Favorite Books of 2023

I read a lot of fabulous books this year, so I’m really excited to share my favorites. I’m still reading others, but I’m currently sitting at 80 books completed–a bit higher than my goal of 75. I have a longer commute this year (and by car instead of bike), so the biggest change in my reading habits was an increase in audio books. But I have to admit, I still love paper books best of all! These books below were some of my tippy-top favorites!

NO COUNTRY FOR EIGHT-SPOT BUTTERFLIES by Julian Aguon. My teen bookseller daughter knocked it out of the park when she chose this for me (even when she told me I was hard to buy books for because I read so much, eep!). I hadn’t heard of this collection of “lyric essays” before, but it had me weeping already on page six, which is highly impressive and the kind of book I love. If you’re concerned about the natural world and climate change and love beautiful writing, this might be the right read for you too.

WE ARE ALL SO GOOD AT SMILING by Amber McBride. Another incredible YA verse novel from the author of award-winning ME (MOTH), which I likewise adored.

A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING by Dan Sanat. This graphic novel is probably on everyone’s radar since it won the National Book Award, but my daughters and I all enjoyed it too much not to include it!

SUPER BOBA CAFÉ by Nidhi Chanani. I love, love, love Nidhi´s artwork and stories, and this graphic novel is no exception. Adorable! Plus, who doesn´t love boba???

PARDALITA by Joana Estrela translated by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. This YA graphic novel is on the quiet side, but it’s set in Portugal, beautifully translated, and is a fantastic read for Heartstopper fans.

I got several of my other favorite reads from the library this year, so I don’t have a photo of this stack, but I also highly recommend these:

NEARER MY FREEDOM: THE INTERESTING LIFE OF OLAUDAH EQUIANO BY HIMSELF by Monica Edinger and Lesley Young. I’m always a sucker for history in verse, and this one is nonfiction! The authors made blackout poetry from the subject’s autobiography. How cool is that? So creative!

YELLOWFACE by R. F. Kuang. Once I gave into the hype and began to read this incredible book, I sat there picking my jaw off the floor page after page. I just–WOW. So good. Read it!

THE BLACKWOODS by Brandy Colbert. This story is epic. Epic! It’s a saga about several generations of a Black Hollywood family with two timelines (historical and contemporary) and tons of amazing characters that jumped to life off the page.

GATHER by Kenneth Cadow. This YA contemporary has some pretty dark themes (poverty and drug abuse), but the story comes to life with so much heart and really had me rooting for the main character. I have to say, I’m a little tired of all the well-off teenagers in YA today, so this was a welcome change that felt truly authentic.

MASCOT by Charles Waters and Traci Sorrell. This MG verse novel is written from POVs of several kid characters in a community grappling with the important decision whether to change their rascist mascot. The co-authors did such a great job showing the various perspectives, including of course why these stereotypes are so harmful.

Those are my top ten picks, and I and would love to hear your favorites!

But first, two quick bonus rounds!

1. Books I blubed that came out in 2023! Obviously I love all of these and highly recommend them!

2. Two 2024 books I got to read early and absolutely loved. Please pre-order both of these as soon as you read these words!