Author Wordweaver Reader Sea-gazer Sun-dreamer Optimist
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 Happiness Quest

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Why did I love this book?

I read this book in one sitting, stopping only to answer a couple of phone calls and buy some lunch, while at the hospital waiting for my sister-in-law to come out of surgery.

It had been on my shelf for almost 12 months, a freebie from a writing conference, and I only grabbed it for the day because it fit easily into my bag. From the top of page three I was caught up in fifteen-year-old Tillie’s need to understand her inexplicable sadness and her quest find out what happiness is.

It’s an uplifting, warmhearted family relationships story filled with memorable, relatable characters and written with insight and sensitivity. Highly recommended for adults as well as young adult readers.  

By Richard Yaxley,

Why should I read it?

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


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Before You Forget

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Why did I love this book?

When this book was released in 2017 I delayed reading it due to its major theme of a teenager dealing with her father’s diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

I usually avoid books or movies where this is a key element of the story due to my own experience. While I was a mature adult in my late forties and well past my teens when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I know too well the devastating impact of slowly losing a loved one to the disease. I’m glad I finally set aside my reservations and read this book.

Julia Lawrinson has drawn on her own and her daughter’s experience to produce a beautifully crafted and memorable story. It’s raw, honest, and heartbreaking yet never heavy. Before You Forget is also full of warmth, humour, and hope. 

By Julia Lawrinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Before You Forget as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Year Twelve is not off to a good start for Amelia. Art is her world, but her art teacher hates everything she does; her best friend has stopped talking to her; her mother and father may as well be living in separate houses; and her father is slowly forgetting everything. Even Amelia.


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Mercy

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Why did I love this book?

I have long been a fan of Jodi Picoult’s books. They are invariably beautifully written, thought provoking, and deeply considered explorations of relationships and human behaviour in confronting situations.

Mercy is no exception. I found this story about a man who confesses to killing his terminally ill wife in an act of mercy difficult to put aside. Picoult is a consummate storyteller and reveals the impact on everyone touched by the incident with honesty and compassion. By the time I reached the final page I felt I knew the characters intimately and the question lingered: what would I do for someone I love?

By Jodi Picoult,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cameron MacDonald has spent his life guided by duty. As the police chief of a small Massachusetts town that has been home to generations of his Scottish clan, he is bound to the town's residents by blood and honor. Yet when his cousin Jamie arrives at the police station with the body of his wife and the bald confession that he's killed her, Cam immediately places him under arrest. The situation isn't as clear to Cam's wife, Allie. While she is devoted to her husband, she finds herself siding against Cam, seduced by the picture James paints of a man…


Plus, check out my book…

Monelli & Me

By Teena Raffa-Mulligan,

Book cover of Monelli & Me

What is my book about?

Fifteen-year-old Kate Norton has been living a happy family fantasy. Her mum has been keeping secrets. Now the father Kate never knew she had is coming to Perth. He wants to take Kate back to Brisbane with him because his mother has cancer and wants to get to know her only granddaughter before it’s too late. Kate is on an emotional roller coaster. Everything she believed about herself and her life has been based on a lie. Her wonderful dad is not her father. Even her beloved Nana Hannah is not her “real” grandmother. Kate has to find out who she is and where she belongs. Only then can she find out if her friendship with newcomer Joshua Perrin can be something more.