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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,644 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 Small Mercies

Bill Scheft Why did I love this book?

I am a novelist and I try to avoid the mega-selling novelists, but there’s a reason why Dennis Lehane is a national treasure and why people line up awaiting his next work.

I grew up in Boston and quite simply, this book transported me to the unfortunate, ugly 1970s. Mary Pat Fennessy is a marvel and an avenger without CGI or a filter Lehane does that thing I wish I could do just once: He doesn’t lead the reader on the journey, he lets the reader follow his characters. And how does he keep talking about the summer and I get uncomfortably warm? Vivid, unflinching, heartfelt.

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Small Mercies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Instant New York Times Bestseller

“Small Mercies is thought provoking, engaging, enraging, and can’t-put-it-down entertainment.” — Stephen King

The acclaimed New York Times bestselling writer returns with a masterpiece to rival Mystic River—an all-consuming tale of revenge, family love, festering hate, and insidious power, set against one of the most tumultuous episodes in Boston’s history.

In the summer of 1974 a heatwave blankets Boston and Mary Pat Fennessy is trying to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors. Mary Pat has lived her entire life in the housing projects of “Southie,” the Irish American enclave that stubbornly adheres to…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Joe Gould's Secret

Bill Scheft Why did I love this book?

This is embarrassing. Joseph Mitchell, the journalist and legendary longtime contributor to the New Yorker, is, in my opinion, the finest chronicler of 1950-80s Manhattan life who ever lived.

Here’s what’s embarrassing. I have previously devoured all of his story collections and any reprints in the New Yorker, but never read his greatest work, about the Village bohemian eccentric Joe Gould. Not anymore. As deft a piece of journalism as ever was.

By Joseph Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Joe Gould's Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'It's a masterpiece, of course, but more than that it shows that there is some such thing as being a simple observer' Nicci French, Independent

It was 1932 when Joseph Mitchell first came across Joe Gould, a Harvard-educated vagrant of Greenwich Village. Penniless, filthy, scurrilous, charming, thieving, Joe Gould was widely considered a genius. He was working on a book he called an Oral History - the longest book ever written he claimed, formed of recorded conversations set down in exercise books. Of course, when Gould died the great epic was nowhere to be found.

This compelling portrait of a…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Seeing Red: The Red Auerbach Story

Bill Scheft Why did I love this book?

I was working on a project about the 1980s Boston Celtics and had to read this as one of a dozen books in my research.

Again, I grew up in Boston in the 1960s and '70s and became a sportswriter and thought I knew everything about the iconic Celtics coach and GM Red Auerbach. No. Not even close. Shaughnessy uses his access to Auerbach and his family, friends, and foes for a hilarious, unflinching look at a bygone era….and a bygone bigger-than-life personality.

By Dan Shaughnessy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Traces the life of the legendary coach and describes his influence on the NBA, the Boston Celtics, and professional basketball


Plus, check out my book…

Tommy Dash: Was It Everything I Said?

By Bill Scheft,

Book cover of Tommy Dash: Was It Everything I Said?

What is my book about?

Tommy Dash, an unapologetic 60-year-old scuffling LA stand-up comedian, is trying to apologize his way back into show business, one burnt bridge and one more last chance at a time, during the last days of Pre-Trump America. Think Lewis Black, but a little angrier. Think Sam Kinison on a coke budget. Think Bill Maher, without the cable filter. Think Amy Schumer, with a slightly smaller set of balls. Think Samsonite, but with less baggage.