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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 A Gentleman in Moscow

Haris Orkin Why did I love this book?

Besides the fact that is beautifully written, I absolutely loved the central character, Count Alexander Rostov. It’s set in Moscow in 1922.

Rostov, a young aristocrat is sentenced to house arrest by a Bolshevik tribunal. He can’t leave the Metropol Hotel. When I started, I was worried I might feel as trapped as Count Rostov in the hotel, but the character’s charm and warmth and wit won me over. The whole world comes through that hotel and Rostov is kind and smart and funny and heroic.

The turns in the story are constantly surprising. It’s one of the finest and most entertaining novels I have ever read.

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

34 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Blacktop Wasteland

Haris Orkin Why did I love this book?

Even though I mostly write comedy, I love dark, gritty crime fiction. S.A. Cosby's Blacktop Wasteland is the real deal. It is a violent, full-throttle Southern noir thriller that kept me enthralled from the first page to the last.

The plot is full of surprising twists and turns that all make sense. The central character, Beauregard "Bug" Montage, is someone you can really root for. He used to be a top wheelman, but now he's a family man trying to go straight. He has pressure from all sides and eventually gets sucked back into a life of crime.

The dialogue is fantastic, full of dark humor, and the action is non-stop. It's well worth the ride. 

By S.A. Cosby,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Blacktop Wasteland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLERS OF 2020*
*LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER 2020*

'BLACKTOP WASTELAND may be the book of the year.' MICHAEL CONNELLY
'Sensationally good' LEE CHILD
'I loved BLACKTOP WASTELAND' STEPHEN KING
'Stunning. Can't remember the last time I read such a powerful crime novel' MARK BILLINGHAM

"Bug" Montage: honest mechanic, loving family man. He's no longer the criminal he was - the sharpest wheelman east of the Mississippi.

But when his respectable life crumbles, a shady associate comes calling with a one-time job promising a huge payout. Inexorably drawn to the driver's seat - and haunted by…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Snow in August

Haris Orkin Why did I love this book?

This book was published over fifteen years ago, but a friend of mine told me I’d love it…and I did.  It’s set in a blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood in 1947.

It’s the touching story of two vivid characters.  An eleven-year-old Irish Catholic kid named Michael Devlin and a Rabbi from Prague. A refugee named Judah Hirsch. The rabbi hires Michael to be a Shabbos Goy. He shows up on Saturdays to turn on the lights and other things prohibited by Jewish law on the Sabbath. They forge an unlikely friendship as Michael learns about Prague and its destruction by the Nazis and the rabbi learns about Jackie Robinson and baseball.  

It’s gritty and grounded, but full of magical realism. The descriptions are vivid and Hamill creates a real sense of place. It enthralled me the same way A Gentleman in Moscow did with characters full of hope and courage and humanity. 

By Pete Hamill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is . . . a survey history of medicine from the earliest times, centered thematically on how changing concepts of disease have affected its management. . . . One finds a gratifying mastery of recent as well as classic scholarship in medical history and a careful sidestepping of positivistic excesses. . . . Disease and Its Control is a fresh and welcome synthesis of historical scholarship that will be accessible to interested laymen. Annals of Internal Medicine


Plus, check out my book…

Book cover of License to Die

What is my book about?

Hornitos State Mental Hospital houses the worst of the worst. Those convicted of violent criminal behavior are judged not guilty by reason of insanity—mass murderers, serial killers, mad bombers, arsonists, terrorists, and now... James Flynn.

Still convinced he's an international super spy, Flynn finds himself in the most dangerous predicament of his life. He faces off with old enemies, new enemies, and psycho killers who just want to watch the world burn.

He also meets a fierce and beautiful woman who might be even more dangerous and delusional than he is. Together, they walk a tightrope between objective reality and clinical insanity and, with the help of Flynn's reluctant sidekick, Sancho, uncover a mad plot to bring on Armageddon.

My book recommendation list