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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 Tress of the Emerald Sea

T.M. Blanchet Why did I love this book?

The master is at it again. Tress (the character) is lovable and feisty, and Tress (the book) is sardonic, suspenseful, and surprising at every turn.

The secret to reading Tress is to never take it too seriously while simultaneously realizing that it’s the most serious and touching story you’ll read all year.

I listened to the audio version, which I highly recommend: The narrator, Michael Kramer, absolutely brings this book to life with his many voices and accents, and he reads at a pace that’s just languorous enough to make you believe he’s sitting alongside the Emerald Sea’s pirates, kicking back on the ship and gazing up at the moons. I would follow Tress anywhere, on any spore-soaked sea she might roam. And I hope I can again soon.

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Swan Thieves

T.M. Blanchet Why did I love this book?

I’m a bit late to the party with this one, but I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this strange, haunting tale.

Kostova manages to blend the past and the present, art and commerce, and logic and desire together into one beautiful narrative. You don’t have to know a thing about art (or care much about it) to appreciate the wonderful details and descriptions. The author makes it easy to just let yourself sink into the story and time travel back and forth into two very different, yet strangely similar, eras.

The book lingers, making you resent the interruptions of daily life each time you have to put it down. I have a small house and one relatively small bookcase, which means I usually donate books when I finish them. But every once in a while, I come across a book that I just can’t let go of. I made room on the shelf for The Swan Thieves.

By Elizabeth Kostova,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Swan Thieves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe has a perfectly ordered life - solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. Desperate to understand the secret that torments this genius, Marlowe embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism. Kostova's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy; from the late nineteenth century to…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Change

T.M. Blanchet Why did I love this book?

Everyone knows I love a good witchy story, so I couldn’t resist this one when it was released in 2023. Here’s the kicker that really got me: Our trio of heroines only come into their power after they hit menopause. How great is that?

At a time of life when society is trying to put us out to pasture, The Change is sending a very different message: Mid-life is when women truly come into their own, make the most of all they’ve learned and experienced, and use their powers to change the world for the better.

Even if the story wasn’t great, that alone would have been good enough for me! But here’s the thing—the story was great and particularly relevant for these infuriating times we’re living through. If you (like me) are looking for a little girl-power, revenge-fantasy wish fulfillment, this one will not disappoint.

By Kirsten Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A perfect contradiction, existing in the shades of grey that real life is so often painted in . . . A story that's as furious as it is tender' Emily Henry

'A roar of rage, a pacy page-turner, I loved it with all my broken heart. Read it. You'll love it' Marian Keyes

'A propulsive plot and characters that roar off the page, this is a novel that's unafraid to take on societal misogyny while being satirical and even funny at the same time' Guardian

'An addictive, fast-paced crime novel like nothing you've ever read before' Red magazine

* *…

Plus, check out my book…

Herrick's End

By T.M. Blanchet,

Book cover of Herrick's End

What is my book about?

Ollie is trying. He really is. He's trying to lose weight in the biscotti-and-bolognese wonderland of Boston's North End. He's trying to recover from his mother's recent death. Most of all, he's trying to battle the loneliness that comes with being 19, living in a shoebox, and working a dead-end job. No girlfriend, no parents, no friends.

Well, he does have one friend. Nell. But she's gone missing. At first, Ollie pretends that he hadn't noticed Nell's bruises and skittish behavior. Then, finally, he faces the facts: Nell is gone and probably in danger. And he might be the only one who can help.

What he doesn't know--couldn't know--is that his journey to find her will take him far below the streets of the city into a dangerous, underground world: a place where magic spills like blood, humans are not quite human, and notions of justice and revenge are as murky as the cavern's brackish waters. And this time, trying just won't be enough.