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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 Exit Strategy

Mark Huntley-James Why did I love this book?

Aside from not being an engineered professional killer addicted to soap operas, I really related to Martha Wells’s Murderbot.

My head does not follow the centreline of “normal people,” and Martha Wells delivers an anti-hero who resonates superbly. I was utterly sucked into Murderbot’s struggle to reconcile an internal conflict between off-centre emotional responses and the expectations of those “normal people” and never falling back into the cop-out of “fixing” Murderbot to be “normal.” Oh, and it's a cracking good story, as well.

By Martha Wells,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Murderbot wasn't programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah - its former owner (protector? friend?) - submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who's going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it's caught?


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Goblin Emperor

Mark Huntley-James Why did I love this book?

I read The Goblin Emperor based on a recommendation with the caveat “it might not be your sort of book,” and was drawn into a compelling story, in an intricate world, focused on a misfit character devoting all of his energy into actually fitting in, and rising to the challenge of a role he never expected or wanted.

As it turns out, exactly my sort of book. At every turn Katharine Addison led me up to an obvious turn of the plot, and then side-stepped, one deceptive twist after another in a tale light on action and full of life. 

By Katherine Addison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The youngest half-goblin son of the Emperor lived his life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court. But when his father and the three sons in line for the throne die in an "accident," he must take his place as the only surviving heir. Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any time. Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naive new emperor, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Quantum Curators and the Great Deceiver

Mark Huntley-James Why did I love this book?

It’s time travel with humour, snark, doesn’t require history to be fixed and steps off the well-worn paths.

The Great Deceiver is actually the finale in a five-book series, which I started somewhere near the beginning of the year and just kept going. For me, a major appeal is the way the series starts with classic tropes, a portal into a parallel world, a travel mechanism, an organization and hierarchy, and then pulls those apart, culminating in the Great Deceiver where order is restored and the villain defeated, but like gluing a broken cup back together, the cracks and faults are still visible.

By Eva St. John,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quantum Curators and the Great Deceiver as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Death, dishonour or duty. Time is running out and someone is going to die.Trapped on Beta Earth, Julius has no memory of the past two years, and everything feels wrong. As he struggles to make sense of his surroundings, he is taken under the wing of a very unexpected group of people and their existence will change everything.

Back on Alpha Earth, treacherous coalitions with the worst of Beta humanity are being formed and only Neith knows the full extent of the danger. Searching for help, she approaches those she trusts, but each encounter ends in violent death. She is…


Plus, check out my book…

Streamrider

By Mark Huntley-James,

Book cover of Streamrider

What is my book about?

Welcome to Bluesky! The most useful island of stability on the slipstream, only a few lightyears beyond Earth, the place to start wars, to bury enemies, and the gateway to the ultimate mineral-rich world of Cinder. Just don’t mention the revolution, the ousted Earth Colonial Office, or the uber-rich Rolanders who used to own it.

Meet Lois, rich girl, documentary addict, heir to the Rolander wealth, and Jo-jo, the thief she is running from, heir to the revolution. They’re both fighting today’s war, on the world where the last one started and never quite stopped.