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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,679 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 Defender of Walls

Lindsey Pogue Why did I love this book?

As a history buff, dystopian author, and historical drama addict, this book is everything I want in a story.

It transports you to a gritty, dystopian world with a medieval flare. Best of all, it doesn’t have magic, which makes it feel plausible.

In Defender of Walls, a decade of famine has splintered the kingdom, but it is the merchants who suffer most. The prose is exquisite, and the characters are complex and endearing.

I love that this book doesn’t shy away from tough situations and cringe-worthy moments, either. You feel the characters’ hunger pains, their fears, their hatred, and their heartache. The heroine’s gumption is inspiring, and the strong, broody hero’s compassion melted my heart.

I loved everything about this book and devoured the entire series! 

By Tanya Bird,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Defender of Walls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Keep her inside. Keep her alive.

Blake Suttone has a stomach full of grief and no food. A decade of famine has taken its toll on the splintered kingdom, but it is the merchants who suffer most. A wall stands between the hungry and the food, and the kingdom’s defenders stand guard atop it. Desperate times lead to desperate acts, and Blake will do whatever is necessary to ensure her family survives. But a growing attachment to a certain commander was never part of the plan. Now the man protecting the walls seems determined to guard her too.

Commander Harlan…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of A Girl Called Samson

Lindsey Pogue Why did I love this book?

I love a great historical fiction, and Amy Harmon did not disappoint.

It follows the life of Deborah Samson, a young woman dressed as a man so she can fight in the American Revolutionary War.

Her character development is amazing, and how Harmon wove all of the character storylines together was masterfully done. The love story was simply beautiful, and I will say that, as someone who loves history but isn’t big on war stories, this one had me obsessively listening.

I felt so many emotions reading this and could not put it down. The narration of this audiobook was epically done. 

By Amy Harmon,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Girl Called Samson as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author Amy Harmon comes the saga of a young woman who dares to chart her own destiny in life and love during the American Revolutionary War.

In 1760, Deborah Samson is born to Puritan parents in Plympton, Massachusetts. When her father abandons the family and her mother is unable to support them, Deborah is bound out as an indentured servant. From that moment on, she yearns for a life of liberation and adventure.

Twenty years later, as the American colonies begin to buckle in their battle for independence, Deborah, impassioned by the cause, disguises herself…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Spells for Forgetting

Lindsey Pogue Why did I love this book?

Adrienne Young’s novels are transporting. Her worlds are enthralling (in this case, a little haunting), and her characters are always intriguing.

Emery and August are no different in this book. I actually put off reading Spells For Forgetting because I’m not a huge “magic” fan. But this book is so much more than that, and Young wove her magic system throughout the story deftly and delicately, making it feel real.

The magic wasn’t only magic; it was the town, the people, the atmosphere, and the mystery—all intricately sewn throughout beautiful prose. I fell in love with Saoirse Island.

By Adrienne Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spells for Forgetting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “Lush with secrets, magic, and a past that won’t stay where it belongs, this novel is (quite fittingly) spellbinding.”—JODI PICOULT, author of Wish You Were Here

A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: She Reads

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on…


Plus, check out my book…

City of Ruin

By Lindsey Pogue,

Book cover of City of Ruin

What is my book about?

The collector is coming to claim what he’s owed.

Centuries ago, the skies turned black, and for 300 years, Londoners survived in the dank underground tunnels of the city. Until one day, a stranger from a faraway land offered to save them. Though it wasn’t without cost... and he has come to collect.

When Selene is taken to Master Blackburn’s infamous estate, she fears she and the orphans she’s sworn to protect will meet a gruesome end, like so many others before them. But the beastly landowner is not all there is to fear, and Selene soon learns nothing in Briarwood is as it seems.