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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.

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My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Leslie K. Simmons Why did I love this book?

I could see this story unfolding in front of my eyes as I read. I didn’t want to stop reading.

The story flowed, was ‘true” to history, about real events and people, and full of realistic human emotions and conflict. I found the prose vivid and gripping, and the portrayal of the early settlers and Native American community well balanced.

There was great tension in the plot and between the two main characters that ended in a plausible way.

By Amy Belding Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Flight of the Sparrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Emily's House comes a “compelling, emotionally gripping”* novel of historical fiction—perfect for readers of America’s First Daughter.

Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson was captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people.

Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Prize for the Fire

Leslie K. Simmons Why did I love this book?

This is a brave book about a brave person little known to history, beautifully written with understanding and compassion.

Prize for the Fire brings to life a little-known woman who defied convention, choosing to risk anything and endure unbearable hardship in order to never relinquish her convictions. A dark Tudor past is an inhabitable and understandable place in this work, leaving questions about belief lingering.

By Rilla Askew,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Prize for the Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lincolnshire, 1537. Amid England's religious turmoil, fifteen-year-old Anne Askew is forced to take her dead sister's place in an arranged marriage. The witty, well-educated gentleman's daughter is determined to free herself from her abusive husband, harsh in-laws, and the cruel strictures of her married life. But this is the England of Henry VIII, where religion and politics are dangerously entangled. A young woman of Anne's fierce independence, Reformist faith, uncanny command of plainspoken scripture, and-not least-connections to Queen Katheryn Parr's court cannot long escape official notice, or censure.

In a deft blend of history and imagination, award-winning novelist Rilla Askew…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Burial Rites

Leslie K. Simmons Why did I love this book?

As sombering as the Icelandic landscape it takes place in, this tale of a woman condemned to die in that remote country in 1829 is one of endurance and hope in the face of injustice.

In vivid and atmospheric writing, Kent brings a little-known historical figure into a new light, leaving us with a new and lasting legacy for someone few knew or cared for before.

By Hannah Kent,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Burial Rites as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tv=ti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her.…


Plus, check out my book…

Red Clay, Running Waters

By Leslie K. Simmons,

Book cover of Red Clay, Running Waters

What is my book about?

Red Clay, Running Waters is the little-known story of John Ridge, a Cherokee man dedicated to his people, and his White wife, Sarah Northrop, a woman devoted to his cause.  

Grappling with universal themes - the meaning of love, the tireless fight against tyranny, and courage in the face of oppression - it is a timely tale of one family’s search for justice in the Cherokee’s defence of their sovereignty during the 1830s Removal Crisis.

A story of profound love, sacrifice, and the meaning of home, vividly woven through the Ridge’s lives, it is a vibrant and heartbreaking portrait of the Antebellum Era and the fate of Native Americans. Readers will be propelled on a stunning journey across true events, leading to a haunting and moving conclusion.