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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 Fly with Me: A Novel

Lena George Why did I love this book?

Fly With Me was the most enjoyable book I read all year. It was smart, heartfelt, and well-paced, with a perfect balance of heavy and light. I laughed, and I cried multiple times.

I also deeply appreciated seeing neuro-spicy characters on the page.

This representation—bisexual characters, characters with ADHD—means so much to me. Andie Burke, along with Sarah Grunder Ruiz in her upcoming book, is putting us on the map in the best way. I’m so here for it.

By Andie Burke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Flying-phobic ER nurse Olive Murphy is still gripping the armrest from her first-ever take-off when the pilot announces an in-flight medical emergency. Olive leaps into action and saves a life, but ends up getting stuck in the airport hours away from the marathon she's running in honor of her brother. Luckily for her, Stella Soriano, the stunning type A copilot, offers to give her a ride.

After the two spend a magical day together, Stella makes a surprising request: Will Olive be her fake girlfriend?

A video of Olive saving a life has gone viral and started generating big sales…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of A Children's Bible

Lena George Why did I love this book?

I got this from the library at the beach over vacation and read it in a day. I just couldn’t put it down.

A Children’s Bible is a weird, dark, vaguely post-apocalyptic story for adults featuring a child protagonist. In other words, right up my alley. Readers may guess from my own work I love young protagonists. They have a lot of power, especially when they take the reader through some heavy topics.

I really connected with the narrator in this story, and I loved the way Millet showed both her maturity and wisdom and her youth, all mixed together. Very engrossing.

By Lydia Millet,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Children's Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet's sublime new novel-her first since the National Book Award-longlisted Sweet Lamb of Heaven- follows a group of eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their parents at a lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their elders, who pass their days in a hedonistic stupor, the children are driven out into a chaotic landscape after a great storm descends. The story's narrator, Eve, devotes herself to the safety of her beloved little brother as events around them begin to mimic scenes from his cherished picture Bible.

Millet, praised as "unnervingly talented" (San Francisco Chronicle), has produced a…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of A Hand to Hold in Deep Water

Lena George Why did I love this book?

I’m a sucker for complicated mother characters (surprising, right?). The narrator’s mother in A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is conspicuously absent, yet she infuses every page. As the book goes on, we learn more about her story, and it only gets more heartbreaking.

I love how unflinching Nocher is in writing these mother-and-daughter characters, even in the face of some of the most challenging subjects to put on the page.

I also love it when a fictional story teaches me something new or takes me to an unfamiliar place. This was the case with Ocracoke Island in North Carolina.

I thoroughly enjoyed discovering it along with the narrator in this compelling mother-daughter story.

By Shawn Nocher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Hand to Hold in Deep Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*A PopSugar Pick of the Best Books of the Month
*A Portland Book Review Pick of the Month
“A rich and resonant family story, a meditative, lyrical, and deeply emotional exploration of heritage, loss, and the profundity of parental love.”-Claire Lombardo, New York Times bestselling author

Willy Cherrymill and his stepdaughter, Lacey, are deeply bruised by a past brimming with unanswered questions. It's been thirty years since May DuBerry, Willy's young wife and Lacey's mother, abandoned them both leaving Willy to raise Lacey alone.

Lacey Cherrymill is smart, stubborn, and focused. She's also single mother to a young daughter recently…

Plus, check out my book…

She's Not Home

By Lena George,

Book cover of She's Not Home

What is my book about?

Sheryl already lost one daughter by being the fun parent. 

She's determined to do it right with her other daughter, no matter how much Mariana whines about one chance for a normal night. No misbehavior, no stoner friends, and absolutely no parties. As if missing homecoming amounts to tragedy. Sheryl knows real tragedy-and she's not about to make the same mistake twice.

All Mariana wants is to escape the shadow of her sister, Sheena. She's tired of being seen as the daughter who survived and missing out on experiences she shouldn't have to fight for senior homecoming. When Mariana discovers how Sheena died, she runs away. Mariana faces the reality of making choices for the first time, while Sheryl is left to contend with losing another daughter.