Author Novelist World War II nut Sea lover World wanderer
The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,686 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

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My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Underland: A Deep Time Journey

Justin Fox Why did I love this book?

Part travelogue, part natural history, this book about the hidden worlds beneath our feet – caves, mines, tunnels, root systems – enticed me into thinking in radically different ways about the natural world and about our planet.

It is written in a lyrical style, often elevating itself to a high form of prose poetry.

One is left with a deep sense of awe with respect to nature and Macfarlane’s supreme mastery of the English language.

By Robert Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth's underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time-from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk "hiding place" where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come-Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.

Global in its geography and written with great lyricism, Underland speaks powerfully to our present…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Promise

Justin Fox Why did I love this book?

This modern masterpiece captures the spirit and drama of post-apartheid South Africa through the eyes of an Afrikaner family residing on a farm outside Pretoria.

Having lived through this period of my country’s history, it is remarkable to see how perceptively Galgut has managed to convey the spirit of our time and the trauma that lingers in this troubled corner of Africa.

By Damon Galgut,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


On her deathbed, Rachel Swart makes a promise to Salome, the family’s Black maid. This promise will divide the family—especially her children: Anton, the golden boy; Astrid, whose beauty is her power; and the youngest, Amor, whose life is shaped by feelings of guilt.

Reunited by four funerals over thirty years, the dwindling Swart family remains haunted by the unmet promise, just as their country is haunted by its own failures. The Promise is an epic South African drama that unfurls against the unrelenting march of history, sure…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Operation Pedestal: The Fleet That Battled to Malta, 1942

Justin Fox Why did I love this book?

This epic book tells the story of a brave convoy to Malta during World War II, a period and a narrative that particularly appeals to me, given my writing.

Hastings perfectly captures the terror, drama, and heroism of Allied sailors fighting their way through to the besieged island in this gripping page-turner.

By Max Hastings,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times bestseller 'One of the most dramatic forgotten chapters of the war, as told in a new book by the incomparable Max Hastings' DAILY MAIL

In August 1942, beleaguered Malta was within weeks of surrender to the Axis, because its 300,000 people could no longer be fed. Churchill made a personal decision that at all costs, the 'island fortress' must be saved. This was not merely a matter of strategy, but of national prestige, when Britain's fortunes and morale had fallen to their lowest ebb.

The largest fleet the Royal Navy committed to any operation of the western…

Plus, check out my book…

The Cape Raider

By Justin Fox,

Book cover of The Cape Raider

What is my book about?

Scarred – physically and emotionally – by the brutal warfare at Dunkirk, Jack Pembroke decides to leave his home in England to join his father, Admiral Pembroke, in the South African Cape.

A fledgling naval force is preparing to fight the coming onslaught of German raiders, and Jack is soon thrust back into action when he is appointed commander of a minesweeping flotilla.

Unknown to Jack, a Nazi commerce raider has left Germany for the Cape, intending to wreak havoc on Allied shipping. And it’s heading straight for him… Under Jack’s command are an eclectic bunch of men who are unsure of their foreign captain. But he must unite them into a powerful fighting unit if he can defeat the dangerous enemy.