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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,651 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

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My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Claudine at School

Robert J. Begiebing Why did I love this book?

A clearly autobiographical novel of a schoolgirl growing up in a small town in France and her delightful, often transgressive adventures. 

Colette’s schoolgirl voice is charmingly honest and vital, revealing what we all know but might forget about childhood—the kids know and feel a lot more than we adults think. I was inspired to go on and read another five of her novels, and that same vitality of voice is carried through them all. 

It is also a wonder how the author is able to deal with erotic material (from both a child’s and an adult’s view) in an insinuating but effective way that would not run her into trouble with the censors, or send her into the underground of French pornography. 

The Claudine novels also resulted in a fine Amazon Prime-streaming movie (Colette) about her life and the unscrupulous way her husband Willy used her skill for his own self-promotion, taking in large part credit for the early best-selling Claudine novels.

By Colette,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE STORIES THAT INSPIRED THE FILM COLETTE, out Jan 2019.

The first book in Colette's enchanting Claudine series.

Colette's enchanting stories of the clever and charming Claudine were first published under her husband's name, and they were an instant sensation in early twentieth-century France. In Claudine at School we meet Claudine as a teenager, wickedly witty, rebellious and effervescent, competing with her new headmistress for the affections of the pretty mistress Miss Aimee. With her first book Colette turned her life into art and a literary icon was born.


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of My Brilliant Friend

Robert J. Begiebing Why did I love this book?

This novel is the first in Ferrante’s autobiographically based Neapolitan tetralogy of growing up and making a life in Italy—friendships, teenage years in school and her poor neighborhood, adolescent experiments with sex, difficult but loving friendships, the rough and tumble of her native city, Naples, and its inhabitants.

I had hesitated to begin because of all the different families and characters who come and go, but a dramatis personae at the front of the novel helps, and as I got into the first chapters of the novel, I found it didn’t matter about the clusters of characters.

The energy of the writing and the “confessional” narrative sweep you along. The honesty and vitality of the prose (beautifully translated by Ann Goldstein) reminded me of Colette’s writing too.

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked My Brilliant Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 5 MILLION COPIES SOLD IN ENGLISH WORLDWIDE

OVER 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD IN THE UK

OVER 14 MILLION COPIES OF THE NEAPOLITAN QUARTET SOLD WORLDWIDE

NOW A MAJOR TV SERIES

GUARDIAN 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE 21st CENTURY

58 WEEKS ON THE BOOKSELLER'S TOP 20 ORIGINAL FICTION BESTSELLERS LIST

SHORTLISTED FOR WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2015

43 INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS DEALS

Now in B-format Paperback

From one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, comes this ravishing and generous-hearted novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime. The story of Elena and Lila begins in the 1950s in a poor but…


Plus, check out my book…

Rebecca Wentworth's Distraction

By Robert J. Begiebing,

Book cover of Rebecca Wentworth's Distraction

What is my book about?

The second novel in a historical tetralogy, the book is set in 18th-century Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and environs during the French and Indian Wars. Rebecca from childhood is an artist whose paintings increasingly disrupt the complacency and status quo of her community, a Church of England port city whose economic survival depends on international trade and community solidarity. I see her as a sort of female William Blake. Her “distraction” is her own increasing personality crisis as she navigates the tempestuous waters aroused by her visionary art and her need to survive by being accepted in her community and adopted family. The novel won the Langum Prize for historical fiction in 2003. Amazon carries print editions, but an eBook version is now available from Brandeis University Press.