I’m Catherine Hokin Author Of The Lost Mother
Author Cold War afficionado Movie buff Dreamer Lover of black hole research German speaker
The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,234 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

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My favorite read in 2023…

The Colour Storm

By Damian Dibben,

Book cover of The Colour Storm

Catherine Hokin Why did I love this book?

The Colour Storm is set in Venice in 1510, where the Renaissance’s greatest artists are competing to be the first artist to get their hands on a mysterious new pigment, which is said will transform art forever but may only exist to drive them all mad.

I have honestly never read such an unusual and beautiful book. The author’s ability to evoke colour is incredible. Add to that a brilliantly written thriller full of ambition and rivalry and a complex love story, all set against a dankly gothic Venice, and it’s an absolute winner.

By Damian Dibben,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Colour Storm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Enter the world of Renaissance Venice, where the competition for fame and fortune can mean life or death…

Artists flock here, not just for wealth and fame, but for revolutionary color. Yet artist Giorgione “Zorzo” Barbarelli’s career hangs in the balance. Competition is fierce, and his debts are piling up. When Zorzo hears a rumor of a mysterious new pigment, brought to Venice by the richest man in Europe, he sets out to acquire the color and secure his name in history.

Winning a commission to paint a portrait of the man’s wife, Sybille, Zorzo thinks he has found a…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Dark Earth

By Rebecca Stott,

Book cover of Dark Earth

Catherine Hokin Why did I love this book?

This is a unique piece of writing. It is set in AD500 in the walled ghost city of Londinium, abandoned by the Romans and sinking back into the river and the earth.

This land is ruled by blood ties and feuds, where women struggle to find a place. It's a magical book set at a time when myth, folklore, and the old gods compete for space with the new.

The world-building is incredible, and the plot is packed with tension as the two sisters, who are its main characters, fight to beat the odds and survive. It's an absolute page-turner.

By Rebecca Stott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “superb” (The Guardian) novel about two sisters fighting for survival in Dark Ages Britain that weaves “a dazzling blend of history and fantasy” (BuzzFeed)
“Rich in history and folklore . . . Stott is astute on the use of stories to control others and maintain power. . . . Female defiance blazes through as her women reclaim this brutal period from the men.”—The Telegraph

The year is 500 AD. Sisters Isla and Blue live in the shadows of the Ghost City, the abandoned ruins of the once-glorious mile-wide Roman settlement Londinium on the bank of the River Thames. But…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

The Half Life of Valery K

By Natasha Pulley,

Book cover of The Half Life of Valery K

Catherine Hokin Why did I love this book?

The Half Life of Valery K is perfect for anybody fascinated by the story of Chernobyl. It takes place in the early 1960s in a mysterious unnamed town, known only as City 40, hidden deep in a forest inside the Soviet Union.

A doctor has been tasked with studying the effect of radiation on animals, except that everything he has been told and believes is a lie. It manages to be both brutal and tender, bleak and incredibly beautiful, which is no mean feat.

I devoured it, and I will read it again. I also cried quite a bit. Stunning.

By Natasha Pulley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Half Life of Valery K as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**Shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize** A SUNDAY TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2022 The Times Historical Fiction Book of the Month The truth must come out. In 1963, in a Siberian gulag, former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkhanov has mastered what it takes to survive: the right connections to the guards for access to food and cigarettes, the right pair of warm boots to avoid frostbite, and the right attitude toward the small pleasures of life. But on one ordinary day, all that changes: Valery's university mentor steps in and sweeps Valery from the frozen prison camp to a…

Plus, check out my book…

The Lost Mother

By Catherine Hokin,

Book cover of The Lost Mother

What is my book about?

Berlin in 1934; Hollywood in 1957. A search for a lost child, and a lost country, which sweeps the reader from Nazi Germany’s propaganda-driven film industry through the dark days of the German American Bund’s attempt to bring the Third Reich to America, and on to the golden days of Hollywood.

It is a story about love that crosses continents and the resilience of the human spirit.

I read 150 books this year.

My book recommendation list