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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,686 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 Our Hospital

David Z. Hirsch Why did I love this book?

In Shem's most recent sequel to House of God, Dr. Roy Basch and the gang converge on a small town in upstate New York to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, hospital administrators, and willful ignorance. The book is as much inspiration as a story.

I read House of God as a medical student and Our Hospital after working through the pandemic. This book brought me back to all the heartbreak and heroism we all endured. Ultimately, Shem does what he does best: putting the human back into medicine.

By Samuel Shem,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this sequel to The House of God and Man's 4th Best Hospital, Dr. Roy Basch returns to his economically depressed hometown in upstate New York to help the struggling hospital battle the COVID-19 pandemic and the money-driven bureaucracy.

After the tragic climax of Man's 4th Best Hospital, four doctors have left practicing medicine. But with COVID-19 sweeping the country, they come together to help the small town of Columbia, New York. The doctors and nurses are buckling as they battle both a raging pandemic and the financial woes facing small hospitals everywhere. But no matter what's happening in the…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Covenant of Water

David Z. Hirsch Why did I love this book?

As a fan of Cutting for Stone, Vergehese’s previous novel, I was not disappointed. Vergehese has written an epic tale spanning three generations that intersect in the lush Malabar Coast in Kerala, India.

The story is expansive and evocative, weaving complex family relationships, friendships, and love in the historical setting of the Indian caste system and struggle for independence. I didn’t mind the unabashedly graphic medical accounts and the gentle reflection of faith and spirituality provided an elegant balance.

By Abraham Verghese,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Covenant of Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SUBJECT OF A SIX-PART SUPER SOUL PODCAST SERIES HOSTED BY OPRAH WINFREY

From the New York Times-bestselling author of Cutting for Stone comes a stunning and magisterial epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala, South India, following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret

“One of the best books I’ve read in my entire life. It’s epic. It’s transportive . . . It was unputdownable!”—Oprah Winfrey, OprahDaily.com

The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital

David Z. Hirsch Why did I love this book?

This book is the source material for New Amsterdam, the popular NBC series streaming on Netflix and Peacock. While the TV show struck me as a frenetic jumble of heavy-handed melodrama, the book takes a steadier, more realistic approach.

In each of the twelve stories, Manheimer, along with other dedicated physicians, strives to help each challenging patient battle disease while managing multiple complicating factors including socioeconomic distress, immigration policy, and the criminal justice system. I found the resolutions genuine if not always satisfying.

By Eric Manheimer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Using the plights of twelve very different patients-from dignitaries at the nearby UN, to supermax prisoners at Riker's Island, to illegal immigrants, and Wall Street tycoons-Dr. Eric Manheimer "offers far more than remarkable medical dramas: he blends each patient's personal experiences with their social implications" (Publishers Weekly).

Manheimer was not only the medical director of the country's oldest public hospital for over 13 years but he was also a patient.

As the book unfolds, the narrator is diagnosed with cancer and he is forced to wrestle with the end of his own life even as he struggles to save the…


Plus, check out my book…

Didn't Get Frazzled

By David Z. Hirsch,

Book cover of Didn't Get Frazzled

What is my book about?

Medical student Seth Levine faces escalating stress and gallows humor as he struggles with the collapse of his romantic relationships and all preconceived notions of what it means to be a doctor. Didn’t Get Frazzled captures with distressing accuracy the gauntlet idealistic medical students must face to secure an MD and, against the odds, come out of it a better human being.

I broke from the tradition of memoir and wrote a novel because I wanted to use story to fully submerge the reader into the surreal world of medical school.