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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,639 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 Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City

Alina Tugend Why did I love this book?

I can understand people who may want to avoid a book with “poverty” and “survival” in the title, but it is as gripping as any great novel. Andrea Elliott does an amazing job of making Dasani, her siblings, and her parents–who face the challenges of poverty, addiction, and a social services system that fails too often–come to life as a complicated, loving, angry, joyful, and at times, desperate family. 

I grew to deeply care about the family because Elliott doesn’t portray them as passive victims but rather people with agency who often make bad choices–but she gives the context for those choices. I learned so much about how a large part of this country lives–one that is all too often invisible to most of us.

By Andrea Elliott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A “vivid and devastating” (The New York Times) portrait of an indomitable girl—from acclaimed journalist Andrea Elliott

“From its first indelible pages to its rich and startling conclusion, Invisible Child had me, by turns, stricken, inspired, outraged, illuminated, in tears, and hungering for reimmersion in its Dickensian depths.”—Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies

ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Atlantic, The New York Times Book Review, Time, NPR, Library Journal

In Invisible Child, Pulitzer Prize winner…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions

Alina Tugend Why did I love this book?

I loved this book because it made me care intensely about the main character–a gifted, even brilliant young man who is gradually succumbing to a mental illness–and at the same time, reflect deeply about the ethical and political challenges of treating those with mental health disorders. 

Jonathan Rosen, who was good friends with the main character as a child but drifted away over time, does an amazing job as narrator, inserting himself at times but never in a heavy-handed or gratuitous way. I found myself having a hard time putting the book down as lives started spiraling out of control. Unlike my first recommendation, this book looks at someone who has every resource imaginable, but it’s not enough. I recommended it to just about everyone I know.

By Jonathan Rosen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Best Minds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?




'Extraordinary... Magisterial... A remarkable meditation on friendship, success, madness and violence that refuses to oversimplify' Guardian (Book of the Day)

'The darkest of literary triumphs, and the most gripping of unbearable reads' Telegraph (5 stars)

A novelist's gripping investigation of the forces that led his childhood best friend from academic stardom to the psychiatric hospital where he has lived since killing the woman he…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Enter Ghost

Alina Tugend Why did I love this book?

I loved how this novel was so many things: an insightful story about a woman trying to figure out her life after an affair ends, a group of actors rehearsing Hamlet in Arabic, and an insight into everyday life on the West Bank in Palestine.

I grew to know each character and appreciate their strengths and flaws; their interactions and conversations, whether about acting, politics, or each other, rang so true.

By Isabella Hammad,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enter Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Reeling from a disastrous love affair, actress Sonia Nasir finds love and hope in Shakespeare and Palestine.

'A vital storyteller'

After years away from her family's homeland, and reeling from a disastrous love affair, actress Sonia Nasir returns to Haifa to visit her older sister Haneen. On her arrival, she finds her relationship to Palestine is fragile, both bone-deep and new.

When Sonia meets the charismatic Mariam, a local director, she joins a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. Soon, Sonia is rehearsing with a dedicated, if competitive, group…

Plus, check out my book…

Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong

By Alina Tugend,

Book cover of Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong

What is my book about?

This book looks at why we as individuals and as a society, tend to fear mistakes so much. I research how errors and mistakes are handled in different professions, as well as how gender and culture can affect how we view and react to mistakes. 

When we’re young, most of are told we learn by making mistakes. But as we get older, we see them as failures to be avoided as much as possible. Why is that?

In my book, I look at the root of this aversion to mistakes and what it costs us. Even though our society tends to focus on the end product rather than the process of learning and creating, we as individuals can try to change that in our own lives.