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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 Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You'll Ever Need

RC Hancock Why did I love this book?

The best book I read this year was non-fiction.

As a writer I’m always looking for the silver bullet - the craft book that will give me the secret to leveling up my fiction. But once you’ve read dozens of them, they all start to sound the same. Examples: Writing the Breakout Novel did not fulfill its titular promise. Steering the Craft steered itself to my DNF shelf.

Then. This year I discovered Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. It’s easy to read and accessible to beginning writers. The author is funny and frank. The book is even more helpful than the original by Blake Snyder (for screenwriters) and provides specific, brilliant steps in creating a tight, compelling plot (which has everything to do with the changes inside the MC.)

I highly recommend the audio. I’m in the middle of Story Genius by Lisa Cronin which corroborates and builds on the principles in Brody’s book. Save the Cat Writes a Novel is a must-read for fiction writers.

(Other fantastic craft books are “Story” by Robert McKee and Renni Browne’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.) Sorry, I know I’m supposed to be gushing about my favorite, but as a writer I would have loved to find these gems earlier.

By Jessica Brody,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Save the Cat! Writes a Novel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, which reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.

Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing. Revealing the 15 "beats" (plot points) that comprise a successful story--from the opening image to the finale--this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of He Who Fights with Monsters

RC Hancock Why did I love this book?

I’m currently on the 3rd book in the He Who Fights Monsters series.

The story is completely unconventional yet strangely engrossing. It feels like a Dungeons & Dragon game with a phenomenal Dungeon Master. The audio narrator is incredible, although there are a ton of stats listed, and having them all read every time gets seriously tedious.

The combat scenes are unique enough to be engaging and the social intrigue (and fun powers) balance it all out. The level of detail in the world-building and magic system feels like Name of the Wind. (My favorite book of all time.)

I highly recommend He Who Fights Monsters to high fantasy lovers and players of role-playing tabletop games. Be warned: It’s not quite as accessible to the less-nerdy.

By Shirtaloon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked He Who Fights with Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jason wakes up in a mysterious world of magic and monsters.It’s not easy making the career jump from office-supplies-store middle manager to heroic interdimensional adventurer. At least, Jason tries to be heroic, but it's hard to be good when all your powers are evil.He’ll face off against cannibals, cultists, wizards, monsters...and that’s just on the first day. He’s going to need courage, he’s going to need wit, and he’s going to need some magic powers of his own. But first, he’s going to need pants.After cementing itself as one of the best-rated serial novels on Royal Road with an astonishing…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Girl of Fire and Thorns

RC Hancock Why did I love this book?

This was a reread for me. (Before I ventured onto the next 2 in the series.)

The story has great characters, great plot, and is very well written. Best of all, the MC was deeply religious without being portrayed as deluded or fanatic. It also features a heavy-weight protagonist (before they were trendy.) There is a little romance element but not cliche and refreshingly unsappy.

By Rae Carson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl of Fire and Thorns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Princess Elisa is a disappointment to her people. Although she bears the Godstone in her navel, a sign that she has been chosen for an act of heroism, they see her as lazy and useless and fat. On her sixteenth birthday, she is bartered off in royal marriage and shipped away to a kingdom in turmoil, where her much-older-and extremely beautiful-husband refuses to acknowledge her as his wife. Devastated, Elisa decides to take charge of her fate and learn what it means to bear the Godstone. As an invading army threatens to destroy her new home, and everyone at court…

Plus, check out my book…

An Uncommon Blue

By RC Hancock,

Book cover of An Uncommon Blue

What is my book about?

In a society where the color of a person's palm determines their social class, Bruno goes from favored to fugitive when he kills a Royal Guard to save a boy's life. If he wants to survive, Bruno has to learn to accept the lower colors. A thrilling blend of fantasy and adventure perfect for readers everywhere.