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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,644 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 The Mirror & the Light

Sharon Michalove Why did I love this book?

This is the third in Mantel’s Wolf Hall series chronicling the life of Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry VIII. I had read each of the first two books when they came out, but for some reason, I kept putting this one off. In the end, my curiosity on how Mantel would end Cromwell’s story pushed me to read it.

Her rich characterizations, stunning descriptions that bring the age to life, and the sheer breadth and depth of the story make for compelling reading. The careful explication of Cromwell’s sudden fall and the far-reaching consequences for both his allies and enemies is a tour de force of historical fiction.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mirror & the Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times bestselling sequel to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the stunning conclusion to Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall trilogy.

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020

'Mantel has taken us to the dark heart of history...and what a show' The Times

'If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?'

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Agatha Christie

Sharon Michalove Why did I love this book?

For all of Christie’s clever plotting, her own life is the biggest mystery.

I started reading her around the age of ten and now that I write mysteries myself, I reread her books just to see how she structures plot, plants clues, and misleads the reader. But I have always been fascinated by her life as well.

Laura Thompson’s books weaves together Christie’s life with her fiction for a rich explanation of not only why Christie became a writer, but how her experiences informed her themes, why she created romances under the name Mary Westmacott, and of course tries to unravel the mystery of the eleven missing days in 1926 when she disappeared and was feared dead.

If you are a Christie fan, this book is essential to understanding the woman behind the writer and finding more depth in Christie’s own works through Thompson’s analysis.

By Laura Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The author of the Somerset Maugham award-winning The Dogs: A Personal History of Greyhound Racing, and the brilliant biography Life In A Cold Climate: Nancy Mitford, Laura Thompson turns her highly acclaimed biographical skills to arguably the greatest crime writer in the world, Agatha Christie.

'Laura Thompson's outstanding biography . . . is a pretty much perfect capturing of a life' Kate Mosse, Book of the Year 2007

It has been 100 years since Agatha Christie wrote her first novel and created the formidable Hercule Poirot. In this biography, Laura Thompson describes the Edwardian world in which she grew up,…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood

Sharon Michalove Why did I love this book?

I was having breakfast with a writer friend when she mentioned that she was listening to Sam Wasson’s book. I’d never heard of it, but after seeing The Offer last year on Paramount+, I had become fascinated with Paramount head and producer Robert Evans.

He is one of the three men who are the focus of this book. The others are Jack Nicolson and Roman Polanski. Wasson brilliantly weaves together their stories of love, loss, ambition, and the wielding of power, of friendships made and betrayed, dreams realized or dashed.

The sweep is breathtaking. Many previously unknown facts (at least to me) are revealed, and the crumbling edifice of studio glamor is exposed. For anyone who loves movies, this book is an enthralling ride on the rollercoaster of reaching for the gold ring.

By Sam Wasson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Big Goodbye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sight & Sound's #1 Film Book of 2020

Chinatown is the Holy Grail of 1970s cinema. Its ending is the most notorious in American film and its closing line of dialogue the most haunting. Here for the first time is the incredible true story of its making. In Sam Wasson's telling, it becomes the defining story of its most colorful characters. Here is Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers, embarking on his great, doomed love affair with Anjelica Huston. Here is director Roman Polanski, both predator and prey, haunted by the savage murder of his wife, returning to…

Plus, check out my book…

At First Sight

By Sharon Michalove,

Book cover of At First Sight

What is my book about?

Twenty years ago, Cress Taylor and Max Grant were strangers in Oxford, England, but when their paths crossed, a spark was lit. Now, in the hustle of bustling Chicago, Cress is a successful novelist receiving mysterious threats, and Max is a former spy working for a global security company.

When Max sees Cress in a TV interview, it ignites his curiosity. They soon find themselves tangled in an intense game of cat and mouse. As Max swoops in to protect Cress from anonymous threats, they must decide if they're willing to take a chance on love. As threats escalate and Max's big Scottish family arrives in Chicago for Christmas, Cress and Max must learn to trust each other and overcome their fears to have a Happy New Year.