Author Reader Dance lover Dog fanatic Dreamer
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 Weak Teeth

Lucy Ribchester Why did I love this book?

I’ve read Weak Teeth twice now, as I was lucky enough to read it in its proof stage as well. It’s an anti-love story about Ellis, an Edinburgh girl, which opens with her long-term partner cheating on her before chucking her out of their shared flat.

Sounds depressing? But in the hands of Lynsey May, it becomes a bleakly, blackly hilarious, razor-sharp dissection of human relationships, along with a beautifully rich exploration of family and what it means to be strong in life. 

The characters are so utterly identifiable, from Ellis’s poison-tongued but ferociously loyal big sister to her wet drip of an ex. It’s a book to hold your hand through the worst times of life and remind you that strength can be found where you least expect it. 

By Lynsey May,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'[A] warm and witty exploration of our hidden vulnerabilities' - Catherine Simpson

Ellis's life has crumbled without warning. Her boyfriend has fallen in love with someone else, her job's insecure, her bank account's empty and she has a mouthful of unreliable teeth. Forced back to her childhood home, there is little in the way of comfort. Her mum is dating a younger man (a dentist, no less) and is talking of selling the house, her sister, Lana, is furious all the time, and a distant cousin has now arrived from the States to stay with them.

During a long, hot…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma

Lucy Ribchester Why did I love this book?

Claire Dederer’s Monsters offers a brilliant and thought-provoking reckoning over our engagement with problematic artists. 

The book is a combination of rigorous social and cultural analysis - of what makes great art, what elevates art to greatness, and what allows us to put certain artists on pedestals - and Dederer’s personal relationship to each of the artists she looks at (they range from Picasso to Woody Allen to Michael Jackson).

Dederer picks away at the knotty problems we all face when, for example, discovering our wedding song was penned by a paedophile, or that our favourite painter beat his mistress.

For a piece of cultural commentary it has the most phenomenally lively and self-reflective tone – to the extent that Dededer (a former film critic) even begins questioning the tone of cultural commentary and criticism itself, with its authoritarian, patriarchal cadences. I’ve really never read anything like it. 

By Claire Dederer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

***BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK***

'Funny, lively and convivial... how rare and nourishing this sort of roaming thought is and what a joy to read' MEGAN NOLAN, SUNDAY TIMES

'An exhilarating, shape-shifting exploration of the perilous boundaries between art and life' JENNY OFFILL

A passionate, provocative and blisteringly smart interrogation of how we experience art in the age of #MeToo, and whether we can separate an artist's work from their biography.

What do we do with the art of monstrous men? Can we love the work of Roman Polanski and Michael Jackson, Hemingway and Picasso? Should we love…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Passion

Lucy Ribchester Why did I love this book?

I’m slightly cheating with this one because it’s a re-read. I first read The Passion last year and have the feeling it’s going to be one of those books I re-read again and again, in the way you sometimes crave your favourite food. 

It’s set during the Napoleonic wars, which makes it sound incredibly historically dry, but it’s the absolute opposite. Winterson writes with the magical realist imagination of Angela Carter, but with more clarity and distilled philosophy – sharp, universal truths that pierce your heart.

The Passion roams through France, Russia, and Venice, and unfolds through the lives of a soldier who has lost his faith and a casino worker who has lost her lover. It examines the role of passion in all our lives, from spirituality, to love, to the unshakeable wants of megalomaniacs.

It’s a short book, but written so poetically and with such care to its rhythms and phasing. I’m sure this won’t be the last time it appears on a list of my year’s favourite books. 

By Jeanette Winterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the frozen Russia of Napoleon's campaign, to the canals of Venice, this novel journeys through curious waterways of war and chance, where destiny and the heart cannot be forgotten - nor passion which is to be found somewhere between fear and sex passion, somewhere between God and the Devil. Jeanette Winterson is author of "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" which was winner of the 1985 Whitbread First Novel Award.


Plus, check out my book…

The Hourglass Factory

By Lucy Ribchester,

Book cover of The Hourglass Factory

What is my book about?

The suffragette movement is reaching a fever pitch, and Inspector Frederick Primrose is hunting a murderer on his beat. Across town, Fleet Street reporter Frances "Frankie" George is chasing an interview with trapeze artist Ebony Diamond.

Frankie finds herself fascinated by the tightly-laced acrobat and follows her to a Bond Street corset shop that seems to be hiding secrets of its own. When Ebony Diamond mysteriously disappears in the middle of a performance, Frankie and Primrose are both drawn into the shadowy world of a secret society with ties to both London's criminal underworld and its glittering socialites.

How did Ebony vanish, who was she afraid of, and what goes on behind the doors of the mysterious Hourglass Factory?