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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 Hamnet

Jesse Liberty Why did I love this book?

Hamnet, the fictionalized story of the death of Shakespeare's son and its impact on the Bard, is compelling and incredibly well written, but it was the character study of Shakespeare and his family that drove my inability to put it down.

The book can be considered as having been written in thirds. In the first part, we meet the characters and come to care about them. This part is beautifully written. The second part bogs down a bit, but the book's final third is masterful, elegiac, and luminescent.

I loved the book so much that as soon as I finished the Audible version, I immediately re-read it on my Kindle, where I could slow down and enjoy the beautiful writing.

By Maggie O'Farrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2020 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION - THE NO. 1 BESTSELLER 2021
'Richly sensuous... something special' The Sunday Times
'A thing of shimmering wonder' David Mitchell

TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.

On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.

Neither…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Ulysses

Jesse Liberty Why did I love this book?

Ulysses may be one of the best books ever written, though it is also one of the most challenging.

In exchange for the effort, you are rewarded with Joyce’s unparalleled command of English and his invention of stream-of-conscious writing. I listened to a set of lectures, one on each chapter, as I made my way through the book, which made all the difference. There are written guides as well.

Ulysses takes place on a single day in Dublin. Each chapter reveals a different aspect of Joyce’s genius. For example, in one chapter, a baby is born, and Joyce starts the chapter with child-like simple words and evolves slowly into more adult language; that is, he mimics the birth (and growth) of the child in the very words he uses to describe the events.

Ulysses is famous for being a difficult read, but it repays tenfold for the effort.

By James Joyce,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

James Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses, tells of the diverse events which befall Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus in Dublin on one day in June 1904. It is considered to be one of the most important works of modernist literature and was hailed as a work of genius by W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway. Scandalously frank, wittily erudite, mercurially eloquent, resourcefully comic and generously humane, Ulysses offers the reader a life-changing experience


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Overstory

Jesse Liberty Why did I love this book?

The Overstory won a Pulitzer and a number of other awards. It is a majestic and sweeping story about our relationship with the natural world that draws you in and doesn’t let go.

Powers’ other books are outstanding, and it is hard to decide which is the best, but I’ll go with the consensus that it is this one. The central conceit is the life and community of trees, but focusing on that misses the point and ignores the beauty of this magnificent work.

President Obama said about The Overstory, “It changed how I thought about the Earth and our place in it,” and it did so for me as well. This is not a soft-hearted, touchy-feely granola-eating novel; it is a beautiful work written by an author deeply grounded in science. But it is transcendent and cannot be easily dismissed or forgotten.

I have read it twice and will read it a third time, this time on paper, to enjoy his mastery of writing a brilliant novel.

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

31 authors picked The Overstory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…


My podcast is...

Yet Another Podcast

Yet Another Podcast has been the home of meaningful and useful discussion of all things .NET for well over a decade. Guests have included industry leaders as well as Microsoft programmers and project managers who build .NET languages and platforms. You can listen to Yet Another Podcast on Apple, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.