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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 Demon Copperhead

Peter Jones Why did I love this book?

l loved this modern re-telling of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield initially because I had recently read the original for the first time, so it was fresh in my mind. 

Gradually, as I read Demon Copperhead, a heretical thought began to form: not only did I prefer this book, I was beginning to think it was better than the original. And long though it is, I found myself reading it more and more slowly because I didn’t want it to end. The characters are all too convincing, as is their hideous poverty and drug dependency—a mesmerizing story of under-the-radar American life.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

58 authors picked Demon Copperhead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Demon's story begins with his traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer, looking 'like a little blue prizefighter.' For the life ahead of him he would need all of that fighting spirit, along with buckets of charm, a quick wit, and some unexpected talents, legal and otherwise.

In the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, poverty isn't an idea, it's as natural as the grass grows. For a generation growing up in this world, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis, addiction isn't an abstraction, it's neighbours, parents, and friends. 'Family' could mean love, or reluctant foster…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Kafka on the Shore

Peter Jones Why did I love this book?

Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of my favourite novels, and since reading that, I have read quite a few more of his.

Not all of them are great, but Kafka on the Shore is the real deal—Japanese magic realism. His books always start out believably humdrum, with their passive, aimless protagonists, but sooner or later the stories warp into the supernatural and inexplicable. Talking cats, mysterious non-places, parallel time-streams… it’s all there.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Kafka on the Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A stunning work of art that bears no comparisons" the New York Observer wrote of Haruki Murakami's masterpiece, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. In its playful stretching of the limits of the real world, his magnificent new novel, Kafka on the Shore is every bit as bewitching and ambitious. The narrative follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly overturned. Their parallel odysseys - as…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of I'm Not Scared

Peter Jones Why did I love this book?

My wife introduced me to this gripping crime thriller. Set during a roasting summer within a rural southern Italian community, the tale is told through the eyes of a child.

Part of a little gang of faithless so-called friends, and surrounded by untrustworthy adults, the young hero is the only sympathetic character in the story. But what a story! Ammaniti brilliantly evokes a sense of place and time, and the sheer desperation of the poor.

By Niccolo Ammaniti, Jonathan Hunt (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'm Not Scared as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hottest summer of the twentieth century. A tiny community of five houses in the middle of wheat fields. While the adults shelter indoors, six children venture out on their bikes across the scorched, deserted countryside. In the midst of that sea of golden wheat, nine-year-old Michele Amitrano discovers a secret so momentous, so terrible, that he dare not tell anyone about it. To come to terms with what he finds, he will have to draw strength from his own imagination and sense of humanity. The reader witnesses a dual story: the one that is seen through Michele's eyes, and…

Plus, check out my book…

Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen

By Peter Jones,

Book cover of Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen

What is my book about?

Donald Fagen is today the only surviving member of Steely Dan, the band he formed with Walter Becker and four other musicians in 1972.

The duo's songs had a smooth, radio-friendly veneer that made Steely Dan internationally popular and famous in the 1970s, but the polish glossed over the underlying layers of anger, disappointment, sleaze, and often downright weirdness lurking just beneath the surface. The obscure lyrics were—and continue to be—endless source of fascination. What kind of person was capable of writing such songs?

Fagen has always kept his true self hidden behind walls of irony. His encounters with journalists have often been wary, sarcastic, or plain aggressive. So what makes him tick? Nightfly cracks open the door to reveal the life behind the lyrics and traces Fagen's story from early in life.