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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 Weyward

Virginia Watts Why did I love this book?

Impossible to put down, this book follows the story of three extraordinary women related by blood and witchcraft across five centuries who lived their lives with bravery and spunk.

Each woman represents an inspiration grounded in female resistance, the absolute necessity to take risks and believe in their value in a world where they have been held down, discouraged, and devalued. The ways to find and use magic to survive are handed down from Altha (1619) to Violet (1942) to Kate, whose story is set in 2019. It is unusual to have a modern-day witch, and this is what sets this book apart.

I found myself cheering for all three women which means I was also cheering for myself and women in 2023 who still need books like this to grant them strength and guts. It’s called magic!

By Emilia Hart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

An Indie Next March 2023 Pick • A LibraryReads March 2023 Pick • An Amazon "Best Books of the Year So Far" 2023 Pick

"A brave and original debut, Weyward is a spellbinding story about what may transpire when the natural world collides with a legacy of witchcraft." ––Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The London Séance Society

I am a Weyward, and wild inside.

2019: Under cover of darkness, Kate flees London for ramshackle Weyward Cottage, inherited from a great aunt she barely remembers. With its tumbling ivy and overgrown garden, the…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The House in the Cerulean Sea

Virginia Watts Why did I love this book?

Here is a book that will feel like a warm hug of hope when you need it, a tale that will remind you that love really is the most important thing in the world.

The main character Linus is living an empty life until he visits an orphanage on Marsyas Island in his role as caseworker for the Department of Magical Youth. The children there are unlike children you will recognize but only at first. There is a gnome, a sprite, even an antichrist. Their caretaker Arthur will do anything to protect them and through his example of selfless, joyful love, the world opens up to Linus.

Linus discovers his true self, how strong he can be, how brave, his capacity to fall in love. It is his wonderful luck to finally find a real home. For anyone who needs a lift, a smile, a ray of encouraging sunshine from every page, this is the book for you. It reads like a gift from the author to anyone who opens the cover and begins the journey.

By TJ Klune,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The House in the Cerulean Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Under the Whispering Door

Virginia Watts Why did I love this book?

Having recently undergone open heart surgery, my mortality was front and center when I read this book about life after death. I was almost afraid to read it, but I am so glad I did. 

The main character Wallace dies and ends up in a charmingly peculiar tea house with another ghost, his human reaper, and another human Hugo who is there to help Wallace cross over to the other side. Wallace behaves as I expect many of us would. He’s shocked. Then he’s afraid. Then he’s angry. Then he regrets his life, the way he lived it, how he treated people along the way. The story is often laugh-out-loud funny.

I was cheering for Wallace who lives a better lifetime in 7 days at the teahouse than in the life he led prior. This story will have you thinking differently about your own morality. It’s kind and uplifting and it will remind the reader what matters in life. It ends up feeling like a comfort even though the subject of the novel is death. So brew yourself a cup of your favorite tea and begin. 

By TJ Klune,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Under the Whispering Door as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn't ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo's help, he finally starts to learn about all the things he…


Plus, check out my book…

Echoes from The Hocker House

By Virginia Watts,

Book cover of Echoes from The Hocker House

What is my book about?

Fifteen compellingly dark stories, Echoes from the Hocker House is modern-day folklore with characters who find magical ways to live triumphantly. Meet people who are both mysterious and recognizable, haunting yet endearing, triumphant yet tragic, terrified while unfailingly brave. These stories are as arresting as they are comforting. No one discovers doors out of darkness the way these characters do. How do they do it? In some ways you might expect, through friendship and family, dreams dreamed, and the risks taken, but leave plenty of room to open your heart and your mind to the unexpected. You will meet a young girl who becomes a stone angel, another one who becomes a beloved, seaside witch. Feed your imagination. It’s hungry. Dare to be spellbound!

My book recommendation list