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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,686 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

Alan Prendergast Why did I love this book?

Grann’s epic, true-life tale of shipwreck and mutiny has already been heaped with praise for its brilliant storytelling, so I will focus on a less-discussed aspect: the staggering research behind all those wonderful details about 18th-century navigation, British maritime law, scurvy symptoms, and the like.

This is a tour de force of archival reporting, my favorite kind of narrative nonfiction. It’s a singular achievement that makes for a great read—and a great listen, thanks to Dion Graham, the fast-paced, engaging narrator of the audiobook.

By David Grann,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Wager as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The beauty of The Wager unfurls like a great sail... one of the finest nonfiction books I've ever read' Guardian

'The greatest sea story ever told' Spectator

'A cracking yarn... Grann's taste for desperate predicaments finds its fullest expression here' Observer

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES NO. 1 BESTSELLER

From the international bestselling author of KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON and THE LOST CITY OF Z, a mesmerising story of shipwreck, mutiny and murder, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth.

On 28th January 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Crime Novels of the 1960s: Nine Classic Thrillers

Alan Prendergast Why did I love this book?

Okay, I’m cheating a bit by choosing a two-volume anthology containing nine novels. But I love vintage noir, whether in film or crime fiction, and it’s hard to top this compendium issued by the Library of America, giving hardcover prestige to well-plotted, hardboiled classics of the sort fans used to find on drugstore paperback racks.

Something for everyone here, including an entry in Richard Stark’s series of Parker novels and an Ed McBain police procedural, but the real gem is Dorothy B. Hughes’ The Expendable Man, which fuses its protagonist’s inner fears and paranoia with social ills still relevant today. I can’t say more without spoiling a key plot twist.

By Geoffrey O'Brien (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crime Novels of the 1960s as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Library of America presents a deluxe edition of unforgettable crime thrillers of the 1960s

Here in two volumes are 9 timeless novels, including 4 lost classics now restored to print

In the 1960s a number of gifted writers—some at the peak of their careers, others newcomers—reimagined American crime fiction. Here are nine novels of astonishing variety and inventiveness that pulse with the energies of that turbulent, transformative decade:

Fredric Brown’s The Murderers (1961), a darkly comic look at a murderous plot hatched on the hip fringes of Hollywood. Dan J. Marlowe’s terrifying The Name of the Game Is Death (1962),…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Good Behaviour

Alan Prendergast Why did I love this book?

Coming across the New York Review Books reissue of this neglected 1981 novel was one of the reading highlights of the past year, like finding a hundred-dollar bill tucked into a pair of old jeans.

It’s a cruelly funny, acerbic look back at high-toned, gin-soaked, Anglo-Irish country life of half a century before, as reconstructed by the most self-deluded narrator you’ll ever encounter. Keane is marvelous at getting at the savagery beneath the good manners of polite society; this is a drawing-room satire with teeth.

By Molly Keane,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Good Behaviour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A BBC TWO BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOK CLUB PICK (BOOKER PRIZE GEMS)

'Molly Keane is a mistress of wicked comedy' Vogue

'I really wish I had written this book. It's a tragi-comedy set in Ireland after the First World War. A real work of craftsmanship' Hilary Mantel

I do know how to behave - believe me, because I know. I have always known . . .

Behind the gates of Temple Alice, the aristocratic Anglo-Irish St Charles family sinks into a state of decaying grace. To Aroon St Charles, large and unlovely daughter of the house, the fierce forces of…


Plus, check out my book…

Gangbuster: One Man's Battle Against Crime, Corruption, and the Klan

By Alan Prendergast,

Book cover of Gangbuster: One Man's Battle Against Crime, Corruption, and the Klan

What is my book about?

The true story of a district attorney who declared war on con men, Klansmen, and a corrupt police force amid the social and political turmoil of the 1920s. A decorated hero of the Great War, Philip Van Cise, came home to Denver, Colorado, only to find his town in the grip of mobsters and swindlers.

Using surveillance tactics that were decades ahead of their time, he busted up a crime ring that had been thriving in Denver for years—and then launched an undercover operation against an even greater threat, the Ku Klux Klan.

Drawing on a rich trove of investigative records, Gangbuster explores a dramatic but neglected chapter in the annals of law enforcement.