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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.

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My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Calling for a Blanket Dance

Jasmin Iolani Hakes Why did I love this book?

Ever Geimausaddle is part Mexican, part Native American. He is undoubtedly the main character. But to know him, we are introduced to his world. We learn the challenges facing his parents, his grandparents, his sister, and the various people that make up his community. By doing this, we are given a complex picture of how culture and identity adapt and survive in a way that resonated deeply with me.

Being of mixed ethnicity, I always struggled with the notion of belonging and home. Years passed in confusion as I tried to figure out my personal identity while reckoning with my cultural inheritance.

Growing up in Hawaii is a lot like having a foot in multiple worlds, and as a child, I lived in many of them – home, school, and hula. Each came with its own culture, history, and protocols, as well as its own challenges. Survival meant adapting to each. Hokeah offers a world in which this kind of dance is what brings meaning and substance to life, and he does it in a way full of compassion, empathy, and hope.

By Oscar Hokeah,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Calling for a Blanket Dance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"STUNNING." -Susan Power, author of The Grass DancerA moving and deeply engaging debut novel about a young Native American man finding strength in his familial identity, from a stellar new voice in fiction. Oscar Hokeah's electric debut takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle, whose family-part Mexican, part Native American-is determined to hold onto their community despite obstacles everywhere they turn. Ever's father is injured at the hands of corrupt police on the border when he goes to visit family in Mexico, while his mother struggles both to keep her job and care for her husband. And young Ever…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of To Paradise: A Novel

Jasmin Iolani Hakes Why did I love this book?

There are so many reasons to love this book, but my top is the story of David Bingham, who lives in New York City with his older lover and who is secretly a descendant of Hawaiian royalty.

The book makes three big leaps in time, and David’s portion is set in the early nineties. As the AIDS crisis rips through their community, he privately tries to contend with the pain of being abandoned by his father, who left his family to join the Hawaiian independence movement.

When I set out to write my book, I wanted to write a contemporary story set in Hawaiʻi but didn’t trust that the issues driving the plot would be clear without historical context. Hanya Yanagihara does no such thing. She treats Hawaiʻi as a place whose history is known, which allows her to turn her attention toward imagining its future. 

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Las Madres

Jasmin Iolani Hakes Why did I love this book?

Las Madres is a story that centers around a horrible tragedy and two devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico. But for me, what it captured so perfectly was the familiar experience of being a part of an impermeable collective, where even the deepest grievances and secrets do not need to be shared to be felt, where love is fierce and unyielding, and where nothing happens without the community being involved.

Photo albums of my early childhood are filled with photos of me and a sea of cousins, mostly at the beach where I grew up. I think our moms took turns keeping an eye on us, but for the most part, I remember running around barefoot, showering en masse, fighting for a fair share of the food on the table – basically one hair-brushing shy of feral. In a community like ours, no one and everyone was keeping an eye on us. Everyone knew everyone, and good luck keeping your business private. 

This book is a story of mothers and daughters, of disability and sexuality, and all we are willing to do to protect the ones we love. It’s the sort of story that sticks to your ribs and leaves you feeling the best kind of full.

By Esmeralda Santiago,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the award-winning, best-selling author of When I Was Puerto Rican, a powerful novel of family, race, faith, sex, and disaster that moves between Puerto Rico and the Bronx, revealing the lives and loves of five women and the secret that binds them together

They refer to themselves as “las Madres,” a close-knit group of women who, with their daughters, have created a family based on friendship and blood ties.Their story begins in Puerto Rico in 1975 when fifteen-year-old Luz, the tallest girl in her dance academy and the only Black one in a sea of petite, light-skinned, delicate swans,…

Plus, check out my book…

Book cover of Hula

What is my book about?

Hi'i is proud to be a Naupaka, a family renowned for its contributions to hula and her hometown of Hilo, Hawaii, but there's a lot she doesn't understand.

She's never met her legendary grandmother, and her mother has never revealed the identity of her father. Worse, unspoken divides within her tight-knit community have started to grow, creating fractures whose origins are somehow entangled with her own family history.

In Hula, Hi'i sees a chance to live up to her name and solidify her place within her family legacy. But in order to win the next Miss Aloha Hula competition, she will have to turn her back on everything she had ever been taught, and maybe even lose the very thing she was fighting for.