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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 Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

Josh Funk Why did I love this book?

I really enjoyed Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties, but Vera Wong was even better.

First, it’s hilarious. Just the premise: a 50-something-year-old widower who owns a tea shop in Chinatown in San Francisco thinks she can solve a murder better than the police. And then she does.

It’s written from multiple perspectives of various suspects, but the whole thing is super lighthearted and still a great mystery. My wife and I read it aloud to each other, as we often do. If you enjoy the Thursday Murder Club series, this one is definitely for you.

By Jesse Q. Sutanto,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A lonely shopkeeper takes it upon herself to solve a murder in the most peculiar way in this captivating mystery by Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties.

Vera Wong is a lonely little old lady—ah, lady of a certain age—who lives above her forgotten tea shop in the middle of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite living alone, Vera is not needy, oh no. She likes nothing more than sipping on a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy detective work on the Internet about what her Gen-Z son is up to.

Then one morning, Vera trudges…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Gibberish

Josh Funk Why did I love this book?

Gibberish is one of those brilliant picture books that couldn’t be made any other way.

The combination of words, symbols, and multiple art styles perfectly tells the story of an immigrant child’s acclimation to an English-speaking classroom. At first, the English words are all written in symbols, which read as gibberish, and those speaking them are depicted as old-timey cartoon characters.

As the child begins to understand, the symbols slowly transition to letters, and the characters gradually merge with the style of the rest of the book. It is so clever, so emotional, and so simple for even the youngest of us to understand.

By Young Vo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gibberish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

It's Dat's first day of school in a new country! Dat and his Mah made a long journey to get here, and Dat doesn't know the language. To Dat, everything everybody says - from the school bus driver to his new classmates - sounds like gibberish. How is Dat going to make new friends if they can't understand each other?
Luckily there's a friendly girl in Dat's class who knows that there are other ways to communicate, besides just talking. Could she help make sense of the gibberish?

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Dead Flip

Josh Funk Why did I love this book?

A young adult / middle-grade crossover, Dead Flip is told from multiple perspectives and time periods.

It’s a horror mystery about two seventeen-year-olds in the early nineties whose third crew member disappeared in 1987 when they were twelve. And he might be stuck in a haunted…pinball machine? Yup.

I’ve loved Farizan’s work in the past (Here to Stay is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read), and Dead Flip is equally as good but way more spooky.

By Sara Farizan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dead Flip as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Edge-of-your-seat YA horror perfect for fans of Stranger Things Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another. Now it's 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren't speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine? These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love…

Plus, check out my book…

Book cover of Dear Unicorn

What is my book about?

Two pen pals receive the shock of a lifetime in this giggle-inducing ode to art, friendship, and keeping an open mind. Connie's class is partnering up with pen pals, and she loves exchanging letters with her new friend, Nic, even though the two of them are polar opposites.

Connie takes art seriously, while Nic has a more whimsical approach. But both eagerly await the pen pal art festival when their two classes finally meet. But they're in for a shock: Connie doesn't know Nic is a unicorn. And Nic has no clue that Connie is a human.

With Josh Funk's signature laugh-out-loud humor and Charles Santoso's explosively fun illustrations, Dear Unicorn is a celebration of art, new friends, and stepping outside your comfort zone.