I’m Amy Q. Barker Author Of Lap Baby
Author Avid reader Nature lover Park ranger wanna be Best Nana ever
The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,199 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 A Girl Called Samson: A Novel

Amy Q. Barker Why did I love this book?

I have a girl-crush on Amy Harmon. Full stop. Period. She writes these sweeping, historical, amazing romances that I can’t put down and I’m completely hateful and jealous of her writing prowess.

And I’ll be even more honest and say that I don’t know anything (shameful!) about the Revolutionary War, and this book manages to give a history lesson couched in a love story.

So, thank you for that. In addition, it portrays a fictionalized account of a real woman who dresses as a boy to fight as a soldier, proving once again that if a job needs done right, give it to a woman.

Sorry, not sorry Charlie. This story is inspirational, thought-provoking, and extraordinary. As I was reading it, I could imagine every step of Samson’s journey and I fell in love, just as the General does, and just as you will.

By Amy Harmon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Girl Called Samson as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author Amy Harmon comes the saga of a young woman who dares to chart her own destiny in life and love during the American Revolutionary War.

In 1760, Deborah Samson is born to Puritan parents in Plympton, Massachusetts. When her father abandons the family and her mother is unable to support them, Deborah is bound out as an indentured servant. From that moment on, she yearns for a life of liberation and adventure.

Twenty years later, as the American colonies begin to buckle in their battle for independence, Deborah, impassioned by the cause, disguises herself…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Yours Truly

By Abby Jimenez,

Book cover of Yours Truly

Amy Q. Barker Why did I love this book?

They say books are a window or a mirror—they show you something new or they reflect something within yourself. For me, this book is a mirror.

As always, Abby Jimenez’s quirky, laugh-out-loud writing style sets the tone for the story, but what I love most about Yours Truly is the deeper, more meaningful sub-context and subject matter.

So, here’s where the mirror comes in: I have social anxiety. Crowds and new situations make me break out in hives. Literally.

In this story, Dr. Jacob Maddox suffers from social anxiety too, and when he sits in a parking lot for twenty minutes before entering a party or he obsesses over what food is appropriate to eat in front of others, I feel like he’s speaking directly to me.

Coping is part of living and breathing, but it’s still not easy. And I also relate to his struggles accepting Dr. Briana Ortiz’s love and understanding of who he is, flaws and all.

Abby Jimenez does a wonderful job portraying this sensitive topic in a realistic and thoughtful manner, and at the end of the day, this is a beautifully written love story (complete with pen-pal style love letters!). 

By Abby Jimenez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A novel of terrible first impressions, hilarious second chances, and the joy in finding your perfect match from "a true talent" (Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

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…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…


By Jennifer Hartmann,

Book cover of Lotus

Amy Q. Barker Why did I love this book?

This author is new to me, and the entire time I was devouring this book, I kept thinking, I love the way this woman writes!

I’m not going to lie; the subject matter in this story is heavy—there is childhood trauma on multiple fronts—but somehow, the way the story unfolds leaves you feeling happy and hopeful instead of the normal gut-wrenching dread you might find with another author.

These characters are unique and interesting, and their journeys are interwoven in a seamless and sensitive manner so that you can’t help but cheer them on until they get their happily-ever-after, which, of course, they do.  

By Jennifer Hartmann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To the rest of the world, he was the little boy who went missing on the Fourth of July.
To me, he was everything.
My heart hasn't been the same since he disappeared, but I've learned to build my life around that missing piece.
Twenty-two years later, the last thing I expect is for that missing piece to come back.
His name is Oliver Lynch, and this is his story.
This is our story.

Plus, check out my book…

Lap Baby

By Amy Q. Barker,

Book cover of Lap Baby

What is my book about?

Twenty years ago. A plane crash. Three women survivors are inexorably connected by fate, destiny, and a cause.

Julie Geiger, the flight attendant, is still reeling from the aftermath. Will love and redemption heal her wounds? Marie Stanley lost her baby on that flight. How will she learn to move past her pain and save her marriage in the process? Paige Montgomery, the lap baby who survived the flight, is on the cusp of a new relationship. How will she learn to forge her own path, one that integrates all the elements of her past? 

I read 101 books this year.