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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,199 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…

The Last to See Me

By M Dressler,

Book cover of The Last to See Me

Regina Buttner Why did I love this book?

A story narrated by a ghost––Yesss!

This tale of hauntings in a small coastal town was so convincing that I found myself avoiding the mirrors in my house, mirrors being the place where the spirits of the dead take refuge, patiently waiting to wreak havoc on the living in revenge for the injustices of the past.

The novel begins with the most vivid and chilling scene I’ve read in a long time and stayed true to its promise of delivering a gripping story with creepy Gothic overtones.

I loved how the tragic events in long-dead Emma Rose’s past bled into the present-day life of the town, creating eerie connections and unexpected moral conflicts for the ghost hunter who’s been sent to wipe her out.  

By M Dressler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book Pipeline 2017 Grand Prize Winner
Winner of the Audiofile Magazine 2018 Earphones Award for Fiction

For fans of Lauren Oliver and Kazuo Ishiguro, The Last to See Me is a spellbinding American ghost story deftly weaving past and present into an unforgettable narrative about a young woman's fight for a life of her own-long after her life is over.

Over one hundred years ago, Emma Rose Finnis was born and died in the remote northern California town she now haunts. When she was alive, she was a lowly chambermaid and worse, a Finnis. Now, no one remembers her hardworking…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of In a Dark, Dark Wood

Regina Buttner Why did I love this book?

I try to avoid books about cozy girls’ weekends because they always seem to descend into goopy sentimentalism and cutesy dialogue, but this novel (thank goodness!) turned that tired old trope on its head.

Psychological thrillers with twisty plotlines and complicated characters are my absolute favorite reads, and this one piles on the suspense as the questions and misunderstandings—and the danger––grow more sinister with each passing day.

My takeaway: attending a getaway in the forest with a bunch of people you haven’t seen in a decade is NOT A GOOD IDEA. Politely decline the invitation, then stay the hell away!

By Ruth Ware,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In a Dark, Dark Wood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


An NPR Best Book of the Year * An Entertainment Weekly Summer Books Pick * A Buzzfeed “31 Books to Get Excited About this Summer” Pick * A Publishers Weekly “Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers” Pick * A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year * A BookReporter Summer Reading Pick * A New York Post “Best Novels to Read this Summer” Pick * A Shelf Awareness “Book Expo America 2015…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

The Sun Down Motel

By Simone St. James,

Book cover of The Sun Down Motel

Regina Buttner Why did I love this book?

I brought this book with me on an Adirondack camping trip, started reading it as I settled in beside the campfire, and by nightfall, I was TOTALLY FREAKED OUT.

The surreal back-and-forth timelines of desk clerk Viv, who vanished from the roadside motel in the 1980s, and present-day Carly, Viv's curious niece, had me wishing earnestly for a self-defense weapon and a padlock for my tent. I didn't sleep so well that night, but I loved the book!

If you're thinking right now that ha, ghosts aren't real! You'd better think again. Simone St. James has created a story that's so intense and believable you'll feel like the ghosts are swirling around you in the darkness, waiting to suck the life out of you.

By Simone St. James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly…

Plus, check out my book…

Down a Bad Road

By Regina Buttner,

Book cover of Down a Bad Road

What is my book about?

Ron Burley has a rule against messing around with married women, but lovely Lavender has convinced him to break it. Their steamy affair sets someone off, but it isn’t Lavender’s clueless husband—it’s Marta, Burley’s clingy childhood friend and ex-lover.   

Hoping to win Burley back, Marta dangles a lucrative job offer. Though he’s sorely tempted, Burley’s afraid to trust her due to the sketchy circumstances surrounding their bitter breakup years ago, but this might be his only chance to get back at her for what she did. Meanwhile, Lavender has become suspicious of Burley’s romantic history and consults a psychic for guidance. Watch your back, the woman warns her. Someone’s out for revenge, and this love triangle could turn deadly.

I read 50 books this year.