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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.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Overstory

Steven Clark Cunningham Why did I love this book?

I both listened to the audio version and read the hardcopy version of this book – it was that good! Like all good novels, it is true in a deep sense despite being fiction. 

In addition, it is literally true regarding some facts about trees and nature in a way that can happen only if really well researched, which this book is. Finally the character development is amazing.

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

31 authors picked The Overstory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Steven Clark Cunningham Why did I love this book?

Because Trevor Noah is a performer who is facile with voices and storytelling, and because he does his own audio reading, this book is particularly good in the audio version. In addition to being hilarious in parts, it is peppered with pearls of wisdom.

By Trevor Noah,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Born a Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE THURBER PRIZE

The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Great Plant-Based Con: Why eating a plants-only diet won't improve your health or save the planet

Steven Clark Cunningham Why did I love this book?

This book is very well researched, and despite a lot of information, is very clearly presented. 

This book started my process from leaving behind 30 years of being a vegetarian to now eating meat from animals that are grass-fed (and grass-finished, when possible), and supporting regenerative farming – a change that is much better for my health and for the planet.

By Jayne Buxton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Plant-Based Con as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most incredible book' Delia Smith

'Persuasive, entertaining and well researched' Sunday Times

Plant-based is best for health, go vegan to help save the planet, eat less meat... Almost every day we are bombarded with the seemingly incontrovertible message that we must reduce our consumption of meat and dairy - or eliminate them from our diets altogether.

But what if the pervasive message that the plant-based diet will improve our health and save the planet is misleading - or even false? What if removing animal foods from our diet is a serious threat to human health, and a red herring…


Plus, check out my book…

It's Considerate to Be Literate about Religion: Poetry and Prose about Religion, Conflict, and Peace in Our World

By Steven Clark Cunningham, Susan Detwiler (illustrator),

Book cover of It's Considerate to Be Literate about Religion: Poetry and Prose about Religion, Conflict, and Peace in Our World

What is my book about?

From award-winning author Dr. Cunningham and called a “must-read” by experts in the field, this book of poetry and prose is for all ages, with lyrical poems and engaging B&W pencil illustrations by award-winning illustrator Susan Detwiler. Part I explains and illustrates the American Academy of Religion's definition of religious literacy in a widely accessible way, and Part II uses that foundation to review several conflicts around the world that revolve around religion, examining them through the lens of religious literacy. The themes are diversity, equity, peace/violence (cultural, structural, and direct violence/peace), human agency, prejudice, and understanding. Each poem is followed by a “Learn More” section, a fulsome Glossary defines terms, and a Reading-Group Guide offers suggestions for further reading and topics and questions for discussion.