Author Thriller novelist Horror enthusiast Over thinker
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 Maeve Fly

V.P. Morris Why did I love this book?

One thing C.J. Leede is able to do to right off the bat is make you uncomfortable in a way that makes you want to know more about this strange young woman you’re reading about.

Leede pulls you into the warped worldview of Maeve, a certifiable sociopath who is a Disney Princess performer by day and a weirdly obsessed menace to society by night. This novel has been hailed as a female version of American Psycho, but Leede’s voice is all her own and not a feminized take on Brett Easton Ellis’ Patrick Bateman.

While Maeve is a morally deranged person and the plot contains disturbing situations, what intrigues me about this novel is its surprising feminist manifesto: why can’t women be seen as dangerous and as monstrous as men are in the same violent context? Overall, this novel is one hell of a rollercoaster ride that anyone with a strong stomach and love for horror should pick up.  

By CJ Leede,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A provocative, blood-soaked slasher about unsung villainesses - a nightmarish blend of Eric la Rocca meets American Psycho.

By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child's favorite ice princess.

By the neon night glow of the Sunset Strip, Maeve haunts the dive bars with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, imitating her misanthropic literary heroes.

But when Gideon Green - her best friend's brother - moves to town, he awakens something dangerous within her, and the world she knows suddenly shifts beneath her feet.

Untethered, Maeve ditches her…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Delicate Condition

V.P. Morris Why did I love this book?

In the beginning of the novel, Valentine writes, “What if instead of telling women to be grateful for their suffering we actually helped them with it.” That line hit me like a bolt of lightning.

So many pregnant women and new moms have had awful experiences similar to the main character of Delicate Condition, including myself. This novel truly highlights what it is like for women to go through a complicated pregnancy in a world where medical staff, friends, and family all minimize the physical and mental pain it takes to bring a new life into the world.

For those who have suffered birth trauma and are ready to process it, this book will certainly speak to you. Overall, it is a well-written fast-paced supernatural thriller that will open your eyes to how the struggles of expecting and new mothers are often brushed under the rug. 

By Danielle Valentine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Shockingly real, twisty and dark' - INDEPENDENT
'Tense, thrilling and darkly comedic' - HEAT
'The feminist update to Rosemary's Baby we all needed' - ANDREA BARTZ

I wanted this baby so badly.
But she may be the death of me...

Anna Alcott is desperate to have a family. But as she tries to balance her increasingly public life as an indie actress with a gruelling IVF regime, she starts to suspect that someone is going to great lengths to make sure that never happens. Crucial medicines are lost. Appointments are moved without her knowledge. She's sure she's being followed. And…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of House of Leaves

V.P. Morris Why did I love this book?

House of Leaves is an intellectual challenge in itself.

Not only does the text flip back and forth between our narrator’s life and the mysterious manuscript he found in a dead man’s apartment but the actual form changes with text written in color, backwards, upside down and even taking the shape of the very situations the words are describing. Making sense of what is happening amongst all these layers tests your brain’s ability to keep it all straight and will leave you with your own theory as to what is really happening in the House of Leaves. And that’s what I love about it.

It is not an easy beach read you can skim through in a weekend and forget about it soon after. This novel makes you work to understand it and will have you thinking about it for months, if not years to come. 

By Mark Z. Danielewski,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked House of Leaves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A novelistic mosaic that simultaneously reads like a thriller and like a strange, dreamlike excursion into the subconscious.” —The New York Times

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations,…


Plus, check out my book…

ShadowCast

By V.P. Morris,

Book cover of ShadowCast

What is my book about?

Dakota Kilroy, a 28-year-old investigative journalist, is haunted by the unsolved disappearance of her best friend, Maddy Montgomery, who went missing at the age of fifteen. When financial difficulties force her to move back home to Santa Monica, CA, she cannot take the unanswered questions anymore. Determined to find out what happened to Maddy, Dakota starts ShadowCast, a true crime podcast to publicize the case. But little does she know the man responsible for Maddy’s disappearance all those years ago is listening in and tampering with her investigation.

My 3-year-old's favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Pig the Pug

V.P. Morris Why did they love this book?

My son has a goofy sense of humor and loves anything to do with dogs getting up to no good.

Pig the Pug is actually as series as well as a stand-alone book and every Pig the Pug we can get our hands on at the library gives my son instant giggles.

By Aaron Blabey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pig the Pug as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

The funniest picture book ever about a pug and his very
patient sausage dog pal.
Pig is the greediest Pug in the world.

He is bad-tempered, rude and he never, ever shares.

Friendly sausage dog Trevor is always trying to persuade Pig to
play with him, but without success.

When Pig is asked to share his toys, his greed finally backfires
and something unexpected happens to him.

Will Pig the Pug learn his lesson at last?



A hilarious picture book about learning to share.

The perfect gift for pug and dachshunds lovers young and old


My 3-year-old's 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Chicken Nugget

V.P. Morris Why did they love this book?

The title character, Chicken Nugget learns to be brave and stand up for his family even when he feels small and helpless.

My son loves this book because the evil fox gets what is coming to him and is taken away in a police car so Chicken Nugget and his family are safe again.

By Michelle Robinson, Tom McLaughlin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chicken Nugget as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Chicken Nugget is a hilarious new picture book by Michelle Robinson and Tom McLaughlin.

My name is Nugget. Chicken Nugget.
This is my family.
I'm the smallest.

And when you're the smallest, nobody ever listens.

When Nugget's long-lost-cousin Franz turns up, all isn't quite as it seems. There's definitely something fishy - or foxy - about this chicken. This is Nugget's chance to save the day, because sometimes the bravest hero of all is just a little chicken.


My 3-year-old's 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Color Monster: A Story about Emotions

V.P. Morris Why did they love this book?

The Color Monster is a beautifully illustrated pop-up book that helps children learn to identify their emotions.

My son loves this book because of its visual appeal and how it has helped him learn about all the different feelings he can have and how it is okay to feel many different ways throughout the day.

By Anna Llenas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Color Monster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Unpack feelings with color in this international bestseller that helps young readers identify emotions and feel more in control.
 

One day, Color Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad, and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through color. As this adorable monster learns to sort and define his mixed up emotions, he gains self-awareness and peace as a result. Everyone will enjoy sharing this concept book that taps into both socio-emotional growth and color concepts in a simple,…


Explore all books for 3-year-olds