Author Historian Teacher Sharer Christian
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 The Rifle: Combat Stories from America's Last WWII Veterans, Told Through an M1 Garand

Dennis L. Peterson Why did I love this book?

This book enhanced my appreciation for those who fought during World War II because of all they went through in their individual efforts to not only survive themselves but also to preserve and protect the freedoms of generations of those who came after them—including me.

Most of those featured in the book had fought with the M1 Garand as their main battle weapon and had grown to love and depend on it.

This attachment to the gun was evident by the tears they shed and the stories that they told (many of them talking about their war experiences for the first time, even to family members) after seeing the author produce the gun. They then gladly signed its stock.

By Andrew Biggio,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tales of American combat and comradery in World War II all connected to the iconic rifle of the era, the M1 Garand. An award-winning author puts one such rifle into the hands of a series of vets, records their stories, and gathers their signatures on the rifle, in a pilgrimage and homage to heroism.

It all started because of a rifle.

The Rifle is an inspirational story and hero's journey of a 28-year-old U.S. Marine, Andrew Biggio, who returned home from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, full of questions about the price of war. He found answers from those who…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Eyewitness to the Old West: Firsthand Accounts of Exploration, Adventure, and Peril

Dennis L. Peterson Why did I love this book?

In 124 chronologically arranged short chapters, the editor presents exciting, entertaining, and educational accounts of the real-life adventures of those who blazed the pathway to the West.

The places mentioned in the stories were especially exciting for me since I had recently taken two trips to different parts of the West and could see or envision exactly the environment the various eyewitnesses talked about.

The chapters are relatively short (typically two to four pages), so it made excellent reading material for spare moments when long reading sessions were not possible.

By Richard Scott (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eyewitness to the Old West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of over 150 vignettes from the journals and diaries of people who lived or traveled in the Old West, these accounts begin with the sixteenth-century collisions between the Spaniards and the Indians and conclude with Black Elk's mournful description of the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890. Storytellers include explorers, missionaries, Indian leaders, a poet, an artist, and a future president.


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Waiting for the Party: The Life of Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1849-1924

Dennis L. Peterson Why did I love this book?

I was first attracted to the book because I recognized her name as the author of The Secret Garden, which my family had watched a movie of when our children were small. The second factor that attracted me to it was when I learned that the subject of the book had lived in my home state of Tennessee and my hometown of Knoxville for a while, during which she did much of her early writing.

The author gives a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like for Burnett as a writer, struggling first to get published and then to retain the confidence of publishers and the reading public.

The bottom line, however, is the moral lesson it subtly teaches about contentment. The author frequently notes Burnett was always striving to arrive at the party, the ultimate dream of success and fulfillment.

Only late in life did she realize that she had been at that party all of her publishing life but didn’t recognize it because she was always too busy looking for something different rather than the blessings she had right at hand.

By Ann Thwaite,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Most people have heard of "Little Lord Fauntleroy" and "The Secret Garden", but many of them are unaware that the same woman wrote both books, 25 years apart, and was considered one of the leading writers in America. Exposed to the extremes of poverty and wealth, she survived two broken marriages and the death of a son. On the surface her life was extremely successful, but happiness eluded her. This book looks at her life and work.


Plus, check out my book…

Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies

By Dennis L. Peterson,

Book cover of Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies

What is my book about?

When the war came, ministers and Christian laymen alike were burdened for the spiritual welfare of the generation of warriors who answered their country’s call to defend their homelands and who were fated to give their lives for its honor and preservation.

A plethora of volunteers from every denomination of Protestant Christianity, as well as from among Roman Catholicism and Judaism, became chaplains, missionaries, and colporteurs.

Their mission was to help the soldiers avoid the negative temptations of a life away from the positive influences of home, church, and community and to prepare them for the real possibilities of death and gruesome wounds. They not only encouraged them to prepare for eternity but also to accept the ultimate defeat of the Confederacy as God’s will.