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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 Magic In Your Mind

Steven A. McKay Why did I love this book?

Famous guitarist Steve Vai apparently credits this book for saving his life when he felt suicidal. I can believe that, as I found it extremely powerful, and a timely reminder of how positive thinking can truly change a person for the better.

Like most “spiritual” or self-help books there were parts of this that didn’t resonate with me, but plenty that did. For creative people in particular I think this is an inspirational and essential read. It might also help those suffering from anxiety or depression. 

By U.S. Andersen, Eckhart Tolle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Magic In Your Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A perennial self-help favorite, updated to speak powerfully to contemporary readers and with a foreword by Eckhart Tolle

Before there was The Law of Attraction or The Secret, there was The Magic in Your Mind by U. S. Andersen. Eckhart Tolle recognized the brilliance of this self-empowerment classic and here presents it anew as the latest volume in his imprint. In clear, crisp, invigorating language, Andersen offers a liberating message for anyone seeking to improve and understand their life. He shows how to:

• free your “Secret Self” and experience self-mastery
• use mental visualization
• understand the concept of…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Saxons vs. Vikings: Alfred the Great and England in the Dark Ages

Steven A. McKay Why did I love this book?

I’ve read a ton of non-fiction books over the past 18 months or so, as I’m writing a series about Alfred the Great. Most have been well-written and fairly easy reads, but some have been little more than textbooks.

It can get a little draining so, when I started listening to Saxons vs Vikings I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s non-fiction, yes, and there’s plenty to learn from it, but the author writes in a light, humorous way which felt like a breath of fresh air and had me grinning on multiple occasions as I listened to the audiobook. A fine palate cleanser for history buffs looking to learn more about the early medieval period!

By Ed West,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saxons vs. Vikings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A witty and concise look at the beginnings of English history, when the nation consolidated after clashes between the Saxons and invading Vikings--now in paperback!

In 871, three of England's four kingdoms were overrun by Vikings, the ruthless, all-conquering Scandinavian raiders who terrorised early medieval Europe. With the Norsemen murdering one king with arrows and torturing another to death by ripping out his lungs, the prospects that faced the kingdom of Wessex were bleak. Worse still, the Saxons were now led by a young man barely out of his teens who was more interested in God than fighting. Yet within…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of A Time for Swords

Steven A. McKay Why did I love this book?

Since I spend so much time researching my own novels I have very little time to read fiction.

As a result, it took me months to finish A Time For Swords but that’s no reflection on its quality, as it’s an action-packed adventure romp that barely lets up from the first page. I will freely admit, the author is a friend of mine and his publisher sent me a free copy of the hardback, but I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t genuinely love it and think other fans of Viking-era fiction would also enjoy it.

The story follows a young monk whose life is changed forever when the Northmen attack his home in Lindisfarne and fast-paced action follows from there…

By Matthew Harffy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Time for Swords as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Vikings attack, a novice monk's life is changed forever in Matthew Harffy's new historical adventure.

Lindisfarne, AD793.

There had been portents - famine, whirlwinds, lightning from clear skies, serpents seen flying through the air. But when the raiders came, no one was prepared.

They came from the North, their dragon-prowed longships gliding out of the dawn mist as they descended on the kingdom's most sacred site.

It is 8th June AD 793, and with the pillage of the monastery on Lindisfarne, the Viking Age has begun.

While his fellow monks flee before the Norse onslaught, one young novice…


Plus, check out my book…

Book cover of The Heathen Horde

What is my book about?

Northumbria, AD 864. Viking warlord Ragnar Lothbrok is captured and killed in brutal fashion, an event that will shape the future of the nation for decades to come. Mercia, AD 868. Alfred, son of Wessex and heir to the throne, draws his first blood on the battlefield. It will not be his last.

A devastating scourge from the north is coming to Britain, one that will bring armies and entire kingdoms to their knees. Travelling along the whale road in their feared longships, the Great Heathen Army move fast, striking with a savagery unmatched, in a seemingly unstoppable tide of blood and iron.

One inexperienced warrior will prove the difference, a young man who will lead from the front and, in time, aspire to become the saviour of the Saxons… Alfred the Great.

My 9-year-old's favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Bunny vs Monkey: Multiverse Mix-up!

Steven A. McKay Why did they love this book?

This book is about going to different dimensions and I thought it was really funny.

It looks like someone has drawn on the book with a pen or something, but that’s just how the book is made. It looks cool. I liked it when Monkey tried to destroy Bunny’s house.

By Jamie Smart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bunny vs Monkey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

When portals to parallel dimensions open up, the gang meet different versions of themselves - a whole universe of Bunnies! Evil Pig! Baby Bunny vs Monkey!

The gang end up travelling to the very ends of existence . . . but will they make it back home to the Woods?


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My 15-year-old's favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Harrow Lake

Steven A. McKay Why did they love this book?

I really enjoyed this book because of the way the author described the setting and really made you feel as though you were there. I also liked the pace of the book and I was never bored reading it. I thought the ending was very unexpected and different to any other books I’ve read.

By Kat Ellis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Harrow Lake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A must-have thriller that will keep you gripped, keep you guessing, and keep you up all night.

"A captivating and creeping mystery full of brilliantly twisting turns and dark secrets. You will race through this chilling, thrilling book." --Holly Jackson, bestselling author of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker--she thinks nothing can scare her.

But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she's quickly packed off to live with a grandmother she's never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father's most iconic horror…


My 15-year-old's 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Better Than the Movies

Steven A. McKay Why did they love this book?

I loved this book because I thought it was more realistic than most romance books normally are, and the characters were quite relatable. I also found it interesting that there were quotes from famous rom-coms at the start of each chapter.

The main character loved making playlists, and so do I, so I really liked it when the author included a soundtrack at the end of the book with all the songs that the main character had attached memories to with the male main character.

By Lynn Painter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Better Than the Movies 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?

Perfect for fans of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, this "sweet and funny" (Kerry Winfrey, author of Waiting for Tom Hanks) teen rom-com follows a hopelessly romantic teen girl and her cute yet obnoxious neighbor as they scheme to get her noticed by her untouchable crush.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he's back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar-and maybe snag him as a prom date-even befriend Wes Bennet.…


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