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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,560 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 "You Just Need to Lose Weight" and 19 Other Myths About Fat People

Eliza Wheeler Why did I love this book?

Author Aubrey Gordon (Your Fat Friend, co-host of kickass podcast Maintenance Phase, and all-around-delightful-human-being) breaks down and debunks all of the (still) socially acceptable, pervasive, and oppressive myths about body size and fatness.

Her writing is deeply researched, as well as rooted in her experience in social justice advocacy work – she somehow writes and speaks with an amazing mix of no-B.S. and compassion, a balance that is rare and also, I believe, such an effective communication approach when advocating for human beings to be valued and treated with basic care and respect.

Bonus: When you “read” this book as an audiobook, you get to listen to Aubrey’s voice, which, when you’ve run out of Maintenance Phase, is like coming across a stream in the desert. 

By Aubrey Gordon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked "You Just Need to Lose Weight" and 19 Other Myths About Fat People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“One of the great thinkers of our generation . . . I feel fresher and smarter and happier for sitting down with her.”—Jameela Jamil, iWeigh Podcast

The co-host of the Maintenance Phase podcast and creator of Your Fat Friend equips you with the facts to debunk common anti-fat myths and with tools to take action for fat justice

The pushback that shows up in conversations about fat justice takes exceedingly predicable form. Losing weight is easy—calories in, calories out. Fat people are unhealthy. We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Fat…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Big

Eliza Wheeler Why did I love this book?

Anti-fat bias isn’t just an adult issue, it’s often an experience that starts at very young ages, and in this picture book Vashti Harrison captures the gradual experience of “So big!” being a good thing, until it somehow isn’t anymore.

She shows how comments, teasings, jokes, and “well-meaning” words of advice stick, and cut, and belittle. The delicate, pink artwork communicates the softness and sensitivity of the Big Girl’s internal feeling experience, and is contrasted by her body getting bigger and bigger, until the book itself can no longer hold her in its pages.

We feel along with her as she finds a way to create more space for herself, and give back the hurtful words that weren’t hers at all. A book to build compassion in children of all sizes.

By Vashti Harrison,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Big as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Once there was a girl with a big laugh and a big heart and very big dreams.
She grew and grew and grew. And it was good... until it wasn't.

When the girl grows big, the world begins to make her feel small. She feels out of place and invisible, and soon she isn't herself at all. But with the girl's size comes huge inner strength - and this helps her look past the hurtful words to see how perfect she really is.

With beautiful illustrations and a gatefold flap, this quietly reassuring story explores the experience of being big…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Happy Pudding

Eliza Wheeler Why did I love this book?

Phew, after all that important reading, thinking, and unlearning we’re bound to be hungry.

Luckily a little adorable rhino chef named Arlo can make us (and his equally adorable friends in Yummy Valley) some Happy Pudding! This is 1 of 4 books in Kimberly Gee’s What’s Cooking Arlo? series of graphic novels.

It’s highly illustrated with the story told in dialogue, so is perfect for new readers. They’ll enjoy heartwarming moments of dealing with problems, coping with feelings, and friends helping out.

Pair this in any order with the other 3 titles in the series: Today’s Special, A Peppy Drink, and Miserable Stew. Big Bonus: Each book has a fun “recipe” activity at its end. 

By Kimberly Gee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Happy Pudding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

After a long storm, Arlo is excited to invite his friends over for a little get-together. But Alice, Slide and Spike are each feeling out of sorts after being cooped up too long. Will Arlo's happy pudding cheer them up? Find out in this early graphic novel that will warm young readers' hearts with a perfect recipe for friendship and fun.

Plus, check out my book…

Miss Maple's Seeds

By Eliza Wheeler,

Book cover of Miss Maple's Seeds

What is my book about?

This stunning New York Times Bestseller introduces the kind, nature-loving Miss Maple, who celebrates the miracle in each seed. 

What happens to seeds that don’t sprout? Fortunately, they have Miss Maple to look after them. Every year, she rescues orphan seeds, taking them to her cozy maple tree house. All winter long, she nurtures them and teaches them the ways of seeds and the paths by which they might find their new homes. And come spring, she sends them off to take root out in the wide world and to sprout into the wonderful plants she knows they’ll become. Celebrate every season with Miss Maple, from Earth Day to graduations to harvest festivals.