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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,681 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 First Time Lucky

Elle Mitchell Why did I love this book?

It's one of the most unique romances I've read. A virgin and an fboy meet, and we hate him instantly. And yet, I couldn't wait to watch him grow and show his softer side.

The characters sparkled—the main couple and the friends and family. No one was left out. They were all real and imperfect and engaging.

As the couple gets closer, the book gets steamy. Then it becomes the perfect blend of romance and hot with a spin that just isn't out there. I don't read physical books anymore, but I'm glad I did for this one.

By Loni Hansen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pros for sleeping with Tristan Walker: He’s drop-dead gorgeous and good in bed.

Cons for sleeping with Tristan Walker: Someone’s definitely going to end up with a broken heart.

Colette Harris never planned on still being a virgin when she turned thirty, but her career ambitions got in the way. So did her anxiety. But this year Colette is determined to throw caution to the wind and finally get lucky. What she wants is a perfect one-night stand so she can experience her first time with a man who knows what he’s doing but won’t stick around to make her…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space

Elle Mitchell Why did I love this book?

It’s almost hard to explain what you love about a book that makes you feel seen as a person while digging into the problems seen in fairy tales regarding disability. It’s almost as if I didn’t love the book so much as I needed it. 

It feels like necessary reading, in a way. But her writing is also so beautiful. There’s a haunting quality to hearing about the psychological ramifications of fairy tales.

It’s disheartening to think my love for The Little Mermaid might have come from my feeling different and unable to do what some other kids could. It’s as if she put a puzzle together I didn’t know existed. Now I wonder how I lived without it.

By Amanda Leduc,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A CBC BOOKS BEST NONFICTION OF 2020
AN ENTROPY MAGAZINE BEST NONFICTION 2020/21
A NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BOOK OF THE DAY (07/23/2022)


Fairy tales shape how we see the world, so what happens when you identify more with the Beast than Beauty?

If every disabled character is mocked and mistreated, how does the Beast ever imagine a happily-ever-after? Amanda Leduc looks at fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm to Disney, showing us how they influence our expectations and behaviour and linking the quest for disability rights to new kinds of stories that celebrate difference.


"Historically we have associated the…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories

Elle Mitchell Why did I love this book?

Shiver is one of those books I'd recommend to people who don't like manga, graphic novels, or comic books. I wouldn't tell them because I would want them to pick the book up, skim through the pages, and see the brilliance for themselves.

Junji Ito's stories are so unique and disturbing. They crawl under your skin and latch onto your muscles. A few burrow through the sinew and bury themselves in your bones.

"Hanging Balloons" is my favorite of the collection. There's nothing like it. And there is no one who has such a deft, while still overt hand at storytelling like Junji Ito. He doesn't need color or full novels, unless he wants them. He simply needs panels of black and white, and you're glued to your chair.

By Junji Ito,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A best-of story selection by the master of horror manga.

This volume includes nine of Junji Ito's best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl's window... After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face... An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending... An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delectation of horror fans.

An exciting addition to VIZ's Junji Ito library, containing…


Plus, check out my book…

We Used to Be Different

By Elle Mitchell,

Book cover of We Used to Be Different

What is my book about?

Dive into a provocative mixed-media collection from the creative and twisted mind of dark fiction author and multidisciplinary artist Elle Mitchell.

Enter stories where urban legends are real, and love can be beautiful or violent, where ghosts are both figurative and literal, where bunny aliens are totally normal, and where darkness means drug addiction, grief, cannibalism, and a hitman with OCD.

Within the pages of this genre-defying collection, youll find an array of short stories, poems, and photographs that plumb the depths of what it means to be human. Each piece has an accompanying miniature or assemblage that brings another fascinating layer to this unique collection. Take a journey through the unexpected. Its more than just another collection of stories; it’s an experience.