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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,681 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 Lessons in Chemistry

Brenda Chapman Why did I love this book?

I thoroughly enjoyed the quirky main character, Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist fighting to be a scientist in the male-dominated workplace in the sixties.

Being ousted from her lab position, Zott eventually hosts a cooking show on television and uses chemistry to teach women the scientific ins and outs of meal preparation. The story is one of triumph over a great deal of adversity, an inspirational tale for all of us who have experienced the glass ceiling because of our gender, or who don’t fit the mold of what is considered proper.

Having once been told by a group of women that I’d never find a man if I didn’t dumb down my intelligence, Zott’s uncompromising brilliance is a beacon of light.

I enjoyed the twists in the story and found the ending full circle and satisfying. Lessons in Chemistry is a delight to read.

By Bonnie Garmus,

Why should I read it?

64 authors picked Lessons in Chemistry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • Meet Elizabeth Zott: a “formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” (PARADE) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Oprah Daily, Newsweek, GoodReads

"A unique heroine ... you'll find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional." —Seattle Times…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Yellowface

Brenda Chapman Why did I love this book?

Yellowface is a multifaceted, satirical story about two young female writers in New York, one mediocre and struggling to be known; the other immensely talented and instantly famous.

The story is told first person through the eyes of June Hayword, the not-very likable, struggling author who takes her dead Asian friend’s (although June secretly envies and despises her) unpublished manuscript and makes it her own.

The publisher then transforms June into an ambiguously Asian woman, giving her the name Juniper Song, and helping to propel her into a best-selling author and famedom. The narrative raises the issues of appropriation and who has the right to tell what story, the line between “taking inspiration from” and stealing another’s work, and the way publishers and publicists manipulate readers by creating author personas.

The story is witty, cringe-worthy at times, cutting, and ultimately unforgettable.

One of the strengths of the book is Kuang’s ability to refrain from giving definitive answers or offering her own opinions on some divisive and topical issues — my book club had a great discussion as a result!

By R. F. Kuang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The No. 1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller from literary sensation R.F. Kuang

*A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick*

'Propulsive' SUNDAY TIMES

'Razor-sharp' TIME

'A wild ride' STYLIST

'Darkly comic' GQ


'Hard to put down, harder to forget' STEPHEN KING

Athena Liu is a literary darling and June Hayward is literally nobody.

White lies
When Athena dies in a freak accident, June steals her unpublished manuscript and publishes it as her own under the ambiguous name Juniper Song.

Dark humour
But as evidence threatens June's stolen success, she will discover exactly how far she…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Scot Mist

Brenda Chapman Why did I love this book?

Scotch Mist is the first book that I read in Catriona’s hilarious series, featuring Scottish-born therapist Lexy Campbell.

This is also the first book I’ve read set during the beginning of the pandemic, and it captures the general chaos and trepidation that we all experienced in a gently humorous way.

Lexy and several select people move into the California Last Ditch Motel to isolate for what they believe will be a few weeks — funny in hindsight — with the motel owner being a full-blown germaphobe, a condition of paranoia we all experienced during those first weeks when we were ordered to isolate in place. One of the motel guests disappears, leaving behind her two young children and a trail of blood, and the mystery is underway.

The writing is witty and laugh-out-loud funny with a twisty whodunit at its core. It’s also a tale of friendship and loyalty during a time of great stress. An enjoyable, heart-warming book written with a deft and compassionate hand.

By Catriona McPherson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Despite efforts to create a safe environment to see out the pandemic, the residents of the Last Ditch Motel face more dangers than they imagined possible in this hilarious yet claustrophobic mystery.

March 2020 and Operation Cocker is a go! The owners of the Last Ditch Motel, with a little help from their friend Lexy Campbell, are preparing to support one another through the oncoming lockdown, offering the motel's spare rooms to a select few from the local area in need of sanctuary.

While the newbies are settling in, an ambiguous banner appears demanding one of them return home. But…

Plus, check out my book…

When Last Seen: A Hunter and Tate Mystery

By Brenda Chapman,

Book cover of When Last Seen: A Hunter and Tate Mystery

What is my book about?

Ottawa is baking under a July heatwave when the Homicide and Major Crimes Unit is called to help track down missing three-year-old Charlie McGowan.

This is the second missing person case in nine months — a university exchange student never made it back to her Carleton University residence from a downtown party in November.

At first, the two disappearances appear unrelated, but as true crime podcaster Ella Tate and Detective Liam Hunter dig deeper into both files, unsettling relationships begin to emerge. Evidence, however, remains frustratingly out of reach as the clock keeps ticking and concern for both missing victims takes on a heightened urgency. And then Liam Hunter gets a call that a body’s been found on the Ottawa River Parkway...