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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.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of 39: Your Last Birthday

Matthew Arnold Stern Why did I love this book?

Are we doomed to meet the same fate as our ancestors? That’s the threat looming over failed baseball player and self-destructive alcoholic Stephan Detals, whose father and grandfather died by suicide on their 39th birthdays.

With Stephan’s 39th birthday coming in a few days, he returns to his hometown to learn the truth about his father and grandfather’s deaths in hope of avoiding their fatal destinies. Sojka creates a twisty mystery with fascinating characters and Texas gothic. He also keeps up the tension as the fateful date approaches.

I felt Sojka did a wonderful job evoking the Texas landscape and the experience of a professional baseball player, which made me feel more engaged to the story and characters. This book kept me turning pages to its climax.

By Timothy Gene Sojka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 39 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2023 Maxy Awards Winner

Stephen Detals played professional baseball before flaming out in whiskey-fueled catastrophe.

His father and grandfather killed themselves on their 39th birthdays. Stephen is 38. He battles alcoholism, abandonment, suicidal tendencies, and lethal family history to survive his impending birthday.

This novel chronicles the final eight days before Stephen Detals' 39th birthday. His relapse into addiction forces Stephen back to the Neches River and the Piney Woods of Southeast Texas. Detals returns home to face purported murderess and family matriarch, Rose Petal Detals, and unravel the secrets of the family and hometown he abandoned twenty years earlier.…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

Matthew Arnold Stern Why did I love this book?

I rediscovered the novel I first read in my high school AP English class and got me binge-reading Vonnegut through college.

Musician Elle Cordova describes it this way, “A soldier’s life playlist is stuck on shuffle.” And like a shuffled playlist, it brings many seemingly discordant elements together. Fantastic science fiction with brutal descriptions of war. Brilliant humor with heartbreaking drama. And all the pieces make sense when brought together.

Vonnegut showed me what is possible with narrative and combining comedy and tragedy. He is an inspiration for my own novels.

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked Slaughterhouse-Five as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
 
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
 
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Final Lullaby

Matthew Arnold Stern Why did I love this book?

Sasha passed away this year, and this book is a beautiful final tribute to her.

Its subject is poignantly fitting: an examination of debilitating illness and end-of-life decisions. This topic was important to her. She covered it beautifully with two engaging characters, Angela and Tucker, who have a full and passionate life until a botched surgery puts them in a horrifying situation.

She combines humor and drama, and she draws her personal experiences to create an engaging, unforgettable story. Final Lullaby is a powerful final legacy to Sasha Lauren.

By Sasha Lauren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Final Lullaby is a courageous, poetic exploration of a controversial and emotionally-charged topic. At turns uncomfortable and celebratory, artistic and thought provoking, this is an important novel." –Brian Kaufman, author of Sins in Blue

"Many of us are one bad death away from becoming a right-to-die activist."

Angela Alexander, a New England bookshop owner and support talk-line volunteer, is dedicated to listening to people without her own filter getting in the way. Though her life is full and satisfying, she faces the ultimate dilemma after her husband Tucker - an exuberant bird photographer and blues musician - is harmed by…


Plus, check out my book…

The Remainders

By Matthew Arnold Stern,

Book cover of The Remainders

What is my book about?

A homeless son and troubled father must reconnect in Southern California in The Remainders. Dylan Glass, an 18-year-old high school dropout, was kicked out of his mother and stepdad’s home and must sleep in his SUV. He struggles to make a new life, but he finds himself challenged by old temptations and a new woman, the alluring and enigmatic Pearl. His father, Dr. Oliver Glass, struggles with demons of his own. A private practice and a beautiful girlfriend with children of her own can’t make up for a past of tragedy and abuse. Oliver seeks to reconnect with his son. Dylan seeks love and acceptance. Can they overcome their painful pasts? Or will they surrender to their self-destructive urges?

My 10-year-old's favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Charlotte's Web

Matthew Arnold Stern Why did they love this book?

My granddaughter thought the animal characters were cute, and she also liked the message about friendship.

There was plenty of humor, and the bond between Wilbur and Charlotte was touching. This was one of my favorite books when I was her age. I was happy to see she got the same enjoyment from it that I did.

By E.B. White,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Charlotte's Web as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Puffin Classics: the definitive collection of timeless stories, for every child.

On foggy mornings, Charlotte's web was truly a thing of beauty . Even Lurvy, who wasn't particularly interested in beauty, noticed the web when he came with the pig's breakfast. And then he took another look and he saw something that made him set his pail down. There, in the centre of the web, neatly woven in block letters, was a message. It said: SOME PIG!

This is the story of a little girl named Fern, who loves a little pig named Wilbur - and of Wilbur's dear friend,…


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