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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 Still Life

Zosia Wand Why did I love this book?

I have a fondness for what I call ‘salvaged families,’ something I explore time and time again in my own work, and this is a delicious story of remarkable individuals brought together by love, war, and art to create their own, delightful, salvaged family.

When Ulysses, a young British soldier, meets middle-aged art historian Evelyn in the wine cellar of an abandoned Tuscan villa in 1944, he has no idea how far both their lives will be affected by one small act of kindness.

Sarah Winman imbues her characters with warmth and hope, making you laugh and cry. I had to force myself to slow down towards the end, desperate though I was to find out what happened, because I could not bear to turn that final page and let them go.

By Sarah Winman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Still Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Good Morning America Book Club Pick
 
A Veranda Magazine Book Club Pick

A captivating, bighearted, richly tapestried story of people brought together by love, war, art, flood, and the ghost of E. M. Forster, by the celebrated author of Tin Man.

Tuscany, 1944: As Allied troops advance and bombs fall around deserted villages, a young English soldier, Ulysses Temper, finds himself in the wine cellar of a deserted villa. There, he has a chance encounter with Evelyn Skinner, a middle-aged art historian who has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and recall long-forgotten memories of her…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Someone Else's Shoes

Zosia Wand Why did I love this book?

I listened to this on holiday. I had a limited luggage allowance, so I downloaded something intelligent but fun. I am now a audio book convert. Daisy Ridley is a superb narrator, conjuring the different characters and their voices beautifully.

The premise is simple: two very different women leave a local gym with the wrong bag and are literally forced to walk in each other’s shoes. Although it seems light and witty, this novel has something serious to say.

JoJo Moyes launches us into a sharply plotted story of mid-life female camaraderie involving a rich cast of supporting characters from very different circumstances plotting and executing their revenge against those who have underestimated them. Yum!

By Jojo Moyes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Someone Else's Shoes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A story of mix-ups, mess-ups and making the most of second chances, this is the new novel from international sensation Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and The Giver of Stars

'A delightful reverse-Cinderella story of two women who seem polar opposites - until circumstance forces them to experience each other's lives. Nobody writes women the way Jojo Moyes does - recognizably real and complex and funny and flawed' JODI PICOULT

Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else's shoes?

Meet Sam . . .
She's not got much, but she's grateful for what she…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Shrines of Gaiety

Zosia Wand Why did I love this book?

The dazzle of 1920s London and the release of notorious Soho club owner Nellie Coker from prison echoes TV’s wicked family dramas: Peaky Blinders, Sopranos, and Succession.

The characters spill onto the page and into your heart. The Cocker empire is under threat from a rival and Detective Inspector Frobisher, who is investigating the disappearances of several young girls. Like two novels from my list of all-time favourites–Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith and Beatrice Colin’s The Luminous Life Of Lily Aphrodite–this is a delicious mix of longing, satire, and mystery and draws us into a world teeming with vibrant characters, excess and intrigue.

Atkinson’s irreverent narrator creates a page-turning, edge-of-your-seat pace with her darkly witty overview that could result in a tragedy at any moment. 

By Kate Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Shrines of Gaiety as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Atkinson on her finest form. A marvel of plate-spinning narrative knowhow, a peak performance of consummate control.' OBSERVER

'This is the perfect novel for uncertain times.' THE TIMES

'I can think of few writers other than Dickens who can match it' SUNDAY TIMES

'Brilliant' RICHARD OSMAN

'Kate Atkinson is simply one of the best writers working today, anywhere in the world' GILLIAN FLYNN

____

1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries…


Plus, check out my book…

Once Upon A Place

By Zosia Wand,

Book cover of Once Upon A Place

What is my book about?

Sometimes, a love story needs more than one lifetime. And love stories come in many forms. 

A shy English woman’s love for a Polish pilot remains unrequited but has far-reaching consequences. A Cold War friendship conducted by post results in a life-changing gift. Two women pull together in adversity to raise a child. A local lad falls in love with an exotic visitor, but the secrets they both keep may destroy them.

Margaret Thwaite is the thread that connects these characters, but can she bring their stories to a happy ever after? Set on a Lake District peninsula in Morecambe Bay, this is an extraordinary tale of migration, salvaged families, and the search for home.