For months, I’ve been reading as many new book releases as I can in search of the best books of 2023. Find out which popular releases are the best new books of 2023.
What are the best books of 2023?
For months, I’ve been reading as many new releases as I can get my hands on so that I can give an informed opinion on the best books of the year.
With the year half over, I wanted to consider the top books to read in 2023 so far. You’ll find plenty of beloved authors and some new ones on my best-of-the-year book list.
Remember, this is just my opinion. I’d love to hear what books you think are the best-of-the-best in the comments below!
Best Books of 2023 for Club Books
After a childhood of being ignored by his family, William Waters finds refuge playing basketball in college. When William meets Julia Padavano, a lively girl extremely close to her parents and three sisters, he quickly becomes a part of the close-knit Padavano family. Although cracks start to appear in the family, William never imagined he’d be the wedge to drive them apart. A homage to Little Women, Hello Beautiful gorgeously describes family and sisterhood, mental health, and forgiveness in such a way that you will never forget this story.
At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl grieving her father is sent by boat to meet her 40-year-old husband. Eventually she becomes to be known as Big Ammachi, the matriarch of a family particularly cursed to have one member of each generation die by drowning. From 1900-1977, Big Ammachi sees unimaginable changes to her Christian community on South India’s Malabar coast.
Ten years ago, Bess and Joni spend a summer in Greece with their best friend Evangeline. When Evangeline dies, Bess and Joni find themselves suspects, their brash personalities are vilified by the media, but ultimately no charges are filed against them. Since then, Bess has kept the lowest profile possible while Joni has become an outspoken motivational speaker. When Joni’s fiancée disappears, Bess comes out of hiding to support Joni and must face what really happened all those summers ago. A fascinating character study of female friendships, Berman examines how easily our lives can be cherry-picked to paint us white or black, when we are all shades of grey.
R. F. Kuang
Although June and Athena went to school together, Athena has found major success as an Asian-American novelist while June struggles to get a foot in the door, probably because she’s just another basic white girl. When June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she impetuously snatches up Athena’s unfinished work. Publishing it as her own, June rebrands herself as a racially ambiguous Juniper Song and becomes an instant bestseller. Yet as the truth threatens to come out, June must decide how far she is willing to go to keep her secret.
After serving 18 months in prison on a drug conviction, Tara Connelly tries to rebuild her life. She moves in with her siblings – a brother who’s a single dad trying to overcome a brain injury and a sister struggling with big secrets of her own. Just as Tara feels like she might find love again, the cop who arrested her begins to hassle her and the family’s secrets threaten to unravel everything she has worked for.
Best Contemporary Fiction 2023
In London, Maddie spends most of her time either at home taking care of her father with advanced Parkinson’s or at work in a job she hates where she is the only Black employee. When her mother returns from Ghana, Maddie is thrilled to move out and experience life for herself. After tragedy strikes, Maddie begins to understand her unconventional family and the joys and fears of putting her heart on the line.
Five years ago, Geeta’s no-good husband simply walked away and she never heard from him again. However, in her small Indian village, the rumor persists that Geeta killed him. Geeta doesn’t mind her black widow reputation; until women start asking Geeta for advice on how to off their own husbands and they won’t take no for an answer. Heartwarming and hilarious all at once, The Bandit Queens has a well-rounded story with witty characters and a dark sense of humor that makes for an enjoyable, yet thought-provoking, read.
The Stockton family of Brooklyn Heights has lived off their connections and old money for generations, firmly placing them amongst New York’s one-percenters. Darley, the eldest daughter, traded her job for motherhood but has lost herself in the process. Meanwhile, Georgiana, the youngest, finds herself facing forbidden love, forcing her to choose between what she feels she should do and what she really wants. And Sasha, the daughter-in-law, feels like an outsider after marrying into wealth that she could never have comprehended. Pineapple Street follows all three women, giving a witty look at modern life.
Spoiled rich Nisha Cantor has the perfect life with the best that money can buy until her gym bag is stolen. Then her husband completely cuts her off, forcing her to work as a maid in the five-star hotel where they lived, while she is desperately trying to get her possessions back. Meanwhile, downtrodden Sam Kemp is caught in a marriage with a depressed husband who ignores her and in a job with a sexist boss who mistreats her. When Sam tries on a pair of expensive shoes from a gym bag she took by accident, the jolt of confidence inspires her to recognize she deserves more in life.
In a well-off neighborhood, four families gather together for a pleasant summer barbecue but are thrown when Whitney, the perfect hostess, explodes at her son Xavier. Months later, Xavier falls out a bedroom window in the middle of the night. While he lies critically injured in the hospital, Whitney refuses to speak and the other women begin to wonder what really happened that night, knowing they all have secrets to hide.
Best Thriller Books of 2023
House sitter Emma Carpenter lives in a secluded life at a beach house on the Washington coast. After leaving a one-star review on a poorly-written horror novel, Emma finds herself in an online argument with the author. When strange things begin to happen at night, Emma begins to suspect that the author might be stalking her.
Ten years ago, on the way back from a high school service project, two vans were in a tragic accident and only nine students survived. Yet none of the survivors feels like a hero, each ashamed of a decision they made that fateful night. Every anniversary since, they have met at a North Carolina beach house to check up on each other. Cassidy Brent has tried to distance herself from the other survivors, but when she finds out one has recently died, she finds herself drawn back in. When the group realizes that someone has been talking, they begin to suspect each other, and Cassidy wonders if one of them would go to great lengths to keep them all quiet. A slow-burn mystery, The Only Survivors emanates a tense atmosphere while slowly exposing the weight secrets have on our lives.
A year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life was dramatically changed when her toddler was taken while she and her husband slept in the next room. Once a sleepwalker but now suffering from crippling insomnia, Isabelle is obsessed with finding her son. When she turns to a true crime podcaster for help, Isabelle begins to doubt her memories and worries that she might have been responsible. Stacy Willingham’s sophomore novel is an excellent domestic thriller with plenty of red herrings and great twists.
In a sequel to The Night Swim, podcaster Rachel Krall returns to assist the FBI in investigating a case. Popular true crime podcaster Maddison Logan interviewed soon-to-be released serial killer Terence Bailey in prison and then disappeared. But Maddison Logan seems to only exist online. Going undercover at a popular influencer convention, Rachel discovers a fierce world of competitors and suspects that Bailey might have an accomplice on the outside.
During her senior of high school, Maya’s best friend mysteriously dropped dead in front of Frank, a man they had been spending time with that summer. Trying to kick the addiction that helped her cope with her friend’s death, Maya is shocked to see a YouTube video of another teenager girl dropping dead in front of Frank. Returning to her hometown to search for answers, Maya finds clues in her deceased father’s book that make her reevaluate her past.
Best Historical Fiction 2023
The granddaughter of one of the only female doctors in China, Yunxian is taught all about women’s illnesses, alongside her best friend Meiling, a midwife-in-training. When Yunxian becomes a wife in an arranged marriage, Yunxian is forbidden from speaking to Meiling or helping the household women. Determined to break away from tradition, Yunxian goes on to treat women from every level of society in this novel based on a true story from the Ming Dynasty.
In 1940, Millie and Reginald Thompson make the heartbreaking decision to send their eleven-year-old daughter Beatrix to America to escape the dangers in London. For the next five years, Bea finds herself enveloped into the Gregory family, sandwiched between sons William and Gerald. Although Bea has made a life for herself in America, she is forced to leave her new family behind to return to England after the war. Told through short vignettes, Beyond That, the Sea is a bittersweet character-driven story about being caught between two worlds.
On December 26, 1811, Richmond, Virginia’s only theater is packed with holiday revelers waiting to watch the Placide & Green Company perform. When the theater goes up in flames, split-second decisions by four people – a new widow who realizes how little women have in the world, an abused slave who sees her chance for escape, a young stagehand caught in a moral quandary, and a local enslaved blacksmith hailed as a hero – have lasting repercussions in this novel based on a true event.
At a Barbados plantation in 1834, the master gathers his slaves together and announces that they have all been emancipated. Now they are to be his apprentices instead of slaves, although they must now work for him for another six years. Instead, Rachel decides to leave, searching for her five children who were sold away.
Best Nonfiction Books 2023
The second son of King Charles III and his first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry has always known he was the spare prince. Traumatized by his mother’s death, Harry struggled to live such a public life, constantly plagued by the ever-hungry paparazzi. In his highly anticipated memoir, Harry discusses his life and his public falling out with the royal family, feeling they did not support his wife enough when she was hounded by the British press. A compelling read, Spare shines on harsh light on Harry’s lifelong battle with the paparazzi.
Lauren Fleshman is one of the most decorated distance runners in the United States. In Good for a Girl, Fleshman tells of how she fell in love with running as a girl and shares her own running journey. Yet, Good for a Girl isn’t just a memoir; it’s a powerful look at how competitive sports are designed for men and boys and routinely fail female athletes, leading to injuries, eating disorders, and mental health issues. Fleshman uses her personal experiences to bravely address a larger narrative about women in sports that is much needed to make the world a better place for our daughters.
The United States of America is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, yet has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Sociologist Matthew Desmond explores the root of poverty in America. From concentrating wealth (and poverty) to subsidizing those already financially secure, Desmond gives a searing look into how America keeps the rich rich and the poor poor.
In 1742, a patched-together vessel washed up on the shores of Brazil with thirty emaciated men. They told an astounding tale of surviving after the HMS Wager was shipwrecked chasing a Spanish treasure galleon. After cobbling together a raft, they floated for 100 days and traveled 3,000 miles. The sailors were lauded as heroes until six months later when three more castaways washed ashore accusing the first men of mutiny. With accusations of treachery and murder, a court-martial is convened to find the truth, with the guilty party likely to be hung.
Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a bold meeting with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill to build a crucial strategy for the war. As soon as Hitler’s regime learned of the meeting, the Nazis hatched a plot to assassinate the three world leaders. Full of political intrigue and daring rescues, The Nazi Conspiracy details a close call that could have changed history forever.
Best Sci Fi / Fantasy of 2023
Violet Sorrengail is all set to live a quiet life among her books until her mother orders her to become a candidate for the highly competitive dragon riders. But dragons usually prefer to kill rather than bond with weak humans like Violet. With half the competition willing to kill her to improve their odds and the other half hating her because of her mother, Violet must use all her wits to survive the war college.
The only life Tress has known on her island home in an emerald-green ocean has been a simple one, with the simple pleasures of collecting cups brought by sailors from faraway lands and listening to stories told by her friend Charlie. But when Charlie goes missing, Tress must stow away on a ship and seek the Sorceress of the deadly Midnight Sea. Can this fair maiden save the day?
Half-sisters Joanna and Esther Kalotay have spent their whole life guarding the ancient and rare magic books their family has been sworn to protect for generations. To avoid her mother’s fate, Esther has fled to a remote Antarctic base while Joanna has isolated herself in the family home. When their father dies, the sisters reunite and discover that their parents have been keeping secrets from them. Secrets that span centuries.
Cassandra Dankworth has a fairly predictable life and she loves it that way. Until her boyfriend dumps her, she gets fired, and the local café runs out of banana muffins. When Cassandra discovers that she can go back and change the past, she starts making small adjustments to fix everything. Except, she realizes she might be trying to change all the wrong things.
Best Romance Books 2023
Ever since her aunt’s death, Clementine has put her head down to work harder toward her goals. Living in her late aunt’s apartment, one day she finds herself shocked to find a man in her kitchen. With kind eyes and a seductive Southern drawl, he’s the perfect man for Clementine. Except for the cosmic mistiming: he actually exists seven years ago.
Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they began dating in high school. Except they broke up six months ago and still haven’t told anyone. Thus, at their group’s annual Maine vacation, they find themselves faking a relationship. With their cottage for sale, they don’t want to ruin everyone’s last time there. They’d been together for a decade, how hard can it be to fake another week?
Elsie Hannaway is an adjunct professor teaching theoretical physics by day. But by night, Elsie supplements her income as a fake girlfriend for rich clients. When Elsie’s favorite client turns out to be the brother of Jack Smith, the experimental physicist who ruined her mentor’s career, Elsie’s worlds unexpectedly collide. Elsie is more than prepared for an academic feud with Jack but is completely caught off-guard by the romantic tension between them.
Best YA Books 2023
Perry Firekeeper-Birch’s laid-back summer hits a snag when she crashes her car and is forced to work at her indigenous tribe’s summer internship program. Soon, Perry becomes fascinated with the federal law about the return of ancestral remains and sacred items but is caught between the glacially slow pace of diplomacy and working within the law and the desperate desire to take action into her own hands. When Native women start disappearing and her family is caught in the middle of a high-profile murder investigation, Perry plans a heist to save her ancestors and her tribe members before all is lost.
In 1937, Stella North is thrilled to be competing as the only female pilot in Europe’s first air race for young adults. Between Spain’s civil war and the Nazis gaining power, the world is looking for something uplifting to follow. But the competition quickly turns cutthroat when a competitor is killed and each of the pilots has their own dangerous past to hide. A fun YA novel with a confident female protagonist, Stateless has a high-action plot and a cute romance that will keep you flipping pages trying to guess the mystery.
Alexandra Bracken kicks off her newest fantasy series with one of the best YA books of 2023. Tamsin Lark was born without any magic, making her completely out of place with the magical underworld of Boston. When her parents disappear, Tamsin searches for a relic to protect her and her brother. Ten years later, Tamsin pairs with her rival Emrys in search of a magical ring that might be the only thing that can save her brother.
Even though she’s heterosexual, Imogen Scott has made it her business to be the world’s best ally to her family and friends. During her senior year in high school, Imogen visits her best friend Lili. Newly out, Lili seems to be thriving in college. But Imogen is caught off guard when Lili implies to all her friends that Imogen and Lili used to date. As Imogen tries to hide the fact that she’s hetero from Lili’s new best friend Tessa, she begins to wonder if there might be some truth in this lie.
What Would You Say are The Best Books of 2023?
What books did you enjoy most this year? Did I miss any of the Best Books of 2023 that you loved? As always, let me know in the comments!
More New Book Releases & Best of Lists: