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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 Rose Nicolson: Memoir of William Fowler of Edinburgh

Marsali Taylor Why did I love this book?

Rose Nicolson is the story of Will Fowler, student, would-be poet, warily Protestant in the charged atmosphere of 1570s Scotland, where the scorch marks of burned martyrs are still visible on the streets.

I loved this because it felt like time travel. I believed in Greig’s Scotland: the place, the smells, the frightening world where Will had to step warily among tangled politics. There was atmosphere, excitement, meetings with historical characters and romance: Will’s love for Rose, the intelligent fisher girl who’d learned Latin and philosophy at her brother’s elbow, yet who wanted to stay within her own class and marry a fisher lad.

Most of all, I loved the language, conjuring up Will’s world: I came out of it speaking the Scots I’d heard from my Granny. Did it end well? Yes ... no ... sort of ... satisfyingly.

By Andrew Greig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A tale I have for you.'

Embra, winter of 1574. Queen Mary has fled Scotland, to raise an army from the French. Her son and heir, Jamie is held under protection in Stirling Castle. John Knox is dead. The people are unmoored and lurching under the uncertain governance of this riven land. It's a deadly time for young student Will Fowler, short of stature, low of birth but mightily ambitious, to make his name.

Fowler has found himself where the scorch marks of the martyrs burned at the stake can be seen on every street, where differences in doctrine can…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Bookseller of Inverness

Marsali Taylor Why did I love this book?

It’s not often we Scots get to read about our history from a Scottish persepctive, and this crime novel took us right into the aftermath of Culloden, where the Government troops slaughtered the Jacobites under Bonny Prince Charlie. Six years later, survivor Iain MacGillivray finds a dead man in his bookshop, and his desire for peace is tested as a new Jacobite plot begins.

Maclean recreates the tense atmosphere in this garrison town, where memories of the atrocities after the battle are still vividly alive, where the Grandes Dames still meet to toast the king over the water, and the military come down hard on any hint of rebellion.

The characters and events were vividly described, and I was delighted to find that some of the most striking scenes really happened. 

By S.G. MacLean,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bookseller of Inverness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A GRIPPING HISTORICAL THRILLER SET IN INVERNESS IN THE WAKE OF THE 1746 BATTLE OF CULLODEN.

'This slice of historical fiction takes you on a wild ride' THE TIMES

After Culloden, Iain MacGillivray was left for dead on Drummossie Moor. Wounded, his face brutally slashed, he survived only by pretending to be dead as the Redcoats patrolled the corpses of his Jacobite comrades.

Six years later, with the clan chiefs routed and the Highlands subsumed into the British state, Iain lives a quiet life, working as a bookseller in Inverness. One day, after helping several of his regular customers, he…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Just One Damned Thing After Another

Marsali Taylor Why did I love this book?

This summer, I was hit by a yacht at our local regatta. I was in a coma for two weeks, in hospital for another five, and I came home at last, battered, bruised, and on crutches. I tried this book on a friend’s recommendation and was hooked instantly.

Max, the narrator, is a bolshie take-no-prisoners... historian. St Mary’s, where she works, sends her to view past events – except that nobody from St Mary’s can manage to view quietly. Whenever Max sets foot in the past, chaos follows. I enjoyed the vivid recreations of historical events, I laughed out loud at the wise-crack one-liners, and I cowered from the dinosaurs.

From my bed, I charged about and had hair-breadth escapes... in short, this was exactly the book I needed to distract me from my rather restricted present. Within two chapters, I’d ordered the next two, then the next three. Now I’m rationing myself – the next two are saved for my birthday treat, and after that, it’s Christmas.

By Jodi Taylor,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Just One Damned Thing After Another as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Time Travel meets History in this explosive bestselling adventure series.

`So tell me, Dr Maxwell, if the whole of History lay before you ... where would you go? What would you like to witness?'

When Madeleine Maxwell is recruited by the St Mary's Institute of Historical Research, she discovers the historians there don't just study the past - they revisit it.

But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And she soon discovers it's not just History she's fighting...

Follow the tea-soaked disaster magnets of St Mary's as they rattle around History. Because wherever the…


Plus, check out my book…

Death on a Shetland Longship: The Shetland Sailing Mysteries

By Marsali Taylor,

Book cover of Death on a Shetland Longship: The Shetland Sailing Mysteries

What is my book about?

When liveaboard sailor Cass Lynch lands her dream job as the skipper of a Viking longboat for a prestigious Hollywood film being shot in Shetland, she thinks she’s going home in triumph to the place - and family - she ran away from as a teenager.

However, when a corpse is found aboard the longship, Cass and her family come under intense scrutiny from the disturbingly shrewd DI Gavin Macrae.

Even if Cass’s local knowledge and sailing wisdom help to clear the Lynch family of suspicion, they may not be enough to keep her ahead of the murderer’s game… or to prevent her from becoming the next victim.