them even more.
  • Unique plot line about renovating a school bus into a home. After reading this, I googled this concept and was pleasantly shocked at how amazing these ‘skoolies’ (official term for school buses turned into homes) are, even being able to house a family of 5!
  • Steamy scenes that will not disappoint for those who love their romances to be open door.

Someone Else’s Shoes – Jojo Moyes

TWs: Depression, infidelity, age discrimination

Who knew a pair of red Christian Louboutin shoes could cause so much chaos? Someone else’s shoes is about the strength of female friendships, self-discovery, and finding your power.

It tells the story of a group of middle-aged women from diverse backgrounds who come together to form an unlikely sisterhood. Jojo Moyes created a fun mix of romance, mystery, humor, and wit to give readers an engaging story that will have you laughing and crying simultaneously.

There are elements in this story that reminded me of movies like Sandra Bullock’s Ocean 8 and Jennifer Lopez’s Maid in Manhattan. So if you liked those films, then you will definitely adore this one.

About the book

Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else’s shoes?

Nisha Cantor lives the globetrotting life of the seriously wealthy, until her husband announces a divorce and cuts her off. Nisha is determined to hang onto her glamorous life. But in the meantime, she must scramble to cope–she doesn’t even have the shoes she was, until a moment ago, standing in.

That’s because Sam Kemp – in the bleakest point of her life – has accidentally taken Nisha’s gym bag. But Sam hardly has time to worry about a lost gym bag–she’s struggling to keep herself and her family afloat. When she tries on Nisha’s six-inch high Christian Louboutin red crocodile shoes, the resulting jolt of confidence that makes her realize something must change—and that thing is herself.

5 reasons to read Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes

  • Rich cast of incisive and diverse characters that are real, honest, and engaging. They were a joy to discover, and by the end, you will be rooting for almost all of them.
  • In depth look into depression. Moyes beautifully highlights how depression affects the various family members in different ways, and how each person struggles to find a new functioning family dynamic under the weight of a mental illness. 
  • Ending was unexpected, as I did not see all the happy little twists coming. But it was a satisfying conclusion and left me smiling like a Cheshire Cat.
  • Unique and painfully accurate writing that was so engaging that this book got me out of my reading slump.
  • Multiple POVs without confusing or drowning the reader with too much unnecessary information. Each perspective ended in suspense before switching to the next one. This was frustrating, but in a good way, because it kept me engrossed in the story and eagerly flipping through the pages to see how it unfolded. 

The Museum of Ordinary People – Mike Gayle

GENRE: literary fiction

TWs: grief, death of loved one

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a place to safely keep all the items and knick-knacks of loved ones who have passed away, the ones we don’t want to get rid of? That’s where the Museum of Ordinary People comes in.

In this touching and inspiring story, Mike Gayle explores themes of grief, forgiveness, and the power of moving forward, leaving a lasting impact on every reader.

Through a cast of authentic and intricate characters, the Museum of Ordinary People showcases the raw and messy yet beautiful tapestry of the human experience. It’s a journey that will resonate with everyone and leave you feeling deeply connected to the story.

About the book

Still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, Jess is about to do the hardest thing she’s ever done: empty her childhood home so that it can be sold.  As she sorts through a lifetime of memories, everything comes to a halt when she comes across something she just can’t part with: an old set of encyclopedias.  To the world, the books are outdated and ready to be recycled.  To Jess, they represent love and the future that her mother always wanted her to have. 

In the process of finding the books a new home, Jess discovers an unusual archive of letters, photographs, and curious housed in a warehouse and known as the Museum of Ordinary People.  Irresistibly drawn, she becomes the museum’s unofficial custodian, along with the warehouse’s mysterious owner.  As they delve into the history of objects in their care, they not only unravel heart-stirring stories that span generations and continents, but also unearth long-buried secrets that lie closer to home.

Inspired by an abandoned box of mementos, The Museum of Ordinary People is a poignant novel about memory and loss, the things we leave behind, and the future we create for ourselves. 

5 reasons to read The Museum of Ordinary People

  • unique and refreshing perspective on museums – makes you wish this kind of museum existed in real life.
  • authentic and relatable characters – feel like persons you could run into in real life. They’re funny, charming, and beautifully broken as real humans are
  • touching and intimate writing that feels like an old friend is telling you a story
  • beautifully heartbreaking ending that will have you feeling all the feels
  • realistic and emotional portrayal of grief and loss but you leave the book feeling inspired and hopeful

No Two Persons – Erica Bauermeister

illustrated book cover of No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister showing paper cut outs of various characters from the book

GENRE: literary fiction

TWs: grief, suicide

No Two Persons is a story that explores the power of a remarkable book and its profound impact when it meets a reader precisely when they need it the most.

This is a love letter to anyone who loves to read.

The story is told through a series of short stories featuring 10 characters and has a full circle ending that will leave your heart feeling bittersweet once it’s over.

About the book

One book. Nine readers. Ten changed lives.

That was the beauty of books, wasn’t it? They took you places you didn’t know you needed to go…

Alice has always wanted to be a writer. Her talent is innate, but her stories remain safe and detached, until a devastating event breaks her heart open, and she creates a stunning debut novel. Her words, in turn, find their way to readers, from a teenager hiding her homelessness, to a free diver pushing himself beyond endurance, an artist furious at the world around her, a bookseller in search of love, a widower rent by grief. Each one is drawn into Alice’s novel; each one discovers something different that alters their perspective, and presents new pathways forward for their lives.

Together, their stories reveal how books can affect us in the most beautiful and unexpected of ways—and how we are all more closely connected to one another than we might think.

5 reasons to read No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

  • carefully crafted and impactful characters
  • intimate, thought-provoking, and pleasantly insightful writing
  • highly character driven plot
  • full circle moment in the end that will leave you smiling from ear to ear
  • great pacing that never felt rushed with so many characters

The Seven Year Slip – Ashley Poston

TROPE: time travel romance

TWs: death of loved one, grief, suicide

What if you met the right person at the wrong time? The Seven Year Slip is a touching story about meeting your true love too early but having to wait for the right time to fully love them.

It’s about learning to say goodbye to the familiarity of the past and welcoming the uncertainty of the future with open arms.

The male MC reminded me of Atlas from “It Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover, as they are both chefs, and the connection between Iwan and Clementine is similar to that of Lily and Atlas.

About the book

Sometimes, the worst day of your life happens, and you have to figure out how to live after it.

So Clementine forms a plan to keep her heart safe: work hard, find someone decent to love, and try to remember to chase the moon. The last one is silly and obviously metaphorical, but her aunt always told her that you needed at least one big dream to keep going. And for the last year, that plan has gone off without a hitch. Mostly. The love part is hard because she doesn’t want to get too close to anyone—she isn’t sure her heart can take it.

And then she finds a strange man standing in the kitchen of her late aunt’s apartment. A man with kind eyes and a Southern drawl and a taste for lemon pies. The kind of man that, before it all, she would’ve fallen head-over-heels for. And she might again.

Except, he exists in the past. Seven years ago, to be exact. And she, quite literally, lives seven years in his future.

Her aunt always said the apartment was a pinch in time, a place where moments blended together like watercolors. And Clementine knows that if she lets her heart fall, she’ll be doomed.

After all, love is never a matter of time—but a matter of timing.

5 reasons to read The Seven Year Slip

  • sincere and sweet chemistry between main characters that make it a delight to watch their connection blossom into something more than strangers.
  • hilarious side characters with diversity/LGBTQ inclusion
  • effortless intertwining of timelines that built great tension
  • witty and engaging writing
  • touching and sensitive portrayal of heavy issues such as grief and suicide

Out On A Limb – Hannah Bonam-Young

TROPE: pregnancy, forced proximity

TWs: several – see full review for possible spoilers.

Out on a Limb by Hannah Bonam-Young is a sweet and tenderhearted story about unexpected love and the strength of living with a disability. With her famous trifecta of quick wit, authentic characters, and charming dialogues, Hannah delivers a story that is both eye-opening and inspiring.

I can tell how much of Hannah’s heart is in this novel. With her personal experience of a limb disability, getting to know Win felt like getting to know Hannah herself. I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes and learning about how she has grown while navigating the struggles that come with being different.

About the book

Winnifred “Win” McNulty has always been wildly independent. Not one to be coddled for her limb difference, Win has spent most of her life trying to prove that she can do it all on her own. And, with some minor adjustments, she’s done just fine.

That is until she has a one-night stand with the incredibly charming Bo, a perfect stranger. And that one night changes everything.

While Bo is surprisingly elated to step upto the plate, Win finds herself unsure of whether she can handle this new challenge on her own or if she’ll need a helping hand.

Together, Win and Bo decide to get to know one another as friends and nothing more. But, as they both should know by now, life rarely goes according to plan.

5 reasons to read Out On A Limb

  • the depth and authenticity to Win’s story by knowing how personal this story was to the author because of her own limb disability.
  • You know that friend who effortlessly joins in on your lie, even though they have no idea what you’re talking about or had any heads up about it? That’s Win and Bo. I loved their witty chemistry with each other
  • touching and intimate perspective of the daily struggles for someone living with a disability
  • the messages highlighted throughout that having a disability doesn’t make you any less worthy of love
  • Hannah writes the sweetest epilogues. A great addition for those who love girl dads!

Business or Pleasure – Rachel Lynn Solomon

TROPE: friends with benefits, celebrity, forced proximity

TWs: anxiety, OCD, abortion (off-page)

Business or Pleasure is a refreshing story about a ghostwriter who falls in love with the celebrity whose book she is writing after a bad one-night stand with him.

This book is excellent for those who love stories with good mental health representation, pro-therapy, and sex-positive vibes.

What drew me to this book was the premise of the failed one-night stand where the guy wasn’t mind-blowing in bed, as most romance heroes are. It was nice to read a more realistic take on intimacy.

About the book

Chandler Cohen has never felt more like the ghost in “ghostwriter” until she attends a signing for a book she wrote—and the author doesn’t even recognize her. The evening turns more promising when she meets a charming man at the bar and immediately connects with him. But when all their sexual tension culminates in a spectacularly awkward hookup, she decides this is one night better off forgotten.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Her next project is ghostwriting a memoir for Finn Walsh, a C-list actor best known for playing a lovable nerd on a cult classic werewolf show who now makes a living appearing at fan conventions across the country. Chandler knows him better from their one-night stand of hilarious mishaps.

Chandler’s determined to keep their partnership as professional as possible, but when she admits to Finn their night together wasn’t as mind-blowing as he thought it was, he’s distraught. He intrigues her enough that they strike a deal: when they’re not working on his book, Chandler will school Finn in the art of satisfaction. As they grow closer both in and out of the bedroom, they must figure out which is more important, business or pleasure—or if there’s a way for them to have both.

5 reasons to read Business or Pleasure

  • realistic take on intimacy in relationships and encouragement of open communication
  • sweet and supportive Finn who wasn’t the stereotypical actor and didn’t let his ego get in the way of improving his bedroom skills
  • poignant themes: mental health (OCD), sex positivity, open communication, therapy, and passion for art
  • relatable female MC
  • engaging writing: the author used different media formats within chapters to showcase Finn’s past and it added a fun little element in between chapters

Drowning – TJ Newman

GENRE: suspense/thriller (survival)

TWs: death of child, death by various causes

12 lives are at risk when a plane plummets into the ocean shortly after taking off from Hawaii. Drowning by T.J Newman is an emotionally gripping and high-paced thriller that takes us on a journey as these survivors fight for their lives while those on the surface race against time to rescue them.

Despite the odds against them, the characters in this novel display remarkable courage and resilience in the face of danger.

Drowning is an absolute must-read for readers who enjoy suspenseful stories that will keep them on the edge of their seats.

About the book

Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean. During the evacuation, an engine explodes and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors—but it’s too late. The plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside.

More than two hundred feet below the surface, engineer Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter Shannon are waist-deep in water and fighting for their lives.

Their only chance at survival is an elite rescue team on the surface led by professional diver Chris Kent—Shannon’s mother and Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife—who must work together with Will to find a way to save their daughter and rescue the passengers from the sealed airplane, which is now teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff.

There’s not much time.

There’s even less air.

With devastating emotional power and heart-stopping suspense, Drowning is an unforgettable thriller about a family’s desperate fight to save themselves and the people trapped with them—against impossible odds.

4 reasons to read Drowning by TJ Newman

  • tender exploration of complex human emotions like grief and loss without sacrificing the adrenaline
  • fast paced: the drama starts from the very first page and hooks you quickly. The pacing remains nerve-wracking and emotionally charged al the way to the end
  • multiple POVs that also alternate between what is happening above the surface with the rescue mission and underwater with the survivors. There are also a few chapters that go back in time to explain the MC’s backstories. Despite so many perspectives, the story never became overwhelming or hard to follow.
  • the audiobook experience made me feel like I was right there with the survivors in the midst of all the chaos and drama.

Morbidly Yours – Ivy Fairbanks

illustrated book cover of Morbidly Yours by Ivy Fairbanks showing a man with a shovel standing next to a girl leaning over a gravestone

TROPE: friends to lovers

TWs: grief & death, graphic description of body prep in funeral home 

An animator and mortician fall in love in this tender-hearted, delightful romance by Ivy Fairbanks.

If you take The Dead Romantics and turn up the dial on the funeral home body preparation details while retaining the warm and fuzzy feelings associated with a feel-good romance, you get Morbidly Yours.

About the book

Callum Flannelly would rather dive into an open grave than take a stranger to dinner and a movie. But he can only inherit the family undertaking business and carry on their legacy under one condition: He must marry before his 35th birthday. So it’s out of the mortuary and into the dating scene.

Lark Thompson would rather get crushed by a falling anvil than live next to a funeral home during her stay in Galway, Ireland. The vivacious American cartoon creator and animator came here to embrace life, not be reminded of losing her husband.

When Lark learns of Callum’s dilemma and aversion to marrying out of necessity rather than love, she agrees to help the introverted mortician. Although sworn off love herself, she is optimistic that Callum can find The One and secure his inheritance.

But as the dating project progresses and their friendship grows, so does a mutual attraction. The more time she spends with serious, sarcastic Callum, the more she dreads finding him a match. And the more disastrous dates he endures, the more trepidation he feels for Lark’s imminent return to the states.

If they think it’s possible to ignore their connection, they’re dead wrong.

5 reasons to read Morbidly Yours

  • charming characters with great chemistry
  • satisfying character growth
  • relatable themes of grief
  • engaging slow burn romance with delicious angst
  • taste of Irish culture and slang

The Wedding Menu – Letizia Lorini

illustrated book cover of the The Wedding Menu by Letizia Lorini featuring a couple chatting on the phone while leaning against a table adorned with wedding desserts

TROPE: friends to lovers, rivals/enemies to lovers

TWs: open relationship

The Wedding Menu is a delightful, captivating, and heartwarming story about discovering the importance of self-love.

With fantastic dialogue and genuine characters, Letizia Lorini is an author that romance enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy reading.

About the book

One year ago, Amelie had it all.

Almost engaged to her high school sweetheart, close to her childhood best friend, and cooking at her dad’s restaurant: her life was exactly what she’d ordered.

Until Ian, an opinionated wedding-hater, popped up out of nowhere and proved she might like something off menu.

***

One year later, Amelie has lost it all.

She’s unemployed, single, and taking a break from her friendship. As for Ian? He’s gone too.

When she visits Ian’s hometown to teach at a week-long cooking conference, she hopes for a fateful meet-cute. But their reunion is far from joyful when Amelie discovers Ian is the son of her father’s business rival.

Even bigger fiasco? He only wants friendship.

Amelie has one week to change his mind, and if the truth of why her whole life fell apart remains hidden, their love story might even end with a wedding.

5 reasons to read The Wedding Menu

  • adorable golden retriever hero
  • hilarious, witty dialogue
  • engaging slow burn romance
  • swoon-worthy epilogue
  • steamy scenes

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