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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,560 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 Poverty, by America

Pamela Haag Why did I love this book?

Desmond describes in searing and vivid terms what it means to be poor today, and posits that poverty continues for the simple reason that some in America benefit from it.

Desmond manages the challenge of synthesizing an impassioned critique with facts and ethnography while crafting a narrative. Among other brilliant interventions, he reminds us, at a time when the social safety net gets routinely trashed, that the War on Poverty actually worked to diminish poverty.

His last chapter articulates an argument that I’ve often made: living with forms of inequality hurts all of us. It hurts those who suffer most immediately from them the most, of course. Might we imagine a world where we all benefit from not having to confront glaring inequalities every day?

By Matthew Desmond,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Poverty, by America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted reimagines the debate on poverty, making a “provocative and compelling” (NPR) argument about why it persists in America: because the rest of us benefit from it.

“Urgent and accessible . . . Its moral force is a gut punch.”—The New Yorker
 
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2023: The Washington Post, Time, Esquire, Newsweek, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Elle, Salon, Lit Hub, Kirkus Reviews

The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Every

Pamela Haag Why did I love this book?

I would read anything Eggers wrote—even a grocery list. The Every delivers a satirical takedown of big tech nestled in an entertaining novel that demonstrates how we almost imperceptibly come to accept technology as ineluctable, progressive, and an almost naturalized enhancement to our feeble humanity.

“The Longest Day” is one of the most mordantly hilarious chapters I’ve read in years, and produced analog, not emoji, LOLs. It’s hard to be scathingly critical without sliding into cynical hopelessness, and Eggers achieves this remarkable balance.

He writes as a humanist, in the best senses of the term, in the penumbra of a post-humanist age abetted by big tech, and yet he never seems to lose faith in humans or his redemptive sense of humor, and I love that about his work.

By Dave Eggers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the award-winning, bestselling author of The Circle comes an exciting new follow-up. When the world’s largest search engine/social media company, the Circle, merges with the planet’s dominant ecommerce site, it creates the richest and most dangerous—and, oddly enough, most beloved—monopoly ever known: the Every.

Delaney Wells is an unlikely new hire at the Every. A former forest ranger and unwavering tech skeptic, she charms her way into an entry-level job with one goal in mind: to take down the company from within. With her compatriot, the not-at-all-ambitious Wes Makazian, they look for the Every's weaknesses, hoping to free humanity…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Pamela Haag Why did I love this book?

In keeping with my preoccupation with questions of how we remain human in a post-humanist world, I’m choosing this gem, which I encountered in an airport on my way back from Portugal this year. In all of his novels, in one form or another, Ishiguro tests the boundaries of humanity and agency.

His most memorable characters have discomfitingly partial claims of full humanity (in this novel and Never Let Me Go) or agency (butler Stevens in Remains of the Day, for example).

No writer conveys meaning more subtly in (deceptively straightforward) style than Ishiguro, and this story of Klara, an “artificial friend” in a near-future world, beautifully explores those boundaries and the criteria by which we envision ourselves as truly alive and worthy of human regard.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Klara and the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021*
*A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick*

'A delicate, haunting story' The Washington Post
'This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go . . . tender, touching and true.' The Times

'The Sun always has ways to reach us.'

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges…


Plus, check out my book…

The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture

By Pamela Haag,

Book cover of The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture

What is my book about?

Commercial forces shaped American gun culture, and guns historically were a business that very much acted like a business. This book tells the history of the gun industry and titans from the early 1800s to the early 1900s, as well as the “ghost story” of gun heiress Sarah Winchester.

The Gunning of America argues that following the ordinary business directive of selling guns, creating demand, and doing business, the gun industry elaborated a gun mystique in a post-frontier, settled, urban America where guns might otherwise have lost some of their practical utility.