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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,598 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 Upgrade

David W. Burns Why did I love this book?

What great science fiction is all about: taking a trend in modern science and running rampant with it.

In this near-future world, genetic manipulation of crops and humans has decimated society, forcing authorities to strictly police the scientific community. When he is exposed to an unlicensed gene bomb, biologist Logan Ramsay finds himself changing into something both more and less than human.

I loved the frantic pace of this book, as our hero is propelled into a desperate race for survival. The difficulty of effectively conveying a growing suprahuman intellect was deftly handled, and the action scenes were tense and electrifying, with several edge-of-your-seat surprises thrown in. A thoroughly satisfying story from start to finish. 

By Blake Crouch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Upgrade is the mind-bending thriller from Blake Crouch, author of the bestselling Dark Matter and Recursion.

'You are the next step in human evolution . . .'

What if you were capable of more?

Your concentration was better, you could multitask quicker, read faster, memorize more, sleep deeper.

For Logan Ramsay, it's happening. He's beginning to see the world around him, even those he loves the most, in whole new ways.

He knows that it's not natural, that his genes have been hacked. He has been targeted for an upgrade.

Logan's family legacy is one he has been trying to…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Rhymer

David W. Burns Why did I love this book?

I loved the blend of traditional Scottish folklore with alien horror in this first installment of Gregory Frost’s latest fantasy series.

I was drawn in by the believable medieval setting and characters and by Frost’s truly original take on the world of the Faerie and its inscrutable inhabitants. The story took no shortcuts on Thomas the Rhymer’s journey from hapless victim to hero but never flagged in its energy and pacing.

I found myself rooting for Thomas at each stage and worried for his fate and that of his loved ones. I’m impatiently waiting for the next book in the series!  

By Gregory Frost,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rhymer brings to life Thomas the Rhymer, legendary 12th Century figure of traditional Scottish balladry, as a champion who must battle the diabolical Yvag-an alien race thought to be elves and faeries-hellbent on conquering our world. This saga pits Thomas against the near-immortal elves, first with only his wits, then with powers of his own that enable him to take on these evil creatures throughout the centuries. He's known by many names over time-Tam Lin, Robyn Hood, and numerous other incarnations reaching into the present-but at his heart he is still True Thomas, one man doing all he can to…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Colossus and the Crab

David W. Burns Why did I love this book?

I find the entire Colossus trilogy fascinating, but this third book in the series is the most engaging, full of tense moments as the human protagonist finds himself in a battle of wits and wills with not one but two alien intelligences, each of which has designs on the human race that are both completely rational…and completely terrifying.

While the descriptions of computers and related technology are dated by today's standards (the books were written in the 1970s), these (and other) sins can be put aside in order to enjoy the real heart of the story:  the struggle against vastly superior life forms that are beyond human understanding.

The dialogue in each confrontation scene is riveting, with a climax that is both surprising and moving.  

By D. F. Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Colossus and the Crab as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 22nd Century. Dr. Charles Forbin is Earth's most powerful man. As mediator between Colossus, the Super Computer, and the rest of humanity, Forbin holds the key to Earth's fate.

When Colossus, an awe-inspiring technological creation, suddenly became self-aware and took upon itself the task of righting humanity's wrongs with no regard for humans themselves, Forbin intervened. He took the decision to turn off his great machine - but could not do it alone.

Forbin called upon invaders from Mars. The Martians did their fastidious work, shutting down Colossus. The Earth descended into chaos. Rival factions sparred for supremacy, with…

Plus, check out my book…

Heart of Stone

By David W. Burns,

Book cover of Heart of Stone

What is my book about?

Can a monster choose to be good?

With snakes for hair and a gaze that turns men to stone, Kyra Anastas is a modern-day Medusa in Chicago, making her living as a hitwoman for hire. But when a dying billionaire asks Kyra to protect her daughter from supernatural dangers, Kyra is given the chance to be more than just a dealer of death.

Now Kyra and the girl are on the run from mythological killers who will stop at nothing to destroy them both. Worse, as the assassins close in, Kyra realizes that the only chance for survival is if she faces all her demons…not just the monsters chasing them across the Windy City, but also the horrors that haunt her own evil past.