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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,199 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

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My favorite read in 2023…

Arthur & George

By Julian Barnes,

Book cover of Arthur & George

J.S. Watts Why did I love this book?

This is a novel that flowed and engaged and made me think. An imagined and beautifully written retelling of historical events that actually took place.

I learned something new about the past and the private life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I also enjoyed it as a fine, page-turner of a read and an unfolding crime story. Like many of Julian Barnes’ books it works on multiple levels, which makes for a rewarding, as well as an entertaining, read. Ultimately, it was a book that made me want to read it.

By Julian Barnes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a major TV series starring Martin Clunes, Arsher Ali and Art Malik

From the winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011, an extraordinary true-life tale about a long-forgotten mystery...

Arthur and George grow up worlds apart in late nineteenth-century Britain: Arthur in shabby-genteel Edinburgh, George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age, while George remains in hard-working obscurity. But as the new century begins, they are brought together by a sequence of events that made sensational headlines at the time as The Great…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

J.S. Watts Why did I love this book?

The first book in Pullman’s Book of Dust series, extending the story of Lyra from His Dark Materials trilogy of novels.

I fell in love with Lyra’s world when I read the first fantasy trilogy, and then all over again when it became a wonderful series on the BBC. So, yes, I am biased. The book is written for young adults, and I haven’t been a young adult for a very long time, but Pullman’s storytelling and world building ability had me hooked from the get-go.

I also know Oxford well, having spent three formative years there. Lyra’s Oxford is an alternative city with technologies and places that don’t exist in real life, but it is also very familiar to me. It drew me in and wouldn’t let go.

By Philip Pullman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the world of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials- now a major critically acclaimed BBC series

*Now coming to the stage in the summer of this year! Performed at The Bridge Theatre from July 2020, it will be a theatrical spectacle not to be missed*

A rich, imaginative, vividly characterised rite-of-passage tale - Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times


A coming of age story like no other . . .

Philip Pullman's magnificent bestseller is now in paperback, with new additional illustrations.

Malcolm Polstead's Oxford life…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Black Car Burning

By Helen Mort,

Book cover of Black Car Burning

J.S. Watts Why did I love this book?

I found this a poetic and somehow personal novel, though it is a work of fiction.

Helen Mort uses her knowledge of climbing and Sheffield, alongside her lyrical writing skills as an award-winning poet, to create an atmospheric and contemporary story of people and their complicated relationships. Sheffield is a character in its own right, as are the multiple personified landscapes that comment, like a vast Greek chorus, on the tiny lives of humanity and the world around them.

I was entranced by the juxtaposition of gritty urban life, with the mythical fantasy of contemplative landscapes.

By Helen Mort,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How do we trust each other?

Alexa is a young police community support officer whose world feels unstable. Her father is estranged and her girlfriend is increasingly distant. Their polyamorous relationship - which for years felt so natural - is starting to seem strained. As she patrols Sheffield she senses the rising tensions in its disparate communities and doubts her ability to keep the peace, to help, to change anything.

Caron is pushing Alexa away and pushing herself ever harder. A climber, she fixates on a brutal route known as Black Car Burning and throws herself into a cycle of…

Plus, check out my book…

A Darker Moon

By J.S. Watts,

Book cover of A Darker Moon

What is my book about?

A Darker Moon is a dark, psychological, urban fantasy. A mythical tale of light and shadow and the unlit places where it is best not to shine even the dimmest light.

Abe Finchley is a damaged man, an orphan with no roots and no family ties. When he finally meets the woman he has been looking for all his life, he finds not just love and passion, but a dark and violent family history that spans generations into humanity’s deepest past. Abe is going to have to make a difficult choice. A choice that might redeem the world. A choice that just might destroy it.

I read 19 books this year.