I am pretty happy with my reading year. Goodreads tallies my books at 210, but that includes all the children’s books I reviewed. So my real end-of-the-year total is 89 books including middle-grade to adult, fiction and nonfiction.
Of those 89 books, I gave 22 of them 5 stars. Surprisingly, it took me until March to read a 5-star book, and that book was THE FAMILY. Of those 22 Best Books, 7 of them were Historical Fiction (my favorite genre), 4 were General Fiction, 2, were Mysteries, 1 Romance, 1 Middle Grade, and 7 Nonfiction titles. The nonfiction books were all over the place with their types including health, self-help, lifestyle, biography/memoir, travel, and devotional.
Of the books I read, 43% were Audiobooks, 33% were physical books, and 24% were eBooks. Audiobooks are still my jam and where I get most of my personal reading done. The physical books and eBooks tend to be those for review, but I have also found I’m saying yes to fewer titles for review. So if I am agreeing to review it, I must really be interested in it.
Female authors were 80% of my reading and Persons of Color (POC) Authors were only 11%. I intended to better about reading outside of my culture and race, but 11% is better than none. Two of the POC authors made my favorites list and another two made my honorable mentions list.
At the end, I’ll list the rest of the 5-star books I read this year, but for now, I’m narrowing it down to these 10 books, 3 non-fiction and 7 fiction books I consider my FAVORITES OF 2023! If you’d like to see previous years’ favorites, click HERE.
Drum Roll Please🥁…
FAVORITE NON-FICTION BOOKS I READ IN 2023
Distractions are such a part of our everyday life, but they don’t have to be. We can live in the right-now moment and learn how not to be distracted by our phones, our to-do lists, or the everyday thoughts that cause us to worry or pull us away from what is important.
Reba has the best stories, life lessons, and lifestyle tips. The photos in this one are so fun and her recipes look and sound delicious.
The amazing story of perseverance by these six women to become official astronauts. Their journey wasn’t easy but it was well-deserved.
Each of these books stuck with me long after reading them. They each taught me something about life or how to appreciate things. I recommend these three books all the time.
FAVORITE FICTION BOOKS I READ IN 2023
If you love the Great British Baking Show like I do, this could be the book for you. Great characters, a fun mystery, and all the great baking wrapped into one great book.
If Susan Meissner has a book out, her book will certainly make my favorites list. This story, set during WWII, shines a light on how unwed and pregnant women, and the mentally ill were treated.
A WOMAN IS NO MAN by Etaf Rum – haven’t reviewed it yet
This multigenerational story of Palestinian women was recommended to me by my BFF and I finished it just before the end of the year. This story of women limited by their cultural and marital expectations left me heartbroken.
I loved every part of this book. This would make a great book flight with THE SIX. Female chemists and female astronauts in the 1960s were told they couldn’t do what men could do. But, both in real life and in Garmus’s novel, they proved the men wrong.
My first 5-star book of the year. This NYC historical setting features two best friends whose dads are part of the mafia. Friendship, family, betrayal, loss, love, and loyalty are all themes in this one.
Who knew I would love a story where one of the characters was an octopus? If you haven’t read this one yet, add it to your list. The audiobook was amazing and I think the less you know before starting it the better.
A Nigerian girl is forced to marry an old man to pay off her father’s debts. Adunni has dreams of going to school and finds a way to escape her horrific situation only to find herself in a different one. This was such a powerful story full of wit and emotion. It was heartbreaking, yet also hopeful.
Each of these books included all the things I love about books: characters I can root for, really great writing, a historical setting, witty banter, and a compelling storyline. I also noticed that each of these were books I chose to read. Several have been on my shelf for a bit and so I think I am really honing in on what types of books are really for me.
HONORABLE MENTION BOOKS I READ IN 2023
A nature-focused devotional that takes you through the seasons in the author’s backyard week by week.
I finally read this amazing memoir of a family that chose to hide Jews during WWII. Corrie’s unwavering faith even after being arrested and losing most of her family was quite inspiring.
I love learning about places to visit in my state. Megan’s book shares the weird, wonderful, and obscure places to visit in Iowa including roadside attractions, museums, and iconic tourist spots.
If you are struggling with menopause, Dr. Haver has some amazing tips for how to handle your symptoms.
The third (final?) in the Emmy Lake Chronicles series is about friends who work at the magazine, Women’s Friend, during WWII. A new magazine owner and a tragedy make life difficult for Emmy and Bunty. I loved this whole series set in London.
WKK’s stand-alone novels are always a hit with me. Four friends escape their “boarding school” in Minnesota during the Depression to head to St. Louis. Characters to root for and a story with lots of plot twists make this a great read.
This took me a bit to get into but once I did, I was hooked. From 1760 through the Revolutionary War, you follow Deborah from her childhood to adulthood. As she longs for adventure and purpose she decides to disguise herself as a man to fight in the war.
I don’t typically read romance, but I have enjoyed Emily Henry’s novels, this one being my favorite. I loved the bookstore setting and the banter between the two characters. I also loved that it included all the typical romance tropes and was loads of fun.
Even though I don’t read a lot of mysteries, I do like Heather Gudenkauf’s books. This Iowa author likes to set her novels in Iowa which I love. Her stories never get too graphic or scary for me. This particular one focuses on Maggie, a small-town Iowa detective, who is trying to solve the murder of her high school best friend.
This is the only middle-grade novel in my favorites list. FOOD FIGHT hit close to home for me. I felt the author did such a wonderful job of portraying a middle-schooler who has unique eating issues, much like our son has.
Jess happens upon a unique museum when looking for a place to take her mom’s furniture and items after her death. Watching Jess work through her grief and come out the other side a new and better person, even though predictable, was still heart-tugging and lovely.
YELLOW WIFE by Sadeqa Johnson – haven’t reviewed it yet
Two friends told me to read this saying I wouldn’t be able to put it down and they were correct. I read this quite quickly and it was my last book of 2023. This slavery novel set in the Deep South focuses on a slave girl who is also the daughter of the master of the plantation. She is used to a more privileged life than the other slaves, but on the night of her mom’s death everything changes and she is set to a slave jail where she is purchased by another master. This novel was horrifying and quite hard to read due to the nature of the abuse endured by Pheby and the other slaves but also such a page-turner.
What were your favorite books of 2023?
Posted Under A.J. Pearce, Abi Dare, Amy Harmon, Bonnie Garmus, Book Review, Christian, Corrie Ten Boom, Emily Henry, Etaf Rum, Favorite Books, fiction, Heather Gudenkauf, historical fiction, Iowa Author, Jessa Maxwell, Julie Lefebure, Linda B. Davis, Loren Grush, Margaret Renkl, Mary Claire Haver MD, Megan Bannister, Mike Gayle, mystery, Naomi Krupitsky, non-fiction, Reba McEntire, romance, Sadeqa Johnson, Shelby Van Pelt, Susan Meissner, William Kent Krueger