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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 Tom Lake

Jennifer Silva Redmond Why did I love this book?

Ann Patchett creates worlds so real and so tangible that we feel as if we have lived in those places—a small town, a farmhouse with a cherry orchard, a summer theater by a lake—and know those people; her charming, complicated, flawed characters act like the people in our lives, like our friends and family.

And in the case of this book she wrote about a world I know and love, the world of acting, in both theater and films, and even more specifically, the life-changing experience of acting in a play as simple and profound as “Our Town.”

By Ann Patchett,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Tom Lake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER * THE NO. 1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A REESE WITHERSPOON AND BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB PICK 'A new Ann Patchett novel is always cause for celebration ... and Tom Lake is one of her best' i 'This comforting summer read has it all ... Young love, sibling rivalry and deep mother-daughter relationships' REESE WITHERSPOON 'Filled with the moments I live for in a story' BONNIE GARMUS, author of Lessons in Chemistry 'One of the most beloved authors of her generation' SUNDAY TIMES ----------------------------- This is a story about Peter Duke who went on…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Good Night, Irene

Jennifer Silva Redmond Why did I love this book?

I love reading about history, but only if it is written as compellingly as great fiction and this book was.

I especially enjoy learning about things I had no idea existed, such as the Red Cross program that sent young American women to cities and towns in Europe during World War II (and later to Korea and Vietnam) to serve coffee and doughnuts to soldiers—and sometimes their cafe-on-wheels trucks were right on the front lines—and even more importantly, to give them warm smiles, comforting chats, and the inspiration to keep on fighting a tough bloody war.

By Luis Alberto Urrea,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

This "powerful, uplifting, and deeply personal novel" (Kristin Hannah, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Four Winds), at once "a heart-wrenching wartime drama" (Christina Baker Kline, #1 NYT bestselling author of Orphan Train) and "a moving and graceful tribute to heroic women" (Publishers Weekly, starred review), asks the question: What if a friendship forged on the front lines of war defines a life forever?

"Urrea's touch is sure, his exuberance carries you through . . . He is a generous writer, not just in his approach to his craft but in the broader sense…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Hula

Jennifer Silva Redmond Why did I love this book?

This book was unique from its very first pages—the use of language, the immersive writing, the evocative descriptions of the islands, the real-as-you-and-me cast of characters were all so new to me that I felt I was learning about an entirely new world.

I have visited Hawaii, but like most visitors, I never got to know the real Hawaii. This book brings it home, but it does so by weaving a story so gripping and real that you never feel that you are being educated, even as you are!

By Jasmin Iolani Hakes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A full-throated chant for Hawai'i. Part coming-of-age story, part historical family epic, all love. . . . It's impossible to come away unchanged."-KAWAI STRONG WASHBURN, author of the PEN/Hemingway award-winning Sharks in the Times of Saviors

Set in Hilo, Hawai'i, a sweeping saga of tradition, culture, family, history, and connection that unfolds through the lives of three generations of women-a brilliant blend of There, There and Sharks in the Time of Saviors that is a tale of mothers and daughters, dance and destiny, told in part in the collective voice of a community fighting for its survival

"There's no running…

Plus, check out my book…

Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat

By Jennifer Silva Redmond,

Book cover of Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat

What is my book about?

When Jennifer Shea married Russel Redmond, they made a decision to spend their honeymoon at sea, sailing in Mexico. The voyage tested their new relationship, not just through rough waters and unexpected weather, but in all the ways that living on a twenty-six-foot sailboat make one reconsider what's truly important. The couple sailed to Baja California's largely unspoiled and empty Sea of Cortez, where they spent twelve months before heading south to Central America and through the Panama Canal. Jennifer's unique experience on the boat weaves through time as she explores the events that lead to taking her first step onto Watchfire—from her bohemian 1960s childhood in Southern California to the years spent as a struggling actor in New York.