I did a lot of reading in 2023. (If you’re interested in seeing all of what I read and/or discussing them, I invite you to follow me on Goodreads.) This year ended up being a year when I reread some books, so I didn’t read quite as many new-to-me things as I have in past years. That being said, I still read enough to find things I loved, some things that were mediocre, and some other books that I honestly wish I hadn’t wasted my time on. I wanted to share the books that impacted me the most this year, so I compiled this list of my Top 8 List of Fiction Books as well as a list of my Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2023.
If you’re interested in seeing my Top Book Lists from past years, you can check them out:
Without further ado, here are my Top 8 Fiction Books of 2023!
#1 - It Ends with Us
Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us tops my list of fiction books that I read in 2023. I couldn't put this down. I stayed up way too late reading it, but it was worth it.
Ironically, one of the main characters shares a name with the last book I read before starting It Ends with Us and the book shares a theme with the last book I read. [Cue The Twilight Zone music.] But I loved the author's exploration of so many themes in this novel.
As someone who has been in an emotionally abusive relationship, I have been on the receiving end of "But how could you let this happen? I never thought someone like you would tolerate that from anyone." And the truth is: It's not that simple. It seems simple when you're young, and it seems simple when you're an outsider looking in. We may not like it, but the truth is that we love to think that we wouldn't do things that seem "bad" to us.....until we do....for any number of reasons.
I really, really liked this book and was excited to start in on its sequel, It Starts with Us.
I was actually very satisfied with the ending of It Ends with Us, but I am glad that Ms. Hoover decided to write this sequel to complete the story of two of the main characters. The book tackles the emotions and complications that come with several different types of relationships, which I enjoyed. Ms. Hoover definitely explores the “messier” side of humanity, and she does so in an honest and refreshing way.
Together, It Ends with Us and It Starts with Us were two of the more enjoyable books I’ve read in the last several years.
#3 - The Maid
The Maid by Nita Prose roped me in from the first paragraph. I read this book in a single day in two different sittings.
The narrator is an unconventional one, and in my opinion, that’s a good thing. Even though I was able to sort out a lot of the mystery of the plot as I progressed through the book, I enjoyed how the mystery unfolded and I was actually surprised by the climax of the book and by a few elements along the way. I also enjoyed the things that the author carried throughout the storyline.
All in all, this was a fun and engaging read.
#4 - A Man Called Ove
Tom Hanks is my all-time favorite actor, so naturally I wanted to watch A Man Called Otto. But when movies are based on books, I like to read the book first. So, I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and I enjoyed it so much that it landed on this list.
I loved so many things about this book: How it was written, how the characters interacted with each other, and most of all, I loved the character Ove. The story got more engaging and heartfelt as it went along, and when I finished it, I was left feeling so many emotions.
A Man Called Ove is a great story, and one I highly recommend. (As a bonus, I really enjoyed the film, too! It stayed very true to the essence of the book and I experienced many of the same emotions watching the movie as I did reading the book.)
I was very engaged with this book as soon as I started reading it, and I finished it within a few days. Just like A Secret History of Witches, I found The Age of Witches to be an enchanting, engrossing, and lovely tale. It was imaginative and mysterious, which is just the right recipe for a good fiction book.
#6 - Mad Honey
Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan was a wonderful, wonderful book. The story was both told and written from alternating perspectives and was also simultaneously being told forwards and backwards. It was a really different and creative - yet authentic - way to tell this particular story.
The exploration of identity and who we are (versus what we are) was really good and made me think deeply. The plot resolved with a twist that I didn’t see coming, which was refreshing. I had a really hard time putting this down.
#7 - All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize, and I can see why. The way the story is told is non-traditional and the prose is detailed and involved.
I really enjoyed both the story and how the story itself was structured and told. There were some passages that were just downright beautiful and represented a wonderful way to view the world.
Mr. Doerr explores many views of the world in a lovely way. I found myself becoming more and more engaged as the story went on. All in all, this is a lovely, beautiful book.
#8 - The Stationery Shop
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali was an enchanting, bittersweet, and beautiful story. Told across the span of 60 years, I really enjoyed how Ms. Kamali weaved different narrators into different places in time to stitch the story together.
I loved how the author painted a beautiful landscape in Iran. The food descriptions were particularly lovely and made me want to hop on a plane right away to go get dinner in Tehran.
Overall, this was such a delight to read.
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Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.